Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Sensing Milton coming towards him, Jonathan turns on his heel and speed walks down the stairs across from the hospital. Milton’s heart is beating faster than a hummingbird, which could only mean two things: he’s about to die and come back as some form of vampire, or he’s finally going to propose to Ms. Hawkins. Either way, Jonathan does not want to be a part of it.
When he gets to the bottom of the stairs, he glances through the fence to see Newton pressing Oswald against a crate with his tongue down his throat. With a mental apology for the interruption, Jonathan hurries along towards the docks, idly wondering when a London wrought with multiple epidemics turned into a romance novel.
Possibly when he cured the blood of hate… does that make him a love doctor?
Shaking his head with a wry smile, Jonathan makes his way up the stairs and across the bridge to Whitechapel, not quite knowing what to do with himself.
Since his rebirth, he’d been constantly busy having to put an end to some sort of conflict or epidemic. Even after he stopped Harriet and the Red Queen, he had to discover the cure for the blood of hate. Thus began an almost year-long quest of weekly tests, scavenging for new ingredients, and constant failure until finally, he succeeded.
After his success, Elisabeth had moved back into her mansion just outside of the West End and instead of meeting for weekly tests, they now met for weekly tea.
However, his success was but a temporary glimmer of light in his otherwise dark existence. Only a few weeks after he cured Elisabeth, his mother died painlessly in the night.
Jonathan could feel her passing all the way from the Pembroke, and he cried for the first time since he had been made into an Ekon.
He met Avery the next night and made arrangements for the funeral. As expected, the family fortune and mansion was left to Jonathan, the only “living” Reid left. No matter how much he assured Avery that he was welcome to continue staying in the mansion, the man still made plans to go elsewhere.
At the funeral, his mother was buried next to Mary. Avery and Jonathan were the only two in attendance until, for some reason, McCullum appeared. He offered his condolences and placed a bouquet of yellow roses next to the tombstone, gripping Jonathan’s shoulder a bit too tight and too long before he left once again.
Now, three days after his mother’s passing and McCullum’s surprise appearance, he hasn’t seen the man at all. As promised, he had called off the Great Hunt about a year ago, and since then, the Priwen presence had been cut in half unless there was a particularly nasty Ekon. He and the hunter could be considered friends… if the hunter wasn’t so stubborn.
“You brooding again?” McCullum’s Irish accent cuts through Jonathan’s ponderings. “Something to be guilty about, leech?”
Jonathan barely holds back an eye roll. Barely. “Hello, McCullum. What brings you to the old theatre? Feeling nostalgic?”
McCullum doesn’t hold back the eye roll as he holds up his bloody sword. “Ah yes. I do miss the days when I hunted you. At least you posed a challenge.”
Jonathan scrunches his nose, “I don’t believe I look upon those days quite as fondly.”
“Sure this blood isn’t doing it for you?” McCullum asks. “Because I could use an actual fight.”
Jonathan laughs, “I’m afraid not. You know I control my urges even better now that I’ve settled into this existence.”
McCullum sighs loudly, “Yeah, yeah, I know. Why do you think the guard doesn’t attack you outright?”
Jonathan blinks, both his eyebrows raising, “You forbade the guard from attacking me? My, McCullum, be careful or I’ll begin to get ideas.”
McCullum scrunches his eyebrows as he wipes the blood off of his sword with a spare cloth, “Vampire doctor with ideas? Absolutely frightening.”
“Just admit it, Geoffrey. You’d miss me if I died,” Jonathan smiles, not quite conscious of the fact that he’s showing his fangs to the leader of the Priwen.
However, McCullum simply scoffs and sheathes his sword, unfazed by the predatory smile, “I admit nothing.”
Jonathan daringly gets closer, smile even wider as he playfully pokes the man and then jumps back as he swats at him, “Come now, Geoffrey, admit that you like me. Is it really so difficult?”
“I’d rather be bitten by a Skal,” McCullum says.
“Fine, I have an idea,” Jonathan says, pale eyes sparkling. “I’ll give you a fight, using no powers, no weapons. You don’t get any kind of boost either. If I win, you must call from the rooftops that you like me.”
McCullum stares dumbly at Jonathan, “And why the hell would I agree to this?”
“Because if you win, I’ll do whatever you want,” Jonathan promises, grin still prominent as he begins to shift his weight from foot to foot.
“You’re serious then? You actually want to fight me without your fancy Ekon powers?” McCullum asks.
“Ha! I’ve got your attention! It’s only a matter of time until you accept now.”
McCullum sighs long-sufferingly, “Fine, I’ll fight you… I’m going to regret this.”
Jonathan takes off his tie, vest, and coat and lays them over a barrel. As he rolls up his sleeves, McCullum says, “You going to fight me naked? What’re you doing?”
Jonathan laughs, “Of course not. I would never tarnish your purity, dear hunter.”
“You’re just lucky I’m itching for a fight, leech,” McCullum says, shaking his head as he gets into a fight stance, coat still on.
