Chapter 1: 1949
He knew why, and he knew it wasn’t a good idea to ask, but he couldn’t help expressing his discontent. If Max said something, it was law. That’s how things worked. That didn’t mean he couldn’t go kicking and screaming.
“David, I’ve explained this to you before,” Max started, pushing his fake lenses onto his nose with a huff and straightening out his jacket in a very ‘annoyed professional’ type of way. “Sometimes places just don’t work out. Sometimes we need to move around. What are our three priorities?”
David glared at him across the table. They were sitting down to dinner in what constantly felt like a mockery of real life. Between them was a plate of crackers with some cheese which was mostly for show. “Feed, thrive, survive,” David muttered. He rolled his eyes so hard he thought they were going to roll back into his skull.
“Feed, thrive, survive,” Max repeated with a curt nod. “That’s right. If we are drawing attention to ourselves, then we aren’t able to feed, which means we aren’t able to thrive, which means we aren’t able to survive. None of those things are happening here, obviously.” Max directed his attention to the plate and took a cracker which he broke in half but did not eat.
They had to feed. Feeding was all that mattered. Since he’d been turned nearly ten years before, feeding was all David thought about. He thought about it all night. He thought about it before during and after a meal. He even dreamt about it. There must have been a joke there somewhere. What do vampires dream of? Bleeding sheep?
Thriving was all about success. David was ninety-nine percent sure this wasn’t an ancient vampire law or anything...just Max’s personality. No use living like paupers. If they were going to infiltrate a town, they were going to own the town. Since they’d been in Maine, Max had secured a job overseeing a factory. The war had fucked them hard, like the rest of the world, but Max had somehow managed to help them come out nearly unscathed. Now, with the population decreasing, it was harder to keep business afloat, and Max was becoming disinterested in the opportunities in Portland.
Survival was most important, in David’s opinion. If you can’t live in a comfy house with lots of money and resources, who the fuck cares? As long as you’re alive. But Max thought that survival was dependent upon all these other, unnecessary factors. It wasn’t truly living if you were living on a street corner somewhere, picking off street walkers and hiding in the basement of a bombed out factory during the day.
David did have to admit that he was bored in Portland. He didn’t much feel like starting over somewhere else, but Max’s plan had never failed them before, and it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. Max saved his life, and was his sire...they were stuck together even if he wanted to leave.
“Where are we going?” The last few places had seemed random, but he was sure a lot of thought went into the moves. First Oregon, then Texas, now…
“New York?” That seemed random too, but at least it was a city and not a town in bumble-fuck nowhere.
“Just north of the city, I was thinking. There’s a few good businesses for sale up there that I heard about. I thought it would be easier to feed in a place that’s a little more densely populated, too.”
It seemed logical, of course, but it was almost word-for-word what had brought them to Portland. David shifted in his chair, eyeing the crackers, but having no desire to eat one. What the fuck was the point of having normal food around when it was just the two of them?
Practice. Max’s voice fogged his mind. We have to practice keeping up appearances . David snorted.
“What’s the point of being a vampire if we have to hide it all the time?” he asked, afraid to look up at the older man. He waited, instantly regretting opening his mouth, but when Max spoke, the answer was considerate and kind.
“The point is that we are alive, David,” he said in a soft but stern tone. “The point is that we might have to adhere to strict rules in order to live, but we are able to live, and that’s really what matters.” There was a pause, presumably to allow his words to hang in the air long enough to help David have some epiphany, then he continued. “I think part of the reason this is so difficult every time is because we are alone. You’ve never been a part of a tribe. You don’t know what it’s like to have comradery - other vampires to live with and relate to.”
This was true, of course. Max had, presumably, lived in a clan. A tribe. Whatever he wanted to call it. David hadn’t. Since he’d been turned, it’d only been the two of them. He sometimes wondered what it would be like to live in a big house with a bunch of vampires, running around doing ‘vampirey’ things together, but it didn’t interest him. He wasn’t a fan of other people and he liked the way things were. He and Max had an understanding.
When he’d been found, he was on the edge of death and living in the gutter in Pittsburgh. His mother had passed when he was young and his father had ditched him when the economy went to shit in the mid thirties. David had lived on the streets, unemployed, out of school, and sick with God only knew what. He’d have frozen to death if infection hadn’t gotten to him first.
David had blocked out most of his history from his memory. Max hadn’t shared much, but David knew he’d had children - two sons who had died a long time ago. He was happy to have a son again, albeit a makeshift, uncooperative one. David, in turn, was happy to have a parental figure again. As independent and stubborn as he’d always been, life was just too fucking hard to do without a parent.
“Did you like your tribe?” he asked as he fiddled with an unlit cigarette under the table. He didn’t want to seem too interested, even though he was. Max must have caught on, because he chuckled softly and David heard his chair slide out from the table.
“I haven’t run with a tribe in a long time,” he said as he scooped up the nearly untouched serving platter and retreated to the kitchen. “I liked them though. My sire was very old school. He was one of those guys you’d picture from old movies...he wore these elaborate black capes and strode around barking directions at all the younger vampires…” He chuckled again as he reminisced. David raised an eyebrow.
“He died a long time ago,” Max continued. “A lot of them did.” David thought he saw Max shrug in the other room and then a clatter of dishes hit the sink. “When the head vampire is killed, his children usually scatter. Nothing is there to keep them together. Unless it’s a particularly tight-knit group, they have no bond to each other.” Max looked a little puzzled by this, even though he was the one explaining. David wondered why, but didn’t ask. He watched the older man put a kettle of water on the stove.
“I always pictured what I’d do differently, if I had my own tribe,” he continued as he came back into the dining room and sat down again. “I think I’d want it to be more like a family. I wouldn’t want my children tied to me...I think it’s far more important for them to support each other.” He smiled at David. David didn’t return the favor.
“Are you going to make more children then?” he asked, cursing himself silently for asking a question that could possibly encourage the conversation. Max had never tried to turn anyone else, as far as he knew.
“Oh, no, I don’t think so,” he said with another smile. “Being a sire is a lot. If you do it properly, you have to be a mentor, you have to keep your bond strong...to sire a whole tribe would be interesting, but I don’t think I’m looking for that sort of power.”
David grunted in response and dropped his eyes down to the unlit cigarette that was being twirled between his fingers. At least Max wasn’t thinking of bringing strangers into their house.
“Would you like siblings, David?” Max asked. David was suddenly aware that he was being watched more closely than usual. Eager to hear his response then?
He pushed himself up from his seat, tucking the cigarette behind his ear, and turned toward the foyer.
“Don’t come back too late,” Max called as David made a beeline for the door. “Sun comes up at 6:37 today!”
“You mean you made a friend? That’s good. You never make friends."
New York was not good.
New York was one of those places that made you feel like you didn’t belong if you hadn’t been there for several generations and know every secret spot and every back street and every New York notion. Specifically, they were in a town called Tuckahoe, which was the dumbest name David had ever heard. He was glad he didn’t have anyone asking him where he’d moved to, because he’d rather die a second time than have to tell someone ‘I live in Tuckahoe’.
It was a weirdly picturesque town with corner stores and soda fountains and small bands that played on the weekends in gazebos in the park. Max had been successful in taking up some company and disappeared most nights to work on whatever the fuck he was doing. That left David, as usual, to wander.
He couldn’t drive a car, and wouldn’t dare touch Max’s, so he went about on foot. He didn’t look atypical, either. Aside from his platinum hair, he dressed much as the other boys did - dark jeans, a t-shirt, a jacket. He was well-kempt, and took fashion cues from the Teddy Boys in London, with his hair perfectly slicked back and a cigarette tucked behind his ear.
The town had nothing to offer, and David found himself on the verge of yet another existential crisis as he kicked a rock down the main street. Was this what his life was doomed to be? Kicking rocks around nondescript towns for his entire life until the end of eternity? He gave the rock one especially hard kick and it flew into the side of a brick building. A sharp giggle caught his attention and he turned to see two teenage girls on a street corner giving him the eye. One waved. David grinned at them.
People were the best part. Humans were just so oblivious . So trusting. No matter where they went, the people stayed the same. There was something about an unsuspecting victim - the thrill of the chase and kill - that would never get old.
David was tugged from his thoughts by the sound of an engine revving. He’d nearly hit the end of the main street and was now standing outside of what seemed to be a mechanic. Out front were a few men in dark blue jumpsuits. One was on the ground, underneath a vehicle that looked to be missing its wheels. Another was speaking to a man in plainclothes - probably a customer. The last was squatting on the ground, jumpsuit pulled down and tied around his waist, elbow deep in a brand new motorcycle. It was red with ivory accents and three impressive looking headlights on the front. The bike itself looked about twice the size of the kid working on it. David wanted that motorcycle.
He sauntered over to the mechanic and feigned a look of innocent curiosity as he inched closer and closer. After a minute, the kid pulled back, wiping his hands on his pants, and stood up. “Mighty fine vehicle you got there,” David said with a smile. The boy turned to look at him and David’s smile faltered a little bit.
He was small - nearly a head smaller than David - with brilliantly curly hair and huge, puppy-dog eyes. His cheeks were flushed, like he’d just run a mile, and there was a wide grin on his face. “You like her?” he asked, beaming with pride. “Harley. Hydra-Glide. She’s not mine, but I worked on her a bunch so...I feel like she’s kinda mine…” His smile faltered for a moment, only enough for him to look slightly puzzled, and then was back in earnest. David had never seen such a happy little guy. He thought he looked like a cherub covered in grease.
They both stood back and admired the bike for a little longer in silence. The boy - who had started whistling quietly to himself - had taken a dirty cloth out of his pocket and was wiping his hands on it. He also wiped a bit of sweat off of his forehead and left a big, black smear.
David motioned toward the motorcycle by lifting his chin slightly. “How much?” The boy laughed and tucked the cloth back in his pocket.
“Not for sale, sorry.”
The denial was so swift and amicable that David had almost missed it. Not for sale? “Oh...that’s a shame,” he drawled as he pulled the cigarette from behind his ear and popped it into his mouth. Before he could even ask, the younger boy had taken a match from his pocket and lit it for him. David leaned down to the flame. “Thanks.” The boy nodded.
“I might have another motorbike coming in later in the week, if you’re looking for one,” he explained, getting that worried, puzzled look on his face again. That must have been his thinking face. This made David snort. The boy ignored him. “You live around here? You’re welcome to stop by if you like to take a look. I’m thinking Thursday.”
David nodded his head up the way he’d come as he took a drag. “Up on the hill,” he said. “Moved here a week ago.”
The boy grinned again and David wondered what the fuck he was so happy about all the time. “Yea? Welcome to Tuckahoe. Hope you like boring.” He turned back to the bike and started to fiddle with the engine. “I’m Marko,” he added without looking up. “You go to Tuckahoe High?”
David snorted again. “Jesus, is that what it’s called?”
Marko glanced up at this comment. “You don’t go to school?” He paused for a minute, considering him, and then shrugged. “Ah, I thought you were my age. Sorry.” David watched the kid as he rolled onto his butt and started to dig around in the engine again. There was something oddly endearing about him. For the first time in a long time, David didn’t feel the need to kill or eat him. That was an odd sensation. “Well you can come by on Thursday if you like. I think I’ll have one in by then.” He was being nice to David. Most people were turned off by his resting bitch face and his blatant attempts to shut down social interaction.
“Oh...well...that’s great. Yea. I’ll stop by.”
Marko grinned to himself as he worked. “Okay. We are open until eight o’clock. I’ll be here. I come every day after school.” He looked up and flashed another smile. “What’s your name, by the way? I didn’t catch it.”
I didn’t offer it, David thought, but his mouth betrayed him.
“It’s David,” he answered plainly.
“David,” the boy repeated, as if trying it on for size. “David’s great. I like David.” He chuckled. “Okay David...see you Thursday.”
Had...he just been dismissed? Was that possible? He looked around, stalling and waiting to see if there would be more conversation, but Marko just kept on working on his bike. David huffed a little, annoyed that he hadn’t been the one to end the conversation. He didn’t like anything happening that wasn’t on his terms.
He turned and marched off in a hurry after that, thinking about the blonde, curly-haired boy all the way home. How dare he? Stupid human. His throat could be ripped out and he could be bleeding to death in two seconds, if he kept that up. Clearly, Marko didn’t know who he was dealing with.
David fumed all the way home.
“How was your night?” Max asked as he bombarded through the foyer and into the living room. The older man was perched on the couch, reading a book by the fire. It was only quarter to seven. He was surprised Max wasn’t out dealing with work.
David growled in response, a low vibration deep in his chest. Max chuckled. “What’s wrong?”
“I met this kid,” David snarled.
“He works at the mechanic.”
David stopped. How could he explain this? The more he tried to articulate, the stupider he realized it all was. He hadn’t really done anything offensive. He’d just said goodbye.
“He was about my age,” David settled on. “We talked for awhile about motorcycles. He goes to the high school around here. He invited me back on Thursday to look at a bike.”
Max beamed at him. “You mean you made a friend ?” he mocked. “That’s good. You never make friends. It’s good you have someone you like. Are you going to go back on Thursday?”
Good question. David hadn’t really considered that. He didn’t ‘revisit’ situations anymore. He couldn’t remember the last time he spoke to the same person twice outside of Max. Usually they ended up as dinner.
Max chuckled and stood up from the couch. He placed his book on the table. “Friends are good, David,” he said softly.
“All my friends end up as food,” he answered curtly.
“Yes, and this one probably will too, and that’s okay.”
David snorted and shook his head. He was probably right. “Kind of a shame,” he said as they walked into the kitchen together. “He’s a nice kid. Really fucking happy-”
“Sorry. Really happy. He looks like a kewpie doll. He’s definitely not afraid of me. I thought humans had this innate fear of us?”
“Maybe he’s different.”
Didn’t seem likely, but maybe there was something about this kid. Maybe he was just a vampire whisperer or something.
He seemed so sad now…
Oh well. He wouldn’t be sad after David sucked him dry. Then he’d just be dead.
Thursday came quickly.
The town was active for a little place, he had to admit, but Portland had been a decently-sized city. There was a hub, and though it was no Big Apple, it was still more densely populated and had a lot more opportunities for nightlife. Tuckahoe was lacking anything to do. All the businesses closed down by eight, there was nowhere to go for fun, and David found that by day ten he had discovered every part of town and toured every option for entertainment. In short, it was boring. He didn’t like it.
By Thursday, he was actually looking forward to going back to the mechanic shop. His feelings of curiosity about the boy he’d met had turned sour by his twisted, stubborn mind and David was determined to prove to himself that Marko was just a normal human being with nothing useful about him other than his blood.
When he arrived at the shop, Marko was out front working on the Harley. His jumpsuit was on properly this time and, once again, he was crouched on the ground doing something with tools. “Hello, David,” Marko drawled without looking up from his project. “No motorcycle.”
Was this kid speaking in some kind of code? There was a motorcycle literally on top of him. “What?” David didn’t appreciate the lack of care in his voice and was wondering, for the thousandth time that week, why he was even bothering with this.
“No motorcycle to sell you,” Marko clarified as he rolled onto his back and popped up off the ground. He was all covered in grease again. David wondered if that was just his typical look. “My guy that wanted to sell changed his mind, so I don’t have a bike for you.”
Oh yea. He was here to buy a bike. David had forgotten that was the pretense under which they’d set up this second meeting in the first place. “Oh,” he said weakly. “That’s a bummer man.” He watched as Marko ran a greasy hand through his thick curls with some trouble and then popped a cigarette in his mouth with the other.
“Yea sorry,” he responded out the side of his mouth around the cigarette. He lit a match and held it up to his mouth, protecting the flame with the opposite palm. “If you want, we could still go for a ride though.”
David glanced around for another bike. He’d never driven one, but it didn’t seem hard, and he figured something loud and fast was right up his alley. The only one he could find, however, was the Harley.
Marko grinned at him. “You want to?”
David frowned and looked at the Harley, then back at the boy. “You mean together?”
Marko laughed. “Yea, sure.” He tossed the cigarette to the side and climbed on the bike. Before turning the key, he winked at David and chuckled, and then turned it on.
The sound of it was exciting. It roared to life like a wild animal and David couldn’t help but be a little eager to get on it. It sounded so raw and powerful. He definitely had to get one of these. Marko kicked the kickstand up and balanced himself. Obviously, he was comfortable. How many times had he driven this before?
The younger boy looked at him expectantly and then nodded his head to the side quickly to motion for David to get on the bike. Was there even enough room for two people on that seat? Probably not, but Marko was small, and he had scooted up all the way to make some room on the back. David sighed - he didn’t relish the thought of riding bitch - but complied and swung a leg over the bike. He hesitantly slid his arms around the smaller boy’s middle and it made David’s stomach do a little flip.
He was warm. Really warm. And his entirely body was pressed up against David’s front side right between his legs. David closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. He tried to remember if there had been a time in his life when this position hadn’t ended in bloodshed or sex. Or both.
Once again, Marko didn’t seem bothered. He stood up slightly, kicked down the gear, and revved the motor. “Ready?!” he bellowed over the roaring of the engine.
“I thought this wasn’t your bike!” David shouted. It was surprisingly hard to hear even though they were so close together. “Are you stealing it?”
Marko didn’t respond, but his shoulders shook. David took this to be him laughing. “We’re borrowing it!” he yelled over his shoulder. “It’s my old man’s!”
Without waiting for a response, Marko picked his feet up and they took off.
David had not expected to go so fast so quickly. He tightened his grip on Marko’s middle and tucked his face in behind the boy’s shoulder. It was difficult, because he was so small, but after a moment they found a position that was comfortable and he was able to appreciate the experience for what it was.
They were so vulnerable with nothing to protect them if they took a spill. He had been in Max’s car before, and that didn’t always have a top, but at least it had sides and seats and buckles. This was just two wheels. They were low to the ground and David thought it felt a little bit like flying, but much more dangerous. When he flew, at least he could control where he was going. Here, he had to place all his trust in a kid he’d only known for a total of fifteen minutes and hope that they weren’t going to crash.
Marko had brilliant control over the bike, though. David noticed even his path was well-prepared. He wondered vaguely where they were going when they turned suddenly. Marko let out a howl - an honest to goodness howl like a wolf - as they started pushing 80 down a dirt road in the pitch black. They were far enough away from the town that the lights had started to fade and the world in front of them looked like nothingness.
After a few minutes, the bike began to slow and lights came into view. David heard water and looked around. He realized, now that he could better process his surroundings, that they had been going uphill most of the time and they were now at a cliff of sorts that was overlooking the town.
Marko rolled them up to the edge and stopped. As he shut the motor off, the air was pierced with such a thick silence that David felled compelled to immediately jump off the bike and put some distance between them. It was such a shocking difference from how wild their journey had been.
“Not bad, huh?” Marko grinned and climbed off the bike. “What did you think?”
David had a lot of questions, surprisingly, and noted that he could not have bet money they’d end up in a situation like his. He looked around. There were no houses. No buildings. They were entirely alone.
Shit, I’m going to eat this kid. David thought to himself as he forced a pathetic smile onto his face. So much for making a new friend.
“It was really good,” he agreed. “I’ve never been on one before. They got some power for sure.”
Marko beamed with pride, perching himself side-saddle on the Harley. “Yea, sure do.” He turned then to look out over the cliff, down at the lights. “I thought this would be a good place to go,” he said thoughtfully. “You just got here, so I figured you’d want to see the best part of Tuckahoe.”
“This isn’t technically in Tuckahoe,” David muttered.
“Exactly,” Marko concurred. “That’s why it’s the best part.”
They stood in silence for a moment. What a weird little guy , David thought. What was so different about him? He seemed like a normal, albeit strange, little fella. Marko shifted to the ground and hung his feet over the edge of the overhang. His mechanic’s jumpsuit was still covered in grease. He watched as the boy scooped up a frog from the ground and started to pet it gently before tossing it overhand off over the cliff.
“Okay, I give up,” he said as he crossed the space between them and sat down on the ground in a way that mirrored Marko. “What is it with you? You just met me and now you’re taking me up here on this hill to look at the city. What’s the deal?”
Marko looked over at him. He didn’t look hurt, but he was clearly puzzled. “I don’t get what you mean,” he said quietly.
“How do you know you can trust me?” David pressed, curious to see if he could get a little scare out of the kid. This was getting too close for comfort. He had to ruin it before they really did become friends. “I might be some wacko serial killer or something. Maybe I’m some crazy guy who’s going to kill you and steal your bike.”
Marko’s face split into a wide smile. “Oh, no, I can tell you won’t,” he asserted. “I can tell you’re not a bad guy.” He looked away to the town again.
David was confused. He didn’t act much like a bad guy, but he was closed off. His clothing was tough, his haircut was tough, he smoked, he cursed, he was generally unfriendly...and yet this kid was sure he was so grand. It made him angry. He would have to show him a lesson. But it wouldn’t hurt to play with his food a little.
“Yea? And why’s that?” he goaded.
Marko was quiet for a long time. David thought maybe he’d forgotten they were having a conversation, and he considered leaving, when he spoke up. “Because I know what bad guys are like, and you aren’t it.” His tone was surprisingly quiet, and David immediately felt that he’d hit a nerve he hadn’t meant to.
Dammit, just eat him now and stop all this feelings bullshit, he told himself.
“You are tough, I believe that, but the way you talked to me and the way you hold yourself...you aren’t a bad guy.”
What the fuck was happening here? Were they about to have a heart to heart or something?
“Well,” David said slowly. “I am. Just so you know.”
Marko turned to him. “You are what?”
“A bad guy.”
They sat in silence for a while. It was a strange conversation, but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. He was going to rip this guy’s throat out in a minute, so anything they said now would disappear. Maybe, after he was finished, he could take the bike. Then he would have a cool motorcycle.
“You said the bike was your dad’s?” he pressed.
Marko nodded without answering.
So he had a dad. Okay. He probably had a whole family. It wasn’t every day that someone had a brand new Harley Davidson that was customized and beautiful like this one. If David took it, they’d start asking question. That would crush the ‘survive’ part of the ‘feed, thrive, and survive’. Shit.
“Oh. Cool that he lets you work on it.”
Marko didn’t respond for a few minutes, and then he snorted. It was the first truly negative thing he’d seen from the kid, but his tone was definitely one of disgust. “He doesn’t let me, he makes me. He owns that shop that I work at. Makes me work every day. Pockets my paycheck. Spends it all on booze and cigarettes. He’s a piece of shit.”
The response took David by surprise, but his reaction to Marko’s story was even more surprising. He was angry. What sort of shithead forces free labor out of their kid and steals their money? What an asshole.
“Oh...that’s shit. Why don’t you just quit?”
“He wouldn’t like that.”
David took his meaning from just those four words and hummed in response. He looked over at the boy again. His shoulders were scrunched up and he was leaning forward a little. He looked uncomfortable. His eyes seemed to be strictly trained to one blade of grass on the ground. David thought he really did look like an angel from a painting or something. Maybe he had just been in need of a friend and David was the first person to come along. He seemed so sad now…
Oh well. He wouldn’t be sad after David sucked him dry. Then he’d just be dead.
At this thought, something unfamiliar reared inside of him. It was denial. It was rejection. It was a blatant ‘NO’ to the notion of destroying this boy. What the fuck? He remembered Max’s words. He’d finally made a friend. That was bullshit. This whole thing was bullshit. Even if he didn’t want to eat him, it didn’t mean they had some special sort of relationship.
“Can we head back?” David asked. Suddenly, the happy-go-lucky little bastard was back and Marko jumped to his feet.
“Sure thing,” he said as he mounted the bike again. “Get on.” He flashed a cheeky grin and turned the key in the ignition.
“I didn’t eat him,” David groused as he walked through the living room. Max was flipping through some records in the corner that hadn’t been unpacked yet. He placed one back into the box and moved onto a small pile on the floor.
“Clearly. What happened?”
“Nothing happened.” David fell hard onto the couch and sighed. “We drove to some hill on the side of town and sat and talked for like thirty five minutes and then came back.”
Max stopped and turned to stare at him, obviously confused.
“You mean to tell me you two were on the outskirts of town alone together and you didn’t drink from him?”
“You had the perfect opportunity to! No one knows you here. You aren’t associated with him. It would have been an easy kill...what’s the problem? Is it because you’re friends now?” He smiled a little.
“Stop it! Christ...no. We aren’t friends. He started telling me like...his dad fucks with him-”
“Sorry. His dad’s a jerk and probably beats him up and sh-stuff and I just...didn’t feel like it.”
David remembered being on the back of the motorcycle, how warm Marko had felt. He could smell the blood through his shirt, through his skin. He could feel his pulse. Once or twice, he had pressed his hips up against Marko’s back as they rode, but he didn’t think the boy noticed. It had felt good. He had smelled good. He had been the perfect prey. What happened?
His attention was brought back to Max as the older man picked up another record off the floor and put it back in the box.
“Dad, I think you’re doing that backwards. You’re supposed to unpack them.”
Max snickered and then took a great, tired sigh. “I’m packing them, actually,” he said without looking up. David squinted at him. Had he said ‘packing’?
“Packing...what...whatdya mean ‘packing’?”
Max placed the album in his hand gently on the floor and looked across the room.
“We have to leave, David.”
David sat up suddenly. “Leave? We just got here, what are you talking about?”
Max shook his head. “I made a mistake with the business,” he explained. “There were more politics involved that I thought and it wasn’t as easy to take over and...well - long story short - I killed the two owners, but I did it in a not very safe or casual way and it’s probably best we leave again.”
David hated Tuckahoe, but this broke the record for how quickly they’d ever had to leave a place. They had only been there about two weeks and Max had already fucked it up.
“Where are we going now ?” David asked, exasperated.
“I haven’t gotten that far yet, but I’ll let you know.” His voice was even and measured, but David could tell he wasn’t as together as he normally was. Usually, their moves were part of a grand scheme. This one seemed to be off the cuff. That wouldn’t be good for anyone. He’d need some space.
David opted for nodding in response and removing himself from that environment quickly and quietly.
The thought of Marko being his brother seemed to satisfy something in his chest that he couldn’t identify.
Friday night, David stayed in.
Max was sorting out his politics, or whatever it was that he’d been complaining about. They were planning on leaving within the next few days and were in the process of packing all their shit back into boxes. Luckily, they had very little. Even luckier, most of it hadn’t been unpacked, so David was slacking off in a professional manner. He’d already drank three bottles of blood he’d found in the kitchen (for emergency purposes, but hey, he was hungry), listened to four records, jerked off twice, read the newspaper, and was now sprawled on the floor staring at the ceiling and wondering how hard it would be to kill himself.
A familiar noise pulled him out of his daydream. Outside on the street, David heard a rumble. It was low at first, but it grew louder and louder. Lights flashed through the front window causing shadows to move and creep across the living room as they moved. Was someone pulling up in a car? What the fuck did they want? He hoped it wasn’t one of the fucking businessmen Max was dicking around with. David groaned as he reluctantly pushed himself off the floor and pulled open the front door.
On the driveway sat a beautiful, red and ivory motorcycle and on it was a tiny, impish boy with blonde curls and a black, leather jacket that was two sizes too big for him. David stepped onto the front stoop.
The boy flashed him a grin and pushed up from the bike. He was headed for the door.
Who the fuck did this kid think he was?
“David. How are you?”
David glanced around, but they were the only two there. For a moment, fear struck him. If Max came home, it was likely the kid would be dinner. Why was he so opposed to that idea?
“Fine. How did you find my house?”
“You said it was on the hill,” Marko replied as he mounted the steps to the stoop. “This is the only house up here.” He was right, of course. They’d picked a house that allowed them privacy. God, was he stupid. David stared blankly at him for longer than was surely socially acceptable until Marko finally added, “You gonna invite me in?”
David stepped fully outside and shut the door behind him. “No,” he answered curtly. What the fuck is he doing here? David wondered. Humans are so stupid. He literally walked into a vampire’s lair. Where are the survival instincts here?
“Oh okay. You wanna get out of here?”
The question took him by surprise. How had he turned that rejection into a night out on the town? Who the fuck was this kid? Regardless, he felt a bit like a prom date being picked up for a night out. His eyes flitted over to the bike.
“You ‘borrow’ that again?”
Marko grinned. “Nah. This time I stole it.”
David smirked back at him. “You steal that jacket too?”
“Yea...can you tell?”
“It’s fine it’s...good.”
They both chuckled a little and then Marko turned and headed toward the bike, chewing on what looked like a loose string on his sleeve. David glanced back in the house, although he wasn’t sure what he was looking for. Perhaps an excuse not to go.
“You might want a jacket!” Marko called over his shoulder. “It’s supposed to get chilly.”
He couldn’t help but smile at the comment. Marko was a gentleman, to say the least. He really did feel like he was being courted.
He didn’t like it much.
The trip ended up being short. They didn’t get to jet through farmland going the speed of light. Instead, they pulled into a little diner near the outskirts of town. It seemed to be in the opposite direction of the mechanic, and David wondered if this was done deliberately.
The little bell above the door alerted the late night staff to their presence.
“Hey Marko…” A woman’s voice floated through the air slow and cool like smoke. They turned to see one of the waitresses waggling her fingers at them. Marko nodded his head up and blew her a kiss that ended in a sly chuckle. He then slid into the booth in the back corner, and David followed suit.
“You come here often?” David asked as he leaned across the table and lowered his voice. His eyes were still on the waitress in the back who was eyeing them up.
“Eh...not too.” Marko looked over his shoulder to confirm what the distraction was. “That’s Marcie,” he explained. “She goes to my school.” An absent smile lingered on his face.
“She your girl?”
The question hung in the air heavier than intended. David had a habit of making everything he said sound like a threat. Marko didn’t seem to notice.
“Nah. We ran around a while back, but I’m not really going out with anyone.”
David found, for some reason, that this answer relieved him. Fuck. He hated feelings.
They ordered some food which David didn’t touch, though he paid for both meals. Marko was able to put away twice as much food as should have been able to fit in his stomach and, when he was finished, he asked if David was going to finish his.
“You know, you’re a weird kid, Marko,” he said as he slid his burger and fries across the table to land in front of the kid. Marko took a bit of the burger and nodded. “Quite an appetite you got there…” Something reared in David’s chest when he said the word ‘appetite’. He felt immense discontent. He felt hunger.
It’d been a bit since he’d truly hunted. A few days. The blood they kept for emergencies was old. It lacked life. It didn’t satisfy his need to hunt and destroy. They would definitely need to eat again before leaving.
“Hey, uh...we are leaving.”
Marko looked up, mid-bite. “Right now? Can I finish this first?”
David lifted an eyebrow. “No. I mean...my Dad and I. We are moving again.”
The chewing slowed and the burger was gently placed back down on the plate. “Moving?” he asked after he’d managed to swallow. “You just got here two weeks ago. Where the hell are you going?”
David swallowed. He was feeling discontent. Looking down at Marko with his sad, confused eyes, hair combed back in a pomp, jacket too big...he looked like a kicked puppy. Why was this affecting him so much?
“Chicago, probably,” he murmured. There was no explanation that he could give, so he left it at that.
Marko looked down at the half-eaten food, but didn’t pick it up. “Oh man, that’s a bummer,” he said at last. It looked like he was contemplating something pretty hard. After a minute of silence, he perked up. “You wanna go see a movie?”
Before David could answer, the bell chimed in the shop again. A tall man with a blonde, military cut walked in. He was wearing mechanics overalls. He set his eyes on their table and headed straight for them with a mean-ass look on his face.
“Er...” David gestured to the man and Marko turned just in time to see who it was before the man grabbed him roughly by the collar of his shirt and jerked him right out of the booth seat. David was on his feet in less than a second. “HEY.”
“You shut your mouth, boy,” the man snapped, jabbing a finger in David’s direction and keeping his other hand firmly on the back of Marko’s neck. He turned his attention to the younger boy and gave him a shake. “I tell you you could take my bike out?” Marko cursed and tried to pull away, but was shaken again. “Huh?”
“I didn’t think so.”
The man - who David took to be Marko’s father - wasn’t big, but he was nasty. He smelled of alcohol and sweat and anger. David could almost feel his heart pumping he was so riled up. The man moved to grab a fistful of Marko’s hair and pushed the boy so he was out in front, leading the pair to the door. “Get your ass in the truck. I don’t wanna hear one peep out of you.”
The diner was entirely still as the two of them tramped down the main aisle toward the exit. David could smell fear in the room. The wait staff had all seemed to have disappeared into the kitchen. Other customers were doing their best to avoid looking.
“Take your fucking hands off him.” David spoke before he had even formulated a plan in his head. They stopped abruptly and the man turned. His features had distorted into something murderous. His face was beet red.
“The fuck you say to me?” He started to move back toward David, dragging Marko behind him like a rag doll.
“Take. Your. Fucking. Hands. Off. Him.” David looked calm. He hadn’t moved an inch since he’d stood, his hands were tucked neatly in his pockets, and his voice wasn’t raised. An air of nonchalance was something he thought was always important to have. This guy had no idea what he’d just walked into.
The pair of them stopped less than two feet away. David had to look down on the man to see him in the eye, but what he lacked in stature he made up for in purely unbridled rage. He all but tossed Marko to the floor when releasing him. The younger boy stumbled into a booth and sat there, wide-eyed, shaking his head behind his father’s back in a silent plea to keep David quiet.
Vampires were naturally gifted with some ability to manipulate people’s thoughts, but David hadn’t really utilized this skill. He hadn’t had the chance, although he’d occasionally cause his dates to hallucinate for fun. This felt like the perfect opportunity to absolutely ruin a man without even touching him.
“You dare to talk to me like that you disrespectful fucking child?” The man spat when he talked.
“Disrespectful?” David echoed, raising his eyebrows in an amused reaction. “Why should I respect you? All you did was come in and mess up my evening.” He motioned to the scared looking kid in the booth. “You hurt Marko. You think I oughta respect you for that?” He sauntered forward a few steps, closing the distance between them until they were uncomfortably close.
“You know what I think?” he continued, eyes boring into Marko’s father’s as if he were searching for his deepest secret. “I think you need to be taught a little lesson in ‘respect’ yourself.” The man’s mind was weak. David could feel it. He could feel the effect the alcohol had, clouding his perception, clouding his judgement. He willed the man to see something truly terrifying. Something that would keep him away for a while.
Suddenly, David’s features began to warp and change. His eyes turned blood red and yellow, his skin started to slowly burn away, his face bent and bubbled and soon he was replaced with an awful demon much more horrifying than even his vampire form.
The man let out a shriek loud enough to hear on the opposite side of town. He fell backwards and sprawled out on the floor. All four limbs scrambled for purchase as he struggled to crawl back to the exit. A few feet back, his bumped into Marko. When he looked up, his son had transformed into a terrible creature as well, and he screamed again, grabbing at furniture to pull himself up, and he dashed from the diner as quickly as he could. Through the window, the boys watched him dart down the road, leaving his truck - and his beloved bike - in the parking lot.
Marko looked back at David, utterly confused. From his perspective, and everyone else’s in the diner, nothing had really happened. The boys appeared much the same as they always had. Nothing had changed. Nothing was different. Behind the counter, two of the waitresses hovered, probably wondering if they should call the police, but not having a damned idea of what to tell them.
“Let’s get out of here,” David said as he beelined it to the door. Marko was with him in a second.
Outside, the night was still and quiet. It was pushing eleven and the rest of Tuckahoe had gone to bed. Without a word, the two of them climbed back onto the Harley and headed back for the dirt road.
“Can I ask what the fuck just happened?” Marko croaked when they’d arrived at the cliffs and he’d finally found his voice. “There was...nothing. He was just staring at you and then he had a fit. What the fuck did you do?” He was pacing back and forth. David had a seat at the edge of the overhang.
“Nothing,” David confirmed. “Looks like he had just a little too much to drink.”
“He’s always drunk. I’ve never seen him scared like that before…”
“Well, now he’ll think twice before fucking with you again.”
There was a painful silence for far too many seconds and then Marko sat beside him.
“You didn’t have to do that. Whatever that was. But...thank you.”
David grunted in response. He wasn’t sure why he’d done it. Something about seeing the kid being roughed up really rubbed him the wrong way. Max was strict, and downright mean sometimes, but he would never treat David like that. He couldn’t imagine him treating anyone like that, especially not a child. Even when dealing with his victims, death was short and sweet. David might not have been so gentle and empathic as Max, but he didn’t feel like Marko deserved that kind of shit.
“You didn’t eat him?”
Max was reading again when David got back. He was pushing five o’clock, and he’d been up talking to Marko most of the time.
“I didn’t,” he confirmed.
He knew Max wasn’t pushing him to kill. He was doing that thing he often did when there was a lesson to be learned so he was bombarding David with questions so he could figure something out on his own. Why did he feel so connected to Marko? It was strange.
“I don’t know. Maybe I am attracted to him.”
Max snickered. “Maybe. You seem to still drink from the people you’re attracted to, though. This seems a little different.” The boxes had piled higher since he’d left. They were nearly ready to leave again. David wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He felt detached, like the decision didn’t impact him one way or the other. He chose an empty chair that wasn’t covered in packing material.
After a long silence, David spoke. “Can he come with us?” he asked. The question took him by surprise, although he’d been rolling it around in his head for a few minutes. It took Max by surprise too. He shut his book and sat up a little straighter as he usually did when a ‘serious’ conversation was about to take place.
