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~~~***~~~


Hannibal was tired of kneeling and the chains were pointless but only two people in the world knew that and he wasn't in the mood for sharing. He was also trying to ignore Danica, Asher, and Jarko but Danica's perfume was nauseating and her breath was just as repulsive. She needed to learn to brush.

Joining them years back had been a shitty experience but he'd been bored as hell and it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Hannibal had chalked that up to finding new amusements, and had then gone and joined the Hunters instead. They'd definitely been more entertaining.

Danica moved in closer and he tried to pull back. Danica took that as a sign of victory and Hannibal let her. She was still yammering on when the door to the cell opened and Drake walked in with Zoe. He looked around Danica and noticed that Drake's hands were resting gently on Zoe's shoulders. You better keep her safe, he thought, staring into Drake's unblinking eyes.

Out loud he said, "Hello, my love. Stabbing and then kidnapping me is not generally the way to say I've missed you."

"You still wear it."

Hannibal didn't need to glance down at the stone on the chain he wore. "Always," he said. The only thing that had changed over the years was the chain.

"You are working with the hunters again."

It was a statement and Hannibal only shrugged. "Wouldn't you? Have you not seen what they've all become?"

"You should have woken me."

"You should never have chosen to sleep."

Hannibal didn't want to rehash an old argument with the Trio of Dumb in the room and judging by Danica's expression she wasn't happy being ignored.

"What the hell are you two going on about!" Danica screamed, swinging her head around to look at Drake as if expecting, no wanting Drake to answer her--to her.

Drake stayed still, not reacting at all which only pissed Danica off more and to show it Hannibal got a slap across the face. "I said," she repeated, leaning down to put them face to face, "what is it you are going on about?"

"I am tired," he replied though it was not in response to Danica.

Drake looked at him. "Do you understand now?"

"Not really." Hannibal shook his head and used it to cover looking down at the hooks the chains were attached to. "We could have done..." He wasn't sure what so he let the sentence hang. "I've missed you," he said instead. "It's been lonely."

"Stop talking!" Danica stamped her foot and tried to slap him again.

Hannibal easily broke the chains and grabbed her wrist. "Would you behave," he said, standing up to his full height before tossing her into Jarko. The big man rocked backwards as Danica slammed in him.

"We're trying to have a conversation here," Hannibal finished as if there hadn't been an interruption.

His eyes had stayed on Drake's the whole time, even as Drake had maneuvered Zoe around so the little girl wouldn't see what was happening in the room.

"Tired of hiding?" Drake asked, casually. Smiling for the first time since he had woken.

"Just a little," Hannibal acknowledged. "Plus the others will come and I'd like to have this part of the evening over with before they arrive. And there are," he paused. "Other things."

Danica started to speak and Hannibal shushed her. She tried again and this time Asher grabbed ahold of his sister. "I think we should listen to him."

"See," Hannibal said, pointing at the blond man, "I knew you were really the smarter of the two. But sometimes you just have to let the crazy ones think they're in charge."

Asher had to wrap his arms around his sister to keep her from trying to charge at Hannibal. Hannibal ignored them and removed the cuffs from his wrists. They clattered to the floor at his feet. He removed the bandage from his right shoulder revealing that there was no actual wound underneath and pocketed the dressing--there was no cause to willingly let his DNA be discovered as he was no longer playing human. He wouldn't let on that the familiar tattoo was now also gone. It was one less thing he had to maintain.

"Zoe, honey," he called.

She peeked out from behind Drake's leg and Drake released his hold on the child as she ran to Hannibal who squatted down. "Uncle," she cried, running into his arms.

"Her mother?" Hannibal asked, catching the little girl in his arms.

Drake gave a small nod. "Still alive, but will need care. I didn't realize until..."

Hannibal stood up with Zoe carefully balanced on his hip, her head buried in his shoulder. "Shhh, Zoes. Things will be fine, just relax," he said, looking down at the little girl and feeling her body give into his suggestion.

Jarko took that as a sign that he could attack and ran at Hannibal. Hannibal didn't turn his head immediately, just stretched out his hand and easily caught Jarko by the throat and squeezed.

"Sweetie," Hannibal whispered. "I need you to keep your eyes closed. Understand?"