“Sure you don’t want to take that off? Could impair your movement,” Jonathan asks, expression as innocent as a vampire can get.
“Stop trying to get me naked and fight me.”
“Don’t forget, it’s just sparring. No killing blows. First to be knocked down loses,” Jonathan wriggles his finger at the hunter.
Without further ado, Jonathan disappears in a puff of black smoke and appears behind McCullum, punching him in the kidney.
“Fucker! You said no powers!” McCullum hisses as he turns and moves away, hand already reaching toward his sword.
“Okay, okay. No more, I swear,” Jonathan crosses his heart with his left pointer finger and then holds both his hands up. “Come on, I’ll even let you make the first move this time.”
McCullum grumbles under his breath as he gets back in his stance, eyeing his opponent for a long moment before he rushes him, faking right and then aiming a left hook at Jonathan’s already crooked nose.
It connects beatifically, blood pouring out of Jonathan’s once-more broken nose as he staggers back. “Well that’s just not fair. It’s like you’re trying to make me less attractive,” Jonathan laments nasally before popping his nose back into place.
“That implies attractiveness to begin with,” McCullum taunts, circling the Ekon with a faint smile.
After that, there isn’t much time for talking. Both men trade blows, McCullum’s hits harder while Jonathan’s are more numerous. However, it is clear that without Jonathan’s powers, McCullum is the better hand-to-hand combatant.
In a final attempt to turn the fight in his favor, Jonathan rushes McCullum, trying to use his momentum to tackle the larger man to the ground.
With a smirk, McCullum pulls a small cross out of one of his pouches and holds it out at Jonathan, stopping him in his tracks. Without any resistance, McCullum pushes Jonathan over and pockets the cross once more.
“That was so unfair,” Jonathan whines from his place on the ground, leaning his head back until it hits the cobblestone.
“So was the teleporting,” McCullum admonishes, offering a hand up to the fallen Ekon. “I know how much you enjoy evening the playing field.”
Jonathan accepts the hand and McCullum pulls him to his feet, brushing off the debris from his back.
“Was just what I needed. Proof that the first fight was pure luck on your part,” McCullum says.
Jonathan scoffs, “This proved nothing expect that we’re both cheaters and like to win.”
“Must be awful being you then,” McCullum says. “By the way, now you must do whatever I tell you. Your terms, I’m sure you remember.”
“Yes, I remember,” Jonathan assures him, assessing his shirt to find a few spots of blood from his broken nose. “What would you like?”
McCullum licks his lips as he comes down from the fighting high, a slow smile appearing on his face, “Close your eyes and stand still.”
“So what? You can run me through with your sword without my struggling?”
McCullum snorts, “Trust me, I’m not good at discreet. If I wanted to kill you, you’d know.”
Jonathan sighs long-sufferingly as he does as he was told, “Now what?”
All Jonathan can hear is McCullum moving, still breathing somewhat heavily from all the physical activity; Jonathan can smell the sweat and blood on him.
“Come now, Geoffrey. The anticipation is killing— ”
McCullum presses his lips against Jonathan’s harshly, immediately licking into the other man’s mouth at his surprised gasp.
Too soon, McCullum pulls away, “I don’t hate you.” He turns on his heel and walks away, not allowing Jonathan any time to respond as he gapingly stares at the hunter’s retreating form.
“What?” Jonathan asks the empty streets, looking around as if it will answer him. After a while, he shakes his head and attempts to bring back his composure, walking over to the barrel where he left his other clothes.
“That sneaky bastard,” Jonathan hisses as he realizes McCullum made off with them.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Thank you all so much for your support! Due to the large number of requests to continue this story, I have written a rough outline. I plan to have around 7 chapters, though that may change. All mistakes are my own.
P.S. Blood by My Chemical Romance was played on repeat throughout the making of this chapter.
After a few moments delay, Jonathan switches to his vampiric senses, catching the familiar scent of the Irishman almost immediately. He follows the trail, thumb absentmindedly moving over where buttons are now missing from his shirt.
A group of three Skals lay freshly bleeding out in his path. He smiles to himself, sidestepping the mess as he realizes he must have been stunned a bit longer than he realized. Though the blood of the Skals calls to him, the scent of McCullum remains much more alluring. Plus, he can tell that one of them was infected by the virus; hopefully one of the last cases.
He turns the corner, pausing when he sees his coat laying on the ground. He picks it up and continues at a faster pace, not even bothering to put it back on as McCullum’s scent gets stronger the further he goes.
Jonathan looks to the tree which led to chasing the shadow figure across London, raising his eyebrows when he sees his vest sitting up on the ledge. He shadow jumps to it, picking up the vest and bringing it to his nose, McCullum’s scent now mixed with his own.
Licking his lips, Jonathan continues through what used to be a construction zone but is now a balcony with a sturdy iron gate with indents. He runs his fingers along it as he goes, seeing a beating heart in the building next to him.