“You mean you’d like me to turn him?”
David hadn’t thought about that. Obviously, if Marko came, he’d have to become a vampire. They couldn’t just keep a human with them. The thought of Marko being his brother seemed to satisfy something in his chest that he couldn’t identify.
“Yea.” A few weeks ago he’d been so adamantly opposed to someone else coming into their family, but he pictured the little, curly-haired kid eating stupid, sham, cheese-and-cracker dinners with them and hunting with them and it just felt right.
Max frowned a little. “David...we can’t right now.”
Confusion and frustration hit him like a ton of bricks. David sat up suddenly, gripping the arms of the chair tightly. “What?”
“You know we are leaving because we aren’t in a good place. Having another person with us would just be too much. We don’t have a plan for where we are going. I don’t have a business lined up. We are under suspicion, and we aren’t doing too well financially.”
“Yea, because you ate your fucking business partners!”
Max turned quickly, faster than David could register. In a flash, yellow eyes were right in front of him and he was pinned to the chair, gently, but firmly. Max growled low and commanding, and David exposed his neck slightly out of instinct. “I don’t appreciate the attitude, David,” he snarled. The boy nodded gently. “I give you a lot. You know everything I do I do to protect this family.” David nodded again and Max eased off, returning to his human-like form. “Please understand, we have to be very careful. To have to care for a new fledgling right now would be so difficult for me. There’s a lot a sire has to do when they turn someone. It would put us at great risk.”
David knew he was right, but now he was annoyed. Now he wanted Marko, not just because he thought he’d fit in, but because he was told he couldn’t have him. David nodded one more time. “Okay, Max. Sorry.” He averted his gaze, but his mind was working a million miles an hour. “When are we leaving?”
Max took a deep breath and returned to the couch. He picked up his book and examined the spine, seemingly thought better of it, and placed it on the table again. “Monday,” he said. It was Sunday morning. They’d sleep through the day and have the following night. There wasn’t a lot of time.
Marko opened his mouth to retort, but seemed puzzled, like he couldn’t remember why leaving his entire life behind to run off with a stranger he’d just met was a bad idea.
The next night, he was out the door at sundown.
By seven o’clock he was standing on the corner across the street from the mechanic. There were a few people standing around outside, but none David recognized. There was a slight breeze outside and an overwhelming sense of something about to go wrong. His hackles were raised. The world felt rushed. There was a sense of urgency for the first time in nearly a decade. He frowned and headed across the street.
Marko was inside fiddling with something on a counter in the back. No one noticed David as he walked through the workshop room and straight up to him. He looked the same as all the other guys in there, dressed in all blue, but his hair was done up all nice and neat. Like an organized, blonde mop on the top of his head.
“Hey, you got a minute?”
Marko looked up immediately when he heard David’s voice, and the older boy recoiled when he saw him. His cheek was split in the middle and the skin under his eye was purple and bruised. David couldn’t help a quiet growl from escaping his throat. “Where is that motherfucker?”
Marko sighed. “It’s okay, David. Don’t worry about it.” He placed a wrench on the workbench. “He’s not here today anyway. He’s still sleeping off last night.” David stared down at him, willing him to look up and meet his gaze, but he didn’t. After all that, and that bastard still had the nerve to beat up on him. What a piece of shit.
“You got time to come with me for a bit? I want to talk to you.”
Marko hesitated, clearly torn, but he glanced around the shop quickly and then nodded. “Okay, yea. For a little bit.”
The two of them walked in silence through the workshop and out the door. The Harley was parked out front like normal, but Marko didn’t look at it. “Hey.” David reached out and caught the arm of his jumpsuit and then motioned to the bike. “One more time. Whatdya say?” Marko’s gaze flittered between disbelief and fear. He looked back and forth between David and the bike a few times. “I promise he won’t ever touch you again.”
There was no reason Marko should have believed him. Maybe it was something in his voice that made him sound sure of himself, or maybe Marko just decided he’d have one last romp around before his dad literally killed him, but a second later they were both climbing on the bike. Marko started the engine and kicked the kickstand up. “You better keep that promise!” he shouted over the roaring of the bike. Without waiting for a response, they took off down the street.
The cliffs seemed to be their usual place now. They parked and David was quick to dismount. This was going to be a mess, he was sure of it. Not only did he have no idea what he was doing, but he also knew there’d be hell to pay when they got home that night. There was even a chance Max would just put him out of his misery and leave him to die. He pulled a cigarette from behind his ear, lit it up, took a long drag, and braced himself.
“What’s up?” Marko asked him. He leaned casually against the bike as usual, but David could see he was uncomfortable. His arms were crossed over his chest and he was sitting awkwardly. It was likely the black eye wasn’t the only scratch on him.
“I’m leaving tomorrow for Chicago,” David answered. He took another drag off the cigarette and then handed it to Marko. “I want you to come with me.”
The silence was deafening. He’d expected a laugh or some reaction, so he waited somewhat patiently until he got one. When Marko realized he was being serious, he coughed a little on the smoke and handed the cigarette back.
“Go...with you? To Chicago? Tomorrow?” It seemed difficult to piece together all the words. As if they didn’t make sense as a unit. Disbelief fell away to amusement and Marko laughed. “I can’t go with you! What...what are you talking about?” That was a logical answer, of course. It was the one he’d expected, but it was unacceptable.
David tossed the cigarette aside and moved closer. He took his time, and he felt like a lion moving in on his pray. Marko stood his ground. Just like always, he wasn’t afraid. When they were too close for comfort, David stopped. Up close, Marko smelled distinct - blood, grease, and some sweet scent that was uniquely his. He inhaled. Their eyes met. Suddenly, he was aware of how uncomfortable the scene was. He focused on hypnosis.
“You’re gonna come with us to Chicago,” he stated.
“You are coming with us.”
Marko opened his mouth to retort, but seemed puzzled, like he couldn’t remember why leaving his entire life behind to run off with a stranger he’d just met was a bad idea. David saw his eyes cloud over. He gently held the younger boy with a hand on each side of his waist.
“You’re coming with me.”
Marko nodded vaguely and his eyelids drooped. He slumped forward slightly and allowed his weight to be held by David and the bike.
“I’m going with you.”
David inhaled again. God, he smelled so good. Why didn’t he drink from him the first night? In his mind, he reviewed what would happen. He’d bite. He’d drink, but not too much - he didn’t want to kill him. Then he had to give his blood or else the change wouldn’t be complete. Biting someone was terribly old-fashioned. He’d been turned by drinking Max’s blood mixed with wine. Apparently, this was a much easier, more modern custom. He’d only become a full vampire after he’d made his first kill. It was a right of passage physically and symbolically. If David succeeded, however, biting would turn Marko on the first try. No need to wait to make a kill.
David moved a hand up to cup the side of Marko’s face. His thumb traced the cut on his cheekbone and David licked his lips in anticipation. The smell was getting to his head now. He hadn’t fed since Thursday. He was hungry. Don’t drain him. Don’t drain him. That mantra would surely stop him from accidentally killing, wouldn’t it?
His other arm wrapped around Marko’s back, under his arm, and supported him. The smaller boy had given up control entirely, it seemed, and they were pressed front to front. David lowered his head and dragged his nose along Marko’s jawline. Immediately, he could feel the rush of blood under the surface. He growled.
“David?” Marko’s voice was weak and confused. I’m sorry, Kiddo, David thought as he felt his fangs drop. He slid his hand to tangle in Marko’s hair and gently pulled back until his neck was exposed. He was so soft. So innocent looking. David growled again and sunk his teeth in.
As soon as blood touched his tongue, his senses exploded. David began sucking in earnest. He ripped into Marko’s flesh, breaking the skin to find more blood. His tongue ran over the wound again and again, desperate for more. His entire body lit up with feeling. Everything felt good. Everything felt sensitive. He grinded up against the boy’s waist and another growl left his throat.
He was vaguely aware that Marko was panicking, screaming, pushing, struggling to get away. Fists were punching into his chest and he was being kneed and kicked over and over. Marko was twisting and fussing and squealing so loudly. He fell back onto the bike, which just gave David more leverage. He held onto him tighter, noticing again just how small he was, and sucked harder. Blood started to drip down the front of him. He felt it on his hands and face. After a minute or so, Marko’s movements stopped. I have to stop, David thought, but it was so hard. He wanted more.
He did pull away, when he heard Marko whimper. It pulled him back to reality and he released his fangs from the boy’s neck with a reluctant groan. A few last laps up his neck and face and David pulled away to inspect what he’d done.
Marko was a mess. His neck was ripped open and blood was still dripping. His body was entirely limp and David struggled to hear his breathing as he held him in a mostly upright position. His mouth hung open slightly and that reminded David of the very crucial next step.
“Oh shit.” David wrenched a hand free and sloppily ripped a hole in his write with one fang. Blood - dark and sticky - rolled to the surface and bubbled over. He hissed at the pain, but ignore it and held the wound up to Marko’s mouth. This whole scenario was a lot smoother and a lot less messy in his head. He should have known better. Good thing Marko wasn’t any bigger or else he might have had trouble maneuvering. David wished they were lying down instead of leaning against a motorcycle.
Marko didn’t move for a long time. Blood steadily trickled into his mouth, but he didn’t respond to it. For a solid few moments, David was sure he’d killed the boy. He had taken too much. He wasn’t ready for this. Now he’d fucked the whole thing up. C’mon, kid. Why couldn’t he just have left well enough alone and let him get on with his miserable existence?
Suddenly, a cough. Blood spurted out a bit and then...drinking. In earnest. Gentle lips pressed to his wrist, at first, and then a passionate tongue and mouth. Marko’s hand came up, shaking, to help pull David’s arm closer to him. He sucked and drank and worked the wound for everything is was worth until it began to heal itself.
After it had closed up, David scooped Marko up and laid him on the grass. He sat beside him, cross-legged, and waited. He had no idea what to expect. He remembered being turned, not being able to tell dreams from reality, being stiff all the time, being confused...but he was a half vampire then. He’d had time to adjust before the rest.
Out of curiosity, David leaned over and pressed his ear up to Marko’s chest. He could still hear a heartbeat, but faint. It was getting quieter and quieter. He stayed like that, just listening, until it stopped altogether. Marko grunted and moaned in pain. He rolled onto his side, panting, and then - silence. David sat up, puzzled. Had he really killed him? He did everything right, hadn’t he? After nearly ten minutes of waiting, the kid opened his eyes.
He eyed David for a long moment and then mumbled, “I don’t feel good.”
A wave of nausea struck David as well. Suddenly, there was an onslaught of whispers and confusion in his head. He thought it was Max speaking to him, and panic swept through him, but the whispers were weak and indistinct. They didn’t sound like Max.
On the ground, Marko moaned and rolled over onto his back. An instinctual need to protect and conquer came over him and he nearly jumped over the boy’s body. Instead, he took a deep breath and touched his shoulder. “It’s okay. You’ll be alright.” So this is what Max meant by ‘there’s a lot a sire has to do’. Apparently, the two of them were connected now.
He had to get Marko home. He didn’t expect this reaction and he wasn’t sure what to do. They couldn’t stay out on the cliff all night. He wasn’t sure what time it was, they probably had time, but he thought washing Marko up and maybe tucking him into a internal room for the day would do him good.
“Can you hold onto me? On the bike?” David waited a beat for an answer, and Marko nodded slowly. “Okay good. Come on, here we go.”
The silence was deafening. It shot through him like a bullet. No beating. No rushing of blood. No nothing.
Suddenly, he was dead.
The house was dark when they arrived. Max obviously wasn’t back yet. David thanked whatever powers may be as he all but dragged Marko’s limp body off of the bike and up the driveway. He was small and easy to carry, but David wondered if there was a reason he was so non-responsive. Had he fucked up the changing in some way? It seemed pretty straight forward: drink and be drank from. So why was Marko groaning and stumbling along next to him?
They pushed through the front door and headed straight for the back of the house. Bathroom. Bathroom. Bathroom. Maybe, if he could clean them up before Max got back, it would make everything seem a little better. He doubted it, but he was lacking a better plan. Nothing was under control, and David needed control. He craved it. He didn’t function well without it.
The door slammed open and David sat Marko down on the edge of the tub. He was sitting up on his own. That was a start. “David?” he questioned quietly, as if he were just coming back to his senses. “Where are we?”
“We are at my house,” he explained as he began to dig through the cabinets and under the sink. They needed towels. Where did they keep the towels? Everything was empty. They were all packed up to move. Boxes in the hallway. “Be right back. Don’t leave.”
Everything hurt. Before, the world had seemed dark. His stomach churned with terrible nausea. His heartbeat had been so loud that it was all he could hear. His entire world was shaking with every beat. He felt it was going to jump out of his chest. Thump. It started to slow. Thump. It felt like his muscles were working overtime. Thump. Each beat was like an explosion in his head and then.
The silence was deafening. It shot through him like a bullet. No beating. No rushing of blood. No nothing.
Suddenly, he was dead.
The quiet drove him crazy immediately. He felt nothing. He heard and saw and understood nothing. All he could feel was panic and then, slowly and painfully, hunger.
Now he felt things. He felt pain. His muscles ached, his stomach hurt, and he was hungry. He felt as if he’d never eaten in his life. But he wanted more than food. He couldn’t place the feeling. He was empty. He needed filling up. He thought of a good meal, but that didn’t do the trick. He thought of bloodshed. Gore. Ripping something limb from limb. That was closer. He thought of sex. Raw, hard, rough fucking. That was closer. He thought of both at the same time. That was closest.
He was running around the room in a tizzy. It was so bright. As things in his head calmed down he realized they were in a bathroom. In a house. Whose house was this?
“Where are we?”
David was looking for something. He was shoulders deep in a closet that looked to be empty. So this was his house. Why were they there? Marko looked down at his lap. His clothes were wet and sticky. He examined his hands. They were covered in blood. What had happened? He looked at David. Something had happened.
The words coursed through him like wildfire and he felt a great relief in knowing that he could easily follow those directions. He took a deep breath and pushed himself up. Standing wasn’t as hard now. In fact, he was feeling much better. But still empty. Still unsatisfied. Covered in blood. He walked to the sink to wash off his hands and looked up into the mirror where he saw...nothing.
His eyes locked to the mirror for a long time. It must have been a two way mirror or something. Or a picture. Or a trick. Slowly, he reached out one blood-covered hand and pressed a finger to the glass. A smudge of red was left on the surface. It was solid. It was cold. It was definitely a mirror. With no reflection.
“David!” He was shouting before he knew what was happening. He suddenly couldn’t breathe. What the fuck was going on? “DAVID!”
The older boy burst through the door, towels in hand, and took Marko by the arm. For the first time, he noticed that David was also covered in blood. Particularly around his face. Marko squeaked.
He led them to the toilet and sat the smaller boy down. “It’s okay. You’re okay,” he explained as he ran the towels under the faucet. He splashed water up onto his arms and face to try and clean up some of the mess. Marko leaned forward to see the mirror again. David didn’t have a reflection either. He also sounded like he’d never tried to comfort someone in his entire life. Nothing was okay.
“Holy shit. What is happening?” Marko’s voice came out broken and high-pitched. “Please...please don’t kill me.” David knelt on the floor in front of him and started to clean him off. First, his neck. Next his face and chest.
“It’s a little late for that, kid.”
“What do you mean?”
David stopped his ministrations for a moment and looked him dead in the eye. “I turned you into a vampire,” he said without a trace of a smile. Marko didn’t answer for a moment, and then a grin broke out on his face and he chuckled nervously.
“This is a joke, right?” he asked softly, but even as he said it, he knew it wasn’t. Something was definitely wrong. A sound from in the house caused David to turn and look toward the door. Marko found himself examining for the stereotypical bite marks he’d seen in movies. There weren’t any.
A sound from down the hall took David’s attention. The front door. Max.
He tossed the towel onto Marko’s lap as he jumped up. Stopping abruptly at the door, he turned and jabbed a finger toward the younger boy. “Do not leave this bathroom,” he commanded. Marko nodded, wide-eyed and clearly terrified. David slammed the door shut on the way out.
He slid into the living room just as Max was entering. Panting slightly, he tried to make himself seem calmer by leaning nonchalantly against the doorframe. “Hey.”
Max eyed him suspiciously before throwing his keys onto the table and removing his overcoat. “Hey,” he mirrored, dragging the word out in an almost comical way.
“What’s goin’ on?”
“Nothing…” Max looked him over - up and down - and asked, “Been feeding?”
David looked down at himself. He was covered in blood. Apparently, he’d made a much bigger mess that he’d thought. He knew he reeked of carnage and that the rest of the house probably did too. Especially the bathroom.
“Uh...yea,” David lied. “I was just cleaning up.”
They stood in silence for a few seconds, sizing each other up, when Max sighed. “What happened David?”
“What do you mean?”
“What did you do?”
David opened his mouth to protest, but hesitate a fraction of a second too long.
He gulped. There was no way he would be able to hide Marko. The kid was likely to start crying and he would need to feed soon. David stood up straight and braced himself for impact.
“You changed him, didn’t you?” Max’s features were unreadable. His tone sounded annoyed, angry even, but not nearly as bad as he’d been anticipating.
Max sighed again. “For Christ’s sake, David, do you not listen to anything I tell you?” He took off his glasses and pressed two fingers to the bridge of his nose. The tension in the room was killing him. Max was terrifying when he was angry and he could feel the frustration radiating through the air. David held his breath. Finally, Max looked up again. “Where is he?”
“Has he fed?”
David turned on the spot and headed back to the tiny bathroom. He pushed the door open to reveal Marko sitting on the edge of the toilet, gripping the wet towel to his chest, eyes wide and round, shivering. It’s okay, David tried to tell him. He knew they had a bond, like he had with Max, but he wasn’t sure if communication worked the same way. He heard nothing back.
Max’s whole demeanor changed when he laid eyes on Marko. Suddenly, he looked soft, concerned, and he knelt on the floor and spoke with a soft voice. “I’m Max,” he said gently. “I’m David’s father. What’s your name?”
There was silence, briefly, and lots of fleeting glances between David and Max, before he finally answered, “Marko.”
Max smiled at him. “It’s nice to meet you Marko. Don’t worry, we’ll get you all fixed up.” He turned to David, expression threatening, and barked, “Go get him new clothes.” David nodded and backed out of the bathroom. He pulled a white t-shirt and some jeans out of a box in his room and started digging for boxers. Nothing would fit him, but it would be better than what he had on.
By the time he got back, the two of them were standing. Marko looked a lot calmer. Max was gently cleaning some of the blood off of him. “I think we should go to the kitchen,” he was murmuring, and the younger boy nodded in agreement.
They walked together, past David, down the hall. You and I are going to have a very serious discussion later, Max warned him. David nodded and followed them. He had expected much worse, but it seemed that Marko’s charm had helped ease their leader’s reaction. Good. Maybe he would be forgiven if Max had found another son.
There was only one emergency bottle left in the fridge. Max said nothing about this, but glared at the older boy as he set it on the table. Marko sat, hands folded in his lap, and couldn’t help but stare. “Do you know what’s in this bottle?” Max asked him. He nodded.
“Yes. It’s blood.”
David almost smirked. He looked at Max for his response, but there was nothing clear on his face.
“Would you like to drink it?”
Without waiting for an answer, he opened the bottle. The air filled with a sweet, metallic smell. It was clear that Marko could smell it too, because his eyes immediately turned yellow, his fangs dropped, and his face became distorted and angry. He grabbed the bottle and sucked the whole thing down in a few seconds. When he was finished, he placed it politely on the table and then looked up at Max.
“I’d like more, please.”
This time, David did smirk. He crossed his arms over his chest and looked at his sire.
“You have to stay with us, you know,” Max explained. “Tomorrow we are leaving for Chicago. You have to come too. It’s too dangerous for you to stay here alone.”
“I know,” Marko replied.
Well, Max thought. He’s very straightforward, isn’t he? I’m surprised he’s taking to this so well.
David chuckled and looked back at Marko who was now running a finger along the edge of the empty bottle. Yea, he’s an odd little guy. I like him.
You’d better like him, Max snapped. You sired him. You have a lot to learn about being a sire. It’s not something I think you’re ready for, but we don’t have a choice now.
David frowned. Marko was his responsibility now. There was probably a laundry list of shit that entailed. I know. Have you given him the pep talk yet? he asked.
No. I have not given him the pep talk.
He grinned again. Okay. I’ll do that.
“C’mon, Marko,” he said and the younger boy stood automatically. Was this part of the relationship? Was Marko now going to follow him around like a puppy doing everything he was told? David wasn’t sure he appreciated the lack of privacy, but the control was tempting. His mind wandered to what sorts of things he could do with that power as they headed into the living room.
“Sit.” Marko sat. David sat beside him, close to him, and sighed. “Okay, I’m sorry I turned you without telling you.” Marko nodded. He seemed mostly back to his old self - curious, peaceful. He was fairly laid-back. “What did Max tell you?”
“Not much. Only that I am a vampire now and that I had to stay with you. He said you’re my mentor now and you’ll teach me vampire stuff. He said I can’t go out in sunlight because I’ll die and that I can’t go into a house without being invited because I’ll die. He also said you are my new family and you’ll take care of me.” He looked wishful at this, like he was hoping David didn’t correct him.
“That’s right,” the older boy confirmed. “All of that yea. You’re my brother now.” He paused. Brother sounded good. It felt good to say. “Uh...well okay. When I was turned, Max told me a few things. You’ll never grow old. You’ll never die. But you have to feed.”
“We’ll hunt together. None of this ‘blood from a bottle’ shit. That’s only for emergencies.”
“Yea. We’re careful. Max usually has a plan and a good place for us to start.” He didn’t mention that their lives were about to be in shambles.
“Oh good.” Marko looked away. “I feel weird. Like I’m hungry, but also want to kill someone. And I’m horny.”
“Yea, you’re gonna feel like that all the time now.”
“All the time?”
“There’s no way to stop it?”
David grinned at him. “Well, sure there is. For a little while. You have to feed. Or fuck. Or kill. I do a lot of that.”
“Anyone. There’s a lot of shit vampires can do. Control minds. Hypnotize...whatever. You and me can talk in our heads too, like me and Max. I’ll teach you.” He paused and centered himself. It really would be exciting teaching him all the cool shit Max had taught him. And all the cool shit he had figured out on his own. Now he didn’t have to stalk around at night by himself. He had a partner. A playmate. Having a brother was going to be great.
“Marko.” He turned himself so he was facing the younger boy straight on. He made his expression as serious as possible. “You can do whatever you want now. Nothing matters. You can get wasted every night. You can fuck whoever you want. You can kill people...you can do anything.” He grinned. “It’s fun to be a vampire.”
“We are brothers now, you said?”
Things were calmer now. After Marko had showered and gotten dressed, he’d sat down to have a talk with Max about logistics. It might have been wishful thinking, but it seemed like Max liked the kid. He was much more amenable than David and a whole lot more charming.
“Do you have any family?” Max asked as he sat down on the chair across from the boys. They were sat next to one another one the couch in the living room. David cringed a little at the question, but Marko seemed to take it in stride.
“I live with my dad,” he said simply. David growled audibly and the others turned to look at him. He stopped, looking just as shocked as they were. Max’s eyebrows shot up. Being overprotective is part of being a sire, he explained. David cleared his throat.
“I take it your dad isn’t a very nice person?”
The cut from his cheek and the black eye had disappeared when he was turned. He was back to normal now, all smooth skin and blonde curls, just a bit more pale than usual. David glanced him over, checking him for bumps or bruises. He was oddly unhappy that he couldn’t see the side of Marko’s neck that held two tiny puncture scars.
“Not really,” Marko answered. “I don’t have to tell him I’m going or anything. He’ll probably be glad that I’m not coming back.”
Max gave him a sympathetic look. “Do you need anything from your house before we leave?” he asked gently.
Marko thought for a few seconds and then said, “Maybe just some of my clothes.” At the moment, he was wearing David’s clothes and they were far too big for him. He looked like a pauper.
“David can get those for you.”
David nodded and stood up. Marko looked out the window. “Could you take the bike back to him?” he asked. “He really loves that bike.”
The engine roared all the way up the tiny driveway. The sound seemed to be enough to get the bastard’s attention, because he was at the front door scowling by the time David dismounted. He sauntered up to the porch, hands in his pockets.
“Get the fuck off my property,” the man said.
“I brought you your bike back,” David answered.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in first?”
“Not a fucking chance.”
Well, this conversation had started off well. David stood a few feet away, keeping his body relaxed and languid. The man was borderline seething. There was no point in pushing him. He couldn’t enter the house on his own anyway. He kept his distance.
“I thought you’d be happy you got your bike back.”
The man glanced over at the Harley. In the glow of the porchlight, blood drippings could be seen down the side of the ivory plates. It really was terrifying to look at.
“Where’s my son?”
“Invite me in and we can have a talk about it.”
He looked over at the bike again and then back at David. “What the fuck did you do to him, you maniac? I saw the way you was looking at him last night you sick fuck. You probably kidnapped him or something. Fucking homo. Where is he? I got a gun. You don’t tell me and I’ll shoot you.”
David laughed. “He’s fine. Trust me.” Better off than with you. “I promise you he’s perfectly okay.” He took a step closer, staring intently into the man’s eyes. “Let’s have a talk.” It wasn’t a suggestion. The man hesitated for a moment and then stepped aside.
“Fine. Come in. No funny business.”
David stepped through the front door. “No funny business,” he drawled. “Got it.”
As soon as the door clicked behind them, David was on him. He grabbed the man by the neck, lifted him up, and slammed him up against the wall, cracking a huge dent into it. The gun clattered to the floor. The man kicked his feet, a yard above the floor, and grabbed at the hand around his neck, but to no avail.
“You’re a sick motherfucker, you know that?” David spat as the man sputtered and choked in his grip. “Your son won’t be returning. He’s better off now that he’s mine.” He licked his lips, relishing the beet red of the man’s face as blood rushed to his head. “But just to make sure you won’t lay a hand on anyone ever again…”
David took a deep breath and snarled as he transformed. The man let out a panicked cry. “Not a nightmare this time, asshole,” David snarled, and he bit hard into the man’s shoulder, ripping out a chunk of flesh. The resulting sob was satisfying and David snickered to himself. He spit the raw muscle and blood out onto the floor and considered him again. The man was crying now, begging for mercy. “Oh, shut the fuck up,” he said as he released him. The man dropped to the floor and started desperately trying to crawl away. The scent and taste of blood was clouding his head and cackled as he placed a foot squarely on the man’s back and forced him down.
“Please!” he cried. He coughed and wept and struggled against David’s boot. “Please stop. I won’t do it again, I swear.” David frowned as he pictured Marko saying the same thing, in the same house, dozens of times before. The thought enraged him and he pounced on the man and tore his throat out through the back of his neck in one vicious motion.
“How did you get back without the bike?” Marko was still sitting on the couch, but Max had retired for the day. David rolled in the front door holding an old duffel with some of Marko’s clothes including the leather jacket that he’d been wearing the night before.
“You can do that without someone seeing you?”
“Sure. It’s dark out.”
He tossed the duffel bag onto the floor. After ripping Marko’s father to literal shreds, he’d cleaned up in the bathroom and made himself presentable. In the back of the house was a small bedroom, clearly Marko’s, with a couple of framed pictures of a man and woman and two little kids - a tiny girl with long wavy hair and a young boy with a curly mop on his head. David thought there must be a sibling, but didn’t bother to overthink. He grabbed some clothes and a bag and got out.
“Thanks for doing that.”
David sat on the couch next to him. He was surprised, but he really did like Marko. The kid seemed sweet and, now that they had a connection, he was even more glad he’d decided to change him. “You had a long ass night. You want to head to sleep soon?”
Marko nodded, but he seemed distant. His face was set in a frown and he was staring intently at the carpet. David chalked it up to the whole shitshow of an evening. He moved a little closer. To his surprise, the younger boy leaned on him.
“We are brothers now, you said?” David nodded in agreement.
“We are brothers now,” he confirmed. “Closer.” Blood brothers.
"That’s sorta how vampires are. Less like human families and more like…”
Graphic depictions of sex in this chapter.
The door to the bedroom creaked quietly as it swung open. Inside, it was very empty. Everything had been packed up and there was no furniture in the room. The windows were boarded and covered with several layers of curtains. No sunlight could penetrate during the daytime.
David held out his arm in presentation and then stepped inside.
“It’s empty,” Marko said, obviously puzzled.
“Yea well...we don’t sleep in beds so…”
Marko looked around the room, presumably for another vessel he could sleep in. He peeked in the closet which had a large bar across the top of it. Then he turned around and looked into the room again. “You don’t have a coffin or something?” David gestured to the closet and Marko turned to look in again. “There’s nothing in here.” He double-checked above his head, but there was nothing.
David snorted. “Coffin? What is this, a monster movie?” Marko shrugged. “We sleep in vampire form. It’s...easier. The human form takes some effort to stay in. It usually goes away once we fall asleep anyway.” He crossed the room and pointed to the bar at the top. “I hang from that.” He laughed at his own comment, aware of how ridiculous he sounded. Exactly a fucking monster movie. “Like a great, big bat.”
Marko looked puzzled. He looked at the bar again, then back at the floor. Finally, he shook his head. “No,” he said with a frown.
“No, I’m not ready. That’s too... Dracula for me. Too much.” He left the room and returned a moment later with some blankets and pillows from the living room and tossed them on the floor. He pointed to the makeshift nest. “I’m sleeping there tonight.” David blinked at him. Was he serious? He certainly looked serious. David waited for the punchline, but it never came. “I’ll work up to the hanging thing,” Marko added with a guilty shrug of his shoulders. “But tonight, I need to have this human thing, okay?”
He understood. When David was first turned, he insisted on trying to cook his meals for a while. Of course, that notion seemed ridiculous to him now, but the thought of eating raw things was confusing to him at the time. Marko had gone through an enormous amount of shit in the past eight hours. If he wanted to sleep on the fucking floor, then he could.
“Alrighty, kid, whatever you say.” David took off his pants then and flopped down on the pile of blankets. He rearranged them so one of them was a cover and stretched out. Marko blinked at him.
“Are you gonna sleep down there too?” he asked. He sounded scared.
David sat up. “Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone, am I?” It seemed innate. It seemed a given. Of course he wouldn’t leave Marko alone. The very thought seemed ridiculous to him. “I told you, we have to move together now. Max and I slept in the same space for a year or so after I was turned. It’s a safety thing.”
The younger boy glanced toward the door. Max was sleeping in the room down the hall. “Why don’t you anymore?” he asked quietly.
“Max is very into the human ‘family’ dynamic,” he explained. “So he and I sleep apart. It’s different with vampires, usually. There’s no clear cut boundaries. When we lived in Little Rock, there was a tribe that all shared a telepathic bond. There were about ten of ‘em and they all slept and ate and hunted and together. They were almost one unit. That’s sorta how vampires are. Less like human families and more like…”
Marko looked hesitant. He hadn’t moved from his place near the doorway and he looked a little bit cautious. “Marko, I’m not gonna hurt you,” David said. “I promise, I’m not gonna bite.” He grinned at his own joke and was relieved to see Marko did too. He hadn’t seen that ridiculous smile recently.
“That’s not what I’m worried about,” he answered as he started to fiddle with the curls on the back of his neck. “I’m just...I’m still hungry…”
“Well, I can’t help with that too much. You can drink from me, but I-”
David stopped abruptly and raised an eyebrow. That’s what he was worried about? Popping a boner while they were sleeping? David chuckled to himself. What a trivial thing. He had forgotten how humans think.
Marko blinked. “So...I...I’ve never shared a bed with a guy before.”
“You like guys?”
If Marko could have blushed, he would have turned a deep shade of pink. Instead, he scrunched up his face in fury. “No! I’m...I’m not…”
“Gay? It doesn’t matter.”
They looked at each other for a moment in silence until David sighed. “I told you, being a vampire means you can do whatever you want. You can fuck anyone you want. We aren’t part of society anymore. Most of the time, I don’t care if my partner is a girl or a guy, I just care if they are willing to fuck so I can get off and then I can eat them.”
Silence again. David could see Marko’s brain working over what he was saying. When David had first found himself attracted to a man, it had been 1942 and he was disgusted with himself. ‘Keep in mind that homosexuality occurs all over in nature,’ Max had told him during a nearly unbearable peptalk. ‘It’s in relatively recent history that it’s become socially unacceptable.’ Easy for someone who was four hundred years old to say.
“Look, I’m not gonna try and fuck you if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“But we can if you want.”
That seemed to stop him up too. He seemed taken aback. The charming, flippant boy he knew was gone and replaced with a statue. A confused, homophobic statue.
Come over here, Marko, David thought. He tried communicating the way Max did. He knew it worked when Marko sighed and sat down on the pile of blankets. Sun-up is soon. You are tired. Get some sleep. I’ll stay away if that’s what you want. He shifted to the left, but stopped when he felt a tentative hand on his arm.
Marko looked confused. He looked terrified. But he also looked...tempted. “Or,” David said in a low voice as he scooted closer again. “I can stay real close.” Way to scare him the fuck away on night one, he thought to himself. But here he was, being gently tugged back. Perhaps he wasn’t scaring him away just yet. Flirting was easy, at least. David had always been a predator, even in life. He was a lady-killer. A demanding lover. A womanizer. Marko was a flirt too. He’d seen it in the diner. But now he was shy and uncertain. David didn’t blame him.
“Sex is different for us,” he said. “It’s hard to explain but...you know how you aren’t feeling anything right now?” Marko nodded. “Well, sex is good. It feels good. It feels like something. Some people I’ve known says it feels like getting high, but better. Some people say it’s addicting. You had sex before?”
“Of course,” Marko scoffed. “A couple girls from school is all.”
David grinned. “Well, imagine how good that felt, but way better.”
“Nah, this is bullshit. ‘Sex is way better now because you’re a vampire’. That line usually work for you?”
“You want me to prove it?” David already knew the answer to that question, but he wasn’t sure Marko did. Even if he did, he wasn’t sure Marko wanted to admit it to himself. He didn’t answer. “It’ll make you feel better,” he added.
Marko shook his head. “I’m not gay.”
David chuckled. “Like I said, it doesn’t matter.” The younger boy hesitated and then looked toward the door again. “Max can’t hear us,” David added. “He’s asleep. Besides, he probably expects it.” This comment put a look of mild outrage on his face. David chuckled. “I mean...we are both stuck in the body of a teenage boy forever . You don’t think something like this is gonna happen eventually if we are sharing a room every night?” Marko didn’t respond. And don’t pretend you weren’t flirting with me the other night when you came to pick me up the other night.
David snaked an arm around his waist and pulled him down so they were lying side by side and facing one another. He covered both of them with the blanket, up to their waists, and stared at him. They were close, a few inches apart at most, and their knees were touching. Marko was still wearing his jeans and t-shirt. David had an arm draped over his side.
I’ll try it. If you hate it, you tell me to stop, okay? Marko hesitated, but eventually he nodded. Try telling me in your head. Just think...but like you want me to hear it. And the award for the poorest explanation goes to…
David chuckled and then leaned in and pressed a kiss to Marko’s lips. He had to admit, the kid was crazy beautiful. He hadn’t looked at him with such a critical eye, but he had noticed how striking he was from the start. He did look like a damn angel. And he was so young. That alone probably should have bothered him, as David was technically much older, but it turned him on.
Even dead and cold, Marko was soft. He was gentle. Unsure. David purred and opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. Innocence turned him on. Something so perfect about innocence that he could ruin. Sink his teeth into. And Marko would stay like that forever.
He felt the other boy respond. He kissed back, becoming more sure of himself with every breath. David had no doubt that he was feeling a little bit desperate. The hunger ate away at you fast. When he’d first changed, he’d tried to sate it as quickly as he could. He’d gone into town and fucked and killed a whole slew of people. It was hard to control. He was impressed with Marko’s self control, although he was worried he was holding onto his human side a little too tightly. That would probably pass with time.
Lose the jeans, he demanded and they were gone with a quick but violent fuss. David’s kisses migrated along the jawline and down onto Marko’s neck while the younger boy struggled to steady his breathing. His lips grazed the bite marks on his left side and they both moaned. He ran his hands up underneath the oversized shirt and dragged his nails lightly over his stomach, stopping at the edge of his boxers, also too big, that had slid down to hang below his waist.
Shirt. They both pulled their respective shirts - David’s black, Marko’s white - off over their heads at the same time and David took the opportunity to climb on top of him. Want me to stop yet? he joked as he felt Marko getting hard against his thigh. Marko growled and pulled him into a rough kiss. Oh, so the kid did have some spunk after all.
David grinded into him and reveled in the sound he got in response. He did it again and got another groan and a buck of hips. Their erections rubbed against each other through the thin fabric of their underpants. God, yes. Marko chuckled out of breath at David’s thoughts and tugged at his waistband from the back. So much for hesitating.
You never been with a guy, right? David rolled onto his back and pulled his boxers off in a swift motion. He placed a hand on Marko’s neck and licked and sucked at the skin just under his ear as the younger boy struggled to do the same.
No I haven’t.
You wanna be fucked?