Hannibal waited for the little girl's nod before turning to look at Jarko. Jarko tried to scramble backwards but as Hannibal had lifted the vampire from the ground Jarko's feet barely touched the ground and could not find purchase.

In the sight of what was happening Asher, unmeaning to, loosened the hold on his sister enough that Danica was able to break free. Danica would have run at Hannibal had Drake not grabbed her from behind.

~~~***~~~

Drake grabbed the annoying woman from behind and forced her neck to the side, biting. He drained enough of her blood that she weakened and slid to the floor, just conscious enough to watch the show.

He licked his lips as he straightened. His eyes having never left the magnificent sight of his mate. Hannibal was just as appealing now as he had been thousands of years ago. And still as strong as he ever was--the ultimate hunter, even with the child in his arms. He watched as Hannibal's eyes changed from their beautiful almost amber color to solid black. As the fingernails on the one hand lengthened and sharpened.

Hannibal dropped Jarko and the other vampire fell to his knees in front of King.

"Nice place for him," Hannibal said, glancing his way, obviously having felt his enjoyment at the picture it made.

Drake smirked and waited. He could feel his mate shedding more and more of his false persona as the seconds ticked by.

"I can't really trust you to not try something stupid again," Hannibal was saying. "Nope, not at all." And with that Hannibal let the blade sharp nails rip through Jarko's throat, leaving only ash.

Drake wet his lips. He had left this man behind when he had chosen to sleep. In all honestly, he had thought Hannibal would join him as it hadn't been the first time they'd chosen to sleep through a century wrapped in each other's arms. But Hannibal had not joined him and even in slumber Drake had felt the stress on their bond grow over time and distance--there had been pain and loneliness, and love and joy. Looking back, Drake would realize the joy was still marked by loneliness.

He had thought Hannibal had somehow found another mate and it had angered him so, and then the Talos siblings were invading his place of rest. Drake had let them believe they had woken him. They had brought him back. They were weak and thought they could leash him, but only one other had that much power over him.

And then he had seen Hannibal with the human hunter and the half-breed and he had let his anger control him. The new lover could be one of them and Drake had let his anger rage. He had swept through the hunter base and had almost drunk them all empty.

Drake had enjoyed playing cat and mouse with the hunters. The blind woman had actually been the challenge as she was used to not relying on her eyes. The first taste of her blood had been sweet. But by the third he knew what had made Hannibal feel joy that could so easily slip through the bond to him in his slumber.

It had not been a lover Hannibal had found, but his descendants. Drake had gently released his fangs from the woman's neck and sealed the wound closed before telling the woman to sleep. He'd easily caught her in his arms and carried her to where he knew his mate lay in a healing sleep. His mate had been playing human too long.

Drake had laid the woman in the bed next to Hannibal and gone in search of the little girl. The one that possessed even more of Hannibal than the mother had. Zoe had been frightened, but Drake knew the girl would not be safe there alone.

He had gathered both Hannibal and Zoe and left the hunters' hideout. The Talos' had let him keep the girl, thinking that she was a snack or a hostage. He had given them fifteen minutes alone with his mate while he had a very civil conversation with Zoe--who, at such a young age, was just as mouthy as her ancestor.

She had not believed he meant her no harm until he finally thought to pull the leather cord he wore out from under his shirt. There dangling at the end was an oblong stone.

 

"That's my Uncle's..." Zoe had tilted her head to the side. "No," she corrected, reaching out to touch the stone. "It's the match," she said softly. "You're his..."

He saw Zoe pause, trying to think of the word. "Yes, little one," he answered.

She looked back towards where her uncle had been taken. "Then he's the..." She started to say but paused again as if searching for a word.

"Yes." Drake remembered all the tales Hannibal had told others of his descendants through the years and offered Zoe a soft smile. "Shall we see if your Uncle is ready to leave?"

Zoe had taken his hand and nodded her head. "Yes."

 

Now he stood watching his mate dispatch one of the unfit and Drake understood why Hannibal had gone to the human hunters. Vampires had lost what it meant to be immortal and it was time that their King returned.

Hannibal approached him, stepping over Danica's prone body. "It's been too long," his mate whispered, fingers glancing over the skin of his cheek.

"Never again," Drake agreed, capturing Hannibal's fingers and bringing them to his lips and placing a kiss across the knuckles. The contact strengthening the bond that had weakened from being apart.

Hannibal smiled up at him before looking down at Zoe. "Sweetie," he said, softly. "I need you to go with Drake for a moment."

Drake could see Zoe tighten her hold on Hannibal, her small hand stroking the stone around Hannibal's neck for a second before turning around and reaching out to him.

He gently took the girl, her hand instantly going to the stone he wore around his own neck. "Come little one," he said. "Let's find a comfortable place to wait for your uncle."