Just as he’s about to jump to the ground to find the entrance, McCullum’s scent increases tenfold, causing Jonathan to misstep and almost flip over the railing. If he was still human, he’d probably be a lump of broken bones on the ground. Luckily, his Ekon grace saves him the humiliation of Milton driving all the way here to collect him and having to explain to his subordinates what he was doing on a balcony which isn’t his in the middle of the night. Certainly nothing he wants anything to do with.
The door next to him opens seemingly by itself, the scent calling to him stronger than that of his maker. He makes his way inside, seeing McCullum’s heart beating at a slightly elevated rate downstairs.
Switching to normal vision, he walks down the stairway, swallowing deeply as he fights to control himself. At the turn in the stairs, he stops dead in his tracks, staring at the scene before him.
McCullum stands in just his undershirt, breeches, and suspenders, a long silver knife leaking a drop of his precious blood onto the carpet. Jonathan’s eyes flick to the man’s face, finding the source of the blood a light slit in his bottom lip. Jonathan’s tie lays on the ground in front of McCullum.
“Took you long enough,” McCullum says, his voice having dropped several octaves. “Good to see your nose has already healed.”
Jonathan presses his tongue into his fangs hard enough to bleed.
“Well? You going to just stand there?” McCullum raises both eyebrows as he crosses his arms. “Usually I can’t get you to shut up, let alone stay away.”
Jonathan drops his coat and vest on the stairs, unable to take his eyes off McCullum’s lips as he walks slowly towards him.
“Damn, didn’t realize I ripped so many buttons,” McCullum says with a smirk as Jonathan comes closer. “Hardly gentleman-like to walk around London with your shirt half open.”
“You talk too much,” Jonathan says after swallowing his mouthful of blood, his pupils dilated to the point where only a thin ring of light blue circles them.
“Says the leech who can’t take a hint even when I’m banging him over the head with it.” McCullum licks his teeth as he steps closer. “This blood doing it for you?”
Jonathan nods slowly, reaching his hand up to touch McCullum’s bottom lip. McCullum grabs the wrist, curling his tongue behind his teeth as he raises his eyebrows. “You’re either in or out. I’m not fucking around here, Jonathan.”
Jonathan blinks for a long moment, trying to erase the fog and form complete thoughts since it seems McCullum is set on talking right now. “I’m in, Geoffrey” Jonathan begins, his voice unrecognizable to his own ears.
McCullum grins, releasing Jonathan’s wrist in favor of grabbing the gelled hair at the back of Jonathan’s head.
“I think that’s the first time you’ve said my first name,” Jonathan says as he’s finally able to run his thumb over the small drop of blood still resting on McCullum’s lip. With all the talking, the cut has already clotted.
McCullum watches aptly as Jonathan sucks on the pad of his thumb, digging his human teeth into the cut on his lip once more to break the clot, “Now, let’s see if you can make me scream it.”
Jonathan smiles, his fangs elongated as he cuts the distance between them and sucks McCullum’s bottom lip into his mouth. He moans as the blood hits his tongue and McCullum’s grip on his hair tightens, ruining the perfectly gelled style as he runs his fingers through it.
Without warning, McCullum shoves his tongue into Jonathan’s mouth, forcing it flat as he pulls it back and rakes it along both of Jonathan’s fangs before shoving it back inside. Jonathan’s knees buckle slightly as he swallows a mouthful of blood, grabbing McCullum’s suspenders to hold himself up. A deep chuckle rumbles from McCullum as he notices, dropping the knife and using the hand not in Jonathan’s hair to circle around to the doctor’s arse.
Just then, someone bangs on the front door, causing both men to freeze, waiting to see who or what it is.
“McCullum! McCullum, need to talk to you!” a Priwen rookie’s voice rings out, causing McCullum to groan and pull away.
“Hold that thought,” McCullum says, ruffling Jonathan’s hair one last time before he heads towards the front door.
Jonathan, still dazed from the high caused by McCullum’s blood, just stares at him as he goes.
“Jon, snap out of it,” McCullum hisses, effectively getting Jonathan moving. Jonathan shakes his head and hurries over to where he dropped his clothes, just barely getting his coat on when McCullum opens the door.
“This better be good, Sawyer,” McCullum says once he sees the rookie, not even acknowledging the fact that he’s only half dressed and has a dazed vampire on his staircase. If the guard wants to interrupt him in his home, they’d better expect the unexpected.
“Um, yes, sir,” Sawyer stumbles over his words once he realizes the state his superior is in. “We, um…”
“Out with it,” McCullum interrupts, crossing his arms as he waits for the rookie to finally tell him what was so important that his men found it necessary to send Sawyer to bother him at home during his limited time off.
“It’s the prisoner, sir,” Sawyer finally says, swallowing loudly. Jonathan can hear his heart hammering much too quickly for the doctor to be comfortable with.
“Ugh, shut your mouth!” McCullum hisses, pulling Sawyer inside by the arm and closing and locking the door behind him. “You know not to speak about Priwen business out in the open where any Nancy can hear you.”