The question seemed to stop some of the action. Marko rolled onto his side and brought one hand up to rest on the back of David’s hair, forearm resting on his shoulder and neck. He wasn’t ready for that, David could see it. He didn’t push, instead, he wrapped a free hand around Marko’s cock and squeezed.
Marko groaned, a gutteral sound that was sloppy and embarrassing. David smirked and took the opportunity to look him over. He was gorgeous. He didn’t have a lot of hair anywhere but around his cock. He was slim and slightly toned from, David assumed, working every night at the shop. David pressed a kiss into his shoulder and jerked him off slowly. His penis was thick and twitched in his fist. As he watched Marko writhe and hump into his hand, he felt an emotion he’d never felt before. It wasn’t pride, and it wasn’t love, but he couldn’t place it. Mine. Marko nodded as they rocked against each other. The head of his cock bumped up against David’s with every movement. You’re mine. Marko moaned.
David removed his hand from Marko’s neck and sucked a finger into his own mouth until it was slick with spit. You tell me if you want me to stop, he reminded and then wrapped his arm around Marko and pressed his finger carefully into his ass. Instead of stopping or panicking, Marko groaned with pleasure. “Ahh...yes,” he hissed, pushing his hips back. Well then. David made little circles, teasing and stroking. Marko’s movements grew more sporadic. “Ah...fuck…”
Marko threw his head back and gasped. David chuckled darkly against his neck and growled at the sight. He pressed a kiss there and moved his hand so he could stroke them both at the same time. He pressed his finger in slowly, gently working the tight muscles until he was able to push in a bit. Marko whined and bucked his hips out of time. You gonna cum for me? The younger boy made a needy sound. David rutted up against him. Cum.
“Ah! Fuck...fuck…” Marko came instantly, covering the both in hot, white streams. David grunted and in a few more strokes followed, pushed over the edge by the scene in front of him. Neither of them moved as they struggled to catch their breath.
“Well, you sure jumped on that bandwagon real fast,” he drawled as they both rolled onto their backs.
Marko grinned. “Well...I have thought about it before. With a guy, I mean.”
“Most people do.”
They laid in silence beside one another as David cleaned them off with his shirt. It had been different this time. Something about Marko being his...what was proper term... fledgling or something. It changed the experience. He wasn’t sure how yet, but it was good. Definitely not something to ask Max about. This was something he was just going to have figure out on his own after a few more times.
“Feel better?” Marko nodded without opening his eyes. “Tired?” He nodded again. “Okay, kiddo. Have a good sleep.” David closed his eyes and folded his hands over his chest. He felt silly for laying on the floor, but he ignored it. He’d do it for a few nights, for Marko. Then back up to the ceiling where they belonged.
Chapter 9: 1966
Welcome to Part 2.
Now was a good opportunity to find out who this mysterious man was that had swooped down like Batman to save the day.
“Marko.” Get your ass over here.
Marko was leaning on a street lamp chatting up a young woman who was wearing striped, rainbow pants and a bright, pink satin shirt and tucking a flower behind his ear. David could tell, from the smirk on his brother’s face, that he was in the process of picking her up for dinner, but plans had changed.
“Just a sec,” Marko called over his shoulder as he kept his eyes trained on the girl. She was running gentle fingers over his cheek and trailing along his chin. What looked like a flirtatious grin to her looked like hunger to David. He rolled his eyes and decided to end this before things got messy.
Max wants to talk.
The grin faltered from Marko’s face for half a second, but he recovered by poking his tongue out briefly before pressing a kiss to the girl’s mouth. He whispered something to her and David rolled his eyes again. Unbelievable. The girl started to giggle. How could he successfully flirt with everyone? They always ate it up. That shit was starting to go to his head.
As Marko strolled over, David growled at him and plucked the flower out of his hair. “The fuck is your problem?” he snapped as they both climbed on their respective bikes. Marko kicked the kickstand up and his bike roared to life just as the other did. He shrugged and smirked again.
“She was into me.”
“You can eat later. We gotta go.” Without waiting for a response, David took off in the opposite direction with Marko trailing right behind.
Detroit was no different from all the other cities they’d been in. This one was a bit smaller, and Michigan wasn’t as ‘cool’ as the boys had been hoping for. They’d mostly lived on the East Coast, so moving up North had taken some adjusting, but all big cities were the same.
As always, they were living on the outskirts of town. Rather, Max was. The boys tended to hang out in one of several abandoned warehouses in the city. Max had begun to make a name for himself in the car salesman business, so there was no shortage of money. David didn’t care either way. It wasn’t like they needed to spend on food or vacations or school. Marko, on the other hand, enjoyed having nearly unlimited funds. Having grown up in a lower-class household, he seemed to get off on being able to afford the latest trends, as was evidenced by the brown, suede fringes of his jacket flying in the wind behind him as they flew down the road toward Max’s estate.
Play it cool and let me do the talking, David told him as they pulled in the driveway. That was usually the plan, but Marko was trusting. He was quick to open his mouth and tell Max all the things they’d been up to without realizing they weren’t all things David wanted Max to know. They parked their bikes and walked the length of the drive together.
Inside, Max was pacing. Pacing was never a good sign. What’s going on? Marko knew David had no answer, but he couldn’t help but asking. After all, It was rare they were summoned so early in the evening and without explanation. The head vampire stopped to consider them as they moved cautiously into the front room and, after a moment, he graced them with a smile.
Marko was quick to falter. He responded with an impish smile of his own and waggled his fingers in greeting. “Hello, boys,” Max said in a booming, happy-sounding voice. David frowned. Something was amiss. If he was really so happy, then he wouldn’t have called them there. “Have a seat.”
They sat - David spread out languidly on the couch like a big cat, Marko perched on the breakfast counter like a looming bird - and waited for further instruction. Max, however, didn’t move. He stood in the center, by the hallway, awkwardly considering them for a moment.
“I assume you’ve heard about the tribe issues,” he said flatly.
They had. Of course they had. It was a terrible thing to hear about vampires killing other vampires. Didn’t make sense. But they didn’t have a tribe. Not really. Three of them didn’t count as a whole tribe, and they’d never go around trying to kill other groups. They both nodded, wondering what all this was about. After all, they’d steered clear of trouble in the almost year they’d been there.
“Things are getting worse,” Max said gravely. “An entire tribe was just wiped out in Toronto. One in Flint last month too. They are moving in here. They want the city territory.” David still wasn’t sure what Max was getting at. They had heard the rumours. What was the point in trying to scare them?
“Are we moving again?” Marko’s voice seemed entirely too innocent in the context of the situation.
Shut up, David snapped, glaring at him. Marko ignored him.
“We haven’t gotten into any trouble. No one’s come after us and we wouldn’t attack anyone for…territory.” David silently agreed, but shot Marko another look so he would shut his mouth. The younger boy made eye contact that time and bit his lower lip - a sign that was taken to mean he was finished. They would never start trouble, that was true, but David had no doubt they could easily take care of themselves. He thought himself a strong fighter and capable of handling other vampires who were mostly shit-for-brains that thought they were tough. Marko was small, but deceiving, and was ruthless when he wanted to be. If Max was making them move again because of something like this…
“No, we aren’t moving.” No reaction, but David was slightly relieved. So far, Detroit was fun. No shortage of drugs, hippies, or places to feed. It was the biggest playground they’d had in a while. “But I want you back here during the day.” They both protested at the same time, a chorus in unison of ‘what?’ and ‘that’s not fair!’ and general discontent. Max stopped them with a hand in the air. “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t know where you’ve been staying during the day, but if the wrong person finds you or decides you are in their way-”
“We can take care of ourselves.” David was on his feet now. Having his freedom squashed was not something that he was going to take lightly.
“What are you going to do if ten of them corner you, David?” Max countered. He looked calm, but David would feel the tension bubbling under the surface. “They could kill you in an instant. They could rip you to pieces and leave you there for daylight. I don’t want that.” Marko’s eyes were trained to his boots now. David wasn’t sure how to argue that point, so he growled under his breath. “I’m not asking you to spend all your time here. Be careful when you’re roaming around at night and come back before sun-up. That’s all.”
Marko waited for instruction. David ran through the scenario in his head. If they played along with the game for long enough, and continued to be as grumpy as possible, Max would cave and let them do whatever they liked again. Slowly, David nodded. Marko followed suit.
“Okay then,” Max said with a smile. “That’s all I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Why the fuck do we need to go back to his house during the day?” Marko ranted, arm around yet another, scantily clad hippie girl who was high as a kite and stumbling along beside them. “It’s the day. Nothing happens during the day.”
David grunted in response, his arm around the waist of a similarly wasted young woman. They were headed for the lakeside docks. Marko took a swig of whiskey from a bottle he nicked from a homeless man and burped. One girl giggled, the other waved her hand in front of her nose, disgusted.
“Manners, Marko.” David drawled absently as they strolled along. He was right. There was no real point in them heading back during the day. It wasn’t like a vampire was going to sneak up on them while they were sleeping and stab them through the heart. Max was just craving control. No doubt he was worried, he just didn’t know how to show it. Exercising useless power was a good way to feel like he was being helpful.
When they got to the docks, there was a group of guys sitting on the shore drinking and fucking around - shouting and throwing things into the water. David didn’t give them a passing glance until he realized one of them was shouting at them. As he turned, something hard collided with the back of his head. He grimaced and turned on the assailant as he released his grip on his date.
“I said, ‘Where the fuck do you think you’re going?’” the guy said. David looked to his feet to see an empty beer bottle embedded in the sand. Had they really thrown a fucking bottle at his head?
Marko had moved to stand slightly in front of David. His shoulders were hunched and he was glaring at the group. David knew he was being protective. It was instinctual. No need. “Down boy,” he muttered as he strolled over to the other boys.
There were eight of them. They looked to be in their early twenties, all dressed in smart suits and loud jackets, covered in metals and targets and arrows. Their hair was perfectly done and each one had a cigarette in their mouth. Jesus Christ, David said as he chuckled. Who did these guys think they were - The Who?
As soon as he got close enough, however, he could smell them. The smile fell from his features right away. They were vampires. At least some of them were. And they didn’t look happy.
They’d run into some other tribes before. Mostly, they didn’t pick fights just for the sake of picking fights, but these guys looked newly turned. They were cackling and rounding on them like a group of hyenas. David held his hands up in surrender.
“Now, boys, we don’t want any trouble.”
Usually when he said that, Marko laughed. This time, the entire chorus of stranger vampires laughed. That wasn’t a good sign.
“Oh...we’re sure you don’t,” one of them said. Clearly he was the leader. He wore a military jacket covered in all sorts of ribbons. He had a tie. His hair was gelled back. He looked like he didn’t quite understand the trends of the 60s yet. David thought he might be a little older than the rest. He motioned to the girls. “S’at dinner?”
David didn’t respond. Neither did Marko, but he could feel his brother tense up next to him. Calm down, he commanded. We’ll just walk away from this. “You can have ‘em,” David said with a shrug. The girls gasped behind them and David heard them exclaiming unhappily. The other group laughed again and the leader nodded his head. Two of the smaller ones turned there - eyes flashing yellow, face changing - and went after the girls on all fours.
What the fuck is their problem? Marko asked, turning to watch as the guy started to toss their dates back and forth between them.
No idea. David kept his eyes on their leader. They stared at each other, clearly trying to size one another up. Of course, the night Max tells them something is going to happen is the night something happens. Way to make them look bad.
“We’ve seen you two around,” the leader says. “You’ve been in the city, picking up girls, taking them down to our docks. You’ve been borrowing from our feeding ground.” The others laughed. Motherfuckers.
“ Your feeding ground?” He knew better than to pick a fight, but that was ridiculous. They didn’t own Detroit.
The whole group fell silent. Obviously, they thought they did own Detroit. “Yes,” the leader snapped. “ Our feeding ground. You don’t get to hunt here anymore. Bye.” An awkwardly long silence followed. Was this meant to be some kind of intimidation technique?
David snorted, which broke some of the tension. Marko laughed as soon as he heard this. If David was laughing, it meant the situation was okay. He relaxed. The girls were no longer screaming and the other two had rejoined their group. They were still in vampire form and covered in blood. It made his stomach flip flop. That was his dinner they’d eaten.
The scent of blood filled the air, making David’s head feel hazy. “You think we’re gonna leave just because you said ‘Bye’?” Marko cackled again. The circle started to close in on them. It was starting to feel a little more threatening now. David frowned. What the fuck did they think this was?
“Yea,” the leader said. “I do.” His boys kept closing in. Marko stepped slightly in front of David again. “In fact, if you don’t leave in the next ten seconds, my boys are gonna rip you apart.”
Well, that escalated quickly.
What do we do?
Get ready to defend yourself.
They all started to change at the same time. As soon as he saw a flicker of gold in their leader’s eye, David changed, Marko followed, and so did the entire tribe. What happened then was quicker than he could process.
Four of them went for David. He did his best to go for the jugular, but they were big. They shoved him and sent him flying down the shore, but they were on him in seconds. David tried to remember how to fight. Go for the weak spots. Rip with your teeth. Knee him in the balls if you can. He was struggling to stay afloat.
Marko, on the other hand, was thrashing about, claws and teeth a wild blur, taking out anything he could reach, but he was small, and the remaining four were on him too. Twenty seconds into the fight and they were losing. Badly.
Out of nowhere, they had an ally. Another vampire, dressed in all black, with a tuft of wild, black hair, swooped in like a great bat and took out two of the guys on David. Now that he had a fighting chance, he set his claws on the nearest chest and tore to pieces. Max, help. His pride took another hit as he projected to his sire. What else could they do? Help. Down by the docks. They were better off with this mysterious helper, but still no match for the whole group.
David heard Marko shouting from twenty feet away, but had another one on his back now, biting harshly into his shoulder. Fuck, fuck, fuck. He managed to look over to see the stranger had taken out two on his own and was now going to Marko’s aide. Who the fuck was this beast? Why was he helping them?
Less than a minute later, and it was all over. A piercing sound caused all the fighting to stop and the vampire that had been ripping into the back of David’s neck was thrown a hundred feet or more into the lake. Similar fates plagued most of the others until they were all free. David rolled onto his back in time to see Max landing, with the tiny, army-jacket clad leader being held by his neck, limp and beaten. Marko was nowhere to be seen, but the stranger who had helped them was standing a bit away, looking stoic and panting heavily. He looked untouched.
“You go near my boys again and I’ll rip apart every last one of you,” Max growled into the young vampires face. The boy gasped and struggled in response. “You understand me?” he roared, sending spit and shreds of the carnage of his tribe right back into their leader’s face. He nodded hurriedly and Max threw him into the ground with a sickening crack . After a minute of recovery, the other tribe slunk away into the sky, licking their wounds.
David didn’t move when Max approached him. He knew they were in an astronomical amount of trouble. Max considered him for a moment, bleeding out on the sand on his back, knees bent, arms slightly raised in defense, and growled, “Where’s your brother?” Of course, he was worried about Marko. The baby. The favorite. David shrugged a little and Max huffed, letting out a growl in frustration as he turned to search for him.
Where are you? David pressed as he sat up and tried to brush himself off. His gaze went over to the stranger who was still lurking in the shadows. Max hadn’t looked at him. Had Max sent him?
Docks. David looked over to the docks and saw something shift on the underside of the boards above the water. Max must have seen him too, because he turned to walk toward the docks and said, “Marko, come out.”
It took a few seconds, but Marko did come out. He appeared on the shore, still transformed, looking lopsided and murderous. He was hunched over at an odd angle. David pushed himself up off the ground, gripping the wound on his neck that had already begun to heal. “What happened to you?” He glanced at the stranger yet again. He still hadn’t said a word.
Max walked over to Marko and leaned down to examine him. They spoke quietly and David could see Marko was beginning to calm down a little bit. Now was a good opportunity to find out who this mysterious man was that had swooped down like Batman to save the day.
As David moved closer to him, he could see the guy was hurt. He was bleeding from a few cuts on his chest and face, but he didn’t seem to be bothered. He looked somewhat concerned about Marko and was watching him talk to Max who was now examining his wounds. “Hey,” David said from a safe distance. The stranger’s attention was redirected, but he didn’t move, nor did he answer. “You helped us.”
“Why?” At least it seemed like this guy was a friend and not an enemy. Without him, they might have been dead, so David figured he at least owed it to the guy to figure out who he was.
“You needed help.” Straightforward answer. He wasn’t wrong. They had needed help. Perhaps that was all there was to it. A vampire that had seen some other vampires in need. David hoped this didn’t turn out to be some kind of life debt or tribe initiation shit.
David nodded in response and looked him over one more time. This didn’t feel like a trap, but it very well could have been. Now he was on edge. He assumed he would be for a very long time. “What’s your name?”
For a moment, David thought he wasn’t going to answer. They looked at one another for a long time until the man’s eyes moved to something over David’s shoulder. Marko and Max were coming over. David thought the conversation had ended, but suddenly, the man spoke.
“I’m David,” he responded as they were joined by the others. Marko looked extremely paranoid, but he had returned to his human form. He continued to look around them every few seconds as if making sure they were alone. He was gripping his left arm with his right hand and he seemed to be slumped awkwardly to the side. His clothes were torn in several places. You okay? Marko didn’t answer. David assumed his ego was bruised from losing the fight so badly.
“We should go,” Max said. He set his eyes on Dwayne and then on David. Who is this?
His name’s Dwayne. He helped us.
Max looked him over, seemingly deemed him safe, and then turned away. “C’mon boys.” He headed toward the street. With one more look at Dwayne, and a single nod, David followed. Marko waited a moment and then waved vaguely with his right hand.
“Thanks for helping us,” he said quietly.
Dwayne nodded curtly. Satisfied that they’d made a new friend, Marko grinned and took off after the others.
“What are you going to do?”
“Going to find Dwayne.”
“Did you send that guy?”
David tugged the front door closed behind them. Marko had already plopped on the couch and was being shooed away by Max who seemed overly concerned about the kid bleeding all over his upholstery. Marko scooted out of the way, still gripping his left arm. David assumed, after a moment, that he wasn’t going to get an answer, but that Dwayne had probably, for some unknown reason, come of his own accord. He had a bad feeling about the whole business. It seemed even trying to keep from themselves was not going to ensure that they avoided trouble. Why would someone go out of their way to help them?
Max was gently, but firmly, instructing Marko to head to the kitchen. David followed, lost in thought and stewing in anger over the events of the evening.
“...Told you two to be careful-”
“We were.” Marko was never much of an arguer. Even now, his attention was diverted by some painting in the hall and he was, once again, being tugged in the right direction as he was scolded by Max.
“Had you been careful, something like this wouldn’t have happened.”
David stepped into the kitchen, tucking his hands in his pockets. “Kid’s right,” he said darkly. “We had nothin’ to do with it. They jumped us.” Max looked at him doubtfully as he started to tug off Marko’s fringe jacket. The younger vampire squeaked in discontent.
My jacket’s ripped, he heard as Marko threw him a pout.
Don’t worry about your jacket. We’ll get you a new one.
“I suppose, then, that they simply attacked you for no good reason?” Max was giving him that look, demanding an explanation that he knew was not going to be up to snuff. Marko whined again as he attempted to tug his left arm out of its sleeve but failed. He was dripping blood onto the floor.
David frowned at him. “Basically.”
“Well...they told us we had to leave the city and then they took our dinner.”
Max huffed and stopped pulling at Marko who sighed in relief. David could tell their probation conditions were about to get a lot tighter. “Did you provoke them, David?” It was an honest question, and his track record pointed to ‘yes’, so he couldn’t blame the guy for asking.
“No. There were a ton of them. We aren’t that stupid.” He saw Marko grin in response, but the smile was quickly wiped away when Max began to tug at his sleeve in earnest.
“I believe you,” Max admitted. He was steadying Marko with one hand on his shoulder and the other on the fabric. “But do you see what I mean when I tell you we have to be vigilant? See what they did to your brother’s arm?” Finally, he tore the fabric away with gentle fingers to reveal a bloody mess of a limb underneath. “They nearly tore it in half.” Marko made a face as he tried to get a better look. The skin was torn and marled, like it’d been ripped apart by an animal. David couldn’t help but feel for him. Marko was his sired, after all - there was always going to be a feeling of protectiveness.
Sorry, he thought - something he wasn’t ever caught saying aloud.
Marko tried to move his arm, but nothing happened. “Shit, it’s broken…” Max frowned at him, always old-fashioned in his usage of curse words, but gently pulled him over to the sink to clean him up.
“It’s more than broken,” Max corrected as he prodded it with his fingers. Marko winced. “They tore it right from it’s socket. Seems like they ripped right through the muscle too. Doesn’t it hurt?” he asked, obviously trying to be gentle but working quickly. Marko nodded noncommittally, still staring at his arm. “We need to fix it up fast before it starts to heal wrong. David, hold him.”
Marko looked around, confused, as David rounded him on his good side and gripped his shoulder with one arm and around the middle with the other. In one quick movement, Max held his arm out and roughly relocated it. Marko cried out and drooped his head onto David’s chest. “Well,” Max said as he rinsed the blood off his hands. “If it didn’t hurt before, it probably will now.” Marko cursed lightly under his breath and let out a dry sob. Max grabbed a kitchen towel and started to clean the wound. “It’ll heal soon. A day or so. Until then...you stay here.”
There was no way David was going to stay in that house.
The following evening, they sat together on the couch as David laced up his boots and pulled on his jacket. There was no way that he could sit still. He had to find that stranger and ask him what was going on. If there was a risk that they were indebted to Dwayne’s tribe, then he needed to know before it came back to bite him in the ass.
“What are you going to do?” Marko was sitting cross-legged on the couch in his boxers and one of Max’s button down shirts that went down to his knees. His arm was bound up in a bandage and sitting limply in his lap. David thought he looked ridiculous, but he didn’t say it out loud. No use in starting a fight when he was already angry at being left behind.
“Going to find Dwayne.” He wouldn’t be hard to find. Chances were he could pick up the scent on the beach near the docks and follow it until he had some kind of lead. He probably assumed David would be looking for him. If not, he was in for a surprise visit.
“You aren’t gonna go look for that gang, are you?”
David appreciated how concerned he looked. It was instinctual to want to help, but it was in Marko’s nature to be genuinely worried for his safety. He was afraid something bad would happen while he was stuck in the house.
“I won’t go looking for them,” he assured the younger boy. Marko didn’t look convinced, so David gave him a stern look. “You stay here.” He didn’t need to be toting around a handicapped, ego-bruised vampire all night. “Your arm has to heal.” Without another word, he stood up and walked out the door.
He flew to the docks in a matter of minutes. The bodies of the two girls were gone and there was no gang of well-dressed vampires on the shore tonight. Instead, it was eerily quiet. Gentle waves lapped up onto the land. David returned to the place where he stood talking to Dwayne and inhaled deeply, hoping for some scent left behind. To his disappointment, all he picked up was salt, rotting seaweed, and some blood from the night before.
“I figured you’d come back.”
David spun around as soon as he heard the first syllable. Behind him, jumping out from an old fishing boat that was docked near the shore, was Dwayne. He looked the same as he had the night before, all in black with wild hair in a shaggy style that stuck out in all directions. David remained vigilant. After seeing what the other gang did to Marko, he wasn’t taking any chances.
Dwayne could see he was on edge and stopped a good distance away while carefully raising his hands into the air as a show of peace. “I won’t do anything,” he said as he tucked his hands in his pockets. David waited a few moments and then nodded. They headed toward one another until they met on the beach in between. “Where’s your little friend?” Dwayne asked with what David assumed was genuine curiosity.
“My brother,” he corrected. “They fucked him up kinda badly. He’s sleeping it off.” Dwayne hummed in response and they considered one another for a moment. David didn’t suspect any imminent threat, so he spoke up. “What do we owe you?”
The other boy seemed genuinely confused. “What do you mean?”
“For saving us.”
“Oh.” David thought now that it was an odd question to ask, and it struck him that they were alone together for the second time. It was unusual for a vampire to travel without his tribe, of course. That’s why Dwayne’s first question had been about Marko - not because he was concerned, but because it was atypical - and dangerous - for David to be alone. Where, then, was Dwayne’s tribe? “Nothing,” the boy said finally. “You just needed help, so I helped.”
David thought this was far too nice of an offer to give for free. “You don’t even know us,” he countered.
“Those guys are assholes,” Dwayne reasoned. “They deserve the shit beat out of them, first off. Second, there were two of you against eight of them. That’s not fair in any scenario.” He was right, but David rarely ever heard the truth spoken so freely. The boy’s flippant attitude and simplicity reminded him of Marko. “Third, they stole your prey. That’s not cool.”
David nodded. It wasn’t cool. “Where’s your tribe?” he asked, curious now why this masked crusader was jumping in on behalf of vampires in need and doing it by himself.
Dwayne shrugged. “I don’t have one,” he said.
David blinked. “You don’t have a sire?”
“I did. He’s dead.”
That hadn’t been the answer he was expecting. “And...the rest of your tribe?”
What the fuck? “You’re kidding.”
Dwayne didn’t respond. David took this to mean he was never kidding.
“How the fuck did that happen?”
So Max hadn’t been overreacting. Vampires were really out here killing other vampires. Whole tribes of other vampires. If Dwayne hadn’t helped, two thirds of their tiny tribe would have been wiped out the night before. David thought of the condition of Marko’s arm. What was the point of that?
“Shit, man.” He wasn’t sure what else to say. This guy was on his own, flying around, protecting other vampires from these crazy-ass gangs. He really was Batman. Dwayne, however, didn’t seem too bothered by it. David wondered if it was his stoic nature or if he had something to do with their elimination. He chose to lean toward the former. “Where do you sleep?”
Dwayne hesitated. He seemed to be doing some calculations in his head before settling on, “Around,” as an appropriate response. David and Marko had had a tough time finding a place that would keep them entirely shielded from sunlight that wasn’t occupied by other vampires. It had proved to be more difficult than they’d anticipated. Big cities were full of good hiding places, but none that didn’t risk a visitor or a beam of light. They often took to the sewers, although they had to be careful even in there.
“You want a place to sleep?” The question awoke things in David. Even as the words passing through his lips, he remembered being asked the same thing by people walking by with handouts when he was younger. Even while sleeping in the gutter, he hated being patronized. “Gotta repay you somehow,” he added, averting his eyes.
After an agonizing few seconds in which David thought he’d crossed a line and made the whole situation oddly unbearable, Dwayne answered, “Sure.”
He turned to look at his girl and licked his lips. She held onto him tighter. This was too easy.
Marko didn’t look up when the door opened. He had the television on as noise in the background as his fingers struggled to stitch together the remnants of his jacket. He held the tattered cloth out in front of him and frowned. He knew there was no hope. No way he’d get it back together without it looking like Frankenstein’s monster. In a sudden stroke of genius, Marko ripped both sleeves entirely off. Vest. Not bad.
“You look better,” David’s voice was devoid of emotion, as always. He wasn't surprised, nor did he really care that Marko’s arm was almost healed. He shrugged and look over expecting to see only his sire. Instead, they seemed to have a visitor. So that’s why he was back so early.
“Oh man, it’s you,” he stated as he eyed the boy from the night before. He put down his newly invented vest and tossed the bloody pieces aside. The stranger was looking around the house, obviously confused as to how they two of them had such a conventional lifestyle. Marko pushed up off the couch and sauntered into the kitchen. “It’s our dad’s place,” he explained as he headed for the fridge and started rooting around.
“We don’t stay here, usually,” he heard David explaining as they joined him in the kitchen. Marko plucked a bottle of coke out and knocked it against the side of the counter. It hissed angrily as it popped open and Marko hissed quietly back under his breath before bringing it to his lips. “Since Marko’s arm is fucked, we’re here for tonight.”
The stranger - Dwayne - was looking around the kitchen, trailing his fingers along the table and chairs, and taking in everything mounted on the walls. The brothers stood back and watched him for a moment, but said nothing. What’s he doing here? Marko questioned silently.
I thought he could help us.
David wouldn’t elaborate on that. If he had a plan, it was better to play along. Marko had fun trying to figure out what the game was. Maybe Dwayne was part of a really powerful tribe and David was planning to take over it or something. The way he was kicking ass the night before, maybe Dwayne was the leader. Here in the kitchen though, he looked much less of a badass and much more of a curious kid.
Finally, he stopped and looked at the others. “You two are some domesticated vampires, aren’t ya?” He smirked and then looked around the kitchen again. It would appear that way, with Marko sipping a coke out of the brand new refrigerator, wearing a very nice button-down shirt, and standing in a cozy, two-story house.
“Not our place,” David repeated, with a little more force. Marko chuckled into the opening of the coke bottle before taking another sip. “But yea...my sire doesn’t like the-” He hesitated, as if trying to find the right word. “- Primal aspects of vampirism.” He shrugged. “He prefers to take advantage of humans. Always gets a good job with a lot of money, big house, fancy toys…” He gestured to the appliances in the kitchen which were all name brand and expensive. “It’s the game he likes to play, I guess.”
Dwayne considered them both for a moment - David in his stolen letterman jacket and Marko in his underpants and Max’s shirt - and then he smiled. “What kinda game do you two like to play?” That question was a double-edged sword. Marko felt a lot of energy behind it, and thought Dwayne might be hoping for a specific answer. The older boy was staring hard at David, and neither one was blinking. Marko frowned.
“We’re a little less... domesticated," David said after a moment. Marko sipped his soda and then placed the empty bottle on the counter with a demanding clink!
“I’m hungry,” he announced, breaking the silence in the room. “Where can we get some food around here?” His question was directed at Dwayne. After all, David had failed to successfully get them a meal in the past few days. This blatant dismissal earned him a glare.
“Where do you usually hunt?” Dwayne asked them. The strange energy in the room had subsided and Marko moved to stand somewhat between the two, but he waited for David to answer. They didn’t have a usual place to hunt...they seemed to just wander and see who they could pick up which was, as Max often reminded them, not a very responsible way of hunting. It was messy. They had no way to ensure they weren’t being followed or spied on. It exposed them to other tribes. In a town this densely populated with vampires, they had to secure a spot they knew wouldn’t interfere.
David didn’t answer right away, which gave Dwayne the opportunity to add, “I have a place we could go...if you’re interested.” Marko was impressed that Dwayne managed to make a comment like that one and not sound judgemental or condescending. “It’s a building called the Castle, in the city. It’s full of these hippie activists and beatniks...they have an open-door policy for anyone willing to smoke a little dope and listen to Bob Dylan.”
Marko grinned. “Far out,” he said with a snicker. David rolled his eyes, but knew Marko would have to be his ticket into a place like that, so he said nothing. “I’m down. When do we leave?”
“Think it’s wise to be going out after Max told you to stay put?” David snapped. They both knew the answer was ‘no’, but that it would happen anyway.
“Max said, ‘Until I’m healed’,” Marko corrected as he lifted his left arm in the air and rolled his shoulder forward. “Look. All better.” He winced a little bit when pain shot through his bicep, but he ignored it and the squinting unhappiness was quickly replaced with a sheepish grin.
“Well, if you’re going out, you’d better put some clothes on.” David frowned at him and then looked away. Marko was already unbuttoning the huge shirt.
“So, how come this building full of hippies is such a good spot?” he asked. “Seems like a place with a lot of witnesses and not a lot of cover.”
Dwayne grinned. “There are so many people in and out of there that they can’t keep track of who lives there and who’s just passing through. People disappear all the time and no one gives a shit. Anyone who stays long is usually so stoned that they can’t remember faces.” He chuckled. “Vampires don’t go in there because it’s right in the middle of town and most tribes around here tend to move in a pack. Can’t have ten or twelve guys walking in there at once without it looking suspicious. Three, on the other hand…”
“Where’s your tribe?” Marko interrupted as he pulled off his shirt, leaving him in shorts and socks. David mentally nudged him to shut up.
“Gone,” Dwayne said. “Kind of recently. I found this place a few weeks ago when I was looking for a place to crash for the day.” Gone? What did that mean? Someone’s entire tribe didn’t just disappear.
“Marko.” The smaller boy’s attention was drawn back to his sire, who raised his eyebrows expectantly. Marko smiled and turned to walk out of the kitchen, eyeing Dwayne over his shoulder with a flirtatious grin as he left. He returned a moment later in jeans, sandals, and a fringe vest - formerly his favourite jacket - covering his bare back. His arm was still covered in bandages. David sighed and shook his head in amusement and then looked between the other two. “Shall we?”
David wasn’t sure if following the stranger was such a good idea, but curiosity had gotten the better of him. Hunger had gone to his head as well, and his decisions were definitely being impacted by his desperate need to drink. He knew Marko was feeling it too, the way the kid was a little on edge, a little protective, a little demanding. He was usually entirely laidback. Tonight he was stalking through the city streets like he was on a mission.
The Castle was a four-story building in the middle of town. Every window was open and a cacophony of music and talking was pouring out of it from every angle. There were groups of kids hanging out on the street, leaking from the front door. Young women were hanging over each other, hanging onto men, perched on street lamps and front steps. As they approached the door, they were offered all sorts of gifts: flowers, joints, slips of paper with poems scribbled on them, political pamphlets. A man in the corner was preaching to a group of kids about Marxism. Marko smiled and took a flower from a young lady who pet his curls as they walked by. David kept his head down.
Dwayne seemed to know where he was headed, so he led the way right into the building and up the steps. Piles of young people were in every stairwell and the air was thick with the scent of pot and cigarettes. David noticed that he could hear Bob Dylan trilling from behind at least three closed doors.
“You weren’t lying about this place,” Marko called from the back of the group. David glanced over his shoulder to see Marko taking a puff from a joint and handing it back to a sweet looking young man wearing a turquoise poncho. Marko trailed a hand under his chin and the man sighed.
Hurry the fuck up, David prompted and he scooted up the stairs after the others.
Dwayne led them to one of the apartments and pushed the door open without knocking. The living space was small, with a shared kitchenette, and David could see five, wide-open bedroom doors lined up in a row down the connected hallway. Most of them were empty. One had two teenagers sharing a bottle of whiskey. Another had a couple making love on the floor. Crazy fucking place.
As soon as they walked in, a girl was calling Dwayne’s name and wrapping her arms around his neck. “Dwaaaayne!” She wore a long, printed dress with a floral shawl. David thought she resembled a great, mess of a butterfly. Dwayne did not embrace her back, but he grinned. “So good to see you…” She wandered off, clearly not aware of her surroundings...and landed on the lap of a gentleman on the communal living room couch.
Dwayne turned to the others. “You can have your pick of the building,” he said with a chuckle. “But up here, you’re more likely to find someone to go along with you.” He glanced around at the drugged out residents scattered about. “Not very satisfying as a predator, but...beggars can’t be choosers,” he shrugged.
Without a word, Marko was off. He’d found a target, evidently, and was already making a beeline for the couch. Dwayne had jetted too, down the hall and for the bedroom with the drunk teens. David glanced around the apartment, but found nothing interesting, so he decided to try his luck in the hall.
“You don’t look like you belong here.” A floaty voice from behind him caught his attention. He turned to see the only other person in the hall - a young woman, probably in her early twenties, adorned in an array of colourful fabric and a large, floppy hat. David considered her for a moment. She was fairly attractive.
“No?” he goaded. He knew he stuck out. Perhaps he should have borrowed some clothes from Marko before leaving.
“You look like a football player or something,” she giggled. David tucked his hands in the pockets of his jacket and tried to look interested.
“Do you only answer in question?” she coaxed, seemingly thrilled with the chance to interact with him. She wore a bright smile on her face. David smiled back.
“No, not usually,” he said, lowering his voice as she approached. She smelled like lilacs and cigarettes - and blood. Less than a foot away, David could practically feel the blood pumping in her veins. Turns out the thirst had him worse than he thought. He wondered how Marko could stand to touch those people earlier.
“Cat got your tongue?” She giggled again and pressed a gentle hand to his arm. “What brings you to The Castle?” she asked sweetly. “Looking for some enlightenment?”
David shook his head and tried to limit deep breaths through his nose. “Just visiting a friend,” he said quietly. He licked his lips. “But I think I found something a hell of a lot more entertaining.” David stared into the girl’s eyes, feeling her mind fog under his control. “What do you say you and I go for a walk?”
A second later and Marko popped out of the door of the apartment, dragging a young man by the hand behind him. He winked at David as they walked by and headed down the steps. David took that at his cue to get out of there.
“Sure…” the girl said as she smiled dreamily.
David wrapped an arm around her waist and she did the same to him. They turned to walk down the steps together just as Dwayne came out of the apartment with a young lady on his hip. They worked in tandem, it seemed, which surprised him. They were a good team.
It was surprisingly easy to get out of the building. No one batted an eye as they tumbled out onto the street with their prey and sauntered into the nearest alleyway. Except for the faint rumble of sound from the street, they were alone, shaded by the lack of lights and a rather large dumpster that blocked them mostly from view.
Marko had wasted no time. He was smaller than his victim, but he had the man pushed up against a wall and was kissing him roughly. David heard his lady friend gasp in surprise and then giggle. Marko could have his fun, but he wasn’t in the mood for foreplay. He turned to look at his girl and licked his lips. She held onto him tighter. This was too easy.