~~~***~~~


Hannibal waited for the door to close before looking at the Talos siblings. Danica was just beginning to stir. Asher looked a little like what Hannibal always assumed a deer looked like when trapped in the headlights of a car. Or maybe it was more the driver, who wasn't sure which direction to steer.

"I know," Hannibal said leaning into Asher's personal space. "You are still puzzling it all out. I can perfectly appreciate that fact."

With his fingernails once again lengthened into claw-like points Hannibal tapped Asher's chest. "I would," he looked at Asher with his eyes gone black, "highly suggest you keep your crazy sister on a leash unless you want to be using a hoover. Comprende?"

Asher didn't move or say anything and Hannibal shook his head.

"Snap out of it," he ordered.

Asher blinked. "I...I understand."

Hannibal smirked. "Good boy." He began walking toward the door and that damn Pomeranian barked at him. Hannibal growled and turned back to Asher. "And Asher," he asked, "how many of those," he pointed at the dog, "did Jarko make?"

"Th..three. He made three." Asher straightened himself, the shock finally beginning to wear off. "That thing and two Rottweilers."

"I want them destroyed."

"Understood."

"Good." Hannibal opened the door and began to walk through it. He stopped when Asher called his name.

"King. Who...what are you?"

Hannibal turned around and smiled. "I'm sure you'll figure it out. And, when you get out of this room you are to..."

"Control my sister and destroy Jarko's pets."

Hannibal nodded and closed the door to the cell. There was no one immediately outside the door and he knew Drake had sent them somewhere. He closed his eyes and instantly an image came to him of Drake and Zoe sitting on a comfortable looking couch.

He'd find them in a moment, first he had to remove the tracking device the Nightstalkers had implanted into him. Hannibal loosened his belt before turning his head to look over his shoulder. He slid his hand under his pants and lengthened the fingernail on his index. Hannibal let out a short hiss as he sliced into his skin right above the tracker. He let his body do the rest and the foreign object was pushed out into his fingers. Hannibal brought the small tracker up to his eyes so he could look at it once more before crushing it between his finger and thumb.

Hannibal knew Blade and Abby were on their way. Possibly even with what they thought was Sommerfield's magic weapon. It wouldn't work, not as they thought. It would really only work on one individual. Hannibal shrugged at the thought and let himself be pulled by the bond he shared with Drake.

He found them two floors up. Zoe was sitting in Drake's lap, her hand loosely wrapped around the stone of Drake's necklace. Her head laying on Drake's chest and her heart rate telling Hannibal that the girl had drifted off to sleep. He closed the door but left the blinds into the hallway partially open.

"Where are the masses?"

"I believe the phrase in today's language would be, I sent them to their rooms."

Hannibal laughed and sat down next to Drake. "I have missed you, my love," he said, letting his fingers roam Drake's face before bringing their mouths together for a kiss.

He knew through the bond this was a sitting room and that the door off to the left was a bedroom. "Let me have her," he said softly.

They had to wake her slightly to get her to let go of the stone. "Hannibal," she murmured.

"Yes, Zoes," he replied, brushing her hair from her face. "Just moving you to a comfortable bed that's out of the way." The safely was left out of the sentence as he carried the little girl to the bedroom.

"Uncle Drake was telling me stories," Zoe yawned sleepily, "about the vampire king. They're better than the gnome king."

Hannibal laid her on the bed before kissing her on the forehead. "I just bet they are," he said, covering her with the blanket.

She was asleep again before Hannibal could count to five. He watched her for a couple more seconds before turning and leaving the room, drawing the door closed after him.