“So-sorry, sir,” Sawyer whimpers, his heart speeding up even further.
“Pardon me, but I don’t believe we have met,” Jonathan says as he makes his way toward the pair, pulling himself together after realizing his and McCullum’s moment has ended.
Sawyer nearly jumps out of his skin at Jonathan’s voice, McCullum rolling his eyes as he pulls on his overclothes, “Why’re you so jumpy tonight? Introduce yourself, rookie.”
“He’s-he’s a leech!” Sawyer yells, fumbling for his gun. Jonathan prepares to defend himself while McCullum just takes the man’s gun and twirls it around his pointer finger.
“You don’t say,” McCullum drawls. “Sawyer, meet Dr. Jonathan Reid.”
Sawyer’s eyes nearly bulge out of their sockets, “Dr. Reid! Oh…” He glances at the men’s similar state of undress paired with the fact that Reid is the only leech on the No Kill List, finally putting two and two together and blushing fiercely.
Jonathan holds back a grin, his lips twitching as he glances at the amused look in McCullum’s eye, “Yes. Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Sawyer.”
“Sir, I’m not entirely sure what the protocol is for taking about Priwen business in front of Dr. Reid,” Sawyer admits.
McCullum glances at Jonathan before turning back to Sawyer and handing him back his gun, “Anything you’d say to me can be said in front of Reid.”
“Yes, sir. It’s about the prisoner, sir,” Sawyer gulps. “He said that Lord Redgrave has plans for the redheaded leech.”
Jonathan stills, his heart sinking to his feet as he quickly closes the rest of the distance, “Do you speak of Lady Ashbury?”
Sawyer looks at Jonathan, shrugging, “I think that’s the leech’s name.” He looks back to McCullum, “They plan to take her tonight. We may already be too late.”
“I must intercept them,” Jonathan says, already turning towards the door.
McCullum reaches for Jonathan’s wrist, holding it tightly despite the fact he knows the Ekon could break his hold easily, “Wait, Reid, I know you don’t have any weapons on you. We have no idea if the prisoner is even telling the truth; could be a trap. Besides, this is Priwen business.”
“And why does Priwen care about Lady Ashbury?” Jonathan asks, looking between the two hunters. He rests his gaze on McCullum.
“I assigned spies to watch the redhead,” McCullum admits. “Know you’re fond of her, smell tea with her once a week.”
Jonathan raises both eyebrows at McCullum, “You’ve been spying on us?”
“For good reason, apparently,” McCullum says. He looks to Sawyer, “Tell Walsh and his men to meet us at the mansion.”
The rookie nods and runs out of the house to do as told, leaving the two alone once again. McCullum releases Jonathan’s wrist and goes to a cabinet, taking out a dark blue shirt and tossing it to the Ekon, “Put that on. You can use my weapons in the chest over there.”
“Geoffrey, why are you doing this?” Jonathan asks as he takes off his half-broken and bloodied shirt and replaces it with the new one. It’s a bit too big on him, though he’s glad to be out of the dirty one.
McCullum finishes putting on his boots before he walks over to Jonathan. He stares at him for a long while before he kisses him roughly and pulls back, “I told you. I don’t hate you.”
Jonathan smiles to himself as McCullum opens the chest, though it quickly goes away as the reality of the situation comes back to him, “Who is this prisoner you captured?”
McCullum pauses as he straps the crossbow to his wrist, not looking at Jonathan as he responds, “Aloysius Dawson.”
Once again, Jonathan is floored, “Excuse me? Why was I not made aware of this?”
“Thought we’d just take care of it,” McCullum admits, finally looking at Jonathan again once he sheathes his sword. “Know how much you didn’t want to turn him.”
“I didn’t turn him!” Jonathan says.
“I know,” McCullum says, wincing. “He’s way too weak to be yours. Now, what weapon do you want? The men are probably already on their way.”
Jonathan sighs as he realizes the conversation will have to wait—they must intercept the Ascalon Club before they can get to Lady Ashbury, “The saber and stake, please.”
Jonathan puts his coat on as McCullum finds the requested items and hands them to him, “Vampire with a stake. You really are a walking contradiction.”
Jonathan winks as he sheathes the weapons, “Have to keep you guessing, hunter.”
Without further ado, the duo leaves the house and jog towards Lady Ashbury’s mansion, unconsciously keeping in perfect sync with each other. Jonathan can’t hear any Priwen Guards on their way, though he supposes they have a longer journey.
“Can you see anything?” McCullum asks as they hide behind the brick wall to the park, noting that the gate to Ashbury Mansion is slightly ajar.
Jonathan uses his vampiric senses to check for Lady Ashbury but comes up empty, “There’s no one inside. I can’t see anyone anywhere around here, not even Ekons using shadows.”
McCullum scrunches his eyebrows as he pulls out his binoculars, using them to look at the buildings surrounding them, “I don’t like this. It’s completely dead.”