A crash distracted David for a brief second. Dwayne had tossed his prey into the opposing wall with a sickening crack! and she’d fallen into a trash bin. The foggy look cleared from the other girl’s eyes and she tried to pull away as she worked to figure out what was happening. David tightened his grip on her. “I don’t think so, girly,” he growled as he felt his fangs appear without his permission. In a blink, he lunged, sinking his teeth into the girl’s throat and ripping with all his might. The second her blood touched his lips, he groaned. It was as if he’d been ill and hadn’t realized how weak he’d been. Suddenly, he felt invincible. Every nerve in his body was on fire. He felt elated. His head spun with pleasure and he tore at her, drinking up as much as he could.
They toppled backwards and landed on the ground, David hunched over her like a great animal. He licked and sucked and didn’t even stop for a breath until she was completely dry. And then he looked up.
Dwayne had just finished his meal as well. The girl was twisted unnaturally beneath his new friend, face permanently stamped in a terrified scream. Dwayne had ripped her dress as he drank and a single drip of blood ran down between her breasts. Dwayne lapped it up in one swift movement and then looked up so their eyes met.
David was sure it was the high from the kill. Or the high from the blood. Or the excitement of finally getting to feed after a few days. When their eyes met, he felt electricity. He hopped up off the ground, not breaking contact, and Dwayne did the same. They stalked toward each other until they were close. Too close. Inches apart. Nearly nose to nose. David could smell the blood on him. They were both covered in it. It had dripped down Dwayne’s face over his jaw. David was more than tempted to lick it off. They stared at one another, unblinking, but David didn’t feel threatened. He didn’t feel challenged. He liked Dwayne.
A growl behind him pulled him out of his trance. They turned to see Marko sitting, back against the wall, elbows resting nonchalantly on his knees, mouth and chest covered in blood, as his victim tried pitifully to crawl away. The man sobbed and attempted to push himself forward. He was bleeding from several places, but not nearly dead yet. Marko kicked him in the ass and he toppled over with a quiet cry.
Stop playing with your food, David snapped at him.
With a glare and a snarl, Marko pounced on him and ripped at his throat, drinking heavily. David and Dwayne considered him in silence until he was done. “Finished?” David raised an eyebrow, obviously annoyed with his antics. Marko gave him a blood-stained grin and nodded. “Let’s go.”
“Why is your tribe gone?”
They sat on the beach. Marko was waist deep in the lake. He splashed water up on himself to be rid of the blood. He was doing a sloppy job at best. Dwayne and David sat on the shore and watched.
“They were killed by another tribe,” Dwayne said as he fiddled with the sand. It ran through his fingers and made a tiny mount that he squished before repeating the process over and over. “Detroit isn’t great. You gotta get in with a tribe if you want to be comfortable here.”
“In with a tribe?” Marko cupped some water in his hands and dumped it gently onto his hair. “I thought you had to be sired and then you were just part of one.”
“You can join one,” Dwayne explained. “You drink from the leader, they drink from you, you make that connection. Technically, not sired, but...close enough, I guess.” David watched him carefully. There were clearly a lot of things about vampires he’d never thought to ask and Max had never bothered to explain.
“You didn’t want to?” Marko waded through the water toward the shore. It was nearing dawn and they had to go back soon. They’d spent the night talking.
“Not my scene. Too much drama. Too much commitment. Most of the tribes around here are assholes. And they’re stupid. My tribe was small - there were only six of us. They were good people.” Marko and David both liked Dwayne. He was honest and he was straightforward. He had helped them out more than once.
“So where do you sleep then?” Marko’s eyes were on the sky which was beginning to glow a dark, dark blue. Their time was almost up.
“I usually find a place to crash. The Castle has a basement that no one uses. What about you guys?”
“There’s a warehouse,” David grunted. “Corner of Warren and the John C. Lodge service drive. There’s a sub-basement that was sealed up when we found it. Nobody bothers us down there. Marko’s good at finding spots no one knows about.” Marko smiled at the complement.
“You guys gotta go back to that big, fancy house tonight?” Dwayne taunted.
“Yea…” Marko frowned at the sky. “We gotta go back now.” The others stood up. “You should come with us for tonight,” he suggested, giving Dwayne a hopeful look. David looked at him, lips pressed together to suppress a smile.
Dwayne nodded. “Yea, that’d be cool.”
“So you go around collecting lost boys with emotional baggage? Who are you - Peter Pan?”
Graphic depictions of sex in this chapter.
Max was asleep when they got back. Marko stripped down to his boxers in the hallways and waggled his fingers in a shy farewell before disappearing up to the attic. “G’night, Dwayne,” he called quietly before dissolving into the shadows.
David stopped below the hole to the attic. “There’s a spare bedroom,” he said, motioning to a room near the bathroom. “Max’s patched up all the windows so...no sunlight in any of the rooms. Here, I’ll show you.” He led the older boy down the hall to the last room on the left and pushed the door open. It was outfitted with a small bed and some other furniture that had been there when they’d bought the place. “Not really set up for a vampire but-”
David turned to see that Dwayne was grinning vaguely and looking at him instead of the room. “Oh...good.” He turned so they were facing one another. Dwayne pushed the door closed.
“Marko follows you?” Dwayne asked as he stepped closer.
David nodded. “I’m his sire,” he said. “It’s just the two of us,” he added, as if that would explain everything.
“He seems really genuine,” Dwayne said, stopping less than a foot away. David took a deep breath.
“He’s a good kid,” he confirmed.
They looked at each other for a minute and the same eagerness from before sprung up in his chest. Shit...am I really gonna fuck this guy? David liked Dwayne. He seemed to fit into their little family quite nicely. That was the only thing preventing him from jumping him on the spot.
“Dwayne.” He hesitated, unsure of how to explain his thought process. With Marko, he didn’t have to explain things. The kid just knew them, and if he didn’t, he read David’s thoughts. He was out of practice with communicating. “I like you-”
“Good.” Dwayne reached out and held David’s head, resting strong hands on each side of his face, and pulled him in for a firm but surprisingly gentle kiss. Satisfaction roared in David’s chest and he responded by running his hands through Dwayne’s hair and deepening the kiss. It wasn’t often that he had sex with another vampire unless it was Marko. It was different, engaging in something like this and knowing you weren’t going to rip the person to shreds at the end of it. Dwayne guided them to a wall and pressed David against it. He pushed a knee in between the younger boy’s legs and David pressed his half-hard cock up against Dwayne’s thigh. Not wasting any time. Wonderful.
It was also different not being able to communicate unless he spoke out loud. “You got lube?” Dwayne was absolutely straight to the point and David thought it was more than refreshing.
“I’ll get some,” he said and was gone in an instant. Two seconds later, he was back with a container of vaseline. Dwayne chuckled and David barely had time to mumble, “Shut the fuck up,” before he was being pushed onto the tiny twin bed and Dwayne was on him. They both struggled to kick off their pants and David was still unclear about who was going to play what role, but he was too excited to care. By the time they had stripped down to nothing, they were both hard as a rock and Dwayne was grinding down onto him as David gripped his ass tightly. David spread his legs and they frotted against each other, both breathing heavily. David grunted as he pressed up against Dwayne and his lips grabbed desperately for any skin they could find.
“Flip over.” Somehow, Dwayne managed to sound very respectful when ordering him around. Usually, David liked being in charge. He could get a little power-hungry and was always the first to give orders. Dwayne seemed like the kind of guy who didn’t mind taking orders because he knew he was doing it on his terms, just as he was giving orders to expedite the proceedings, not just on a power trip.
David untangled himself and rolled over onto his stomach, steeling himself. Dwayne positioned himself between David’s legs and grabbed the bottle of vaseline. A moment later, David felt Dwayne spread his ass wide. He felt vulnerable and self-conscious for a moment, but Dwayne hummed quietly. The sound was one of appreciation, and David immediately went from being embarrassed to feeling rather proud.
Dwayne pressed a gentle finger against him and David groaned before he could help himself. One finger took its time pressing in and out gently, teasing and working him until David was bucking his hips up off the bed in frustration. Then he added another. Then another. By the time three were pumping in and out in earnest, David was sweating and moaning and humping against the mattress.
Dwayne pulled his fingers out and used the remainder of the lube to prepare his cock. He hummed in pleasure as he jerked himself and David glared at him over his shoulder, impatient and horny. Dwayne chuckled as he positioned himself on top of David and lined himself up. Without a prompt, he pushed in - carefully but consistently - until he bottomed out. Both boys moaned. Dwayne pressed his face between David’s shoulder blades and propped himself up on his elbows on either side of the younger boy’s head. They took a moment to recover, and then Dwayne started to move his hips at a slow pace.
In that position, David couldn’t control anything. He could barely press himself back against Dwayne’s hips when he drove down into him. He struggled for purchase and managed to bend one knee before Dwayne had a tight grip on his hair and his face was being pushed down into the blankets.
Dwayne growled in his ear, low and stern. David stopped with his right knee bent up to the side. Dwayne shifted so he was kneeling with his left knee on David’s left thigh, pinning him down, and held on tightly to his hip. Without warning, he started to fuck him roughly. David whined quietly and forced himself to relax. The sound of skin on skin slapping with every fuck was obscene and echoed through the room. Dwayne grunted occasionally. His hand was still in David’s hair, holding him tightly. David’s cock was pressed pathetically between his stomach and the bed. He whined at the lack of attention and the slow build up in his groin.
The pace slowed. Dwayne pulled out gently. “On your knees.” David scrambled so that he was on all fours, and spread his legs. He couldn’t remember the last time he was so eager to be fucked like this. He shot daggers at Dwayne behind him and was once again put in his place as Dwayne pushed into him irreverently. Their pace was quick and sloppy now. Dwayne had him by both hips and drove into him over and over. David couldn’t keep from touching himself. He braced one palm on the headboard and allowed the other to grip his cock. He timed his strokes to match Dwayne’s pace and gasped and groaned as he came in less than a minute. Dwayne’s movements lost consistency and he pulled out and pulled himself off until he came over David’s back.
The two of them collapsed beside one another as they tried to catch their breath. David was the first to speak. “That was fun,” he snickered as he sat up on the bed. Dwayne chuckled in response and smiled to himself. “Keep that up and we’ll have to offer you a place in our family.”
Dwayne rolled onto his side and propped his head up on one arm. “Really?”
David couldn’t tell if he was joking or not. He cleaned himself off with his t-shirt and then tossed it at the older boy to do the same. “Maybe.” It wasn’t a half bad idea.
“Is this how you found Marko?” Dwayne asked.
“Not exactly,” he explained as he pulled on his boxers. “He was in a bad situation. I took him because I wanted him.”
“So you go around collecting lost boys with emotional baggage? Who are you - Peter Pan?”
“You got emotional baggage?”
The two of them stared at each other for a moment, and then simultaneously laughed.
“Stay here as long as you like,” David said as he turned to leave the room. “I’ll see you tonight.” He shut the door on the way out and headed up to the attic where he could already hear Marko snickering through the ceiling.
“He doesn’t have to stay,” David reminded him while making a considerable effort not to sound too concerned.
“I want him to stay,” he replied. “I like him."
Graphic depictions of sex in this chapter.
The candles landed on the counter with a quiet thud! as one rolled off onto the carpeted living room floor. Marko quickly swooped down to scoop it up and placed it with the others, before leaving to locate the matches elsewhere in the house.
David stared at the pile of half-melted candlesticks on the coffee table and sighed. “What the hell are you doing?” he called in the direction the other boy had headed. After a few seconds, there was still no response. David should his head. This was getting ridiculous.
“It has to be special,” Marko answered finally as he padded back into the living room with some more candles and a box of matches. “It’s a ritual. It’s gotta have candles.” He placed the supplies on the table with the others and looked at his brother. “All rituals have candles.”
David gave him a mock look of surprise. “My bad,” he drawled, eyeing the matches. “You just gonna scatter these all over the warehouse or something?” Marko nodded absently and fiddled with the matchbox.
They had decided to make Dwayne part of the family. Max had been less than happy with Marko’s escape a few nights prior, and Dwayne had taken the blame by claiming that he had lured them with a good hunting place. Max seemed to like Dwayne, and what wasn’t to like? He was honest and straightforward and seemingly very helpful. They already knew they could hunt well together, and both boys enjoyed their time talking to him. It seemed he had fallen nicely into their lives and David found he wasn’t so willing to let go.
“Fine by me,” Dwayne had said when they asked him. “I like you guys.”
Max had seemed pleased that the boys had found someone they liked that was of good moral character and that knew how to play to their leader’s likes. Dwayne was smarter than the both of them put together, no doubt, and he already knew how to play Max like a fiddle. The ‘responsible older brother’ position was filled instantly.
David thought he had a knack for picking up just the perfect pieces to the overall puzzle that was their family. After being so determined to avoid anyone else from interrupting their delicate balance, he was now happy that he had more than one person to keep him company in the wake of Max’s insanity.
David couldn’t help but wonder how Marko felt about it all. They had both mentioned that he stay, and neither one seemed opposed to the idea, but David wondered if Marko felt threatened by the new inclusion of someone that wasn’t a part of them.
“He doesn’t have to stay,” David reminded him while making a considerable effort not to sound too concerned. Marko stopped and looked at him, puzzled.
“I want him to stay,” he replied. “I like him. Although...not as much as you do.” He snickered and David glared at him. David couldn’t wait until Marko slept with the guy so that the jokes would stop. “Besides,” the smaller vampire said as he carefully gathered up his pile and dumped them into a paper grocery bag. “He’s alone. He needs a family. We have a vacancy.” David sometimes wondered about Marko’s logic, but he didn’t question it. They’d never mentioned wanting another brother. In fact, nothing they’d ever talked about would insinuate that there was any sort of ‘vacancy’ in their family at all. They were fine just as they’d been for nearly seventeen years - just the two of them and Max.
As if reading his mind, Marko looked up and gave him an impish grin. “I’m not worried that I’m going to be replaced,” he said slyly. “You’re my sire, not his.” David grunted in appreciation at the slight possessiveness. That was true. “Besides, no matter what he offers you, he won’t be as good of a fuck as me.” David laughed out loud this time. No matter what, he wouldn’t have a way with words like Marko either. The younger boy smiled. “What?” he chuckled. “We share blood. He can’t beat that.”
“He can after tonight.”
“That’s not the same thing.” David knew Marko wasn’t really concerned, and he was right not to be. Even after their makeshift little ritual, Dwayne wouldn’t be a part of him like Marko was.
There was no reason for Dwayne to drink from him, but they’d remembered what the older boy had told them. To join a tribe, someone could drink from the leader and make a connection. If they had worked so well already without a connection, imagine what they could do in each other’s heads.
Marko placed a bottle of red wine on the table and then headed into the hall again. The bottle wasn’t fancy - just something Max had lying around the house. It didn’t look very impressive either. The label was nondescript, the bottle was dusty, and it brandished the year ‘1964’ on it quite proudly. It didn’t look like it belonged in a vampire ritual.
“Jeez, is that the best we can do?” David complained as he lifted the bottle and turned it in his hands. They’d decided to go the more conventional route and have Dwayne drink his blood from a bottle. This was how most vampires were turned, according to Max, and this would make the connection without the mess. Their plan was to gather in the warehouse at ten o’clock and complete the initiation.
Marko appeared in the doorway again, this time holding a very ornate, very dusty old bottle. It was wrapped in golden metal embellishments and brilliant, red gems. David’s eyes lit up when he saw it and he leaned forward with his hands out. Marko cradled it carefully and held it out as if presenting a delicate treasure. “Where the fuck did you find this?” He turned it over in his hands. It was old, no doubt, and had probably traveled all over the damn country with them, but he’d never seen it before.
“It was in the china cabinet,” Marko explained, gesturing toward the hall where he’d been digging for candles. “It was in the way back. It’s a little dusty-”
“It’s perfect.” He put his nose to the opening and inhaled. Where he expected to find dust and mold, the scent was instead sweet and smoky, like incense.
They made their way to the kitchen where David carefully wiped the outside with a damp cloth and rinsed the inside thoroughly in the faucet. He placed the ornate bottle on the counter beside the plain one and considered them both.
“How are we gonna get the wine and blood together in there?” he asked more of himself than Marko. They considered both for a while more.
David closed his eyes and prayed for patience. He opened them only when he heard the clinking of bottles against one another. Marko was carefully pouring the wine into the antique bottle. When he was about three-quarters of the way full, he stopped, placed the wine on the counter, and held out his hand to David.
“I can do it.” David believed him, so he held out his left hand and observed. Marko took the corkscrew they’d used to open the wine and, without warning, stabbed it into the underside of his sire’s wrist.
“Argh, fuck!” Reflexively, David tugged his arm back, but Marko kept a firm grip on him. As soon as blood bubbled to the surface, the smaller boy gently placed the open wound to the opening of the bottle and pressed. The two of them watched as the blood dripped into the alcohol and quickly dissipated. They both wondered, silently, how much blood it took. Was it less effective the more it was diluted? Was that possible? Did it matter because Dwayne was already a vampire?
The bottle slowly but surely continued to fill up. After a few minute, David began to feel antsy, and the wound was beginning to heal. It was at this point that Marko deemed the bottle ‘ready for action’ and released the control of the arm back to its owner.
After sealing the bottle, the two of them admired it for a while. “This is perfect for a ritual,” Marko whispered, disturbing the few seconds of silence. David glanced at the clock. It was 9:30. Time to get going.
The warehouse was empty as expected. As Marko set to spreading the candles on different surfaces and lighting them, David wondered if inviting someone else to share their bond was really such a good idea. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t proven himself, but he couldn’t help but be a little suspicious of Dwayne. After all, they’d only met him a week prior. There was something about him he couldn’t place, however. Just like with Marko, there was an innate sense of belonging that he felt when Dwayne was with them. He was like a missing puzzle piece. David had trusted his instinct when changing Marko. He just hoped he was as fortunate with Dwayne.
They weren’t alone for very long. A few minutes after they were finished setting everything up, Dwayne appeared from a dark corner. “You guys having a birthday party?” he quipped as he walked down the makeshift aisle toward them where they posed at the end of the room. David met him with a grin.
“Dwayne,” he offered in a detached greeting. “Welcome.”
Dwayne got the sense immediately that things were a bit more serious than he’d anticipated, so he remained silent with a smile on his face.
“We want you to officially join our family,” David continued. “We want you to share our bond. Marko?” The smaller boy stepped out with the beautifully ornate bottle in hand. He carried it before him with two hands as if it contained all the secrets of the world. David took it from him and popped the cork from the top. The smell was intoxicating and he felt Marko tense beside him.
David put his lips to the bottle and drank deeply. Something about drinking his own blood was strangely intimate and he shuttered, closing his eyes for a moment as it ran down his throat. He took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and looked at their new friend.
While keeping his eyes on Dwayne’s, he passed the bottle to Marko who also took a drink. The younger boy took great care not to spill any and he licked his lips as he savoured every drop. Then he passed it alone. “Drink some of this, Dwayne,” David whispered as the bottle was handed over. “Be one of us.”
Dwayne took it and looked between the two of them. He chuckled, hesitated just a moment, and then drank deeply. David watched the movement in his throat as he drank and waited. Dwayne. Marko looked between them expectantly. Dwayne. The other two looked at one another, unblinking, waiting for the bond to be made. Dwayne.
“Can you hear him?” Marko’s whisper quietly echoed around them. David grinned and nodded. Dwayne returned the bottle carefully, which David took and placed beside a candle on the ground behind them. “Now you’re our brother,” Marko beamed as he tugged at the front of Dwayne’s jacket. “I wanna hear you too, but I don’t have a bottle.”
Dwayne glanced at David who was watching them from a few feet away. It probably wasn’t usual for the bond to be made with anyone else in a tribe besides the leader, but that didn’t seem right in their case. They were all brothers - all equal - and they should all be connected.
In a show of utmost trust and brotherhood, Dwayne silently pulled out a small switchblade from his pocket and slit his wrist. He pushed it to Marko’s mouth and the younger vampire didn’t hesitate a second before latching on and drinking in earnest. Dwayne wrapped his free arm around the boy’s back to keep him steady. As he drank, David stepped up behind him and pressed a hand to his back. He knew Marko wouldn’t be satisfied with their new brother just drinking from his wrist.
David slid a hand up into Marko’s dense curls and tightened his grip. He pulled back slightly and the smaller boy stopped drinking and allowed himself to be guided. David tilted his head back until he was leaning on David’s collarbone and his neck was exposed. Marko’s chest heaved as he caught his breath.
Nonchalantly, David took Dwayne’s wrist in his free hand and brought it to his lips. As soon as he tasted the blood, he felt their bond strengthen. It was no longer a struggle to hear him. He felt like Dwayne was a part of him. After a few seconds, Marko made a needy sound. Go ahead and bite him, he told Dwayne. He heard the older boy chuckle darkly in response and some thoughts revolving around ‘old fashioned’ and ‘kinky’ echoed in his head.
In a swift motion, Dwayne had sunk his teeth into the side of Marko’s neck causing him to jerk against his sire’s chest and to hiss in pain. Seconds later, discontent turned to frustrated and excited groans and he tilted his head back to expose himself further.
David licked at the wound on Dwayne’s wrist which was now healing. Now you’re family, David pushed so both of them could hear him. Dwayne growled in response as he finished lapping up blood from the open piercings in Marko’s neck and trailed his lips up until he found and claimed the smaller boy’s mouth. Marko wasted no time in wrapping his arms around Dwayne’s neck and wholeheartedly kissing him back. David held his sired steady and licked up the last droplets of blood that dripped from his neck.
One of us. One of us. Marko chanted to himself. The mantra echoed through all three of their minds. One of us. Marko jumped up and wrapped his legs around Dwayne so he was latched onto the front of him. Ours. Dwayne cupped his ass through his jeans and supported him easily. David pondered moving to the floor.
He decided that was a good move, and sat casually, cross-legged, on the floor where they stood. Dwayne followed suit and sat across from David. Marko landed in his sire’s lap, legs still around their new brother, and took the opportunity of movement to toss his fringe vest off to the side. David ran his hands over Marko’s chest and back. He was soft, like always, but this time his movements, which were usually languid and lazy like a tiger, were urgent and pressing. They both urged Dwayne to take his jacket off by gently tugging at parts of it until it disappeared.
What happened next was a mess of blood and tangled limbs. Marko and Dwayne continue to kiss, biting and licking at one another’s swollen lips. Marko’s blood dripped from Dwane’s chin and the taste of himself on his own tongue caused Marko to growl into the older boy’s mouth and grip his hair and face possessively.
David held Marko on his lap and pawed at his erection through his jeans as he grinded his half-hard cock against Marko’s ass through two layers of pants. He eventually opted for unzipping him and slipping a hand inside his boxers to jerk him slowly and sloppily while keeping his mouth busy nipping and running around Marko’s perfect shoulders and the soft, now bruised and ripped, skin of his neck.
Marko moaned into Dwayne’s mouth and bucked his hips up into David’s fist. You’re a slut, Marko. David chuckled as he laid kisses along behind Marko’s ear and nibbled at the sensitive skin there.
Marko ran his hands down Dwayne’s chest, raking his nails gently over his nipples, down his stomach, and landing at the edge of his jeans which he immediately began to unbutton. He pulled away, breaking the kiss finally, and rested his forehead on Dwayne’s shoulder, admiring his cock as he pulled it out of his pants and started stroking him roughly, twisting his hand gently over the head every time he pulled up. Inspired by Marko’s talents, David redoubled his efforts.
I want both of you to fuck me, Marko whined as he rocked his hips more aggressively and David picked up speed.
You’ll never last that long, kiddo, David thought as he pressed a kiss to the back of Marko’s neck. Dwayne chuckled, but his breath hitched when the grip around him tightened and pulled inconsistently. Marko was getting close.
You two owe me one after this. David rolled his hips up against Marko’s ass, desperate for pressure, but unable to get enough through his jeans and at such a bad angle. Out of frustration, David bit down on Marko’s shoulder and jerked him harder.
“Ah! Fuck…” Marko’s words - the first spoken in several minutes - echoed through the basement and mingled with his deep moans as he came into David’s hand. Dwayne followed after a few more strokes, staying silent except for a small gasp.
David shifted, dumping Marko onto Dwayne’s lap entirely, and unzipped his pants. He started to stroke himself, but a moment later Marko was back on him, pressing him gently into a sitting position, and taking his cock into his mouth. David groaned loudly and Marko worked him smoothly. He knew just what he liked. With one arm on the floor to balance himself, the other hand was at work stroking up and down, following his lips which slid nearly down to the hilt with each bob of his head. He worked diligently and confidently and when David finally remembered to open his eyes it was to Dwayne watching them, absently stroking his cock which was spent, but still hard. Knowing they were being watched pushed him closer to the edge. Marko swirled his tongue around the tip of David’s cock and he came with a growl and an involuntary buck of his hips.
The three of them sat in silence for a few moments on the floor of the basement until Marko began to chuckle to himself. The other two followed and soon they were looking at each other with genuine happiness.
Chapter 14: 1972
“A smaller resort town called ‘Santa Carla’.”
“Why do you wanna go there?"
The move to California had not been sudden. After draining the benefits and fun out of his business in Detroit, and more trouble with local tribes over the following years, all four were ready to move. Dwayne was now a pivotal part of their family. It felt as if he had always been there.
“We could go south?” Marko suggested one night as they sat around Max’s kitchen table. Dinner was set out as a formality like always - untouched and unwanted. Marko and Dwayne sat on either side - Marko curled into a lazy ball in his seat and Dwayne with his legs stretched out to the other side - with both of their eyes focused on something other than their family members. David and Max each sat at the head, watching each other carefully over the table. David propped his leg up over the arm of the chair and leaned heavily on his opposite elbow. He noted that their father-figure looked tired. It was becoming clear why he’d brought up the topic in the first place. Max had his hands folded on the table and was surveying the family.
“What’s south?” Dwayne prompted. Marko shrugged and carefully wrapped yarn around the scarf he was attempting to knit. He frowned when he allowed a stitch to slip off the top of the needle and his tongue poked out slightly between his lips as he attempted to remedy the mistake.
“I was thinking West, actually,” Max piped in. “California. Quite a scene out there, nowadays.” None of them were surprised at the comment. Max never suggested things to the boys unless he had a plan already in place.
“California?” David was used to traveling all over the country, but they’d never spoken about California before. Never even mentioned it. David’s vision of California was the Beach Boys, Hollywood, and Disneyland. “Where?”
“A smaller resort town called ‘Santa Carla’,” Max explained. They could all tell from his tone that he had a carefully rehearsed reasoning. “It’s about an hour south of San Jose...far enough away from the big cities that we won’t be impeding on anyone’s territory.”
“Why do you wanna go there?” David huffed. It seemed out of the way, and David was less interested in adventure than the others. Going back east - back toward Pittsburgh or Philadelphia - would have been more comfortable. Nothing unexpected over there.
“It’s a vacation spot,” Max answered simply. “A lot of people go there in the summertime to party at the boardwalk.” David rolled his eyes even before his brothers spoke up.
“Boardwalk?” Dwayne questioned.
“Party?” Marko chirped.
Don’t get too excited, boys, David warned them.
Max grinned. Even if David was unhappy, he would give in if the other two did. “Lots of prey to choose from. A good nightlife scene...you boys will have plenty to keep you occupied.”
Marko and Dwayne exchanged glances and secret smiles across the table and David knew he had lost. He sighed and sat up. Guess they’d better get packing.
In the end, the journey to California had been raw and exciting. Adventure hadn’t seemed like something he was keen on, but both of the older boys couldn’t help but be enticed by Marko’s casual positivity. “Talk about freedom,” he chattered as they packed the van one night. “Open road, no one around, just the three of us...this is gonna kick ass.”
Before the trip, Max had given them parameters. “You have until next Thursday,” he told them. “That’s ten days before I call you in, understand?” The boys agreed, eager to be able to travel by themselves without Max’s supervision. Max was going to drive his beloved convertible from Detroit to California to meet the moving truck, which was something none of them wanted to be involved in. They were more than happy to take their time.
They rode at night, moving in a triangle formation - David at the front, Marko and Dwayne behind, side by side - howling in the night as they jetted across the desert on their bikes. They stopped to feed every other day or so, picking off owners of all-night gas stations and truckers sleeping at stops. They were careful to cover their tracks, but the freedom of not being tied down was appealing to them. They were quick to disappear and didn’t stay in one place for more than a few hours.
A day early, they rolled into Santa Carla around nine. Although it was mid-July, they’d expected the town to be rather quiet. Instead, they were greeted with lights from a mile away. The atmosphere of the town was calm and smooth. A few people littered the streets, but folks seemed to move in drabbles toward the glow of lights and blinking of amusements that they could see ahead.
This is Santa Carla? Marko’s excitement echoed through the connection and David and Dwayne couldn’t help but grin to themselves. No one could deny that it was one of the coolest looking places on Earth. David had been to a beach, but it had been nothing like this. The road dissipated into nothingness, melding into the boardwalk like some insane dream sequence that they’d rolled into. The sounds of kids screaming and the droves of young people decked out in bell-bottoms and bright, floral shirts were enough to make each of them double-take more than once. None of them had ever seen such a fantastic nighttime scene in their lives.
David pulled his bike over to the side of the boards and stopped to take everything in. Grand marquees graced the sky in between rows of crooked edison lights that created a makeshift ceiling between amusement rides. ‘The Giant Dipper’ it proclaimed, selling one of the most massive roller coasters David had ever seen. Marko and Dwayne pulled up and parked on either side of him, eyes glued to the scene all around. Teenagers rolled past on their skateboards, marijuana hung thick in the air, and live music could be heard coming from somewhere just off the pier. It was sensory overload, but nothing was more pungent than-
“That smell.” Marko sounded almost drunk as he spoke. A goofy smile crept onto his face. “God...there are so many people here…” He looked around, eyeing a group of girls like walking pieces of meat as they passed. They’d fed not long ago, but the excitement, risque dress, and the sheer amount of options they had were affecting all three of them. The air reeked of blood even though there wasn't any around. A girl giggled and waved as she walked by and her friends playfully scolded her and pulled her away. “Is this what it’s like every night?” Neither David nor Dwayne had an answer to that. It was high-season for a vacation town, but something told them this was the culture in Santa Carla. It was most definitely a party town.
“Let’s find Max,” David said as he revved his engine. People around them turned to look, commenting and pointing at their bikes. They were obviously impressed. David peeled out, followed closely by Marko, and then by Dwayne.
It was easy to find Max’s place of business. A large, colourful sign was being posted on the side of a building not two blocks off of the boardwalk. David had prompted Max mentally for directions, so the head vampire was waiting for them when they arrived.
“Looks like you all got here in one piece,” Max said with a smile as they approached. He pulled Marko in under his arm which the youngest boy took begrudgingly before half-heartedly hugging him back. David laughed at them. “What do you think of the place?” he asked proudly as he swept his arm out to present a grey store-front framed by big, yellow windows. Dwayne nodded as he admired the sign. ‘Max’s Records’ it read.
“Not bad,” David drawled as he peeked through the windows. The shop was mostly empty, save for a few empty rows of record bins. “Never pegged you for a music guy,” he joked. Max smiled in response.
“Well...you know,” he chuckled. “Not really. But I know it’s popular. The previous owner was making good money.” Marko peeked around Max and into the store. “Who knows? If it’s popular, I may open another one.” Max paused for a moment, looking up the boardwalk past the boys. “What did you think of the boardwalk?”
All three of them nodded. “Very cool,” David confirmed as he looked around them. Big parking lot. Good location. Not a residential area, clearly. “Is the house around here?” he asked, eyeing some of the workers as they finished installing the sign.
Max laughed. “No! Goodness...no it’s out on the outskirts of town...big property, about twenty minutes by car.” David grunted in response, eyeing Max’s red convertible that was parked out front of the store. “You’re welcome to come by…”
Where are you going? Marko had wandered off into the store and David questioned him as soon as he was out of sight.
“Come by?” Dwayne echoed. “That sounded like it was gonna be followed by a ‘but’.”
Max gave them a guilty look.
There’s a lot of space in here. There’s a little room in the back.
Marko, come back here.
“I want you to be comfortable coming if you need me,” Max said with an absent smile still gracing his lips.
“...But?” Dwayne prompted. He was obviously eager to hear what the catch was.
Get the fuck back here, Marko.
The little blonde popped his head out of the shop door three seconds later and sauntered over to the group.
“You’ve been living on your own for years now, haven’t you? Perhaps it would be good for you boys to find a place of your own here,” Max urged.
Dwayne raised an eyebrow but said nothing. David couldn’t say he was surprised. After all, Santa Carla was a party town, and they’d developed some appalling habits in the past few years living around Detroit. Having three teenaged boys with enhanced strength, destructive tendencies, and uncontrollable urges sounded like a nightmare.
“Sure, Pops, no problem.” Marko had approached the group and gotten the same message from Max’s invitation as the others had. He was trying to shove his little birdies out of the nest. “I’m sure we can find a place to crash that doesn’t involve sunlight.”
Max eyed him but decided his jab wasn’t meant to start a fight. “If you can’t find a place, you are always welcome. You know that. I don’t want you out anywhere close to sun-up, so if you find yourselves stuck-”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry.” David patted Max on the shoulder roughly and then headed back to his bike. The others followed. “We’ll be fine. Seems like Santa Carla is built just for us, huh?” Marko and Dwayne cackled as they climbed on their bikes and all three of them started their engines.
“Please be careful, David,” Max called over the running motors.
David nodded slowly and Marko shot him a thumbs up.
“Do not forget to be vigilant! Clean up after yourselves!”
The boys kicked out their stands and walked their bikes around to clear one another before peeling out and heading back up toward the boardwalk.
“Watch out for each other!”
“No trespassing,” David said, reading one of the signs aloud. “Hudson's Bluffs Sea Cave is closed due to unsafe conditions.”
“This place is pretty amazing,” Dwayne admitted as he sucked down his third beer. To their surprise, it had been fairly simple to get any number of illicit substances in Santa Carla. The three of them were now perched on the edge of the boardwalk railing watching an R&B group on an outdoor stage down on the beach. Marko was scarfing down his fourth piece of pizza.
David surveyed the land before them, taking in as many details as he could. There were hundreds of people of all ages - although they seemed to range from pre-teen to mid-twenties - all writhing together on a makeshift dancefloor around various bonfires. People were passing joints through the crowd in front of them. It looked as though many of them were under the influence of something much stronger. It would be easy pickings in this crowd. Most of them probably wouldn’t make it home that night anyway. How easy would it be to toss their corpses into the ocean when they were done? Or into one of the bonfires further out on the beach? This place was like a buffet. It was practically built to accommodate vampires, and yet they seemed to be the only ones around. Suspicious, but satisfying. They could easily rule this town with just a little bit of influence, but they had to be convincing. People couldn’t know what they really were.
David eyed Marko who was licking pizza sauce off of his lips and looking at the crowd with his eyes clouded with lust. “Marko,” he prompted, but the younger vampire didn’t respond. David wondered if a place like this was too much for them. Perhaps they weren’t ready to be the kings of Santa Carla.
Dwayne had better self-control. He had more life experience and a personality suited to regulate himself. Marko was just a kid. He would always be just a kid. Even though David loved that about him, he had the potential to fuck himself - and the rest of them - right over if he wasn’t watched.
“Let’s get fucked up.”
Marko hopped down from the railing and headed over to his bike. “I wanna get fucked up. I wanna get wasted and go to a club and just...do things.” His voice was soft and calm like always, but there was a little more mischief in his eyes than normal. “This is real freedom.” A devious grin graced his features.
David stood now too, and Dwayne moved in behind him, setting the two sides against one another. “In case you forgot, we still have to find a place to sleep before sun-up.” Pressing matters first. A conversation about self-control could come later, probably after Marko had done something rash and stupid.
“Max said we could stay with him.”
“You wanna get fucked up and go trudging back into Max’s brand new pad covered in blood and full of alcohol?”
Marko considered this for a moment and then shrugged. It was a signal of defeat. He hopped on his bike and kicked up the stand. “Can we at least check out the town?” he asked, laying a huge set of puppy dog eyes on the both of them.
Dwayne waited for David’s response, but he could feel the older boy’s relief. They’d have plenty of time to experience ‘real freedom’. They looked at their youngest brother and resolved at the same time, hopping on their respective bikes. “Sure,” David said finally. “But we find a place to stay. Tonight.”
The boardwalk was colourful and loud and full of people. Girls in short shorts rolled by on roller skates. People smoked on the corners. Dogs roamed the beaches. The attitude of Santa Carla was so different than Detroit. It felt like time was moving in slow motion. In a way, David understood why Marko was so eager to go out and do something. The inevitable draw of freedom seemed to seep into every action in Santa Carla. Absolutely no one was in a hurry, ever. David thought he could really like it there.
They walked down the boards, admiring different shops and different people. Dwayne paused to examine a display. A brunette woman - dressed in a red, floral dress, round glasses, and adorned with a white flower necklace - smiled at him with a hand on her pregnant belly from the wide-open facade of a comic shop. Dwayne smiled back. Even the people in Santa Carla were relaxed. It was infectious.
Marko gazed up at something in a kiosk store-front. David waltzed up to him and looked in the same direction. “I want that,” Marko stated as he pointed to a jacket that was hanging behind a cashier counter. It was plain denim, with one patch of a skull on the right sleeve.