"How much of her mother did you drink?" he asked, straddling Drake's legs, knees on other side of his mate's thighs, hands resting on strong shoulders, but not sitting down.

~~~***~~~

Drake looked up into his mate's amber eyes. "She will recover," Drake answered, honestly. "I thought..." His hands itched to roam Hannibal's body, but even after all this time he knew Hannibal would want answers before pleasure.

"I thought you had found another. There was such love through the bond, I..."

"Became overrun with jealousy," Hannibal finished for him.

Drake nodded and felt Hannibal's hand slowly start to massage his shoulders. He should never have left his mate alone in this world. "She is alive but will sleep for a few days yet."

"I see." Hannibal nodded and sat down on his legs and Drake brought his hands to Hannibal's waist. Thumbs slowly moving in circles on Hannibal's bare skin. "I would have been really pissed had you killed her," his mate hissed into his ear. "And Zoe's tears would have made it worse."

"I know, my mate. Apologies will be made." Drake acknowledged, baring his neck ever so slightly. A single kiss was placed on the pulse point before hands moved to the sides of his head and soon they were kissing again and Drake wanted nothing but to move so that his mate was stretched out below him.

"We will get there," Hannibal whispered softly into his ear and Drake all but shivered. "Eventually."

Drake moved his hands up Hannibal's back as Hannibal returned to kissing him. As Hannibal moved the kisses from his mouth to lave at his neck, Drake relaxed and tilted his head to give Hannibal better access

And that's when Hannibal struck. Elongated teeth broke the skin at his pulse point and then Hannibal began to suck, to feed. Drake bucked under the onslaught, his hands bringing Hannibal's body closer. Pleasure coursed through his entire system. Their bond strengthening even more.

What felt like an eternity, but was less than a minute Drake felt Hannibal's tongue begin to lick at the already healing wound. Drake shifted so that his head could rest on the back of the couch as Hannibal's pulled back.

"It's been so long," Hannibal told him and Drake could see his mate's need in the amber-colored eyes.

"I want it all," Hannibal sighed, tugging on the jacket and white shirt. The shirt lost buttons as Hannibal pulled on it and Drake gave a deep chuckle at his lover's impatience. Some things never changed.

Drake grabbed Hannibal around the waist and twisted them so they were now laid on the couch just as he'd wanted earlier. Hannibal below him and it was his turn. He took his time kissing his way down his mate's body; removing clothes as he went. Drake kissed the inside of Hannibal's thigh, laving at the pulse point there before biting. Hannibal moaned in pleasure, his body arching slightly as Drake fed from his mate.

Like Hannibal, he licked at the wound as it healed, knowing it caused small shocks of pleasure in his mate. The bond chose that moment to reopen fully and instead of the quiet hum he had felt for the last several centuries, his lover was there shining brightly in the back of his mind. Without Hannibal, Drake could destroy the world and not care.

He gave the pulse point one more quick swipe with his tongue before moving to his mate's cock. He felt Hannibal's moan of pleasure as he licked his mate's cock from base to tip before swirling his tongue around it and drawing it into his mouth. Drake began sucking the already sensitive organ while also lightly scraping his fangs along its length. He used the distraction of his fangs to start stretching his lover. His finger stroked against prostrate and Hannibal was arching and coming. Drake swallowed before licking his lover's member clean and moving up the strong body so that he was resting on top of Hannibal skin to skin as they kissed.

Drake felt Hannibal wrap his legs around him right before Hannibal rolled them off the couch and to the floor. He looked up into Hannibal's laughing face and reached up to bring Hannibal's head down for the kiss even as he sensed Hannibal reaching between them. Between one breath and another Hannibal was fully seated and Drake grasped his lover's hips as Hannibal sat up and began to move. This time it was his turn to arch and moan.

It didn't take long before both of them were coming and Hannibal was settling down to lie on top of him.

"You ever leave me alone again," Hannibal muttered into his shoulder, "and I will leave you in the ground to rot."

Drake tightly wrapped his arms around Hannibal. "I will never leave you again."

~~~***~~~

Hannibal stretched. "That's good because Blade and Abby will be here about half an hour before sunrise," he said, tracing the brand on Drake's chest. "They think they have a weapon."