Jonathan silently agrees, his senses reaching out and finding complete silence aside from McCullum’s steady heartbeat.
Just then, Sawyer’s completely drained body is thrown behind them, landing with a sickening thud as the bones snap. The doctor in Jonathan calculates how high up the body must have been to be that broken, his eyes snapping to the only possible building it could have come from.
McCullum curses, “Looks like we aren’t getting any backup.”
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Sorry it's been so long since my last update but I've been in the process of moving and underestimated how much work it would be. I now have an outline of what the story will be (it may be longer than I first thought) and will hopefully return to weekly updates. Thanks for reading!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Reid, it’s not the building,” McCullum says, pointing to a Zeppelin as it appears out of seemingly nowhere, not a single cloud in the sky to have covered it. Jonathan freezes, the unneeded breaths he still habitually takes stopping completely.
It stops right above them, prompting McCullum into action as he drags Jonathan toward the small tunnel at the end of the street. Behind them, the Zeppelin drops a small bomb which explodes right as they make it inside. Pieces of Sawyer’s limbs fly into the tunnel and shatter even more, the lack of blood making them appear inhuman, almost doll-like, as they slide down the wall.
McCullum props Jonathan against the wall, “Reid, snap out of it!”
Jonathan stays completely still, lost in memories of a war he left over a year ago.
“Jonathan!” McCullum yells. When there is still no response, he slaps Jonathan across the face.
“What?” Jonathan finally focuses on McCullum, leaving the memory of his brothers in arms being blown up in favor of his—whatever McCullum is—and the disassembled corpse.
“What the hell was that? And why the fuck is a Zeppelin trying to blow us up?” McCullum demands, glancing out of the tunnel to see the park completely destroyed and Elisabeth’s mansion in pieces, crumbled even more than the castle. The Zeppelin has disappeared; presumably back to wherever it was before it showed itself.
Jonathan begins to breathe again, “I—my reaction is unimportant.”
McCullum stares at him for a long moment, “Fine. I’ll let that slide for now.” He adjusts his crossbow from where it had been shifted out of place during the mad dash for cover.
“There’s no way your Lady’s house being targeted and her being kidnapped was mere coincidence.”
“I agree.” Jonathan finally straightens, patting the dust from his clothes as he has no other choice but to stand in McCullum’s personal space. “Though where the Ascalon Club procured a Zeppelin is beyond me. Plus, Redgrave is a nationalist—he gave me the blood to save London. Why would he proceed to blow it up?”
“Well, whoever it is, they made it personal to both of us. Taking your friend and my Guardsman is just begging for our attention.” McCullum seems nonplussed at the proximity between them, though his blue eyes darken as he speaks. Whether it’s bloodlust or just normal lust is beyond even Jonathan’s knowledge.
“That means they know we’re working together,” Jonathan eventually says.
“Or want to pin us against each other,” McCullum adds, huffing as his hair falls into his eyes, the gel from earlier almost completely gone.
Jonathan groans as he facepalms, “My god, it’s so elementary. These grown adults, hundreds of years old, using their toys to punish those who refuse to play with them.”
McCullum shakes his head, “And the damn leeches know that sunrise is approaching. We can either go there now and risk your being trapped and having no backup or wait until tomorrow and risk them succeeding in whatever godforsaken plan they’re cooking up.”
Jonathan glances outside the tunnel, the sun already beginning to break through the fog surrounding London. He curses loudly, kicking the wall with enough force to throw one of the bricks into a piece of Sawyer.
“Hey, listen,” McCullum says as he grabs hold of Jonathan’s shoulders and turns the Ekon towards him. “We’re going to find her, don’t you worry. They obviously need her for something or she’d be dead already.” McCullum pauses, knowing Jonathan isn’t going to like his next idea though he voices it anyway, “Or I can go alone.”
Jonathan shakes his head immediately and grips McCullum’s elbows, “There’s no way I’m allowing you to face a den of vampires alone, Guard or not. My house is just a ways down from the Ascalon Club—we’ll call the Guard for assistance.”
“You’re not allowing me, huh?” McCullum raises an amused eyebrow despite the situation.
Jonathan fights back a smile, “Don’t forget who won our first battle.”
“How could I?” McCullum licks his lips as he looks down at Jonathan’s. “Good thing I was kneeling at the end or I may have bruised your gentlemanly sensibilities.”
“Is that why you were so cranky?”
“Righteous indignation and competency are my turn-ons.” McCullum winks, squeezing Jonathan’s shoulders a bit tighter before he lets go and takes off his coat.
“Good to know,” Jonathan murmurs as he watches McCullum begin to disrobe. “And what are you doing?”
“Put it over your head so the sun doesn’t burn you. As fondly as I look back at our first fight, I could do without your bloodcurdling screams when the lights hit you.” McCullum holds the coat out to Jonathan, who takes it and wraps it over his head.
McCullum goes around Jonathan and takes his arm, “Tell me where to go and I’ll make sure you don’t bump into a wall.”