“That one?” David clarified, pointing to the jacket. Marko nodded. “Okay.”
David jumped up on the counter and hopped down on the other side. Across the store, the clerk saw him, but David had tugged the jacket off of its high-up hanger before the man could get over to them. As David was climbing over the counter again, the man grabbed him.
“Sir! What...you can’t just take that!” he squawked, clearly appalled by the behavior. David wrenched his arm out of the clerk’s grasp and rounded on him, holding his gaze steadily.
“Sure I can,” he countered. His voice was calm. So calm, that the few people who had started watching the interaction quickly grew bored and redirected their attention elsewhere. So calm, that the man’s eyelids drooped slightly and his shoulders visibly relaxed. “You were going to pay for this for us...remember?”
The man gasped, and then slowly, he nodded. David smiled. “There we go.”
He hopped back over the counter and tossed the jacket to Marko who eagerly tugged off his tattered, stolen leather jacket, placed it on the countertop, and pulled the new one over his cropped white tank top. “You can keep this,” he said to the store clerk as he patted the old biker jacket.
The bikes bounced down the steps to the beach and the boys sped along the shoreline, avoiding bonfires and swerving in and out of groups of party goers. After walking along the boardwalk for a few hours, the piers had started to close for the night and the crowds began to die down. Security guards had started to spread out to usher people back to their homes. It was three in the morning. Time to find a place to sleep.
Where the fuck are you taking us?
Dwayne had told them he’d had an idea and the three of them had sped off toward the edge of town. Behind him, David could hear Marko howling, his voice carrying off into the wind and filling the air around them. He sounded like a wolf. David smiled.
After several minutes of driving, a lighthouse came into view. It sat on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. The boys pulled up to the cliffs and parked. Dwayne was the first to dismount. The ground was staked with many signs warning the residents of Santa Carla that the area - apparently called ‘Hudson’s Bluff’ - was closed.
“No trespassing,” David said, reading one of the signs aloud. “Hudson's Bluffs Sea Cave is closed due to unsafe conditions.”
“Home to many endangered and threatened species such as the yellow-billed cuckoo,” Marko added as he read another sign. He looked around. “I don’t see any fucking cuckoos.”
Dwayne lifted a chain that was blocking an old staircase and peeked over the edge down onto a platform below. “There’s something down there,” he said. The other two came up behind him and peered down. Waves violently licked the shore at the bottom, but there was certainly something down there. “It’s a hotel,” Dwayne clarified as he took a book out of his pocket.
“Fucking stupid place for a hotel,” Marko muttered.
David looked at his older brother. “How do you know this?” He eyed the book.
“Max gave me this earlier,” Dwayne explained as he held the book out to the others. They closed in for a better look. The light from the distanced lighthouse was barely enough to see. It was clearly a tourist brochure, but it looked very old. Some of the pages were dog-eared. “Used to be the ‘Santa Carla Hotel and Casino’ back at the start of the century before an earthquake killed it.”
David looked over the edge again. From on top, he couldn’t see anything more than the rickety staircase and an old wooden bridge. “Well, let’s take a look then.” All at once, they leaped, flying through the air to swoop down below. There was an opening in the rock that had been crudely boarded up by a makeshift fence that was surrounded by metal scraps and large, jagged rocks. A large ‘Danger - do not enter’ sign hung over the cave’s entrance.
They landed just inside the entrance and found themselves standing at the top of what had been, in its heyday, a beautiful grand staircase. Now, it was just a pile of rubble that made a steep incline into a sunken, rotten foyer. All three of them grinned. Despite the ruin, the place was resplendent and beautiful. Many of the decorations still stood. Great, sweeping archways mostly held the elaborate, vaulted ceilings in place. Vines had grown in from above, intertwining with moth-eaten curtains and marble carvings that adorned every pillar. Some furniture remained, broken and ripped. The front desk remained mostly intact, complete with a small service bell and mailboxes for the guests. The biggest attraction, however, was the center of the foyer where a huge, round fountain sat empty and dry.
They split up, examining every part of the old hotel, scouring through every crack and nook like rats ferreting for refuge. An hour later, after shouting to one another, dragging one another to see different rooms, pulling at vines, throwing broken pieces of furniture, they met up in the foyer once more.
“This place is fucking perfect.”
“Did Max know about this?”
“Did you see the rooms upstairs?”
“These caves go back forever. No way sunlight can get back there.”
The three of them looked at each other, grinning like idiots.
“We could stay here,” Marko suggested. “It’s got everything we need.” He hopped up onto the fountain and balanced himself with arms out as he toed his way around the perimeter.
Dwayne wandered off toward a large, torn piece of fabric on the wall that seemed to be draped over a painting.
David was skeptical. A building so perfectly hidden away that no one would go to? How did a place like this just fall into their laps on the first night they were there? It just reinforced that Santa Carla was practically created for them.
“Hey boys,” Dwayne called. “Check this shit out.” David and Marko headed over.
He pulled down the remaining shreds of fabric and revealed a majestic looking painting that sat over an elaborate fireplace on the far end of the foyer.
“You gotta be fucking with me.”
The painting was eerily familiar. It was a professional portrait, early twentieth century, that presented a well-dressed man wearing a suit and looking quite proud. The boys had seen its subject countless times in their lives.
“Is that Max?”
In fact, it was. Underneath the portrait was mounted a tiny, tarnished plaque that bore the inscription: Maximus Lawrence - Proprietor.
The idea of Max's portrait came from the original screenplay and the novelization of the book.
Chapter 16: 1974
"Is this the guy you intend to eat?"
It had been easy to take over Santa Carla. The town was seemingly built for them, whether or not Max had intended to turn the place into a vampire haven. The seasonal population provided a buffet and an unparalleled nightlife that lasted for nearly half of the year. The rest of the time they spread to neighboring cities and towns. California was big, heavily populated, and spread out. It was easy to travel a decent distance away in a short amount of time and not leave a trail wherever they went.
During the summer, it was nothing short of amazing. Every other place they had lived paled in comparison. There was an unlimited choice of prey, neverending entertainment, and their hotel had shaped up nicely after they’d moved some things around and slowly started to collect things for their nest. Marko was good at snagging blankets and pillows from campers on the beach. Dwayne collected furniture when he saw something available. They’d set up a space for themselves in no time.
Near the fountain in the lobby sat a large, metal bin. Two more were scattered around the hotel near the main area. All three contained large bonfires that were lit almost every night. David had found an old wheelchair abandoned - or so he claimed - by the side of the road one night. That had become his place, tucked away near an old trunk and some monster movie posters Marko had tacked to the wall. He perched there often, surveying the hotel like it was his kingdom. In a way, it was. Hell of a rough kingdom though. Various half-burned candles adorned almost every surface. At night, no light crept in from the land. They were too far out, too far underground - tucked away from civilization in their own little black hole.
“What are you doing?” Dwayne’s stoic voice carried over the noise of the radio nearby that was cranking out sounds of the Allman Brothers through crackling speakers. His attention was turned to Marko who was hovering in the corner messing with some fishing net. David turned in his chair to look at his younger brother.
Marko was balancing himself on a wooden crate, hanging a piece of net from a broken sconce jutting out from the wall. I’m decorating. He hummed to himself quietly as he failed again and again to keep the net hanging. They had been there nearly a year and most walls were adorned with some sort of Marko-creation. Many had tapestries or curtains hanging from old vines or branches. Various statues and jewelry from thrift shops and tourists sat on otherwise empty shelves.
“Aren’t we going out?” Dwayne asked, this time to David who was leaning forward in his chair to grab at a bottle of whiskey on the table. They had discussed going out. It was May - the start of the season - and bars and clubs would be open late. Life would start to pick up again.
They had decided they needed to feed. The hungrier they got, the more difficult it was to live together. David’s temper got worse and worse the longer he went. He found himself grumpy and in no mood to joke or mess around. Dwayne got silent and liked to be by himself. If the thirst started to get to him, he’d retreat to a quiet corner and try to avoid the other two. Marko got restless. He got clingy, horny, and was constantly moving around. All of them - and any vampire they’d ever met - started to turn into a shadow of themselves. Creature-like and nasty. The thirst could easily ruin any of them. Three days since the last feed wasn’t enough to bring out the worst, by far, but they were taking precautions.
David took a swig and hissed at the burning sensation in his throat. “Yea,” he croaked as he slammed the bottle on the table. “Yea. We are going out.” He stood up and pulled his jacket - a long, black trenchcoat that he’d found a few weeks prior - onto his shoulders with a determined look. Marko looked over his shoulder at the others. Dwayne waited for the word. David smirked. “So let’s go.”
Santa Carla was quiet during the winter. The locals remained, but the boardwalk was much quieter. The amusement pier still drew more attention than the usual beach town would, but there was nothing louder and more exciting than the start of in-season. Spring Break brought partiers from all over to see how wild and reckless they could be. It was, arguably, the best time of the year.
“Where are we going?” Marko chirped as they parked their bikes at the end of the boards and began to walk toward downtown.
“It’s called ‘The Rush’ - some club we passed by a few weeks ago.” David led the way toward a massive group of people crowded between buildings on the main road. Without even noticing the boys, the crowds parted, making way for them to easily walk through. It was instinct for humans to stay away unless enticed somehow. The sense a prey has when approached by a predator. David heard Marko chuckle behind him and he grinned. The kid was always on a little power trip when he could take it.
They joined a queue outside of a dance club with the name ‘The Rush’ plastered on the front in red letters. Music and coloured lights poured out of the open door as a mean-looking bouncer checked IDs at the door. The party-goers around them all looked to be in their early twenties and dressed to the nines in their finest: tight-fitting, leather pants, brightly-coloured one-piece suits, sparkles, sequins...David thought they looked ridiculous. Behind them, a boy with shaggy, blonde hair and a girl with entirely too much makeup were shoving each other playfully and passing a joint back and forth. In front, three groups stood between them and the bouncer.
Marko was standing on his tip-toes to get a better look at the door. Dwayne placed a hand firmly on his shoulder and pushed him down.
“They’re never gonna let me in,” he said, eyebrows furrowed anxiously. “Physically I’m seventeen, remember?”
“Just tell him you’re twenty-one,” David said nonchalantly, eyes on the large man in a makeshift uniform planted in front of the entrance.
Marko snorted. “Hah...twenty-one. Okay--” Manipulation of the human mind was an easy feat, but if he were to get distracted or otherwise be persuaded to direct his attention elsewhere, the man might be able to avoid falling under Marko’s control. He didn’t often use this gift on people that he wasn’t flirting with. The atmosphere felt wrong. He brought the sleeve of his denim jacket up to his mouth and toyed with the edge of the cuff between his front teeth.
As they stepped up, the bouncer shot David and Dwayne a cool look but stopped Marko before he could enter. “ID?” he demanded, towering over the blonde. Marko puffed out his chest and smirked, trying to look cool.
Don’t make it a big production, David prompted him from inside the door. Just do it and move on.
Marko looked him straight in the eyes, but he didn’t feel the man backing down. He didn’t sense his mind fogging up. He didn’t notice anything except for the man getting visibly annoyed. Marko frowned. “No ID, no entry,” the bouncer barked at him before shoving him aside and gesturing for the next group to move forward.
Marko opened his mouth to protest, but the man had moved on, seemingly taking no notice of him. David and Dwayne were nowhere in sight. Suddenly...he was alone. Marko pouted and stomped away toward the side of the building, pulling a cigarette angrily out of his pocket and lighting it up.
You couldn’t have waited? he pushed angrily to his brothers. No response. They were probably busy having fun. Without him. Marko took a deep drag off his cigarette and kicked at an empty can on the ground.
Marko whirled around - expecting to see either the angry bouncer or one of his brothers - and was halfway to shouting ‘fuck off’ when he stopped. Standing in front of him was a boy, a little older than he was, with shaggy, blonde hair, and a silly grin on his face. Marko thought he looked familiar, but he didn’t know why.
“I saw you get kicked out of the line. Bad luck.”
So he was the kid behind them in line. Great. Now there was a stranger here to mock him. Marko looked him over. He looked pretty slender. He was wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a studded belt. His eyes were red - he was probably high as a kite. Might make a good meal though.
“I can get you in the back if you want.”
Marko blinked and pulled out the cigarette that had been hanging loosely from his lips. “Really?” His usual, flirtatious grin crept back onto his face and he received one in return from the boy. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to eat him just yet.
“Hell yeah, man! I know the bartender!” He gave a fantastically goofy laugh and then, in a way that was much more graceful than anticipated, he scooped Marko up under his arm and headed down the alley toward the back of the building.
“I’m Paul!” the kid clarified with a bit of a squeeze around the smaller boy’s shoulders. “What’s your name?”
Paul took a joint out from his jacket pocket and let go of him long enough to light it up and take a drag. “You want?” he asked, holding his breath. Marko looked at Paul and then the joint before taking it. He liked this kid.
The club was ungodly loud. People were pressed together everywhere, precariously holding drinks in their hands, grinding up on strangers in time to pulsating music that was muffled through large speakers. Marko scanned the room but didn’t see his brothers on first glance. It was possible they’d already found their prey for the night and were working on taking them to a more secluded place.
“C’mon!” Paul shouted over the music as he took Marko by the arm and tugged him up to the bar. Marko allowed himself to be manhandled, wondering if the drugs were the reason this guy was so comfortable dragging him around like a ragdoll. He hovered near the bar while Paul leaned over to talk to the bartender.
The place was much smaller than he’d anticipated. This was made worse by the DJ table that took up half the dancefloor and the groups of people crowding every walkway. Marko looked over toward what he assumed were the bathrooms. A group of five or six women were squished in near each other and scanning the area like they were looking for prey of their own.
A few of them made eye contact with him and began to stalk over.
“Here.” A drink was pushed into his hand. It was in a mason jar cup and had a piece of lemon sticking out the top near a long straw. Marko looked up at Paul.
“What is it?”
“Strong.” Paul winked at him and then started to drink his own. Marko shrugged and took a sip. It didn’t taste like much - like most foods - but he could tell it was sweet and had a lot of alcohol so he downed the whole thing in a few seconds while watching the girls struggle to approach them.
“Holy shit, dude!” Paul exclaimed as he grabbed the empty cup from his hands and slammed it on the bar. “Right on! Two more please…”
As the girls approached, Marko surveyed the group, and his eyes landed on one of the louder ones in the center. She was a little heavier than the others and wore clothes that were much too tight for her. Her cleavage was spilling out of a low-cut blouse and she was all but shoving her way to the front of the group to see him.
“Hey there, sweetie,” the girl chirped. She placed a hand on Marko’s shoulder and pulled him closer. He didn’t resist, allowing himself to be pulled against her, although he felt a bit of anger spike through him and he growled quietly. She was taller than him, and she was obviously used to taking what she wanted. Bully, he thought as he looked up at her. “What’s your name?” she asked in what he supposed was meant to be a sweet voice. Her breath reeked of alcohol and she smelled like body odor.
His face must have portrayed some sort of disgust because Paul was all over him in an instant with a second drink.
“Here you go, sweetheart,” he said as he passed the cup to Marko and put an arm around his shoulder, effectively pushing her away, and planted a sloppy kiss to his left temple before setting a nasty glare at the girl. “Is this over-sized muppet bothering you?”
Marko laughed, catching onto his plan immediately. “I think she was just leaving actually,” he sang as he leaned into Paul and rested his head on the boy’s shoulder.
The girl recoiled as she stared at the two of them looking immensely offended. She eyed Marko, then Paul, then Marko again and opened her mouth to say something when Paul interrupted her.
“Fuck off, Ms. Piggy.”
The girl flipped them off, turned, and marched back across the club with her little gang at her tail. With his arm still around Marko, Paul guzzled down half of his drink. Marko could feel the blood rushing through him where they were pressed against each other. He could smell it through the sweat and Paul’s every movement, but he didn’t feel like drinking from him. He liked Paul. He took a sip from his mason jar.
“You wanna find those guys you came in here with?” Paul asked.
Marko glanced around, but there was still no sign of either one. Where the fuck are you guys? I’m inside the club now. I can’t see you. “My brothers,” he gently corrected as his eyes continued to sweep the floor. He popped up on his tip-toes again, balancing himself on Paul’s bicep. As he looked, he felt Paul tugging on various parts of his denim.
“Dude, this is a cool jacket!” he exclaimed while turning him to see the back. “Nice patches…” Marko swelled with pride but didn’t respond. He’d been in the process of decorating, but it wasn’t quite covered yet. “You make this yourself?”
“Sure did…” A flash of blonde, spiky hair revealed David to him on the other side of the bar talking to a girl. His excitement must have caught his brother’s attention because he looked away from his conversation and the two of them made eye contact. “Found one.”
Paul looked up, confused, and followed Marko’s line of sight until he found David. “Is that one of your brothers?” he asked. Marko nodded. “He looks a little scary.” So David could be intimidating from across a bar, but Marko couldn’t from inches away? He was going to have to work on his demeanor.
It was Marko’s turn to drag Paul as they headed around the bar to the other side. He wanted to introduce them to one another. If David liked him, there was a chance he could bring Paul to hang out with them. About halfway there, they were intercepted. Marko walked headfirst into a muscular, bare chest and quickly had two hands pinning his arms to his sides, lifting him off the floor slightly.
“Ah...there you are!” Marko squawked as he wiggled free of Dwayne’s grasp. “What the fuck is up? You left me out there…”
“We were hungry. We figured you’d be okay on your own.” Dwayne’s eyes landed on Paul and he stopped speaking. Who is this guy? He asked Marko while eyeing the taller blonde behind him.
“This is Paul.” Marko jabbed a thumb over his shoulder in a nonchalant introduction. Paul was wavering, having now finished his second drink in five minutes, still high, and now gaping at Dwayne with his mouth open.
Is he okay? Dwayne questioned. He prepared himself to step out of the way if this guy was about to go down. Marko turned to look at Paul and gave him a gentle punch in the arm
“Hey, bud! You okay?”
Paul stayed silent for a moment and then smiled his goofy smile. “Wow, man, you are gorgeous ,” he gushed with his gaze still trained on Dwayne. “Dude...are the chicks all over you? You are just like...damn, man!” He reached out to touch the front of Dwayne’s leather jacket, but Marko slapped his hand away before he got there.
Dwayne raised an eyebrow but otherwise didn’t reply. Is this the guy you intend to eat? he asked Marko with a glance in his brother’s direction.
Not sure yet, Marko replied with a smile. He’s kinda fun. I might keep him around for a little bit.
"I’ll see you again soon."
Graphic depictions of sex in this chapter.
This is another Marko chapter.
“My place is close by.”
The honesty that Paul had was refreshing. He was obviously a wild boy that loved to party, but Marko thought there was a strange deepness to him. He was in awe of anything he found interesting or beautiful. It could have been the drugs talking, but he hoped it was Paul’s innate wonder, and that made Marko unspeakably happy.
There was a constant struggle when it came to finding people he liked. First of all, Marko didn’t like many people. He liked David. David was his best friend. David was his mentor. David knew him better than anyone else. Even though he was usually grumpy and didn’t like to have fun, he was the only person who gave a shit about him enough to try and help him. David had saved his life by ending it.
He liked Dwayne. Dwayne was his other best friend. Dwayne was sensible and strong and didn’t talk too much. Dwayne was funny and thought Marko was funny. He was a good person.
When Marko liked people, he equated them to pets. If he found a human that he liked, he would collect it, play with it, usually fuck it, and then typically end up eating it. Humans were temporary. They were cute, dramatic, and sometimes attractive, but mostly they were food, and Marko had a hard time getting past that.
Paul didn’t seem like food. He answered in the right way. He listened to good music. He and Marko just seemed to get along in a way that didn’t need to be practiced.
Is he prey or what?
David was giving him eyes from across the club. After deciding that Paul was just too much fun to kill right away, the two of them had a few more drinks, smoked another joint in the men’s room, and grinded on each other on the dance floor for a few hours. Dwayne had left with his ‘date’ a while ago. David was arm in arm with some girl who was drooling over him with moonlit eyes. They looked like they were on their way out the door.
Marko smiled brightly at him and shrugged. The older vampire rolled his eyes and led his partner out the door without a response. He hadn’t anticipated making a connection with anyone, let alone someone so open and wild as Paul. Marko watched him dance a bit away, swinging his hair, arms above his head, and hopping up and down to the beat of ‘Rock and Roll’ by Led Zeppelin.
“My place is close by!” Paul repeated as he jumped past Marko and did a spin in the air. It wasn't often that a man invited him back to his place either. Many were too self-conscious or not interested at all. Marko didn’t mind about that. Whoever he found attractive had no choice but to go with him. Dwayne had once said he didn’t like to pick up people who weren’t into him, but Marko thought that was silly. They could control people easily. If they put up a little fight, it was all the more fun. He liked to drop his little mind-control charade for a few minutes before killing his victims. Nothing was better than the look on their face as they tried to get away.
“Yea, alright!” Marko shouted over the music. Paul immediately stopped dancing and looked at him, hair covering half his face which was split into a wide grin.
It really was close by. A few minutes later and they were on the front stoop of a small split level. Marko considered the dark living room as Paul shoved into the sticking front door with his shoulder using a key he’d dug out from under the mount.
“Your house?” He didn’t really care, but small talk seemed appropriate. Archaic human custom. Paul didn’t seem to care either.
“Eh...sorta.” No more detail was offered as the two of them made their way up the quarter staircase and into the nearest bedroom.
The place was a mess. There were posters covering every available wall space. Marko looked around and was satisfied to see a large poster of Jim Morrison, several Playboy models, the cover of Houses of the Holy , and a large, woven tapestry amongst the makeshift wallpaper posted in the room. The broken dresser was painted a rough blue colour - seemingly by hand - and it was littered with papers, random objects, jewelry, and a large, glass bong. The bed was unmade, but still looked inviting with a plush blanket and way too many pillows.
Paul immediately put on a record - Aerosmith - and pulled his sweaty t-shirt off over his head and flopped belly-up onto the bed with a huge sigh. The record had obviously been played to death. It started to skip immediately. Marko giggled. “Oh, are you laughing at me?” Paul snapped and tried his best to look offended. “I bring you into my house and you laugh at me. So rude.”
Marko laughed in earnest this time. “Shut the fuck up, dude.”
“No, you shut up, Markie.” They both laughed.
Marko sauntered over to the bed. It was big enough for two people - just barely - and because of this it was the biggest thing in the room. He only had to walk a few steps before he was there. Paul pushed himself up on his elbows and looked Marko up and down while licking his lips. “Dude...you wanna fuck?”
When they had met Dwayne, Marko remembered being impressed by his cavalier attitude toward everything. Nothing bothered him. Drama rolled off him like rain rolls down a gutter. Paul was the complete opposite. Nothing bothered him because he was straightforward and passionate about everything. Dwayne was amenable. He knew what he wanted and took what he needed. Paul was determined. He took what he wanted because he saw no reason not to. Marko liked that.
“Yea.” He shrugged his jacket off and heard it hit the carpet. Paul watched, openly interested, eyes deliberately landing just below his belt. Marko liked being watched. He was cute and he knew it. David sometimes told him he looked like a cherub. An angel. Like one of those paintings from the Renaissance. Marko sometimes wondered if David was from the Renaissance. He never thought to ask.
He made a show of it, removing his shirt by stretching his hands way high above his head and displaying his stomach and his chest for longer than he had to. He felt the waistband of his pants slip down his hips a little and heard Paul groan so quietly a human would have missed it. It tickled him pink.
“Boy, you are somethin’,” he breathed as he stared unashamedly at him. Marko grinned. “Oh…” The expression of wonder dropped from the human’s face and he gave Marko a serious look. “You are eighteen right? You could be fuckin’ jailbait…”
Marko barked out a laugh and slid his jeans down, hooking the waistband of his underpants, so he was left entirely nude. “I’m definitely older than eighteen,” he said. Paul sat up even more, ogling at him, and let out a low whistle.
“Thank God for that. Damn, you are gorgeous.”
He could listen to the praise all day. Nothing was better than being pampered, so he hesitated for a few more moments before crawling onto the bed and straddling the human’s hips. He shoved Paul down so he was lying flat on his back and then leaned in for a rough kiss.
Thankfully, Paul seemed like he was already excited. He kissed back in earnest, gripping the curls on the back of Marko’s head with a strong fist and moaning into his mouth. Their tongues clashed, exploring each other’s mouths, and being as messy as possible. Paul’s other hand traveled over Marko’s back, first rubbing between his shoulder blades, then squeezing his ass, before settling on a tight grip on his hip. He grinded up into the smaller boy and Marko could feel his hard-on through his jeans.
Marko moved his mouth to nip and suck at the skin along his jaw and down his neck. He could feel Paul’s heart beating as he dragged his lips over the carotid artery. Every beat seemed to pulse through him and he growled and quickly moved away from that spot. He didn’t want to tempt himself. It wasn’t often that he rejected his instincts to kill and didn’t want to chance it.
Paul must have heard the growl. He responded with a vague moan and tried clumsily to undo the fly on his jeans. In a way, he was beautiful. Attractive - absolutely, with beautiful eyes and model-esque features - but his emotion was beautiful. He didn’t try to hide his excitement or desperation. Marko thought if they were on an equal level physically that this might be a power struggle, but for now, it was hard and fast and sloppy.
Marko pulled his jeans down the rest of the way. Nothing underneath. He liked this guy. Paul kicked them off with some difficulty and both of them stopped to laugh only for a moment before their mouths met again. They pressed their hips together, grinding their cocks harshly, trying for as much leverage as they could get.
“I know it's everybody sin. You got to lose to know how to win…” Steven Tyler’s voice floated throughout the room, harmonizing with Paul’s noises. He certainly was vocal. Marko couldn’t help himself and nipped a little too hard on Paul’s collar bone. It drew the tiniest amount of blood. The smell hit him immediately. It was sweet, addicting, perfect. Before he could stop himself he’d licked it off. His brain lit up with the satisfaction of a drug and his hips bucked harder. Paul moaned.
“Wait!” Marko stopped and pulled himself away suddenly, trying to escape the smell that was suffocating him. He eyed the tiny mark on Paul’s chest. The blood had already stopped. He could still feel it just below the surface. His eyes wandered up to meet the human’s who looked immeasurably concerned.
“Uh…” The two of them looked at each other. “Fuck me.” Good plan. Face away from the blood would mean he was less tempted. Paul’s frown broke into a bright smile.
“Yea, dude! Hang on, I got some lube and a condom…” Paul wormed his way out from Marko’s embrace and jetted over to the dresser to hunt through the drawers. With some distance between them, Marko was able to breathe, but he could still smell it. He was so hungry. It was a wonder he hadn’t destroyed this kid already.
He rolled over and made use of the pile of pillows by building a little pile to prop himself up. He braced his knees against the mattress and knelt back a little bit, shaking his ass in the air. He knew Paul was back when he heard an appreciative little howl from behind him and felt the bed dip.
Paul’s hand was warm when it slid up his ass cheek and landed on his hip. “Dude, you’re freezing,” he snorted. He teased Marko’s hole a little with his thumb on the way leading the smaller boy to believe he’d probably done this once or twice. Paul was apparently thinking the same thing. “Whew...you are so hot though,” he purred. “You done this before?” Marko could hear the wet smack of lube as Paul jerked himself with his other hand.
“‘Course I fuckin’ have.” He wasn’t usually so crude, but something about Paul made him feel a little excited and a little less reserved.
“Alright alright…” Paul pressed the tip of his cock against Marko and wasted no time pushing himself in seemingly to make a point. The smaller boy hissed in response but eagerly pushed back against him to help. Paul groaned. “Ohh...shit. Shit, Marko. Fuck, you feel so good.” He fucked into Marko gently, leisurely rolling his hips back and forth.
“C’mon,” Marko grunted. “Stop talking and fuck me.”
“Eager, huh?” Paul laughed. He moved a little faster and tightened his grip on Marko’s hips. “You like that? You like my cock?”
“Stop talking,” he repeated, more sternly this time. He tightened his fists in the sheets underneath him and humped the pillow under him in time with Paul’s movements.
The human snorted. “Ooooohh, Marko,” he drawled in a mocking voice. He moned and wiggled his hips in a circular motion. “Ohhhh man. Uuuugh, you feel so tight. Fuck. Fuuuuuuck.”
Marko laughed and then gasped when Paul stopped screwing around and picked up the pace. “Shut the fuck up, Paul.”
“You want me to shut up?”
“You tryna tell me what to do?”
He pulled Marko’s hips particularly hard and fucked into him repeatedly with a hard slap every time their bodies met. Marko groaned and spread his legs. “Just. Stop. Talking. So-”
“Ah!” Marko cried out when his ass suddenly started stinging. He was surprised - it actually hurt. That, and Paul was awfully brave to hit him. He tried to glance over his shoulder, but the angle made it too difficult to see. Stupid human. No survival instincts.
Marko stopped moving and growled, low and loud. Paul stopped too. Something must have felt wrong. Off. Marko grinned. He moved forward until Paul slipped from him and he rolled over. “Lay down. On your back.”
Paul was more than happy to oblige. They repositioned so they’d both fit and Marko wasted no time in straddling him so they were looking at each other. He held Paul’s cock roughly and filled himself quickly before balancing with both hands on the human’s chest.
Paul groaned again and kicked and fussed. “Shut up,” Marko repeated as he rode him hard. “And stop moving so much. Just fuck me.” Paul grabbed onto his hips again.
“Demanding, aren’t you?” He grinned. Marko didn’t answer, but he grinned back.
Paul did stop talking after that. The only noise in the room - in the house - was the sound of skin slapping on skin, laboured breathing, and the occasional moan or grunt. Marko rotated his hips until he found just the right angle. He placed a hand on either side of Paul’s head on the bed and slid himself up and down, hitting just the right spot on every stroke. Paul took it on himself to jerk Marko’s cock, matching the pace he’d set. Neither one was going to last very long.
Paul came first, shouting and bucking his hips uncontrollably. Marko laughed, thinking he looked pretty obnoxious but was interrupted when he came hard, still riding Paul’s half-hard cock until he was finished. He rolled off so the two of them were lying tangled in each other.
The A-side had ended a while ago and quiet static was playing from the turntable. After just a minute or so, Marko stood up and started to get dressed again. Paul sat up and watched him.
The vampire stopped to look at him. He was flushed. His face and neck were red. He was a sweaty mess. Marko looked perfectly in order. He was, of course, still cold to touch, his hair was the same, and he looked absolutely nonplussed.
“Marko, you...you wanna stay longer? We could smoke or somethin’...listen to another record.”
Marko smiled at him and pulled his t-shirt back on. “No,” he said pleasantly. “But I’ll see you again soon.” He held the other boy’s gaze, but Paul’s mind didn’t fog over like some of the other people he’d been with. It didn’t need to. He was perfectly content.
“Sure. It was nice meeting you, Paul.”
“...You too, dude.”
“Tell me you fed.”
David was perched in his wheelchair when Marko flew into the entrance of the hotel just before dawn. Dwayne was lounging on the couch looking content. It was as if they’d never left the cave.
Marko landed on the edge of the fountain and began walking around the edge, arms out to keep his balance.
He didn’t answer.
He stopped to look at his sire.
“Why didn’t you feed?” David tilted his head to the side like he did when he was expecting Marko to not have a good answer for something he did wrong.
“I didn’t want to kill him.”
Dwayne snorted. David frowned.
“So you have a soft spot for this guy?”
“You need to eat.”
“I’ll eat tomorrow.”
“You fuckin’ better.”
David pushed himself up from the chair and gave Marko one last disappointed look before disappearing into the back of the cave where they slept. Dwayne stood up, gave him an amused look, and then followed suit. Marko stood there for a while looking after them and thinking about the night’s events. After a few minutes, he realized he didn’t feel like worrying about it, so he didn’t. He headed to bed right when the first rays of sunlight began to creep into the hotel.
“That’s why you came over here? To tell me Marko made a friend?”
The last rays of the sun disappeared just as the creaking of Max’s front walk sounded, alarming the house’s resident of company. The boys walked single file, marching up the front walk like they owned the place. David paused, however, at the unfamiliar sound of scratching against wood.
Dog. Marko pushed his way around David just as a large, white German Shepherd rounded the corner to greet them at the front, nails dragging against the porch floor. Marko immediately dropped to his knees and started to pet it. David scoffed.
“Max has a dog?” Dwayne eyed his brothers but didn’t get a response before the door swung open and Max was greeting them with a wide smile.
“Evening boys.” He motioned to the dog who was thoroughly cleaning Marko’s face with his tongue. “I see you’ve met Thorn.” He clicked his tongue twice and the dog stopped and retreated into the house.
“Didn’t peg you for an animal lover,” David muttered as he made his way through the front door.
“He came a few nights ago -- sat at the front door until I let him in.” He followed the boys into the house and shut the door behind them. “It was like he’d been living here his whole life.” Thorn walked over to the couch and rolled into a ball on the floor near Dwayne’s feet.
“Hellhound,” Marko said offhandedly as he gravitated toward the kitchen. David glanced at him sideways.
“He’s right,” said Max, looking distinctly impressed. “I believe he’s here to make sure we’re protected.”
“Why did he just show up now?” Dwayne asked, patting the dog on the back.
“No idea…” Max considered Thorn for a moment, but his attention quickly turned to David who stood in the corner surveying the room with his arms crossed over his chest. “So!” he chirped, clapping his hands together and flashing a smile once again. “What brings you here tonight? You’ll have to make it quick, I’m afraid. Work soon.”
“You never want to spend time with us anymore,” David pouted. Max shot him an annoyed look and David countered with a grin.
“We made a friend.” Marko made a muffled announcement as he came back into the living room munching on Chinese leftovers. He looked around the room wide-eyed as he struggled to slurp a particularly long noodle into his mouth.
“Marko means he made a friend,” David clarified. Dwayne chuckled. Marko shrugged.
“Ah.” Max nodded as if that clarified everything, and then looked puzzled. “That’s why you came over here? To tell me Marko made a friend?”
The boys shot each other glances.
“Speak out loud please, boys.”
David glared at Marko for a moment longer and the younger boy shoved a mouthful of noodles in his mouth and shrugged again. “He’s a nice guy,” David started. “He’s been hanging out with us. He uh…” David sighed. “He seems like he’d fit in well on a permanent basis.”
Max eyed the three of them who remained silent. They hadn’t invited anyone to be a part of their family since Dwayne had joined them eight years prior. It wasn’t often they found someone who fit in so well, but the older boys trusted Marko’s instinct when it came to strangers. He seemed to have some kind of sense about people. Mostly, he hated them. So, when he took a liking to Paul and didn’t immediately kill him, they thought it important to meet him.
Max smiled knowingly. “So you came here to ask my blessing before bringing someone new into the family?” David frowned at being called out. That hadn’t exactly been what they were doing. He wasn’t keen on getting the green light - better to ask for forgiveness than permission - but before he could say anything, Max added, “You didn’t bring him here, but you obviously have your minds made up. So I assume you’re here to ask my permission.” It was a threat disguised with niceties.
Discomforting silence spread through the room. Dwayne was the first to speak up. “He is a nice kid,” he confirmed. Dwayne was always the voice of logic. “He’s kind of a pain in the ass, but he doesn’t have a family. He’s on the streets-”
“We aren’t a charity,” Max interrupted.
On the streets?
Go with it.
Dwayne hesitated. “He’s got a good heart,” he countered. “And Marko likes him.” Max turned his attention to his youngest son who nodded and grinned around a mouthful of food.
After some seconds of deliberation, Max nodded. “Fine,” he said. “Santa Carla is good for us. There’s a lot of resources here. We’ll be here for a while. Why shouldn’t we expand our family a little bit?” The boys chuckled in agreement but were interrupted by Max’s voice growing louder and more stern. “That does not mean, however, that you can start turning the whole town. Remember our rules-”
“Feed, thrive, survive,” the boys said in tandem.
“That’s right. So as long as this ‘nice boy’ can keep a low profile - and he makes Marko happy-” Marko grinned deviously and licked his lips. “-Then he can stay. However...” He rounded on Marko and gave him a serious look. “I don’t think you’re ready to sire anyone,” he lectured. Marko swallowed and shot a look at David.
“Speak out loud, please,” Max repeated, looking vaguely annoyed.
David stepped forward. “I can turn him,” he said. “That way we, uh...all share blood.”
Max scowled at David. If you’ve forgotten, your boys don’t share blood with me, David heard in his head. He closed his eyes. A sticking point always. Now that David had sired Marko, and brought Dwayne into their tribe, a third sired would mean they outnumber Max easily. Mutiny was never on any of their minds, but David could see why he would be uncomfortable.
You don’t have time to take care of a fledgling, David offered, attempting to be more diplomatic than adverse. I did fine with Marko. Max looked at him for a few seconds and then nodded.
“Fine,” Max resolved. Marko smirked to himself. “But I want to meet him immediately.”
“We’ll bring him over soon,” Dwayne promised as he stood up from the couch - the sign to the others to leave. Their mission was accomplished and they didn’t feel like spending quality time. Marko brought his empty dish to the sink. “We’ll let you get to work.”
The three of them fell into line and filed out the front door, with David taking up the rear. Max followed closely behind and lightly tugged onto David’s jacket sleeve. He stopped and turned so the two of them were only inches apart. “I’m trusting you on this one,” his sire said in a low voice. “Show me that I can trust you.” David nodded, avoiding eye contact and training his gaze to the floor. “Keep your brothers safe.” David nodded again, and this time he was released. He put his hand up in surrender and goodbye before following the others out the door.
“Goodnight, boys,” Max said, shattering the stillness of the night around them.
“Night, Dad!” Marko called backward. Dwayne elbows him in the ribs. David took one more glance at Max over his shoulder. He was gone before the gate had even clicked shut.
“What do you think about joining us? You know...becoming a lost boy. Officially.”
It was a few hours after sunset by the time the boys had made their way to the boardwalk. No special provisions were made to the cave, and to the naked eye it might have seemed like nothing out of the ordinary was set to happen, but there was an excited tension in the air between the three of them that seemed to hum like electricity. Tonight was a special night. They had taken their time getting there. They parked their bikes near the pier and casually passed a cigarette between them as they surveyed the boards.
Not surprisingly, most people gave them a wide berth. No one seemed to notice them - they’d worked hard on learning to blend in - but humans subconsciously gave them space as they passed. No one was in danger that night, however. They had their sights set on only one human. Not even the notion of easy prey was appealing.
Out of the crowd pushed a group of kids. Three girls, two boys. They hung on one another, laughing and shoving. The taller boy they recognized as Paul. He looked just as he had the first night they’d met and every night they’d seen him since. As soon as his blue eyes landed on Marko’s the boys both grinned. With barely a parting word, Paul separated from his group and made his way toward the vampires.
“Marko!” he shouted as he infiltrated the empty space between the gang and the rest of the boardwalk. His friends wandered away as if they’d forgotten there’d even been someone else with them. Paul held his hand out in a passionate handshake and then turned to the others in turn. “David. Dwayne. Good to see you...what are you guys up to?”
Marko spoke first. The whole thing was his doing, after all. “We are gonna hang out tonight down by Hudson’s Bluff,” he said as he took a step forward. “Come with us.” It wasn’t a request. Dwayne and David watched the newcomer expectantly, but it took less than a second for Paul to make up his mind.
“Hell yea!” he beamed. “Can I catch a ride with one of you?” He motioned to the bikes. David shot Marko a look.
This guy has so much life in him I can’t picture him undead.
Marko smiled back, chewing absently on his glove. Paul’s energy was amazing, he had to admit. Marko didn’t think he even needed any mental persuasion - he was just keen to party with them.
“You can hop on mine,” Dwayne volunteered. He motioned to his bike which had a small passenger seat on the back. The four of them moved in harmony, all climbing onto their bikes at the same time and setting off toward the Bluff without a word between them.
“Shit. This is amazing.”
They climbed down into the hotel as Dwayne lit bonfires in the drums scattered about the foyer. Paul paused at the entrance and looked over the entirety of the building in awe. Silently, Marko was glad for his reaction. They’d put a lot of work into it since they’d first come. Paul wasn’t the first person they’d brought to the hotel, but he would be the first to walk out.
“Welcome,” David marched through, holding his hands out as he gave his grand tour. “This was the hottest resort in Santa Carla about seventy years ago. Too bad they built it on a fault. In 1906, when the big one hit San Francisco, the ground opened up and this place took a header right into the crack. Now it's ours.”
Dwayne landed sloppily on one of the couches near the fountain. Marko lit up a joint and offered it to Paul who took it without looking. His eyes were locked to the grand statues carved into the pillars near the natural cave ceiling.
David threw an arm around Paul’s shoulders. “Make yourself at home.”
He seems to like it here .
Marko knew Dwayne was addressing him more than David, but he chose to ignore. Paul wasn’t his plaything. They weren’t adopting a new pet. This was family. He was going to have to like it here. He didn't have a choice.
“How did you guys find this place?” Paul asked as he flopped onto the other couch perpendicular to Dwayne.
“Just lucky, I guess,” David drawled as he took a seat in his wheelchair.
Marko and Dwayne laughed and Paul did too, although out of good nature and not understanding. “This is seriously far out. So are you guys in a gang or something?”
The brothers exchanged glances with one another briefly before Marko answered, “You could say that, I guess.”
“Cool! You’re like the ‘Lost Boys’, right?” He chuckled at his own joke. “Like you got your clubhouse and shit. You just need your Peter Pan. And Wendy…”
David threw Dwayne a harrowing look and Dwayne grinned. Paul was not the first one to make that connection to the group, although it had been done in a very different context the first time.
“...Love that Disney shit when I was a kid.” Paul took another drag from the joint and passed it to Marko who brought it to his lips as he watched his new friend close his eyes and press back into the couch. “I had the book too. I think in the original he like...killed the kids when they got too old. You know. ‘Never grow up’ and all.”
“I like Peter Pan,” Marko mused.
“That’s only because you are Peter Pan,” Dwayne gibed.
Paul opened one eye and looked Marko over. “Dude, you totally look like him. You just need a little green tunic-”
“Shut up.” He kicked at Paul, who playfully swatted back, but his attention was quickly turned to David who had stood and plucked the joint out of his hand as he walked by. He was headed toward a large case in the back where they kept the bottle. Excitement pushed through the fog in his mind and he saw Dwayne sit up, his attention also on their leader.
“So, Paul.” The room had suddenly gone very still. The air seemed to almost stop in reverence of the events about to transpire. David’s voice seemed to cut through the silence like a knife. “What do you think about joining us? You know...becoming a lost boy. Officially.”
Paul sat up a little bit too, although the others knew he wasn’t aware of the significance of David’s question. “That would be awesome!” he trilled. David turned around holding the ornate glass bottle that he and Marko had decorated nearly a decade prior - one of the only things they’d taken with them from Detroit. “I really like you guys. It means a lot...you inviting me to be part of your group. It’s really cool.”
David crossed the room and sat back down in his wheelchair. He took great care in opening the bottle. The smell hit Marko immediately. He had smelled David’s blood before, many times, but something about it always made his body light up. He subconsciously leaned forward toward his sire.
David closed his eyes and took a big swig from the bottle. To his left, Marko heard Dwayne growl under his breath. “Drink some.” He held the bottle out to Paul. “Be one of us.”
Marko licked his lips as he watched the two of them carefully. It seemed Paul was feeling some sort of ritual was happening. There were no more jokes. His face looked serious, almost unfamiliar without laughter lines or a snarky grin etched into his features. It was clear he was hesitating but wasn't sure why. Finally, he took the bottle with some reverence and brought the opening to his lips.
The boys erupted into cheers as Paul drank steadily. He pulled the bottle from his mouth, grinning ear to ear. “Bravo!” David clapped heavily and nodded for him to drink more. As he set in for another mouthful, Dwayne set up a record and filled the cave with sounds of A Song for Jeffrey , patting Paul on the back as he went.
David pushed up from his chair and walked over to clap Paul on the shoulder. “Welcome to the family, bud.”
Marko pushed himself to the other side of the couch so he was sitting hip to hip with his new brother, knees pulled up to his chest. He said nothing but peered over at him with a devious grin.
“Dude, this is a party!” Paul exclaimed as he offered the bottle to Marko. The smaller boy took it and drank. The combination of alcohol and blood shot through his body like a bolt of lightning. “We gotta get fucked up tonight!”
“That’s the plan.”
Just before daybreak, they had finally slowed down. They had drank every last drop of alcohol in the hotel, smoked all of their weed, and found a small stash of something a little harder which had been saved for a special occasion. Dwayne carefully placed their latest record back into its sleeve. The others watched Paul who had passed out on the couch nearly twenty minutes before.
“Well...he sure can party,” David chuckled as he put his cigarette out on the wheel of his chair. Marko looked at the unconscious man on the couch. He did keep up well for a human.
Vampire, David corrected.
Half-vampire, Dwayne corrected.
“Half-vampire?” Marko echoed.
“He won’t be a full vampire until he consumes the blood of a human,” Dwayne explained as he made his way through a pile of empty bottles toward the group. “You drink the sire’s blood and then they teach you to hunt. You become a full vampire after you make your first kill. It’s like a right of passage.”
Marko considered this for a minute, but before he could bring up the fact that he didn’t remember that happening to him, Dwayne added, “You would have had that too, but David was too horny to do things right.”
“Hey,” David interjected. “Not entirely true.” He looked at his younger brother - no longer the youngest - and sighed. “I didn’t know what I was doing, kid. I kinda got carried away.” I bit you, you bit me. Automatic vampire. Something in the saliva, I guess.
Marko nodded. He didn’t remember the details of the night he was turned, only waking up afterward a wreck in Max’s bathroom. He also didn’t remember many things from his life prior to death, but none of that mattered. He was where he was supposed to be.
“Tomorrow, we’ll take him out hunting, okay?” Dwayne promised. “For now, sleep.” The three of them stood up, all eyes trained on the snoring Paul who was face-down on the couch.
David looked to Marko. “He got anything at home?”
Marko thought back to the shithole mess that had been Paul’s room. His only oasis in a house that obviously hadn’t been any sort of home. “Uh...he had a decent stereo.”
“Get it tomorrow.”
They all looked at Paul once more, a bit more fondly, before heading up to sleep.
Marko took a few seconds to stare before pulling a ragged blanket down over him. He wasn't sure how deadly sunlight was, but he didn't want to risk it. Even if he was only 'half’. He made sure Paul's face was covered. “Night, Paulie. Welcome home, dude.”
His brain could only find one way to describe it - he was thirsty.
Paul was aware he had woken up before his body was. Eyes closed, he felt himself surrounded by blankets and sinking face-first into the cushion below him. At first, he thought he was at home in his bed, but the smell of must and alcohol hit his nose like an insult. He tried to recall where he’d been the night before.
Hanging out with those boys. The ‘Lost Boys’ they’d coined themselves during their long night of partying. Paul forced his eyes open and found himself nearly face to face with a pigeon. He exhaled loud enough for the bird to fly away with a noisy ‘coo’ and a messy flutter of wings. He winced at the sound. Some kind of hangover he had.
Mustering all of his strength, Paul attempted to push himself up. His joints cracked, muscles ached, and he fell flat on his stomach as soon as he’d started to move. What the hell had they done last night? His whole body seemed to reverberate with pain.
Through squinted eyes, he could see one ray of sunlight bursting through the overhead wreckage. The vague illumination hurt his pupils and sent a stinging sensation through his brain and he squeezed his eyes shut again.
Over the headache and the stiffness, one thing prevailed. He’d dealt with hangovers from hell before, but he’d never felt anything like this. An intense emptiness and longing ran through him. I went deeper than just a physical sensation. The longer he was conscious, the more overwhelming it became. It was a driving urge, but he didn’t understand for what. His brain could only find one way to describe it - he was thirsty.
Maybe he was just dehydrated. Maybe a combination of alcohol, weed, speedballs, and Jethro Tull just did this to a man. Something deep down told him that wasn’t the case. Something was different. He was out of his element.
Fear struck him now. He was in an unfamiliar place alone. He barely remembered coming to the hotel in the first place let alone how to get back home. He knew one thing though - he had to get out of there. He maybe even had to go to the hospital. Something was wrong.
Paul managed to sit up, gripping the sides of the couch, white-knuckled, attemping to keep his balance. A wave of nausea hit him and, before he could stand up, a sharp pain erupted in his stomach. He cried out and doubled over, one hand clawing the side of the sofa while the other clutched at his stomach. He felt as thought someone had just taken a knife to his gut.
Where was everybody? Had they really left him here by himself after such an elaborate induction? Weren’t there some rules about leaving gang members behind or something?
Nearby, a pigeon cooed again. Paul’s head shook with the sound and he took a deep breath to steady himself. The room was spinning. The cavernous walls seemed to pulsate with immense pressure. He groaned aloud. His heartbeat was so loud in his ears that it was drowning out everything around him and getting louder.
Paul breathed deeply and tried to slow the palpitations.
The pigeon hopped closer along the edge of the fountain.
He could smell the fucking thing from three feet away. It smelled...good. Slowly, he lifted his head to look at it. It was waddling along the broken stone, lopsided and stilted. From such close proximity, Paul could see its wing was bent at a crude angle. A tiny trickle of blood leaked onto its feathers.
The room seemed to press in on him, but all he could see was a tiny drop of blood. The only colour in a sea of black and white. The smell of it hung in the air, intoxicating.
Paul started to salivate.
His stomach churned and he felt a growl rumble deep in his chest.
His heartbeat slowed. Each moment of silence between them was deafening.
One last beat and then...silence.
Paul waited for it to begin again, hoping the stabbing ache in his chest would pass, but he was met with a mocking stillness. He wondered if he was dead.
In the silence of the hotel, the pigeon cooed softly. Overcome by instinct, Paul lunged at it, claws out and mouth wide open.
Marko was the first into the lobby. He soared through the passageways and landed on a broken support beam thirty feet above the ground. He peered down onto the scene below - the mess they’d made the night before - and listened as his brothers made their way out of the caves. Paul was asleep, but not in the place they’d left him. He was curled up in a tight ball on the rotted carpet between the couch and the fountain, almost at the foot of David’s wheelchair. His face was littered with remnants of blood and feathers. In his left hand he gripped the lifeless body of a broken pigeon. Marko grinned.
“Rise and shine, princess!” David called as he sauntered out into the lobby, Dwayne at his heels, and nudged the sleeping boy with the toe of his boot. Paul’s eyes flew open instantly at his sire’s command. At first, he looked vaguely crazed. His shaggy hair stuck out in all directions. His blue eyes flitted around the room between the other boys before landing on David. It seemed his mind was working overtime to process where he was and then - a frown.
“What the hell happened last night?” he croaked as he brought the back of his hand up to wipe the mess from his mouth.
“Initiation,” David answered. He pulled a cigarette from his pocket. Dwayne and Marko’s laughter echoed through the hotel. The boys exchanged a look across the lobby. David smiled down at their new brother. “Hungry?”
Paul was obviously puzzled by the question. He looked down at the bird in his hand and then back up at David as if those two things put together held the key to solving his problems. After a few seconds of consideration, he finally spoke up. “Uh...yea,” he said as if in a daze.
“Good,” David replied, flicking the half-smoked cigarette into the fountain. “Let’s go get something to eat.”
“We are family. In this family, we share everything. No secrets.”
WARNING: Graphic depictions of violence in this chapter.
David grinned at the sound of Marko howling in the distance. Paul - perched on the back of his bike - tightened his grip around David’s waist. Three bikes made their way off the boards, engines revving and boys whooping past the amusement pier, past the shops and out toward downtown. David felt Paul’s grip loosen as soon as they were away from the crowds.
It’ll be easier after you feed, he promised.
Newly turned and cruising through crowds on the boardwalk was rough. They needed a place where Paul could be free not to worry about self-control.
If the kid had any questions, he sure as hell was doing a nice job of playing it cool. Since they’d left the hotel, he hadn’t said much aside from usual niceties. It seemed that ‘going with the flow’ applied to being turned into a creature of the night as well. After a decent bit of rest, Paul seemed just fine with the fact that he was craving human blood and could hear David in his head.
Marko and Dwayne had the lead, dodging pedestrians and weaving in and out of each other’s ways. They were excited that the change had been a success. Their family was bigger by one. But initiation wasn’t over yet. The best was yet to come.
Dwayne pulled off the road into an alley and the others followed. There was a stretch of beach that belonged to one of the local gangs - a group of surfers that called themselves the Lunada Bay Boys. They were, in David’s opinion, the worst of the worst. They came from preppy families with lots of money. They had social and political sway and they thought themselves untouchable. Their game was fucking with tourists and enabling general mayhem.
The group had only ever clashed with the boys once when one of their older members had knocked over Marko’s bike and showered him with threats about parking on ‘their’ turf. Dwayne had dragged Marko - foaming at the mouth - away from the man before anything too violent had happened, but it had attracted the attention of police and marked the gang as ‘dead’ in David’s mind ever since.
They rolled up to the beach and left their bikes to the side. David pulled Paul close and pointed out toward the shore. In the distance, a small bonfire could be seen surrounded by five tall surfboards and a small group of people huddled around. “See that?” David drawled. His lips barely brushed Paul’s ear and he stayed close with his chest pressed up against the boy and a tight grip around his arms. “That’s ours.”
Paul’s eyes were trained to the group intently, mesmerized. At first, David couldn’t get a read on him. He thought maybe he was feeling apprehensive. After all, none of them had ever explained what happened out loud. It just seemed to be understood.
But after a moment, David could sense the excitement. Dwayne and Marko had gathered close and had their eyes trained on their prey. Marko licked his lips and growled quietly. “Chow time…” he hissed under his breath. Paul heard him and nodded slowly.
They turned then, all at once. David looked at Paul with glowing, yellow eyes and flashed a set of fangs at him inside of a devious smile. Dwayne threw his head back and laughed and Marko let out another howl. Paul faltered then and stumbled back a little, gaping at them in horror.
“Yea, c’mon, Paulie!”
Marko and Dwayne rushed toward the group near the shore. They were on them before the humans even had time to register their presence. Paul winced at the shrieking that echoed across the sand. David pulled him close again. “Time to go,” he said, and he disappeared after his brothers.
Even at the street, Paul could smell blood as soon as it hit the air. Although the gang outnumbered the boys seven to three, they were having no trouble taking the humans down. Paul couldn’t help but move forward, stumbling across the cool sand. His eyes were trained to the bloodbath before him, illuminated by the small fire.
Dwayne had dragged two of the larger men off toward the water. One was still struggling and pulling at Dwayne’s arm in a desperate attempt to be let go. The moment he saw his lifeless friend beside him, mangled and limp, his struggling gave way to panic, and he screamed incoherently until Dwayne tore out his throat.
David had one of them pinned against a surfboard that lay in the sand. He’d finished off one of the surfers and tossed his body in the ocean. Now he straddled the girlfriend and was drawing shapes into her chest with his claws before lapping it up.
Marko seemed to be toying with one of the older surfers. The man was struggling to drag himself backward across the sand without using his right leg which had been twisted and broken at an impossible angle. He was simultaneously crying and begging for mercy. Marko was approaching him at an almost lazy pace and staring him down. Occasionally, he would kick the ravaged leg and the man would cry out in pain. Behind him, Marko tugged a smaller corpse by the arm like a ragdoll. Her throat was sliced and her head hung to the side.
He knew he should have been disgusted. He knew that he was witnessing the murder of several innocent people and that this was wrong. This was inhumane. This was sick. But his head was swimming with the scent of blood. His stomach churned and his chest heaved. He was so thirsty. Seeing his brothers in action was only helping to entice him.
When he found himself face to face with the last surfer, he couldn’t understand the screaming. The man looked at him with such raw horror on his face that Paul actually felt puzzled. He ran his tongue over his front teeth and immediately tasted blood. Two small fangs had sprouted in the front of his mouth. Something overcame him then, and he let instinct do the work. He tackled the man and set to sinking his fangs into any part of him he could find.
Paul had never tasted anything better in his life. No food, no drink, no drug had ever been so satisfying or made him feel so alive. He felt an intense high in every particle of his being. He was so elated that he actually raised his head for a moment laugh aloud. This was fantastic. This was true freedom.
When he had drained the man of every last drop, Paul raised his head and shook his hair out of his face as he gasped for air. He was surprised to see he was surrounded by the other three who were watching him with amused looks on their faces.
“Bravo,” David said in a deadpan voice. “Looks like you really know what you’re doing.”
“How do you feel now?” Dwayne asked.
Paul rolled back to sit on his butt. The boys - his new family - were still transformed, but he wasn’t afraid now. In fact, he was beginning to think they looked beautiful in their own way. “I feel a lot better,” he said with a nod. “Good. Real good.” He cracked a smile and he received three in return.
“Good,” David echoed. “Lesson one: no witnesses.” He gestured around them. No one was in sight. The only light came from the small bonfire which was quickly dying down. “Lesson two: always dispose of corpses. We keep a low profile. Don’t want anyone tracing this shitshow back to us.” He jammed a thumb in the direction of the massacre over his shoulder.
Paul nodded. “Lesson three?”
“Lesson three: you’re part of the family now. Family comes first.”
He nodded again. “How many lessons are there?”
David shrugged and turned to begin cleaning his mess. “I dunno. I’m making this shit up as I go.”
As Dwayne retreated to help David, Marko instead moved toward him. Paul thought he was going to help him up, but instead, Marko straddled him and sat right in his lap so his legs were wrapped around Paul’s middle. He was covered in blood. Moreso than the others. His clothes were soaked. His face was coated from the nose down and his entire neck was painted red. Without a word he brought a claw up and slit his own throat on the side. If he bled, it was barely noticeable through the carnage.
“Drink,” he told Paul while tangling his bloodied hands in Paul’s hair and pulling him closer. Confused but obedient, Paul attached his lips to Marko’s neck and sucked. He heard the other boy moan quietly and felt his vocal cords vibrate against his face. Paul wrapped his arms around the smaller boy and held him tightly. Marko pressed his hips against Paul and sighed.
Paul almost stopped, wary of David’s incredulous tone, but Marko held him tight. After a few more seconds, the Marko pushed him off and held his head in both hands so they were eye to eye. “My turn,” he said and latched onto Paul’s neck with intimidating speed.
Paul gasped, alarmed by sudden piercing, but calmed when the pain subsided to an unnatural sort of pleasure he’d never felt before. He groaned quietly and heard Marko chuckle and then sputter a little bit. He leaned into it and rolled his hips, surprised that something so violent could feel this good, and was disappointed when Marko pulled away.
Welcome to the family.
Paul blinked at him and his brother grinned. So he could hear Marko now too. Two pairs of yellow eyes blinked at each other for a moment in silence.
You’re hot as a vampire, Marko thought. Paul chuckled.
“Alright, get up, Marko,” David barked. The smaller boy clambered off of his new brother up and stood up. “Go clean up.” Their leader turned his attention to Paul and sighed. “I thought this was going to wait until we got back to the hotel,” he said grimly. “But oh well. Marko gets horny after he feeds.” He walked away, leaving Paul to sit on the ground in front of his late dinner.
Dwayne approached him then and offered him a hand. Paul took it and the dark-haired man pulled him close. Somehow, Dwayne still managed to look well-kempt and beautiful despite all the chaos. Although he had spatters of blood on his chest and face, he looked like less of a monster and more of a model. Paul swooned a little bit.
“You’re a vampire,” Dwayne confirmed. Paul nodded. “We are family. In this family, we share everything. No secrets.” Paul nodded again. “You’re quiet,” Dwayne added.
“A little out of my element, my man.”
“Yea, I hear ya.” The two of them stood for a moment with Dwayne holding Paul around the waist. “If we share blood, we share a bond,” Dwayne explained. “Marko is touchy about that. He likes to be connected right away.”
In a weird way, Paul thought that made sense. Marko seemed like the sort of dude with a certain way about him. Paul really had no way. He liked to compare himself to an ocean wave and was commonly heard doing so: he wasn’t confined by any parameters and he rolled in and out with the breeze. David and Dwayne were a little harder to figure out. At least he had all of eternity to do so.
Without explanation, Dwayne took Paul’s hand in his own and brought the fledgling’s wrist to his mouth. He bit gently and broke the skin. He drank until the wound began to heal a minute later. Then he offered Paul his wrist. He drank. Like Marko’s blood, it was sweet, but not satisfying. It did more for his emotional bond with Dwayne than sating his thirst. The blood flow stopped and he licked the area clean.
We cool? Dwayne’s voice echoed inside his head.
Paul laughed and leaned in close, pressing his lips almost to Dwayne’s. “Man, we cool,” he muttered and was pleasantly surprised when the older vampire graced him with a bona fide kiss.
Wrap it up, boys. David rounded on the group. He had washed much of the blood off of his face in the ocean and looked like his usual self again. Marko was hovering close by and nearly hanging on David’s arm. Although he looked distinctly more human, he hadn’t made any effort to clean off. David absently wiped at the smaller boy's face with his jacket sleeve, to no avail.
Ready to go?
The four of them made eye contact and laughed at each other. All that was left of the beach party were some busted surfboards and a muddied bonfire. David headed toward the street without a word and the others fell into line automatically: Dwayne first, followed by Paul, then trailed closely by Marko who sauntered along almost childlike at the rear.
“Do you remember your life?”
“This is my life.”
“Do you remember your life?”
Paul stretched himself out on the sofa and took a long drag from a joint. Marko sat on the other end. Paul’s scuffed Chuck Taylor’s rested half on his lap and half on the arm of the couch. David sat in his wheelchair watching them. Dwayne had his face in a book.
It was an especially hot evening. David noticed this because the air was thick and felt like sand in his throat. Paul had turned out to be an excellent addition to their family and he had to admit he was thankful Marko had brought him along. He had so much damn life in him though. He was so chill and positive about everything. Even death couldn’t crush this kid’s spirit.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Marko said as he struggled to sew a piece of tapestry to his favorite jacket.
“Like...do you remember what your life was like?”
“This is my life.”
“No. I mean like...before.”
David knew he wasn’t trying to be difficult. On the rare occasion the topic of ‘life’ came up, Marko was always genuinely puzzled. Max had said most vampires lose their memories, especially after becoming a full vampire, but retain some vague detail. For Marko, it was as if there had never been anything else. It could have been because he had never lived as a half-vampire, but David had a theory: the worse the life, the more eager your brain was to trash all the bad memories. Marko had nothing he wanted to remember.
He was Paul’s sire, which meant he had to guide Paul’s transformation, even if it was a bit bumpier than Marko’s had been. If he was having trouble forgetting his life, David was supposed to try and help. “He means before you were changed,” he chimed in.
Marko paused but didn’t look up from his sewing. After a few moments of silence, he simply answered, “No,” in a pleasant tone and continued to sew.
David snorted and sat up to lean toward Paul. “Everyone loses their memories, Paulie, don’t worry.” The longer that Paul stayed with them, the easier it would be. “Plus all that dope you smoke I’m sure is killing the rest of your brain cells.” Paul chuckled, but he looked anxious. Dwayne peeked over his book.
“I keep having these dreams, man,” Paul said slowly. “About a woman and some people...I feel like I’ve had the dream before and when I try to think about before the change I just...can’t.”
Dwayne closed his book. He and David exchanged a look, but neither of them knew what to say. It was a strange topic. Dwayne remembered a lot of his life before he was changed. He remembered his family moving to America. He remembered his sisters. He remembered his parents. He remembered leaving home and becoming a vampire.
David’s memory was less clear. He remembered the streets, the cold - tidbits of information and incomplete snapshots of a bigger, shitter picture. He remembered Max and he remembered how shitty an agonizing his change had been. That pain of transformation seemed like the most real thing. That was the beginning.
“If you can’t remember, then it’s not important,” Marko offered. In his simplicity, Marko sometimes presented the most solid advice. “You’re here.” They were together and that was all that really mattered. Whatever Paul had - any of them had - before was gone. Now they had each other. That was forever.
David asked Marko if he remembered things from before. Marko didn’t remember. He asked Marko about the motorcycle - the red and ivory Harley Hydra-Glide that they rode to outskirts of town. He didn’t remember. He didn’t remember the dirt road or the cliff or the diner, but when David asked him about his dad Marko froze. He got a funny look on his face. A moment later, Marko simply said, ‘Nope’. Nothing.
David stood up from his chair and kicked the leg of the couch as he snatched the joint out of Paul’s fingers and brought it to his own lips. Dwayne stood too. “Let’s go out,” he said as he tossed his book onto the table and headed toward the cave entrance. Marko hopped up, nearly knocking Paul off the couch. The youngest brother laughed and shoved at Marko playfully and he and David brought up the rear.
The boardwalk was in full swing. The rides on the pier made a sickening whirring noise as they ran. Screams of delight echoed over crowds of people. A band played down on the beach. Groups of kids ran from place to place. The boys parked their bikes near the concert pier and looked out at the crowd. Nearby was a group of teenagers that were gathered in front of an announcement board. They were sharing a can of beer and giggling as they hid it between them. Paul was watching them.
“Max’s got the new McCartney album in the store,” Dwayne told them. David nodded and hummed in interest. Marko lit a cigarette.
Paul stared at the group of kids. Behind them was a middle-aged woman with dirty blonde hair. She was pinning a flyer to the board. Her clothes were loose and stained. She had a cigarette tucked behind her ear. The group of kids as they made a particularly obnoxious noise and she looked over at them, clearly annoyed. Through the crowd, she and Paul made eye contact. She screamed.
Suddenly, she was coming at them. Marko was all but thrown out of the way as the woman rushed Paul, grabbing him around the middle. She was sobbing into his chest, shouting, hysterical. David and Dwayne stepped up immediately and peeled her off.
“Get off me!” she shouted at them, trying her best to flail and punch her way free to no avail. “Paul! Jesus Christ! My Paul!”
Paul stared at her, mouth slightly limp, and seemed speechless. Annoyed at the physical dismissal, Marko stepped up and placed himself between her and his brother. “Excuse me,” he said, puffing out his chest. “What the fuck?”
The woman screeched and took a swipe at him, but David and Dwayne held her tightly. Marko looked right into her eyes. “Calm down.” It was not a suggestion. The woman stopped screaming, as if her voice had suddenly run out, and looked a bit puzzled. She stopped struggling. She simply waited.
“What is your fucking issue?” David barked as he all but threw her arm down. By that time, a small crowd had gathered around them. Dwayne faced them, staring them down as he held gently onto the woman’s arm. The strangers got the message and started to dissipate.
Marko stood his ground and stared at the woman, but she didn’t seem to have the time of day for him. She easily peered over the smaller boy’s head and gazed upon Paul like he was the second coming of Christ himself.
“Where have you been?” she cried. Although her voice was much quieter now, tears streamed down her face. Her emotions were forced to stay under control, but the boys were amazed to see she was still trying her damnedest to get to Paul.
Paul, meanwhile, had taken a few steps back and had his eyebrows raised as high up on his forehead as they would go.
Who the fuck is this lady? David asked.
Paul shook his head without taking his eyes off of her. I don’t know , he said honestly. He really didn’t recognize her.
“Paul, I’ve been worried sick! I phoned the police! They said people saw you running around the boardwalk at night where...what...why haven’t you called?”
If David’s heart was still beating it would have sunk right down to his stomach. It took him a moment, but it made sense now. He looked at Dwayne who gave him a sympathetic look. Shit.
Paul shook his head. “L-Look, lady-”
“Lady?!” The woman shook in her frustration. A fresh wave of tears came down her face. “What have they done to you, Paul? What the hell have they done? Get off me!” She wrenched her arm from Dwayne’s grasp and he let her go. Marko tensed, ready to grab her if she moved forward, but instead, she leaned forward on her knees. She looked out of breath. David thought she might fall to the ground. “Holy God. Oh no...Paul. What drugs did they give you? What did they do to you?!”
Paul said nothing. Marko growled.
Back off, Buddy, David told him. I think this is Paul’s family. Marko blinked at the woman, but he didn’t back down. If anything, he looked more irate.
David rarely felt out of his element, but he found himself at a loss for what to do. They didn’t really ‘do’ parents. They didn’t really know how to deal with ladies either. David thought of telling her to fuck off, but he assumed an angry mother could maybe even figure out how to overpower the lot of them. As much as he hated to admit it, they needed parental help.
Max, there’s a situation.
The woman was damn near howling. She had fallen on the ground at some point, and Dwayne had moved to pull Marko off to the side. Paul didn’t want to get anywhere near her, and the four of them had attempted to move away a bit, but the woman had followed, scrambling to her feet and crying after Paul to come home. They weren’t sure how to escape without drawing attention to themselves. Clearly, anywhere they went she would attempt to go. Usually, they would get on their bikes and get the fuck out of there, but what if she went to the police? She would tell them some biker gang kidnapped her kid. That would end terribly. They resolved to waiting for Max.
It took all of two minutes for him to arrive. The store was only a few blocks away. His presence split a space clear through the boardwalk crowds and he marched through like he owned the place. Technically, he did. David never thought he’d be so relieved to see the guy.
“Excuse me, madam,” he said, all smooth voice and flattery. He got down on one knee to speak with her crumpled figure and as soon as they locked eyes she was almost entirely calm. There was something so intimidating about how flawlessly Max could manipulate a human mind. “Are these boys bothering you?”
David stepped behind his sire to stay out of the way. He dragged Marko with him. The woman pointed at Paul. “That’s my son,” she said in a defeated voice.
Paul shook his head, obviously bothered by this accusation. He hadn’t put two and two together yet and seemed puzzled by what the woman was saying. He looked at her hard, but nothing hinted at recognizing her.
Max looked at Paul and then at the woman. In a perfectly pleasant voice, he said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, you must be mistaken. He is my son.” A chill went down David’s back. Beside him, he felt Dwayne tense.
The woman stared at Max for a long time and then back at Paul. “I’m sorry to say I believe your son passed away, ma’am.” There was silence. The five of them watched her.
After a long moment, the woman nodded slowly and got to her feet. “Right,” she sighed. “I must have forgotten I...I’m sorry. I just...I just lost my Paul, a few weeks ago. I guess he...your son, he just looked so much like him I…”
“It’s no problem, ma’am. Please, allow me to get you a drink of water or somethin-”
“No, no.” The woman forced a smile at Max and patted him on the arm. “Thank you. You’ve been so kind. I…” She looked around at each of them but stopped before she got to Paul. “I’m sorry to have scared your boys.” She shuffled off in a direction down the boardwalk. Something told them they wouldn’t see her again.
Max turned on them. “Are you alright?” David was surprised to see he was speaking to Paul. The two had met several times since he’d been changed, but they didn’t have much of a relationship. Paul nodded, staring off disgusted in the direction of the woman who had disappeared into the crowd.
Even though they had met Paul only a few miles down the road, it had never occurred to David that he was a local. It seemed almost like everyone was a tourist, but he’d never even considered it. They hadn’t even asked. It made sense that Paul’s family would come looking for him. But the circumstances were strange. During his transition, the boys had gone to Paul’s house to gather his things. It was a communal living space full of drug dealers and hippies. It almost seemed like failed halfway house. His set up seemed temporary. They assumed he was just visiting.
There had been no one in that house over the age of thirty. No one that seemed to give a shit that three strange teenagers were walking out with Paul’s stereo and a bunch of albums. No one even really realized they were there. So who was this woman who was suddenly so concerned?
Max had his hand on Paul’s shoulder. He was speaking to him in a low, comforting tone. Paul was nodding. He looked calmer. “So...that was my mom?” he asked. He was obviously uncomfortable.
“Yes. Rather, she was your mom, before you were turned.” Max was not one to mince words, no matter how painful. The fact was Paul had no choice. There was no point in hiding the truth from him. It didn’t matter if he remembered her or not. There was no going back to the life he had before.
“I think you should all go back to the hotel,” Max told them. “Lay low for tonight.” He looked at David with a stern frown. David took ‘lay low’ to mean ‘go home and take Paul’s mind off the weird shit that had happened that night and try not to run into anyone else’s parents from a past life’. He nodded solemnly. Paul looked okay. Confused, but not angry or upset.
“Better yet…” Max looked around at the crowd down by the beach and out on the pier. “It might do you some good to get something to eat.” David chuckled. Feeding was like the reset button. Let your instincts take over for a while, recharge, revel in the high they got from crushing the thirst for a little while. That would definitely take Paul’s mind off of things. By the next night, he might not even remember it all happened.
“You got it, Boss.” David nodded to the others who brushed themselves off and started to mount their bikes. Thank you . It wasn’t often David would admit to needing his sire’s help, but Max knew he was appreciative for everything.
Max nodded at him and turned to presumably head back to the store. David started up his bike and waited for Marko to lead the way. The others followed suit - first Paul, then Dwayne. David took up the rear, making sure that no one else was planning on coming near them that night that wasn’t going to end up as dinner.
Chapter 23: 1986
“Still don’t know why you don’t just use your fangs. Way sharper than that needle.”
“He wants to pierce our ears, Paul, not rip them off.”
Marko had one knee in Dwayne’s lap and was looming over him, sewing needle in one hand and lighter in the other. Dwayne had his left arm loosely draped around Marko’s waist and was pulling his long, black hair over onto his shoulder with the other. It’d finally grown enough that it was down almost to his back. He could have easily tied it up, but that wasn’t his style. Not even for something like this.
“You got it,” he promised as he watched Paul fiddle with the earrings from his place on the opposite couch. Four had tangled together and he worked for a few moments to free them before giving up and tossing them back on the table.
His fingers absently searched for cigarette papers in the mess. “I thought these were supposed to match anyway,” Paul huffed as he moved to roll himself a joint. “They aren’t even the same color.”
“They match well enough,” Marko answered absently. He had the needle held over the flame now and the metal point was glowing a sharp, red color. He stuck the butt of the lighter in his mouth. “Three, two, one, go,” he said around the lighter as he tugged at Dwayne’s earlobe and pushed the hot metal through. Dwayne didn’t flinch.
“Still don’t know why you don’t just use your fangs,” Paul chirped as he poked his tongue along the edge of the paper. “Way sharper than that needle.”
“He wants to pierce our ears, Paul, not rip them off.”
“Just be like...gentle.”
“Gently rip my ear clean off my head.”