Jonathan nods, “Straight through the gate and make a right when you see the Ascalon mansion. Mine’s the one with lions.”
“Of course it is,” McCullum responds with a smirk as he guides Jonathan out of the tunnel, weak rays of sunlight hitting their backs as they do their best to avoid debris. The police and reporters can’t be far by now and the last thing the pair needs is to be taken in for questioning. Scotland Yard and Priwen have a tenuous relationship at best and Priwen cannot afford to have it regress even further.
McCullum manages to navigate through the rubble relatively well, only accidentally leading Jonathan into a wall once—and that was because the Ekon wouldn’t stop complaining about how long it was taking.
Jonathan slips them both into the shadows as they pass Ascalon, chancing a glance with his vampiric senses to find several Ekons inside on the upstairs levels. Unfortunately, the sun begins to char his face before he could take a look at the basement.
“Quit being difficult and keep your head down,” McCullum grumbles as they get to the stairs leading up to Jonatan’s house. He can hear the sirens sounding from just a few blocks away, police finally arriving at the blast zone. Fortunately, England had been at war long enough for citizens to stay in their homes in the event of a bombing rather than run around asking questions in the open.
Jonathan unlocks the door then shuts and locks the door behind them as soon as McCullum gets inside. He proceeds to draw the blackout curtains closed on the right, McCullum on the left. Once he’s certain light is no longer an issue, he hands McCullum his coat back.
“Into the lion’s den,” McCullum murmurs as he flips the switch to turn the lights on, illuminating the house in a soft yellow. He hooks his coat on the rack next to the door as he subtly glances around the foyer.
“I’m quite sure my grandfather hadn’t thought of how true accurate they would be when he commissioned them,” Jonathan says as he motions for McCullum to follow him into the sitting room.
“Can’t imagine any of the shapers around here actually developing a sense of humor,” McCullum says as he’s led to the phone.
McCullum glances at the roses set in front of a painting of Jonathan’s mother, remembering the funeral he attended less than a week ago. He had wanted to be there for Jonathan, but something told him his presence wouldn’t be appreciated at that moment. Had it been after everything that transpired last night, perhaps he would have approached the Ekon rather than stay in the shadows.
“I’m a gentleman. Humor is unbecoming,” Jonathan recites as if he’s had to say it on numerous occasions.
McCullum scoffs, picking up the phone as he sits in the armchair, “Your gentleman status is long gone in my opinion.”
Jonathan smiles as McCullum dials the number, “Prove it.”
“Oh, my cushla machree, don’t tempt me.” McCullum pulls Jonathan onto his lap, resting his chin on the doctor’s shoulder as someone picks up the phone. Jonathan scrunches his eyebrows at the unfamiliar words but doesn't comment on it.
“Galvin here,” a female answers, her voice sounding like she just smoked two packs of cigarettes before speaking.
“Galvin, just the lady I wanted to speak to,” McCullum says, trailing his fingers over the pulse point in Jonathan’s neck. “I need you to assemble a team and get out to the Ascalon mansion ASAP.”
“Always something with you, boss,” Galvin replies easily, fond amusement heavy in her tone. “Sawyer tell you about the redhead?”
“Yeah, right before he was bled out and exploded,” McCullum says. “Now, I don’t want you barging in half-cocked; only come in if I give the signal. We don’t know who or what’s going to be there and we’ve got a hostage situation. Don’t engage until the redhead is obtained. Also, the Yard is out, so go around them.”
“By ‘we,’ I’m assuming you have the doctor with you. You two finally figure your shit out?” Galvin asks even as she yells at guardsmen behind her to get moving.
McCullum and Jonathan look at each other for a moment, smirk on Jonathan’s face as he takes the phone, “Are you telling me Geoffrey talks about me?”
McCullum buries his face in Jonathan’s shoulder, groaning as Galvin responds in a put-out tone, “He’s like a teenage girl, doc. It’s like he only accepted a girl into the Guard so he could talk to me about feelings.”
“Is that right?” Jonathan allows a laugh as McCullum rips the phone back out of his hand.
“Yes, thank you for that, Samantha. I’ll remember this when you’re up for promotion.” Before Galvin could respond in any way, McCullum hangs up.
“Come now, Geoffrey, it’s actually quite an honor to be spoken so highly of by the leader of Priwen.” Jonathan leans back further in the chair, forcing McCullum from behind his shoulder. He reaches toward McCullum’s face, gently cupping it as he reels the Irishman in for a kiss. It’s nothing like their other kisses—where the other ones were indeed meaningful, this one speaks more of emotion than any physical need.
“You’re turning me soft, Reid,” McCullum admonishes as soon as they break the kiss, guiding Jonathan off his lap as he stands up.
“Your big bad status is long gone in my opinion,” Jonathan says, winking at the Guardsman as he sets the phone back on the end table.