The two of them laughed together. Marko pressed his knee into Dwayne’s crotch and the older vampire hissed.
“Yo, what the fu-”
“Shut up. You’re moving.”
Paul laughed at them and tossed a bit of broken bottle at Dwayne who swatted it out of the air.
“Stop fucking moving.”
A gust of wind blew across the entrance to the hotel and Paul looked up out of habit.
“It’s not David,” Dwayne said more to himself than the others. If it was David, they would have heard him coming. They would have felt it.
“I know that,” Paul snapped, begrudgingly. He popped the cigarette into his mouth but didn’t light it. “When is he coming back?” Neither of his brothers answered. They didn’t know. He’d only been gone a few hours, but he’d been making a habit of disappearing occasionally. None of them had spoken about it, but all of them were beginning to wonder.
Marko ignored the conversation and turned his attention to Paul. “Earring.” The blonde picked up the bundle of metal and shook it slightly, allowing them to detangle and one to free itself from the others. He tossed it over. “Don’t take this out,” Marko instructed as he pulled the needle out and shoved the earring in sloppily. “There. Done.” He flopped down on the couch beside Dwayne. “You’re next, Paulie.”
Dwayne looked at his brother. Out of the three of them, it was Marko who kept the most secrets and Marko who was the worst with change. If he was bothered by David’s absence, he wouldn’t have shown it, but Dwayne feared he would stew in his own discomfort. Although he was small, Marko was vicious, and he seemed attached to their leader. Paul was overtly open about everything, and Dwayne was better at dealing with problems. The two of them were comfortable in sharing with one another. Marko’s confidant was David. Dwayne hoped the kid didn’t snap one night.
I’m sure he’s just talking to Max or something.
Marko ignored him and stood from the couch to begin piercing the next hole. “Sit back,” he ordered and Paul did what he was told. Marko straddled him, kneeling on either side of his lap. He set to burning the match again while Paul tugged his hair out of the way.
“We should hit the boards tonight?” Dwayne offered. It was a Thursday, and the season was just beginning. Nothing wild would be going on. They’d just fed on Tuesday night - some truckers out of town who had stopped to ogle at waitresses at a roadside club - but another snack couldn’t hurt. The early weeks of summer, just after the weather broke, were nerve-wracking. It was like the calm before a feral storm. Santa Carla was about to explode into one massive party town. It’d only gotten crazier since they’d moved there.
“Hell yea ma- ow!” Paul yelped as Marko shoved a knee into his stomach. “What the fuck was that for?”
“You’re moving me more by kicking me you dickweed!”
Marko growled low and threatening. Paul scoffed, but stopped moving anyway, and looked away uncomfortably.
There was a low whooshing sound that echoed through the cavernous lobby and suddenly the boys were aware that their brother had returned. David landed with barely a sound and fell into his wheelchair hard with a scowl on his face. Dwayne nodded at him. David nodded back.
Where have you been?
Marko was the only one who cared enough or had the balls to demand that information. David didn’t get up but raised his eyebrows at the back of his brother’s head.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” he drawled, watching Marko as he pulled the needle from Paul’s ear and replaced it with one of the other earrings. Although he didn’t respond, Dwayne got the distinct feeling that Marko thought it was his business. The smaller boy stood up and backed away from Paul who was now bringing the joint back to his lips. His new, gold earring glinted softly in the light of the flame.
Marko rounded on David and stared him down.
The relationship between the two of them had always interested Dwayne. He had seen a lot of vampire clans in his day, and he’d witnessed a lot of tribe dynamics. He’d seen a lot of sires that took their fledglings as lovers and partners, servants, even slaves. He’d seen some that were just casual acquaintances, friends, brothers and sisters, and some that were rejected entirely as soon as they were full vampires.
The four of them were different from most tribes. They were a smaller group -- all connected, all close, and all trusted each other more than anyone else. They were better off than most because of Max, and, although their relationship with him was unconventional, Dwayne couldn’t say it was bad.
Within their family, Dwayne considered David and himself to be close friends. They acted as confidants and sounding boards for one another, often seeking the other’s advice and there was trust. He was close to Paul as well. Although Marko had brought him in, and the two of them seemed nearly inseparable, Dwayne thought Paul meshed well with everyone, and he was really fond of the kid. He was fun-loving and sweet. But his determination to keep things light-hearted meant his relationships felt frivolous. David couldn’t help but love him too, just like the rest of them, for his humor and playfulness, but when things took a serious turn, Paul was happy there was a leader and that it wasn’t up to him to make the decisions.
But Marko and David were odd. If Dwayne saw them from an outside perspective, he might have guessed they were mates. Partners. Something serious. But they weren’t. Marko didn’t trail after David like a lost puppy, but he was the first one to defend him. He didn’t show an extraordinary amount of reverence, but he also showed more blind faith. David never explicitly showed favoritism, but there was an unspoken feeling that Marko was something special to him. Something different. Marko was the first to be ordered around, the first to be asked a favor, the one in charge when David was away. When they traveled, Marko or David often took up the lead or brought up the rear. The positions of the protectors of the pack.
Dwayne tried to recall a time when he’d seen David act differently toward Marko than the rest of them, but he couldn’t. Part of him wondered if it was just the way Marko was. He was an odd duck, for sure. A little off. A little too confident. A little too worried about the wrong things and too cavalier about the right. But there was something about the way they looked at each other like they were an old married couple.
They faced each other now and Dwayne was sure he could bet money that Marko was going to demand he tell them what he’d been up to. David stared back, unblinking, glaring, challenging him to say something. Instead, Marko held up the needle. “Your turn,” he said calmly as he held out the two remaining earrings. David shrugged and took them.
Dwayne glanced at Paul who had been watching them as well. He shrugged and scooted over to sit next to Dwayne. They’d spoken before about what to make of the other two, but they hadn’t come to a conclusion. Now they watched together as Marko all but mounted the front of the wheelchair to corner David and tug at his earlobe.
David leaned back and wrapped one lazy arm around Marko’s waist as Dwayne had done. The contact was more necessary this time, as Marko’s balance on David’s lap was shaky at best. Again he set to burning his needle.
“Aren’t you not supposed to share needles?” Paul asked.
“That’s heroin, not sewing,” Dwayne quipped with a grin. Paul snickered.
“Don’t think it matters since we’re all fucking dead,” David replied listlessly. Marko snapped off the lighter and, once again, popped it into his mouth. He pressed the needle through David’s left earlobe. “Where’d you get the earrings, Marko?” he asked as he turned the two around in his hand.
“I made them.”
David considered them for a moment. Dwayne felt Paul shift closer and begin to play with his earring. He assumed Paul was more interested now that he knew they were another one of Marko’s art projects.
David hummed in appreciation and a moment later one of the earrings was snatched from his hand and being hooked into the new piercing. Dwayne was sure that had they not been so familiar with one another and not been so far removed from the social normalcy of the living, the whole situation would have felt a lot more unsettling.
“Boards tonight,” Paul reminded them. The others grunted in response.
When he was done, Marko pushed himself to stand up. Dwayne thought he saw David’s grip on the boy tighten ever so slightly before letting go, but it could have easily been his imagination.
Before any of them could inquire, Marko was pressing a burning needle through his own ear. “Looks kind of cool just like that,” Paul mused. “You could just leave the needle…”
David pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Silence didn’t bother them as a whole. They were comfortable enough that they didn’t need to fill every second with noise. They sat in one another’s company for a few moments. Dwayne made eye contact with David and raised an eyebrow as if to ask ‘is everything ok?’. David nodded slightly which was enough to push any worry out of Dwayne’s heart. If something was wrong, he’d tell them. That’s what family did. That’s what this family did.
Marko hooked the earring in and David pushed up from his wheelchair. He touched his middle finger to a drop of blood dripping from Marko’s earlobe and licked it off. “To the boardwalk we go,” he mocked, eyes trained to Marko’s. Without a response, the three of them took off out the cave entrance.
Thanks to those of you who are following along! My intention is to take this story right up to the start of the film! I am also working on some smaller stories that I want to post separately that will take place in this same universe. Thank you so much for all the support so far! I would love to talk or to write for any of you. If you have requests, please ask!
Marko hated humans, so there must have been a good reason he was talking to this one.
The summers went by too fast.
But they provided balance, which was something that they needed. In season, the place was damn near perfect. It was still a wonder no one else had tried to move in on their territory. California was a big state with lots of cities and lots of communes and lots of places that would be good for creatures of the night to nest and prey. It also helped that Max seemed to have a reputation, and older vampires respected his space. The Lost Boys had become the trust fund babies of Santa Carla.
Marko preferred the term ‘princes’ although that was just in his head. They had become comfortable in Santa Carla. They knew the streets inside and out. They were confident in roaming around taking what they wanted. They knew where was safe to feed, who was safe to push, where they should avoid, and, most importantly, they knew everything that went on. Santa Carla was entirely theirs.
When new gangs moved in, they let them know who was in charge. If they didn’t listen, they were wiped out. People noticed. They steered clear of the boys and tried not to get involved. In return, the boys respected their privacy. They didn’t bother the people who lived in Santa Carla. It was easy to tell who they were. They had a way about them. They were mostly old hippies or people whose families had moved there generations before. There were the stoners who owned the comic shop. The board shaper. The gas station owner. The crazy old guy who lived on the farm. Max. The two ladies who ran the Tourist Center. The guy that worked the High Striker on the pier.
These people were well aware, they assumed, that the boys were not just ordinary teenagers. Most of them had been around since the mid 70s and had to notice that they hadn’t grown up. David would get a nod from an old geezer occasionally as they walked through the town. There was an unspoken understanding between them and the locals. As long as the Lost Boys were in charge, no other gang would rule, no tourists would fuck with the shops or the beaches, and everyone stayed happy.
Even though there were hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer, Marko could recognize most of them. He categorized them into three types: party boys, party girls, and old. Old was anyone that wasn’t seen wearing the latest trend and smoking a cigarette. They didn’t really have to be any particular age. They were all food.
Sometimes there would be someone who didn’t fit into one of those three categories for one reason or another. Marko spent a lot of time staring at them, trying to figure out what made them different. Sometimes he would follow them, maybe chat them up a bit. Sometimes he would bring them back to the hotel and fuck them. Sometimes he would tease them, keeping it up for a week even, or more. In the end, he would always kill them.
When the summer was over, Marko was reminded of balance. The summers were perfect, but that balance was important. Too much of a good thing would fuck with you, that’s what they said. Well, that’s what David said they said. After school started up again, Santa Carla withered into nothingness. A perfect stillness would sweep through the streets. One night it was alight with passion and music and life. The next, it was nothing. It reminded Marko of a Rose of Jericho. When they were deprived of water, they would pop out of the ground and shrivel into a tiny, brown, flaky ball. It looked like death beyond hope. But sit it in even so much as a puddle and it sprang back to life in a matter of hours.
It was the last week of August. That night, Marko found himself staring at a girl who had just arrived at the boardwalk. She was sitting on the steps at the top of the music pier and watching one of the last bands perform. The first clue that she was different was the fact that she’d just arrived. It was Wednesday the twenty-seventh. The season would be over in the next day or two. Why would someone be arriving now?
She didn’t have anything with her. No bags. No purse. No nothing. She wore a dirty, sky-blue blouse, lots of beads, and a pair of high-waisted jeans. Her long, curly, dark hair was blowing into her face. She looked exhausted. She looked out of place.
“You looking for dinner?” Paul nudged him with his elbow as he reached up to light a cigarette and laughed out the side of his mouth. Marko continued to stare at the girl as he leaned back on his bike. He shook his head absently. Paul followed his gaze and then looked back at his brother. “Looking for a fuck?” Marko shook his head again and Paul joined in at staring at the girl. After a moment, he lost interest and started drumming on the handlebars of his bike.
“Well,” he said suddenly. “You wanna go-”
“That girl is weird,” Marko said finally.
Paul looked at her again and snorted. “She looks like every other chick here,” he said as he nudged Marko’s shoulder again. “What makes her so weird?” He paused and then sighed dramatically. “Oh man...you gonna do that thing where you follow her around and pretend to be all charming and innocent and then you court her and then you fuck her and accidentally eat her and then you’re sad about it for a few days?”
“Dude, I don’t do that.”
“Dude, you do.”
Marko frowned but didn’t take his eyes off of the girl. Something was unsettling about her, but he couldn’t figure out what. He climbed off his motorcycle and ignored the loud, vocal complaints of his brother as he marched over to the girl and plopped down beside her.
She jumped and pushed herself away as she simultaneously turned to look at him. Her eyes were wide and sad. She looked scared. Marko nodded at her and grinned deviously. He looked straight into her eyes. They were brown.
“I…” The girl opened her mouth to speak but seemed to forget what she was going to say.
“You’re not from around here?” Marko asked. She shook her head. He studied her. From close up, she looked thin and there were bags under her eyes. She looked like stress had hit her square in the face.
The roar of motorcycle engines grew louder until they were right on top of them. David and Dwayne pulled to a stop in front of Paul, right behind Marko and his new fascination.
“Marko.” David’s voice was as stern and clear as Marko’s had been soft and ethereal. It wasn’t a greeting. Marko smiled at the girl again and stood up. She looked alarmed as she turned to look at the boys. Paul had come up and now the three of them were standing around her, looking at her. Marko walked past his brothers and headed back to his bike.
Who is this? David continued to stare at her. Marko knew he thought she was good looking, but he figured he would keep his distance until he found out what the deal was. He also respected his little brother’s radar. Marko hated humans, so there must have been a good reason he was talking to this one.
Just some weird chick. Marko glanced over at her again, but his view was obstructed by Dwayne who was still perched on his bike.
I doubt that. David was skeptical even though Marko’s answer had been straightforward. Marko was obviously preoccupied. She was unsettling to him. He decided that she was different than the rest, but he didn’t like her.
Paul and Dwayne followed Marko’s example and started to mount their bikes as well. They were done with that encounter. It didn’t interest them any longer. But David wasn’t finished.
“What’s your name?” he asked the girl.
The girl looked a little taken aback at the attention, but overall happier to talk to David. She gave him a careful smile. Marko growled.
“Star,” she answered. Her voice was clear and high and beautiful.
“Star,” David echoed. Her name didn’t roll nicely. He pronounced it carefully like it was sharp and it pricked his tongue when he said it. The ‘r’ was harsh. He sounded almost sarcastic. “Nice to meet you, Star.” She a hippie? The boys laughed behind him.
Star glanced at them nervously for only a second as if she were wondering what joke she missed. “Nice to meet you too…”
“David.” She smiled at him again - genuinely this time - and seemed to relax a little bit.
“Have a good night, Star,” David drawled as he turned to follow his brothers.
Paul was the first to take off down the boards, done with the whole scene and eager to get into the last weekend of the season. Dwayne followed. David followed Dwayne. Marko spent a few more moments looking at Star. She looked back, a little puzzled, but less anxious now. She tried offering him a smile. Marko mounted his bike and took off after the others.
“Consider it a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift’."
A bell tinkled over the door as it opened. A rush of hot air blew through the foyer and pushed Paul’s hair out of his face as he entered the building. He led the group into the busy arcade. Friday night was usually packed, but the rainy weather drove even more people indoors that night. With the boards soaked, and the beaches too rough to party, all the local kids and any tourists left after the end of the season found themselves flocking to any available consoles.
As it turned out, there weren’t any. Every machine, it seemed, was packed with multiple people crammed in, peering at the blurry display screens. Dwayne followed Paul closely, grinning when his brother pointed at some kids fighting over a pinball machine in the corner that bore the image of some haunted-looking castle complete with Halloween bats and spooky organ music that could barely be heard over the din of the room.
As soon as Marko entered, he was off from the group. His sights had been set on one machine the entire summer. Paul saw he was on a mission and casually went after him, taking in all the flashing lights and neon signs. He maneuvered through a maze of bright machines and caffeinated kids.
David brought up the rear. He wrinkled his nose as he entered - partially to express his distaste for the busy atmosphere and Duran Duran on the radio and partially in reaction to the overwhelming scent of sweaty humans. He caught up to Dwayne easily and the two of them shook the rain off their jackets.
“You gonna stick around?” he asked Dwayne as he watched his brother scan the room with a frown. Neither one of them ever took much of a liking to video games. Perhaps they were showing their age, but they never got the hang of them and something was just so unsatisfying about an artificial, pixelated adventure.
“Nah.” Dwayne’s eyes landed on a young man in a purple jacket who was leaning in far too close to a Ms. Pacman machine. “I’m gonna grab dinner and get out of here.” Without waiting for a response, he stalked off across the room. David watched as he leaned on the cabinet and the purple young man looked up at him. As soon as he made eye-contact with Dwayne, his confused features immediately smoothed out and a peaceful smile graced his face. David laughed.
The Gauntlet machine was being crowded by four boys that looked around eleven or twelve years old. Marko and Paul approached them, each taking one side of the cabinet and closing in around them. Two of the boys scattered as soon as they saw they were surrounded. The others - who looked like they had just walked out of a Rambo film - looked up at them, scowling.
“Move it along, little dudes,” Paul said as he tugged a cigarette from behind his ear with one hand and tapped the control panel of the console with the other. The boys gave each other a disgusted look. Marko nodded his head to sharply to insinuate that they should get going. He grinned at them. After a moment’s hesitation, the young boys turned away from their game, grumbling. Paul and Marko moved in with quarters already in hand.
David strolled through the arcade with his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his leather trenchcoat. Subconsciously, kids stepped out of his way, giving him a clear path through the room. Groups of teens eyed him from against the back wall. One boy - David knew his name was Greg - was surrounded by a couple of skinhead looking punks. They sneered at David who smiled back sweetly. They were a recent local gang who called themselves the ‘Surf Nazis’. The Lost Boys were just waiting for the group to give a reason to end them.
At the snack counter, David saw a familiar cascade of dark, curly hair and torn, acid washed jeans. Star. So their new friend was still in town. Interesting. He had never figured out what Marko’s fascination with the girl had been, but David’s interest in her was piqued.
He watched her from a distance. She still looked tired and stressed, but she was smiling to herself as she leaned heavily on the counter and watched the attendant fill up a cup of soda. David pulled a few bills out of his pocket and slid up to the counter beside her, placing a five dollar bill out toward the register. She jumped, alarmed by his sudden entrance and took a step away as the employee put her soda down where she’d been leaning. The kid gave David a nervous look, snatched his money off the table, and scurried off for change.
“Star.” David leaned back on the counter, surveying her and looking effortlessly comfortable. “How’s it goin’?”
Star eyed him and then looked down at her drink. “I don’t need you to pay for me,” she snapped while glaring at him.
David raised his hands in surrender and allowed his elbows to continue to rest on the counter. “Woah,” he chuckled. “This is what I get for being nice?” The girl stared him down. Obviously, she wanted to prove she could take care of herself. Point taken. “Consider it a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift’,” he added with a smirk. The employee came back with a few dollars and coins. Without taking his eyes off of Star’s, he said, “Keep the change.”
Star looked him over. It was apparent she still had reservations, but after a few seconds, David saw the fight leave her eyes. “Thanks,” she muttered as she gathered up her drink and headed out onto the floor. David followed.
Either she didn’t notice him or she didn’t care. After a few seconds of silence - filled up by the noise of the room and the occasional slurp of her soda - Star called over her shoulder, “So what, are you loaded or something?” She glanced back at him and looked him up and down, obviously evaluating his outfit choice. Her eyes landed on his earring.
David smirked at her. “I’m comfortable,” he said.
“I’ve heard about your...group,” she continued, apparently done talking about the money situation. David wondered if this was a sticking point with her. “The ‘Lost Boys’, right?” She wrinkled her nose. “What’s that about?”
“What’s what about?” Part of him wondered where she’d heard things from and what rumors were floating out there about them, but he wouldn’t let on that he cared.
“You guys just some biker gang that goes around terrorizing innocent people?” Star took another sip of her soda. As they walked past the Gauntlet machine, he caught Marko’s eye and a little bit of discontent in his thoughts.
“Terrorize?” David parroted.
“Yea - and can you only repeat things that I say?” She stopped walking and turned to block David’s way. They stood about a foot apart, with the chaos of the arcade spinning around them, and he noticed for the first time how small she was. “Or can you think for yourself at all?”
Well. Wasn’t she just charming? And certainly brave. David smiled.
“I don’t know where you get your information from,” he started. “But we aren’t big on “terrorizing”.” He gave her a hard look and she seemed to soften a little.
“Well,” she said in a lighter tone. “Your friends are a little intimidating, you have to admit.” She glanced over at Paul and Marko who were yelling at their game. Paul smacked the side of the console hard enough to leave a small dent. Marko shoved him and laughed.
“They are my brothers.”
Star looked at them again and then back at David. “Oh,” she said, puzzled. “You don’t look all alike.” David shrugged. “So,” she started as she continued to weave in and out of he different games. “If you don’t terrorize, what do you do? I’ve only been here a few weeks and I’ve seen you all over Santa Carla.”
“We do whatever we want,” David said as he trailed behind her.
“Don’t you work? Or are you still in school? What do you do all day?”
“You know,” David said as he became increasingly annoyed at how nosy this girl was proving to be. “Sleep all day. Party all night.”
Star smiled genuinely at that answer. “Must be nice,” she said dreamily.
David wondered what her deal was. The season was over, and here she was, just blown in, cruising the arcade on a Friday night with the locals. She seemed to be alone. He wondered if she’d moved there for family or work. “And what do you do all day?” he asked her.
“More than you, apparently.” She laughed and scooted into a booth near the back of the room. David slid in across from her. She looked at him and sighed as if resolving to give a real answer, although he hadn’t pushed her. “Not much, actually.” She took another sip from her soda. “I was hoping to find a job when I got here.”
“There’s more jobs in season,” he offered.
“Yea well...I didn’t expect to end up here.”
They sat for a moment in silence and she sipped her drink and toyed with her straw in between her front teeth. David couldn’t find any reason why Marko would be interested in her. She seemed like any other boring, human, teenage girl.
What’s the deal, Marko?
Across the room, he could see his brothers intent on their game. There was no physical reaction from either one of them, no glance over to their table, no pause in playing, and he thought he might not get a response at all, but then he heard Marko echo inside his head.
She seems out of place.
David looked at the girl. She looked like every other girl in the room. She wore the same fashion, had one of five popular hair cuts, drank the same coke from the same cup. “Why are you here, Star?” he asked with some intensity. She locked eyes with him and he willed for her to submit, although he thought she’d probably cooperate regardless.
“What do you mean?” she asked absently.
“Why did you come to Santa Carla?”
She was silent for a while and then-- “I can here for vacations as a kid. I didn’t know where to go. I had good memories of this place.” She was leaving out details.
“Why did you need a place to go?”
“I couldn’t stay at home.”
So it was a bad situation. Either she was kicked out, or she was a runaway.
“Why are you here?”
She sort of smiled at him. “I like it here,” she explained. “Seeing the kids having fun and looking at all the games. It’s a nice atmosphere.” David thought if she could look away she might have admired the room.
She was a peculiar kid. Obviously, she was used to having to stick up for herself, if her initial guarded attitude was anything to go by, but it seemed like she was actually a pretty happy girl under all that mess. David wondered if she had a place to go. She looked like she hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a while. He gave her a once over. She’d make for a good quick fuck and a snack. They could leave now and have plenty of time to get somewhere and back before sun-up…
Marko and Paul closed in on the booth fast. Paul scooted in next to Star and Marko next to David. The distraction pulled Star out of her trance and she pushed herself into the booth all the way to make room, bewildered by the sudden company. David rolled his eyes and made room for his younger brother who purposefully slammed himself into David’s side as he climbed in.
“What’s goin’ on, lady!” Paul howled as he landed. “I’m Paul, this is Marko.” Marko nodded his chin up in greeting. “I see you met our David already.”
“Fuck off, Paul,” David snapped which prompted Marko and Paul to cackle.
“Aw, that’s not nice. I just wanna meet your new friend here.”
To David’s surprise, Star smiled at Paul. “I’m Star,” she said sweetly.
“Star,” Paul echoed. “Oh man. What a name. Star. With one ‘r’? Or two? Like ‘twinkle twinkle’ or like Ringo Starr?”
Star giggled. “Just one.”
“Alright, Star-with-one-‘r’. Very nice.”
Cool it, Paulie.
Paul snickered but stopped running his mouth. Marko was looking hard at the girl as if he was trying to read her mind. As taken aback as she was with the arrival of visitors, she looked happy to have more people to talk to.
“So, do you guys come here often?”
“Only when it pours,” Paul answered, jumping on the chance to speak. “Ain’t nothing to do out there when the beaches are all flooded and shit…”
“That’s true. Do you guys like video games?”
“Marko’s got the high score on Gauntlet . Been playing all summer, right man?”
The three of them looked at Marko whose intense facade slipped easily into a cool smile. He slid down in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. “Hell yea.” Star complimented him and Paul went off again, talking about the mechanics of the game.
You gonna bring this girl home?
David heard Marko in his head again, only this time his voice was clearer.
I was thinking about it. I don’t think she has any family here. She’d be an easy kill.
David looked away from the other two to look at Marko who was shoulder-to-shoulder with him in the booth but far shorter in stature and position.
I’ve got a weird feeling.
Marko didn’t have weird feelings. In fact, if asked. Marko most likely would tell you he had no feelings. He prided himself in alienating himself from human traits. David looked at his face, but Marko’s expression gave nothing away. He looked cooly at Paul and Star, laughing at all the appropriate times and nodding his head. He was well-practiced in social situations.
David looked at Star. He still couldn’t see it. She just seemed like any random bitch to him. But he trusted Marko more than anyone else. So he let it go.
“Yo!” Paul nearly shouted as he hopped in his seat. “Girly, you should totally come party with us tonight!”
“Not tonight, Paul.”
David’s voice was sudden and stern. It brought any casual festivity to a halt and the booth was suddenly quiet. Marko’s grin never left his face. David turned his attention to Star.
“Sorry, Star,” he drawled. “We have plans. Maybe tomorrow night?”
Star seemed puzzled, but as soon as she looked into David’s eyes, he made sure she felt right at ease. “Sure,” she smiled. “That would be cool.”
Paul chuckled. “Hell yea. Cool.”
Seemingly in tandem, the boys climbed out of the booth. Paul headed to the door followed by Marko. David stopped to tap his fingers on the table of the booth. “It was nice talking to you, Star,” he said as he graced her with yet another smile. She responded in kind.
“You too, David.”
He took one more look at her and then followed his brothers out the front door into the night.
"What are you going to do with her, David? Keep her as a pet?"
Marko was pacing.
David watched him with moderate interest from his wheelchair. He probably didn’t realize he was pacing, but there was no other word for it. He would walk over to the far wall, look at nothing for a moment, then turn around and march all the way across to the front desk, then loop up to the foot of the crumbled staircase, then back to the far wall. It almost looked like he was wandering aimlessly, but by his fourth repeat of the same route, David thought something was out of place.
In the distance, water dripped from somewhere deeper in the caves. The Clash echoed from Paul’s radio which was perched crookedly on the table near the sofa. Paul was ripping into a box of Chinese food on the edge of the fountain. Dwayne sat on the sofa, wrench in hand, and was messing with a skateboard on his lap.
Stop pacing .
Marko did stop, but only to glare at David for a moment and to raise is arms slightly in protest. “I’m not,” he complained before continuing on his same path. Paul snickered at him from the couch and made a comment under his breath that David didn’t quite catch. David’s eyes followed his brother. He was thinking. He didn’t like when Marko thought this hard.
“Star seemed cool,” Paul mused as he took another bite of rice from the box. He hummed in vague appreciation and flashed a grin at David. “We gonna chill with her tonight?” They had proposed a meet up at the arcade the previous night. David thought she was a little boring, but she was pretty, and she was feisty. He wouldn’t mind spending some time with her.
Marko had stopped pacing when Paul spoke. He was watching David intently - maybe eager to hear his answer - only a few steps away from the couch. To anyone else, his posture would have screamed casualness, but David could tell he was tense.
Dwayne hadn’t looked up in a while, but suddenly he placed his board to the empty part of the couch and tugged on the thigh of Marko’s ripped chaps to try and get his attention. Without responding, the younger boy side-stepped closer to Dwayne and landed on the arm of the broken sofa, leaning heavily on his brother’s side. Dwayne slipped an arm around his waist. He seemed to relax a little bit.
“What’s going on kid?” Dwayne asked him. Marko didn’t respond.
David ignored them. If Marko had something to say, it was better he come right out and say it. It wasn’t like him to hold back. “What’s the deal, Paul?” David asked as he tossed an empty bottle at his brother. Paul caught it with ease. “You like this girl or something?”
“Oh, man, I love all women, you know that,” Paul grinned. “She seemed cool, and there’s not a lot to do. Maybe she wants to party. Maybe she has hot friends and they all wanna come down here for the night…”
“I doubt that,” David interjected. “She’s been alone every time we’ve seen her. Besides, Marko has a bad feeling about her, don’tcha?” He directed his attention to Marko now and stared him down. If he had something to say, now was the time to say it.
Instead, the smaller boy just shrugged and said nothing. He chewed absently on the edge of his glove while the fingers of his left hand twirled around a lock of Dwayne’s hair. David frowned at him. He didn’t believe in premonitions, but Marko sure was acting strangely. His behavior had been so out of the ordinary that he’d considered talking to Max about it. He decided not to.
David smiled. “Alright, let’s go get her then.” Paul let out a whoop and hopped up off the couch. He tossed the remainder of his rice over his shoulder into the fountain and headed up to the opening. The others followed.
Dwayne didn’t need to hear it from Marko to know something was wrong. His little brother’s thoughts were usually on another planet, that was for sure, but because of that nothing ever bothered him. While he often seemed clueless, Dwayne knew Marko was the most observant, most thoughtful, and most dangerous of the four of them. He did not fret. He did not pace. He did not worry. Ever.
David obviously knew something that the others didn’t. His eyes were boring into Marko at every turn and his comments were goading him into speaking up about something. Whatever it was, Marko wasn’t talking. He thought it was about that girl.
Did she do something?
Dwayne had been prodding his brother all night with questions, but he was reluctant to answer. Occasionally, he got a one-word response. Usually, he got nothing but a smile.
Did she say something to you? Did she smell weird? Do you know her from somewhere?
As the four of them made their way up to the boardwalk, Dwayne looked hard at Marko’s blonde curls as if staring could give him some insight. They trudged through wet sand and mud from the previous night’s storms. The rain had stopped, but the roads and boards were soaked and slippery.
Marko continued to stay silent as they trekked up the beach toward the pier. Many of the in-season shops were closed. David was taking them back toward the arcade to see if they could find Star.
I don’t know her, he heard in his head. Dwayne knew he had to be careful about how he responded or else he’d get radio silence again.
You just got a bad feeling?
Marko’s feelings were law. Maybe it was David’s obvious - and often denied - affinity for the boy or just that they’d proven right over the years, but if Marko ever had a feeling about something, they ran with it - no questions asked.
I guess so.
Dwayne reached up and tugged on his brother’s ponytail that hung way down on his back. Marko smirked at him over his shoulder.
The boardwalk was not busy. The rain and the end to the season had effectively killed any party that would have been going on up there. The boys fanned out, walking side by side, in perfect step with each other. Marko and David kept to either end of the group - their usual positions.
A small crowd was gathered near a corner where the boardwalk met the road. People were leaving the bar there to join the mob and to get a closer look at whatever was happening. As they got closer, they could see a car that was facing an awkward angle and had pulled up onto the curb. The driver’s side door was open. No one was inside.
The four of them approached the railing where they could survey from above. The group - it turned out - was crowded around the body of a young woman who had been struck by the car. She was face down, but it seemed as if she was breathing. A few teenagers were attempting to support her. Her flowing skirt and hair were a mess of blood. Another young woman - presumably the driver of the vehicle - was apologizing repeatedly and walking in circles. She was distraught.
Paul slumped over the railing to get a better look. “Oh man…” he sighed. He whistled low and squinted as if that would help him see through the crowd.
They stood there in silence for a moment watching the commotion. Only a few people were around to help. The driver of the car was in hysterics. Marko leaned on the railing next to Paul, and after a few minutes, he said, “Star.”
It took a while for the others to realize what he’d just said. Paul was the first to catch on. “Star?” he confirmed. “Is that her down there?” Marko nodded. Dwayne hummed in interest. David said nothing. They watched her. She wasn’t able to sit up, but the teenagers had rolled her onto her back. She was a mess.
“Are we gonna leave her there?” Paul asked as if he was genuinely unsure of the protocol for such a situation. None of them answered. Typically, they were not one for good deeds, but David felt a pang of something close to sympathy. She had seemed so guarded. He was the only one of them that knew she had just gotten out of a bad situation. It was sort of a shame for her to die when she’d just gotten out.
Dwayne shifted uncomfortably. David could tell he was thinking as well. Even if they took her, what would they do with her? They could drop her at a hospital, but it might have been too late already. Dwayne wondered vaguely if anyone had already called an ambulance.
Suddenly, Marko shrugged and turned away from the scene. “Doesn’t matter,” he said. “She’ll die anyway.”
In a sudden fit of inexplicable frustration, David turned with a flourish and marched down the steps toward the crowd. Paul hurried after him to be part of the action.
Dwayne, caught between David - who was apparently committed to helping - and Marko - who couldn’t give two shits about the situation - stood where he was.
How are you going to help her? Dwayne asked his brother. Why? Every passing second had him leaning toward Marko’s idea of ‘fuck it - not our problem’. David had never been one for public service before, what had gotten into him now? Can’t you find a better way to piss off Marko?
David didn’t answer. Instead, Dwayne watched from above while the two of them pushed their way through the crowd and David scooped Star up off the road. He held her bridal style and moved fast to get her away from the spectators.
Without looking at Dwayne, he moved right across to the opposite side of the boards. “C’mon,” he barked as he headed down toward the beach. Dwayne obeyed. The scent of blood was thick in the air. It clouded his thoughts. He hoped David had decided to take her back as a meal, but something told him that wasn’t the case.
“Are you going to take her back to the hotel?” he asked incredulously. “What are you going to do with her, David? Keep her as a pet? All those people just saw her die-”
“She’s not dead yet.”
Well, that wasn’t much of an explanation, but Dwayne didn’t like the sound of it anyhow. There wasn’t anything to fix her back at the hotel. There wasn’t even anywhere for her to sleep.
Where are you? he asked Marko. No answer. He hadn’t expected one.
David carried her down into the hotel. In what he considered a ‘moment of insanity’, he had decided to snatch the girl up off the street and take her home. His tentative plan had been to carry her to safety, but the more he thought about it, the more he thought it made sense just to keep her. She was on her own, no friends, no job, no money...maybe she just needed a family.
She wasn’t conscious enough to make that decision. David thought he felt her stir a few times, but she was a wreck. She’d hit her head either on the car or on impact with the concrete. Her pretty face was bashed in, blood was pouring down onto her chest and back, and her body was limp and broken. She wouldn’t survive much longer.
In the lobby, David laid her on the couch. “What are you doing, David?” Dwayne asked. Paul looked on, worried, but would never question him. Marko was missing.
“Saving her fucking life,” David muttered under his breath as he dug in the cabinet for the bottle.
“You’re changing her?” Dwayne’s tone was becoming more and more unsettled as he spoke. David chose not to answer him and instead grunted as he pulled the bottle out from the far back of the shelf. “Think about this, David. Think about us. Do we really want another person in this family? A girl we don’t even know? What about Max? What about Marko’s-”
“Marko isn’t here!” he snapped. Without meaning to, his eyes flashed a nasty yellow and a growl erupted from his throat. Dwayne took a step back.
In the hierarchy of the family, Marko was second in command, but his nature often left him without strong feelings or good decision-making skills. Dwayne had been an excellent source of wisdom through their years together, and he rarely spoke out against the things that David did. He closed his eyes and forced himself to take a deep breath. He was thankful for Dwayne, even if being questioned was annoying, and he had to remember patience.
He formulated a logical plan. “She can drink. That’ll buy us time. We can talk to her when she wakes up and decide what we can do. If it doesn’t work out…” Having a reluctant half-vampire around would be annoying, dangerous even, but not impossible to fix. “I’ll get rid of her.”
This idea seemed to placate the other two enough that they didn’t answer. Star had stopped moving entirely, and David wasn’t sure this conversation was even necessary anymore. As he approached the couch, Paul and Dwayne stepped out of the way. David knelt beside her. He could hear her laboured breathing very faintly. Carefully, he cradled her head and tilted it up slightly. Even after such destruction, she really was beautiful. He placed the glass carefully on her lips and tipped the bottle until some of the thick, red liquid inside poured down her throat. Some dripped onto her chin, and she struggled to swallow, but after a moment she drank.
When David thought she’d had enough for the transformation to take place, he laid her head down on the armrest and stood up. They looked down at her for a moment in silence. If she wasn’t dying before, she was now.
In the rafters above them, Marko sat perched nonchalantly, feet dangling down and swinging slightly. He toyed with the finger of his glove between his front teeth and watched in silence. As his brothers finally gave up their vigil, Marko scoffed quietly to himself.
Sorry for the delay! I hit a little roadblock trying to figure out how to gracefully bring Star into the story. I have the remainder of my chapters planned out - more updates soon!