“Prove it,” McCullum says immediately, reaching for Jonathan’s wrist. Once he has hold of it, he turns the shorter man around, a soft smile on the Ekon’s face.
“While I’d like nothing more than to continue where we left off, we really must be going. Lady Ashbury is waiting,” Jonathan says, running his thumb over the side of McCullum’s wrist.
“Yes, I know how you hate to leave the Lady waiting,” McCullum says brusquely after clearing his throat, turning as he releases Jonathan’s wrist. “Let’s be off.”
Jonathan stares after McCullum as he walks out of the room, wondering what happened to change the atmosphere so abruptly. However, that’s a matter for a later time—Elisabeth awaits.
“Coming?” McCullum calls from the foyer, prompting Jonathan to make haste.
cushla machree: an adaptation of the Irish Gaelic cuisle mo chroidhe, literally, "vein of my heart"
“You two are the biggest idiots I have ever had the misfortune of dealing with,” Redgrave huffs from his place on the floor, his intestines wrapped around him like a macabre jump rope.
“Excuse me?” Jonathan asks as he shuts and locks the door behind him. He takes his coat off and hangs it on the rack, grimacing as blood drips to the floor and begins to make a puddle. Perhaps it’s about time he finally retires it. He’s not sure it can take much more abuse before the repairs simply won’t hold it together anymore.
“Fuck you think you’re dealing with, leech?” McCullum says, his tone wrapped with menace as he towers over the upper half of the Ekon. The lower half is thrown against the wall on the other side of the room.
Redgrave narrows his eyes as he attempts to keep his upper half upright, “Oh, stop acting so self-righteous. You people just came in guns blazing without an ounce of context. Allow me to provide it for you.”
“Who’s to say you’re not just going to lie to save your own arse?” McCullum asks, crossing his arms as he towers over the half of a man.
“For one, your Guard cut the half with my ‘arse’ off,” Redgrave says.
“Stop acting like children,” Jonathan admonishes, pressing his thumb into the crooked bridge of his nose. “Redgrave, say what you want to say.”
“What? So he can talk his way out of it again? Not bloody likely,” McCullum says, using the toe of his boot to tip Redgrave over, which isn’t too difficult due to the Ascalon leader’s already precarious balance.
The top half of Redgrave falls with a soft thud, the blood which had been steadily pooling around him splashing onto the wallpaper of Jonathan’s study.
“Geoffrey Aedan McCullum,” Jonathan hisses, grabbing onto McCullum’s scarf and dragging him away from the top half of Redgrave. “I am about ready to throw you out and do this myself.”
“Get rid of me, it’ll take longer to get to your Lady,” McCullum allows himself to be moved, leaning too far into Jonathan’s personal space for polite company. However, with closer inspection, the Irishman’s eyes are completely closed off. Even when they first met in Swansea’s office his eyes hadn’t been quite so cold.
“Geoffrey--” Jonathan begins, scrunching his eyebrows as the odd atmosphere from before still surrounds them.
“Save it,” McCullum says as he pulls his scarf out of Jonathans grip and stalks to the other side of the room, unlocks the door, and exits.
“Even I could have told you not to try with that boar of a man,” Redgrave comments from where he has given up on getting up. The entire back of his suit is soaked in blood and the intestines have twined so tightly around him that he has lost use of his arms.
“You have no room to speak of relationships,” Jonathan snaps as he fights the urge to go after McCullum. Whatever irks the taller man will have to wait until later. Pushing his relationship problems to the back of his mind, he walks over to Redgrave and squats next to him. “Now, if you insist you’ve nothing to do with the bombing or Sawyer’s death or kidnapping Lady Ashbury, who did it?”
“Get me my legs and I’ll tell you,” Redgrave says, voice slightly slurred from loss of blood.
Jonathan grips Redgrave’s throat and leans in closer, “I have made an oath to do no harm to the living, Lord Redgrave. Surprisingly enough, I can’t feel a pulse in this cold, lifeless neck of yours.” He squeezes a bit harder, Redgrave beginning to choke on his own blood.
“Fine!” Jonathan immediately releases his hold, plucking the handkerchief from Redgrave’s coat pocket to wipe his hands of the man’s blood. He stands, “Well? I’m waiting.”
“You’ve adopted McCullum’s trick to get what he wants,” Redgrave says. “The Jonathan Reid I knew a year ago never would have used torture to get what he wanted.”
“I’ve no need to have a morality lesson from you. Tell me who is behind this,” Jonathan says, throwing the now-bloody handkerchief over the prone vampire.
“You should have just listened to me a year ago, Dr. Reid. You could have averted this if your precious Lady Ashbury wouldn’t have insisted you turn on me,” Redgrave says. He scoffs and shakes his head, “I never should have allowed a woman into the mansion.”
Jonathan pauses for a long moment, dread pooling in his belly as Geoffrey’s former admission comes to the forefront of his mind, “Aloysius Dawson.”