“I never pegged you for a hero, David.”
To say things had been tense would have been a phenomenal understatement. As it turned out, it was not working out very well.
They’d tried introducing the concept to her in a similar fashion that they’d tried with Paul. They told her everything and, after she’d laughed in their faces, realization finally hit her when she realized she was hearing David in her head and realizing that it was bloodlust she was feeling. She was confused at the new and unpleasant sensations, and, instead of being excited about her new afterlife, she was eager for the feelings to go away. “They don’t just ‘go away’,” David had tried to explain, each time getting more and more annoyed. “This is what you are going to feel like all the time. You’ll feel better when you feed.”
“Or fuck.” Paul had been the most amenable, treating Star like a new friend and trying to show her the ropes. But for all his candor and positivity, even Paul was growing tired of the girl’s negative attitude. “She just needs to chill,” he’d repeat. “Too harsh.”
David wasn’t sure about Dwayne’s feeling. He had a good poker face, but David could tell he wasn’t very passionate about the new addition to their family. In the two weeks that she had been living with them, David wasn’t sure they’d had even one word between them. This could have just been a normal indifference for him - he was one of the only people David had ever met that could genuinely just not care about some things.
But Marko was clearly unhappy. He was usually talkative around people he knew, but he and Star had only ever had one conversation. David hadn’t heard what they were saying, but within seconds Marko had snapped at her and tears had started. It wasn’t like him to be aggressive, but David didn’t intervene. Marko didn’t like people that weren’t part of the family, and Star was only connected to David. She wouldn’t bond with the others until she’d made her first kill, and so far, she’d absolutely refused.
In fact, she’d absolutely refused to do anything. As soon as nighttime hit, she waited at the door, afraid to wander off on her own. If the boys decided to stay in, she would lay curled up in the little nest they’d made for her and stare at the wall. She wasn’t interested in drinking or smoking or even talking to them. It was like they were holding her prisoner. When they did go out, she rode on the back of David’s bike. He’d made it very clear that she couldn’t try to run away. “Not that you’d really get very far,” he said. “You have nowhere to hide before the sun comes up.” She didn’t respond, so he added, “And I can always find you.”
When they went hunting, they left her in the cave, and came back soaked in blood and wreaking of gore. She looked away then, hiding her face, and covering her nose and mouth with her hands. None of them had seen her transform, but David thought he saw the yellow in her eyes.
“What’s the matter, Princess?” Paul had taunted her one evening, tossing his blood-stained shirt at her. She shrieked and threw it back.
“You’re disgusting!” she cried as she jumped up from the couch and stomped toward her makeshift bedroom. “You’re animals! Murderers!” The four of them looked at each other as she disappeared behind her curtains. She didn’t come out for the rest of the night.
“She can’t not eat,” Paul was complaining one night while they roamed the beaches together. Star was on the boardwalk, watching an artist perform high up near the comic shop. She spent her days sleeping in the foyer and her nights stalking the town as far away from the boys as she dared to go. “If she doesn’t eat, she’ll die...right?”
David shrugged, although he knew the answer was probably ‘yes’. It was much more likely her willpower would give out and she’d just attack the first living person one night.
“The real issue isn’t her dying then,” Dwayne said. “She’s a liability.”
He was right. If she kept refusing to hunt, she was going to lose her shit and go after someone in public. She’d give them all away. She’d upset the balance. She’d fuck the ‘survive’ of the ‘feed, thrive, survive’ motto, and Max would never trust him again.
David glanced over at Marko who seemed a little too fascinated by the blunt Paul had just handed him. They still hadn’t told Max that Star existed. David had done well to hide her - and to avoid his sire - but they had to tell him soon. The longer she remained a half-vampire, the more of a threat she was.
“I’m not telling him,” Paul laughed as he coughed through the smoke that escaped his throat. “That’s all you Davey.”
David had gotten so accustomed to the situation over the past few weeks that he found the absurdity hadn’t really resonated with him yet. Now that he was forced to explain everything out loud, he was immediately aware of how strange he sounded.
Max wasn’t one to dance around the subject, but David noticed he had always given plenty of time for the boys to figure things out on their own before jumping in. This time was no different. He hadn’t said anything to scold or criticize, but his expression was obviously puzzled, and David knew just by how awkward they both felt that he’d truly done something wrong.
“Yea. Is that weird?”
Max smiled in a sad sort of way. “No, you just never seemed to take to women as much as men,” he explained. “You were very particular in choosing your brothers.”
David shrugged. “She needed help,” he said as if that were enough of an explanation. Except it wasn’t. It was the truth, but it was his actions that needed explaining.
“I never pegged you for a hero, David.”
He’d thought over the events of that evening so many times. What had compelled him to act so irrationally, even against the warnings of his brothers, when he had no reason to be involved? He had only spoken with Star a few times. The boys weren’t pushing for her to stick around. He didn’t make a habit of saving lives, and he certainly didn’t make a habit of inviting people into the family.
In any case, he didn’t have an answer to that comment, so he shrugged. It was hard to look Max in the eye, although he wasn’t sure why.
“When were you going to tell me about this?” Max pushed. His tone was annoyed, but David couldn’t get over the distinct flavor of surprise in his voice.
“I’m telling you now.”
“So you are.”
They both let the sentence hang there for a moment between them. It was silent in the house except for the whirring of the nearby jukebox and an arcade cabinet in the corner. Why was he even there? He had told the others that, should Star not work as part of the family, he’d take care of her. He’d destroy her. But it went against his instinct. He couldn’t kill something he created. Was he really here to ask Max to help him murder her? He didn’t think so.
“So you have a sister now,” Max continued, breaking the awkward silence with irreverence. “How’s that working out?”
Before he could even register the question, David was shaking his head. The word ‘sister’ didn’t sit right. She wasn’t part of the family yet, just a stray they’d taken in off the street. Max waited expectantly. “She’s not right,” David tried to explain. “She’s afraid of us. She won’t hunt. She’s miserable all the time.” David thought about where she was now, stalking the boardwalk, lurking around the deadbeat artists that frequented the pier.
“What does Marko think of her?”
David’s eyes shot up to meet his sire’s. Of course he asked about Marko’s opinion over the others.
“Marko is very intuitive,” Max went on to explain, aware of David’s frustration. “And also very picky. He’s a good judge of character.”
David nodded slowly. Marko seemed childlike, sometimes a little uncaring, or maybe aloof, but he was always watching. He saw things differently. “He hates her.”
Max hummed thoughtfully. “Well,” he said with a sigh and a shrug. “It seems that you’ve dug your own grave, as they say.” He fixed his eyes on David’s. “Now lie in it.”
"What, did David put you in here to make sure I wouldn’t leave or something?”
Paul wasn’t the most empathetic person. He hadn’t been in life either. He’d always been more concerned with what was happening to him in the moment rather than what was happening to other people day by day. It was rare that he faced any problems that he couldn’t take care of right away. After all, he never fought with his brothers seriously. He never found himself in any trouble that he couldn’t fix by killing someone or flying away. Most people that would cause any rifts in his near-perfect life were too afraid to approach them anyway. Things were idyllic.
This resulted in lacking the skills that he needed to put to use when a problem did exist. And it would be accurate to say a problem did exist at the current time.
Star was a problem. She was a problem, and she was impossible to escape. It was like they adopted a puppy. A broken, sad, bitchy puppy and they didn’t know what to do with it. She sulked all day long. She wouldn’t talk to them. She was rude. She was, honestly, just a bummer.
Marko wouldn’t deal with her. Although he seemed to be less angry than he’d been, his current plan of ‘ignoring her existence’ wasn’t working for Paul. Dwayne was good at disappearing for long amounts of time, and he didn’t seem bothered by her either. But he’d made it clear: she was not his problem.
David, to his credit, was trying to deal with her. He was teaching her all the stuff sires were supposed to teach. He’d tried all the things he’d taught Paul, but she just refused to do anything. “I don’t know what else I can say to her,” David had said one night in an uncharacteristically defeated tone. “If she doesn’t cut the shit, we’re gonna have to get rid of her.”
Paul wasn’t sure if that was the right idea. Something about it made him uncomfortable. It wasn’t because he revered life. Technically she wasn’t alive, but it seemed that they had brought her into this world, so they had to keep her there.
“Just talk to her and see what you can do.” It wasn’t a suggestion. It was an order. Paul swallowed thickly, giving David a look that portrayed both distaste and fear, but he didn’t argue. Looks like he was a counselor now.
After a few hearty drags off a blunt, he went to find her in her nest near the front of the foyer. She came out, so he wasn’t surprised to find her behind the gossamer curtains, curled up in a mess of blankets, staring wistfully at a wall. She looked like a little prisoner...or a crated puppy. Paul invited himself in and flopped down in the corner of her makeshift room on an old, broken-down futon.
“Hey, girly,” he said, noting that his voice cracked on the way out and he lacked the usual sense of confidence he was so used to portraying. “What’s good?”
He already knew the answer to that, and he regretted asking when she turned around, all sad and teary, and snapped, “Nothing, Paul. Nothing is good.”
He hummed in response, nodding slightly. “Right...okay. Cool.” This was going well.
They sat in silence for a couple of minutes before Star broke the silence.
Paul raised an eyebrow. “So, what?”
“Why are you here?”
He hesitated. Was there any point in hiding why he was there? He wasn’t very stealthy, and he didn’t like lying. Before he got a chance to answer, however, Star pulled up blankets around her and scooted closer.
“You guys spend weeks ignoring me except to yell at me and now you come up here and just...just sit here! Are you mocking me? What, did David put you in here to make sure I wouldn’t leave or something?”
Paul frowned. “Uh...what? No, I-”
“So, you’re just watching me? Trying to see if I’ll fuck you or something?”
“No! I mean...not that I’d turn you down, I just-”
“Well, I’ll tell you something! You get nothing from me, you freak!”
Paul stopped, surprised by her harsh tone and struggling to comprehend through the fog of the high he was riding, and then barked out a laugh. The tone was high and ugly and the sound of it made him laugh even more.
“Why are you laughing?!”
Paul cackled to himself for a few seconds before catching his breath. “Okay...okay, sorry. It’s just...you called me a ‘freak’. I thought that was funny.”
Star scowled at him. “Funny?” she snapped. “What’s so funny about it?”
Paul chuckled again. “I don’t know just...just that you think we’re freaks even though you’re the same as us.”
She jumped up now, gathering her skirt and blankets around her like some great, protective jellyfish. She spun around to face him properly and planted herself firmly on the ground in front of him. “I am not like you,” she spat. “I am nothing like you. You murder people. You kidnap, manipulate , lie...I am not like you and I never will be.”
Paul was puzzled. It seemed like she was talking about some evil villain. He thought they’d been pretty nice to her. After all, they saved her life - didn’t they? “We are the same though,” he said softly. “You’re one of us. Like...sorry if you thought we were being heinous or whatever, but we thought we were being nice. We didn’t kidnap you, we made you part of the family. You just gotta take the last jump to really be in it.”
Star continued to glare at him, but something in her eyes changed. She looked less angry and more...upset. Paul thought he said something wrong. Abort! Abort!
“Look, girly,” he said as he pushed himself up. “I know David’s kinda harsh sometimes, but we did save you for a reason. We’re trying to be accomodating, except we don’t really know how to deal with girls.” He shrugged. Apologizing wasn’t what he came here for, but he thought he understood why she was being such a bitch now. “I guess just try to tell us what we can do to make things better for you.” He turned to head back to the foyer. “Just...you can’t leave,” he added. “That’s not our rules either. You leave, you die. At least here you can get a second chance. And you got people that got your back.”
“I’m not gonna kill you, Star. You’ve been fucking miserable since you got here."
“Be back by four. Do not make me come looking for you.”
The noise of the pier was drowning out David’s voice, but his command reverberated through every part of her body. Back by four. Got it.
Without responding, she turned and headed for the Giant Dipper. She didn’t have to turn around to know the boys were watching her go, probably relieved to be rid of her for a little while. Honestly, she had no intention of rebelling against David. She really didn’t want to find out what would happen if he had to come find her. So far they had been cordial - or at least left her alone. To their credit, they could have ripped her apart a long time ago, but they continued letting her live there. Why? She wasn’t sure.
When she’d first woken up in the hotel, she was sure she was dead. She couldn’t remember how she got there. In fact, she still couldn’t remember much. Her life before Santa Carla was a blur of occasionally familiar feelings, but nothing concrete. She remembered the boys, and much of her experience in California, but she didn’t remember the accident they claimed she was in and she didn’t have any scars or bruises to prove she’d ever been hurt.
It could have been that she just healed incredibly fast, as they’d told her, or it could have been that they were lying. She’d had a lot of time to think about it over the past few weeks. It was possible that they took her and turned her for their own enjoyment, and that is the assumption she’d gone off of from day one. However, after her conversation with Paul, she’d started viewing things differently. If they were acting out of concern for her, as David said, then she could see how their actions could be considered merciful. They weren’t super friendly, but then again neither was she. However, they kept her fed and provided shelter. David continued, against her wishes, to try and train her to be a...a...she still couldn’t say it. Unless they were trying to create an army of the undead, he was probably just trying to be nice.
As summer was quickly forgotten, the boardwalk grew quieter. The pier was only open on the weekends, weather permitting. This was really the happiest part of her life. At night, when the boys went about their business, revving their bikes up and down the beaches, partying, hunting poor, innocent tourists, Star went to the pier. She loved the music and the people, and she felt she always had. One good thing about her new life was the freedom. While her days were spent in captivity, her nights were free. She didn’t have to worry about food or money (it seemed she was suddenly very good at convincing people to give her whatever she desired) and was free to spend her time dancing and getting to know artists on the boardwalk and in town.
After playing a few games on the pier, she noticed that the boys had not given her any distance. They were hopping on and off the carousel, no doubt involving themselves with one of the local gangs. She watched them from across the pier and shook her head as a heavy-set security guard headed in their direction. That was her cue to leave.
She took her prize - a small stuffed bear - and headed out off the boards and onto the street. A block down she could see the neon signs in the window for “Max’s Video Store”. Good place to duck in and looked interesting enough. She trotted across the road, waving to a car that stopped to let her pass, and slipped in past a large cardboard cut-out of Patrick Swayze in his new movie. The boys didn’t own a VHS player or even a tv, as far as she’d seen. There was no reason for them to come into a video store.
“You like Swayze?”
Star spun around quickly at the sound of a man’s voice and found herself nearly face-to-face with a person she assumed to be the owner of the store. He was tall, with a rather nerdy-looking jacket plaid jacket and a yellow button-down shirt, and thick-framed glasses. Always wary of strange men, Star frowned, but something about his presence was soothing, and he offered her a kind smile.
“We have plenty of his movies,” the man said. “Not that one though. Not anymore. It just came out. All my copies are gone.”
Star offered a smile back and looked at the display again. “This...isn’t really my speed, anyway,” she said kindly as she touched the edge of cardboard Swayze’s bicep.
“Ah.” The man took a step closer and extended his hand. A fluffy, white dog followed closely and sat at his heels. “My name is Max,” he said. “This is my dog, Thorn. Say hello Thorn.” The dog whined.
Star laughed. “Well, hello there. My name is Star.”
Max hummed in response. “Star. What an interesting name. Well, Star, welcome to the video store. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with.”
Star smiled again, but shook her head. “No, thank you. I’m, uh, just browsing. I don’t have a television at home.”
“No tv? I don’t think I’ve met someone your age that doesn’t have a tv.”He chuckled and then moved to stand behind the desk again. For a video store, the place was packed. Max only had one other person behind the counter. A girl not much older than herself.
Star smiled. He was easy to talk to, for some reason. “Well, I guess I just like going out more.”
Max nodded knowingly. “Ah yes. I know how that is. My kids are the same way. Can’t pay them to stay in and watch a movie, nowadays. They are far too insistent on roaming the boardwalk at night.”
“You have teenagers?”
“Four sons,” he said with an eye roll. “But you have to let boys be boys, I suppose.”
Star laughed at him once more. How nice it was to have a conversation with someone new who was such a nice person. “As long as they aren’t getting into trouble, I suppose.”
“Ah...I’m sure they are.”
They laughed together this time until Max stopped to give her a strange look. Star stopped too, curious about what had so suddenly broken the nice moment they were having. “You...wouldn’t happen to be looking for a job, would you?” he asked. “I just had an opening and you seem like you’d be very good with people. Don’t worry about the video end of it, it’s mostly working the cash register and re-stocking.”
Star thought the offer was so kind. A familiar rush of urgency pushed through her. When she’d come to Santa Carla, she’d been in desperate need of a job. Now she was being offered the perfect one - and she had no way of taking it. “I’m...so sorry. I can’t. That is such a kind offer though, I’m just...not in a good position to accept it right now.”
Max frowned momentarily but graced her with his comforting smile once more. “That’s okay,” he assured her. “If you are ever in need, you just come back and talk to me, ok?”
Star smiled at him and nodded. “Okay, Mr. Max. Thank you, really, I appreciate it.” As she spoke, she began to back out of the door. Although she enjoyed his company, there really wasn’t any reason she should stay.
Suddenly, she felt a bump on her back. She jumped and turned to see a kid - no more than six - wide-eyed and confused. “Oh!” She fell to her knees. “I’m sorry, kiddo. Are you ok?” He nodded and Star touched his arm in a loving manner.
The heat of the blood in his veins struck her so hard she nearly jumped back. She could feel it like a shotgun shot through her arm and straight to her chest. Her stomach rumbled. She pulled her hand back a little too quickly. “Uh...here you go, sweetie.” She handed him the bear which he took happily, and she jumped up, apologizing under her breath as she scurried out the door.
As she rushed away from the building she heard them. A great roar that shook the buildings of Santa Carla night after night. Within seconds, she was surrounded by bikes, the boys howling and revving their engines until they came to a stop.
David was in front of her. Marko was to his right, Paul to his left, Dwayne behind her. Everything they did, she noted, was organized. They didn’t do anything uncoordinated. Not for the first time, she wondered if the others could only hear David in her head or if they could hear each other too.
Get on, Star . David nodded his head to gesture toward the back of his bike. Without complaint, she stepped up, hiked up her skirt, and swung her leg over. She fit comfortably on the back of her bike. While she didn’t appreciate being so close to any of them, David had always been respectful of her, never trying to touch her or abuse her in any way, and she had to admit she found the bike rides rather thrilling.
As they took off toward the beach, Star wondered why they were coming to get her so early. It hadn’t even been an hour yet. The sun had just set a little while ago. There was no way they could be finished galavanting for the evening. A certain anger poked at her from within when she considered the prospect of losing her night of freedom.
Instead of heading toward the Bluff though, they turned and headed down to a section of the beach that was empty. The land here was rough and rocky, with natural grasses growing all over to protect the dunes. Tourists didn’t come down this far, especially at night, even in season. Now it was far too cold to be down there with the wind whipping the water into icy waves. Humans would be freezing.
When they’d cleared the lights of down, the bikes slowed. Star was nervous. They’d deliberately gone out of sight of the boardwalks, away from people - but why? She dismounted when they did. Marko, Paul, and Dwayne left their stuff behind and walked down to the water. David stayed.
“We gotta talk,” he said as he leaned against his bike and crossed his arms over his chest. He didn’t look angry - he didn’t feel angry - but Star covered herself with her shaw and took a step back nonetheless.
David looked her over for a couple of seconds, frowning. “I’ve been talking to the guys.”
This was it. They were tired of her, and they were going to kill her. Fear struck her in the heart. She took a deep breath, but it only proved to make her head spin.
David smirked. “I’m not gonna kill you, Star.” He pushed himself up and approached her. “You’ve been fucking miserable since you got here. Look, we’re not trying to keep you here, we were only trying to help.”
It looked like the words were difficult for David to say. Star nodded, waiting for him to get to the point. “Fact is, you’re a half-vampire now. You have to feed eventually. It’s getting harder to avoid every day, right?” She didn’t answer, but there was no use hiding it from him. She guessed he knew everything she felt, either from experience or from being attached to her. “One day it’ll be too much and you’ll snap. You’ll kill the first living thing you can find and then you’ll be just like us.”
Whether by coincidence or otherwise, the boys down by the water erupted into laughter just then. Star didn’t look away and neither did David. “If you want to keep up this hunger strike, that’s fine. Just...promise me you’ll ask for help if you need it.”
This wasn’t a command. This was a request.
“You can hunt when you’re ready, just know that you’re putting us in a lot of danger if you fuck this up. We’ve all tried to make you comfortable and offer you stuff and you won’t take it. Fine. You do what you want, just...remember that you’re risking the rest of the family.”
Star wasn’t sure what to say. This seemed a very official way to have a conversation with her. And that word 'family'. It was the first time he'd used it speaking to her. Suddenly, she was aware the others had stopped and were watching her from the shoreline. She glanced at them. So this was a plan. They’d been trying to figure out how to approach her. Maybe Paul’s talk with her had been the first of them waving the white flag.
Star found herself nodding. Maybe they weren’t so bad. “Okay,” she said, unsure of what else she was expected to say.
David nodded curtly. “Good.”
The others headed back up now. Some of the usual tension in the air seemed to have dissipated. Paul roughly patted her on the shoulder as he passed to get onto his bike. Dwayne nodded at her.
David mounted his bike. “Let’s get out of here,” he said. Her cue to get on.
Chapter 30: 1987
“To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
How Star had become a pet project, Marko would never know. It seemed like they spent more time talking about Star than anything else. ‘What do we do with Star?’ ‘What should we say to Star?’ ‘Does Star want this?’ ‘Maybe Star will like that.’ Star. Star. Star. Marko would be happy if he never saw another Star in his long, undead life.
“Well...maybe she just, like, needs a friend or something,” Dwayne suggested one night while they stood on the boards passing a joint. Star was out, though they didn’t know where. It was a weeknight in the middle of winter - nothing entertaining to do in Santa Carla except smoke weed and kill people.
“She has us,” Paul chimed in. “We are cool.”
“She’s not like us,” Marko interjected. “She doesn’t like the same shit we like.”
“Well, if she’d feed then she would,” Dwayne grumbled.
The four of them sat in silence for a few seconds. The sound of the nearby arcade bounced off the sound of ocean waves behind them.
“She’s a girl,” David said suddenly. “She probably wants another girl.”
“Or a kid,” Paul said, eyeing a group of younger kids near the arcade entrance. “Girls want kids, right?”
Dwayne scoffed. “What the fuck?”
The other stopped to look at Marko now, laughing at his suggestion.
“Like Wendy?” David chided. “Wendy who?”
Marko smirked back. “Wendy Darling.”
They all chuckled at the joke. There had been a special appreciation for anything involving their namesake.
“Oh, the stories I could tell to the boys...” Marko muttered aloud, quoting a line of Wendy’s from the book he knew very well by then. He took a drag and passed the joint to Paul.
David pushed himself upright off of the railing he’d been perched on. “She’s not our mother.” Paul snickered, obviously comparing that thought to the more sexual ones he’d been considering. “You’re saying you think we should get her something to dote on? What, a dog or something?”
Marko shrugged. “Or a kid.” They laughed at the joke being repeated. David stared.
“You want us to get her a kid. What the fuck do you mean by that?”
Suddenly, it wasn’t a joke anymore. The conversation was theirs now, clearly. Dwayne and Paul remained quiet, but watched with careful observation. Marko and David watched each other.
“She’ll have to take care of him and he’ll depend on her. He’ll never grow up-”
“A true Lost Boy.”
For a moment, Marko thought he might have pushed the joke too far. Whether or not the others still thought of it as a joke was unknown. He kept a continual air of nonchalance if he could help it.
Marko smiled. “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
Weirdo. “Okay. Show me this kid.”
Dwayne and Paul had stopped moving. It was exciting to be caught up in such a strange and unexpected game of chicken. Marko would certainly call David’s bluff, but how far would he go?
The four of them turned in tandem and allowed Marko to take the lead. The activity on the boardwalk was scarce, but there were locals roaming around. Winter in California wasn’t enough to keep visitors out. They crossed the boards to the arcade.
Darkness had fallen over the town. Groups of people were illuminated by shop windows and flickering amusement lights. Though the pier was empty - none of the rides were open - the boards had some activity. He snatched a stuffed teddy bear off of a carnival game as they walked by and held it in both hands.
The boys moved through the small crowds like royalty. People stepped out of their way faster than they approached. In Marko’s experience, the only people who didn’t move were those who had nothing to lose. As was the case with the only young kid to not scatter when they approached.
He was no more than ten years old, with shaggy, brown hair, and dirt on his face. While the others ran, he turned to look up at the brothers with a wary expression. The others stopped at the corner of the block of buildings as Marko went ahead. He stopped about five feet away and considered the kid. “What’s up, little man?”
The boy regarded Marko, looking him up and down. He had been shaking a gumball machine to try and get the candy to come out. Slowly, he turned all the way around and stood up. “Nothing.”
Marko was slightly taken aback at how young his voice sounded. He was small. “You lookin’ for candy?” He nodded his chin toward the gumball machine and the kid immediately shook his head.
So he was street-smart. Good. Marko could see his clothes were ripped. His hair was knotted. There were a lot of homeless kids and runaways in Santa Carla. No one would notice if one went missing.
Without a word, he walked over to the gumball machine. The kid stepped aside, but only enough to let him in. He was curious and didn’t look like he was planning on running. Marko held the teddy bear in his right hand and formed a fist with his left. He struck the machine with the side of his fist right over the coin slot. Metal rattled against glass and two gumballs slid out of the case and down the little plastic slide. The boy dropped to his knees and quickly scooped the candy out of the slot and into his mouth.
Marko looked at him with distaste. “Nobody feed you?”
The kid seemed to trust him more now, but he shook his head. “I eat,” he said through chipmunk cheeks.
“You feed yourself?”
“Who takes care of you?”
Tough kid. Marko hummed. They looked at each other for a moment as the child struggled to chew the gum. His eyes flickered to the space behind Marko.
“Those your friends?”
Marko shook his head. “My brothers,” he corrected.
The boy peeked around Marko again to look at them and then back at the boy in front of him.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Older than you,” Marko answered.
“How come you have a teddy bear?”
“I stole it, but I don’t want it.” Marko held it out to him. “You want it?”
The boy took it carefully and nodded.
“I’m Marko.” He stepped back to gesture to the others. “That’s Paul, Dwayne, and David.”
Marko got down on his knee so he was face to face with the boy. He leaned an elbow on his knee. Laddie was comfortable now. He reached out to pull on the colorful tassels hanging off of Marko’s left shoulder and ran his hands over the patches of his jacket.
“I like your clothes,” he said and he turned to spit the gum onto the sidewalk.
The boy turned to look at him and when their eyes met he gasped quietly. Marko reached up to hold gently onto his elbow, but there was no need. He wasn’t going anywhere.
“You ever been on a motorcycle before?”
Laddie shook his head slowly, eyes locked to Marko’s.
“It’s really cool. We have bikes. Wanna go for a ride? We’ll get you some dinner.” Slowly, Laddie nodded. Satisfied that he’d gotten what he wanted, Marko smiled and stood up. Their eyes remained on one another’s as Marko took the boy’s hand. “Come on. I’ll introduce you to the family.”
There were few times when David truly felt fear. It wasn’t an easy thing to do - to shake a predator. He could count on two fingers the people that made him truly afraid. Max was one. That sort of primitive fear that comes from one’s sire never truly goes away. It was all too often that he forgot who the other one was.
Even though they were vampires and effectively made a living out of murdering people in the most gruesome ways, they still had limits. David considered feeding a necessary evil. It was part of the circle of life. They just happened to be higher up the food chain. But he had morals. Even he had a line that he didn’t cross. The same could be said for his brothers - mostly.
The ease with which Marko had strolled across the boardwalk and ensnared a child was...alarming. It was as if he’d been doing it his whole life. Even Dwayne, who had seen horrible things in Detroit, looked away when Marko got on one knee.
As a general rule, children weren’t part of the game. Adults - especially the ones they preyed on - had plenty of time to fuck up their lives and hurt other people. Kids were just...kids. They didn’t know right from wrong. They didn’t know anything. They had their whole lives ahead of them. It was an unspoken rule that they didn’t hunt kids.
But this wasn’t hunting. This was gathering. David tried to tell himself to trust Marko - that he wouldn’t have done it if this kid wasn’t a lost cause to society - but he couldn’t. It made no difference to his brother. The only thing that gave David comfort was his trust in Marko’s sense of self-preservation. He would never take a kid with parents. Too much risk they’d come looking for him.
As Marko approached, the others rounded on them.
“Guys, this is Laddie,” he said as he ushered the boy forward.
The others greeted him warmly: Paul tousled his hair, Dwayne bumped his fist, David lightly punched his little arm. He was so small. The kid seemed thrilled at the attention. As they mounted their bikes - and Laddie was lifted onto the pillion of Dwayne’s ride - David thought he fit in quite well. He couldn’t remember how they’d gotten this far though.
“Hang on little dude,” Dwayne told him over his shoulder. “We’re going for a ride.” Laddie held on tightly to the buckles of Dwayne’s jacket around his waist. David glanced at Marko who smirked and took off first. Looks like they’d have a new brother soon. If he survived the ride.
“Go ahead, Laddie. Be one of us.”
Star wasn’t back yet. Her curfew was four, as David liked to remind her every evening. She always made curfew, often with hours to spare and returning far ahead of them. However, it was only around ten-thirty. Way too early for her to come back. She had no reason to believe tonight was different from any other night.
What are we going to tell her?
Dwayne raised an eyebrow at David who ignored him. As far as he was concerned, Marko was driving this bus, though he knew it would be his blood in the kid’s veins, not his brother’s. He watched intently as the kid scarfed down his second cheeseburger. He really had been hungry.
Marko watched from the edge of the fountain, an amused expression plastered onto his face. Paul tossed fries to Laddie one at a time and laughed when they bounced off his face. The kid was pretty cool and, somehow, all four of them were really taking to having the little guy around. It seemed inevitable now that they’d actually keep him.
But how were they going to explain this to Star?
They had just started making things better with her. David couldn’t imagine she’d be very happy if she came back to find they’d abducted a kid and turned him into a vampire. Maybe he could put the spin on it that he was in need of a home so they just picked him up. Jeez. They really were turning into a charity, weren’t they?
Without speaking about it, they’d all agreed he should be turned before Star got back. If she protested - which she would - she would surely help him leave. If he left he’d be scared and possibly go and tell someone where they were. They couldn’t risk that, and David was not looking forward to that kind of chaos control.
Without a word, he got up and crossed the room to a large cabinet in the corner and pulled out a very old, very dusty-looking bottle. The boys stopped laughing and watched. David turned and approached Laddie, who seemed to understand that something was happening. David watched his eyes dart around the room as if to seek approval from the people around him. He held out the bottle.
Laddie put down his burger and pulled his legs up to his chest.
“It’s okay, dude,” Paul said with a smirk. “It’s cool. Go ahead.”
Laddie looked at him, then back at David, and finally down at the bottle. After a few seconds, he leaned forward and took it. He couldn’t hold it with one hand, so David held tightly until he was sure he had it in both tiny fists. Surely, the boy thought it was alcohol, or maybe he didn’t know.
He opened the bottle with some trouble and sniffed the top of it. Dwayne swallowed. Paul shifted a little in his seat. Marko didn’t blink. “Go ahead, Laddie,” David said quietly, resentment soaking his words. “Be one of us.”
The boy brought the bottle to his lips and tried to lift it to drink. It was too heavy, so David leaned forward slightly and pushed the bottom up with his pointer finger until the liquid reached the mouth of the bottle. Laddie took one big gulp and then coughed. The boys all cheered and laughed and David snatched the bottle out of his hands.
Immediately, the others were on him. Dwayne scooped him up onto his shoulders. Paul kicked his ‘rock box’ and the Ramones started blaring from the speakers. David grinned to himself and took a swig from the bottle. Seeing how excited his brothers were after the months of drab with Star was something he had not expected. He tried to push away nagging thoughts. They rushed into this. They didn’t consult Max. They didn’t know anything about having a kid, nor did they particularly want to, yet here he was currently being tossed back and forth between Dwayne and Paul.
David felt something then. Star was coming back. He glanced over at Marko whose smirk fell away to a very solemn look. It seemed their celebration was going to be short-lived.
“These are my last words, dear boys,” Marko said to him with a frown as he recited more of Wendy’s lines that he found appropriate. “... 'We hope our sons will die like English gentlemen.'”
Star entered with some confusion. Obviously, she hadn’t expected to find them there so early. Her assumption, it seemed, was that they’d brought people back for a party, but her face quickly changed from weariness to outrage when she laid eyes on Laddie who was on the ground once more.
For a second, none of them seemed to know what to say. Paul nodded a half-hearted greeting to her and moved over to turn down the music. Finally, David stepped forward. “Star, this is Laddie. Laddie, Star.” Laddie waved at her, but Stay didn’t make a move.
The boys continued to go about their business. Dwayne went back to his place on the sofa and Paul followed. Marko waited.
Star took a deep breath and then pointed at the child. “You…” She looked up at David, then at Marko. “He’s not…” She wasn’t sure how to say it. David could see her eyes were tearing. Her voice seemed to be stuck in her throat. “You didn’t.”
Marko spoke up then, stepping forward and putting a gloved hand on the boy’s head. “Laddie’s gonna stay with us for a while,” he said casually. No further explanation.
Star looked at the boy again and then back at Marko.
If looks could kill… David’s voice echoed in his head, but Marko just smiled as if everything was perfectly normal.
Star rushed forward then, taking Laddie by the hand. “It’s late,” she said, not taking her eyes off Marko’s. “Time for bed.” Then she tugged Laddie away, despite his protests, and swept him up to her little makeshift room near the entrance.
Chapter 32: Summer of 1987
“Maybe I’ll meet the perfect person tonight.”
“The ‘perfect person’...to kill?”
Summer was finally starting. Not a minute too soon either. Never before had David felt like winter was so long. Maybe it had been a mistake to add two more people to the family right before the boardwalk closed for the season. They had all been stuck with each other during the week. That feeling of balance - that avoiding ‘too much of a good thing’ - was gone when they were desperate for the weekend.
As far as David was aware, Max knew nothing about Laddie, and he wanted to keep it that way. Neither Laddie nor Star knew anything about Max, and though he wasn’t particularly hiding anything, David thought it was just safer that way. Neither one of them had become full vampires yet. Star continued her ridiculous hunger strike and Laddie did what she told him. The two of them had become rather close. Just like the lost boys from the book, as Marko liked to remind him. The boy’s true loyalty was to his brothers, but he needed a maternal figure to comfort him and provide the stuff that the boys couldn’t. Honestly, it worked out better than he could have ever planned. Somehow, Laddie had brought them all together. After months of deliberation, and seeing how well everyone cared for Laddie, Star had decided that withholding from feeding wasn’t worth it any longer.
“I’ll feed,” she said reluctantly one night as they were preparing to go out. David grinned at her as the boys carried on a subdued celebration. A chorus of ‘told you so’ infiltrated their conversation.
“Good,” he said. “We’ll find somebody tonight-”
“No.” Star pulled on her boots. “I want to find someone on my own.”
Leave it to the girl to want to play the long game. David glanced over at Paul and grinned. His brother was right. Nothing was straightforward, was it?
“It’s a special occasion, isn’t it?” she asked sincerely. “Your first hunt? Can’t you remember who it was?”
The boys glanced at each other and cackled.
“Hell no,” Dwayne said. “I was turned in the middle of a turf war. I just grabbed the first person running by that was alive.” The others roared with laughter. Star frowned.
“Well, I think it should be special. I never really get to use my powers for anything fun , so why not make it an occasion?”
“‘ Powers’ ?” Paul echoed. “We aren’t fucking unicorns, girl, c’mon.”
“Yea, that was your choice to not have fun,” Marko said as he helped Laddie pull his arm through his jacket sleeve.
“Well, whatever you say. I’m going to try and make them come to me.”
“‘Atta girl,” David said as he pushed himself out of his wheelchair and headed toward the entrance. They couldn’t see the boardwalk from the Hotel, but David thought he could see the glow of the pier just over the cliff’s edge.
“We’re going to see the concert tonight,” Star told him as she came up behind him. “I thought Laddie might like to see them play.”
David looked over at her. “And you’ll find somebody at the show?”
“Maybe, but I don’t want to do it in front of Laddie. He’s not ready.”
David hummed in response. She was probably right, though Laddie was a lot more fierce than she gave him credit for. David would have liked to see him make his first kill. It wasn’t a secret that they were all looking forward to it. “You have your fun hunting, as long as you make that kill.”
Star nudged his shoulder. “Maybe I’ll meet the perfect person tonight.”
He raised an eyebrow. “The ‘perfect person’...to kill?”
Star rolled her eyes. “Don’t you ever play with your food before you eat it?”
“Yea, but...oh.” He smirked. “Alright, well, if you need to bring him back here, don’t make a mess on the carpet. Still didn’t get the stain out from the last time Marko had a guest over.”
Thanks to everybody that's gotten to this point! I plan to start a new story that follows the events of the movie starting right where this one took off. I'll update with a link here when it's posted. Please reach out with any questions or comments or just if you want to talk!
EDIT: I have posted my sequel to this story detailing the events of the movie here.