“If I could use my arms, I’d award you applause, Doctor,” Redgrave snarks. “Now, get me my legs. I’ve answered your question, endured your interpersonal drama, and assure you that the longer you keep me here, the more likely my people will destroy your home. And as much as I would love to have your head on a pike on the gate surrounding the club, I know any other head of Pembroke would not be as… understanding of Ekon-Priwen politics.”
“How very well adjusted of you,” Jonathan barely refrains from growling as he stalks to the other side of the room and picks up Redgrave’s legs. He brings them to the top half, unraveling the intestines before shoving them back in the body and the legs into the torso.
After studying Ekon biology for well over a year, he’s learned that stitches are virtually useless due to the high rate of healing. He’s also learned from experience that a limb will not regenerate, but will easily connect back to the body within minutes. Thus, he does nothing else as he exits the room.
“What happened?” Galvin stands as Geoffrey stomps out of the study and into the living room of the mansion.
The other Guardsmen were working on collecting all the parts of Sawyer they could find so they could arrange some kind of burial. Galvin had elected to stay behind in case Redgrave had some kind of backup. So far, all she’s been able to do is pretend not to eavesdrop on the conversation going on in the other room.
“Nothing,” Geoffrey grunts as he throws himself onto the couch.
Galvin raises an unimpressed eyebrow. Geoffrey had no idea eyebrows could express emotions so clearly until the woman joined Priwen. However, they clearly have their very own language and are currently judging him.
“Quit that. I have enough from all the leeches constantly underestimating me.”
“Didn’t say anything, boss.”
“Didn’t need to. Your eyebrows said it all.”
The eyebrow raises even further, “My eyebrows, sir?”
Geoffrey knocks his head against the back of the couch and sighs heavily, “Fine, he won’t stop talking about Lady Ashbury and it’s making me all out of sorts. Are you happy now?”
“Why would that make me happy? I keep telling you to keep your relationship drama to yourself,” Galvin says. However, the twinkle in her eye and the curve of her mouth give away that she does, in fact, care. While she hasn’t had a proper conversation with Jonathan, she’s sure that he has to be something special to keep her leader so interested for so long. And to get him talking about his feelings like she’s his therapist.
“I’m a good man. A damn handsome man, even. And I’m an excellent fighter. So why the fuck am I getting like this? The damned leech doctor is making me crazy.”
“And humble, too,” Galvin drawls.
“God, I could use a drink. The whole bottle, really,” Geoffrey says, running both his hands through his hair and inadvertently wiping Redgrave’s blood over his forehead and into his hair.
“I think we all could,” Galvin agrees, throwing her platinum blonde hair over her shoulder. “But first, we need to figure out what’s up with Redgrave.” She leans forward in the armchair she hastily sat in when she heard footsteps coming toward the door, “So tell me, how’re you going to do that from out here?”
“Jonathan sidelined me. Apparently my methods aren’t fast enough for him,” Geoffrey says.
“You let yourself be sidelined? Who the hell are you?”
He smears the blood over even more of his face as he wipes his hand over his brow, down his cheek, and over his jaw. “Fuck, I can’t blame him. I was acting like a right brute and never would have gotten through to Redgrave. I know that, he knows that. That’s why I let him kick me out.”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
Geoffrey eyes her for a moment before sighing, “Permission granted.”
She stands and walks over to him, putting her hands on her hips as she looks down at him, “You’re a right idiot.”
“That’s what Redgrave said.”
“Fuck Redgrave, that’s what I’m sayin’. Yer sittin’ ‘ere broodin’ ‘bout a man who’s only tryin’ to save ‘is mentor,” Galvin’s accent becomes more pronounced as her words get more heated. “Take a step back. Imagine it was me who was taken, okay? Would ya not be actin’ exactly the same?”
Geoffrey groans, “I’d be even worse. He’s acting tame compared to how I’d be handling it. I would have slaughtered them all and Redgrave wouldn’t even be able to answer our questions.”
“Exactly!” Galvin sits next to Geoffrey and pats him firmly on the back several times. “Get it together, help the doctor save his mentor and I guess London while you’re at it, and then celebrate by sticking it in him until he doesn’t remember his own name.”
Geoffrey laughs, a full-body laugh that takes ten years off him. He pulls Galvin into a side hug, “You’re absolutely crude, lass. No wonder you joined Priwen instead of some high society club.”
Galvin hugs him back, his laugh contagious as she lets out her own little giggle. Her eyes widen as she pulls back and wags her finger at him, getting her badass woman persona back into place, “You never heard that.”
“Just like I never heard you outside the study door?” Geoffrey asks with a smirk, shoving the woman away to bounce on the couch a few times on her back.
At that moment, Jonathan comes out of the study, both his eyebrows raising as he takes in Geoffrey’s smirking bloody face and Galvin bouncing next to him on the couch. He’s careful not to breathe through his nose, “We need to find Dawson.”
Jonathan walks past them without another word as Galvin gets up, eyebrows scrunching in confusion as she looks between the two, “Now what did you do?”
Dun Dun Duuuuuuun