Drake's chest rumbled as he spoke. "A weapon?"

"My descendant is quite the medical genius. She's partially responsible for the cure to vampirism."

"Cure?" Drake growled, dislodging Hannibal from the position he had been enjoying to bring them to a sitting position.

Hannibal shrugged. "It works on the newly created. Puts the virus in a dormant state."

When Drake brought them to their feet Hannibal figured their fun was over for now. He stretched before sitting down on the couch. Crossing his legs he propped his head in his hand and waited for his lover's rant to begin.

"And you allowed this?!"

"Do not wake Zoe," Hannibal warned softly. "And yes. I allowed this cure to come into existence."

Drake froze and spun to glare down at Hannibal before dropping to his knees in front of him. Hannibal knew his lover was still lost in the twenty-first century and could tell it frustrated Drake to no end. So much had changed in such a short time.

"Why, my mate?" Drake looked up at up, eyes desperate for an answer. And Hannibal could feel other emotions brewing through their bond. "Why allow the humans to have that power over us? Why take the gift once it has been given?"

Hannibal reached out and stroked Drake's face. "You have seen what they've become. What we've let them become," he corrected. "It was supposed to be a gift, not a curse forced on a person."

He leaned forward and kissed Drake on the forehead. "The cure only works if it is given to a person within the first few days. After that it does not always take. I wanted it for those who were taken against their will, my love."

Hannibal had never wanted slaves or people who would rise up against them and Drake knew this. The parting gift from La Magra was for the worthy, the trusted, not for the masses. It was for companions for her only child. She had lived just long enough to see her son find a mate and to see the bond she had not known even possible to be created. It had helped her son find some sort of peace from the rage that had been within him.

Hannibal had been born to an isolated clan that no one today would have ever heard of. His people had had a weird genetic defect that allowed for rapid healing, better senses and strength. But not many children survived birth. He and two of his siblings had been lucky. They had also been among the last. In this day and age it was a very rare recessive trait that was hardly ever fully unlocked and when it was, the child rarely survived.

He knew of three and two were directly related to him. Sommerfield who had barely survived birth--complications leaving her blind, but still a genius. Zoe, whose father Sommerfield never talked about, but if Hannibal had to guess was also a descendant from his clan and that could explain a lot about Zoe.

And then there was Blade. Though Hannibal thought Blade's survival might have more to do with just the right amount of vampire blood circulating through the womb of Blade's mother. It had actually protected the baby, but also allowed the vampiric traits to take root. The serum that Blade inhaled at a continuously higher and faster rate was just a stopgap. At some point Blade would turn unless he tried the cure.

But from the short time Hannibal had known Blade, he knew Blade would never do that. Blade liked the benefits far too much to want to ever be an ordinary human and despised himself just enough to not want to be a vampire. Soon the hunter would have to make a choice or one would be made for him.

"Your Nightstalkers believe the cure worked on you?"

Hannibal shrugged. He moved to straddle Drake's leg where his lover still knelt and leaned his back against the couch. "Even the vampires see what they want. Danica thought she had turned me. Instead, that little bite weakened her and strengthened me. I needed to be on the inside to see what we had become. To be low enough that no one paid attention to me or what I did. Then I bored of her and the Nightstalkers offered me the perfect out."

He sat up and grabbed Drake's head, plundering his lover's mouth. "Besides," he said, breaking the kiss. "It wouldn't do if they knew there were more than one kind of vampire. Or for that matter, that there are a quite a few of us who can walk out in the sun."

Drake stroked Hannibal's face before gently running a hand through his hair. "Do they know what else you can do?"

Hannibal shook his head. "No, but they know about you, sort of, thanks to Danica's carelessness... Though they are missing many facts."

He opened his memories to Drake and let him see the artifacts. The stories that were spun around the science. Hannibal had made sure all evidence that Drake was La Magra's son was destroyed. The hunters and vampires alike thought it had been some blood ritual, but Drake had been the only son of La Magra and a human. The only one of his kind. It was not Drake who had started the vampire race, but his mother so her son would not be alone.

~~~***~~~

Drake smiled at some of the memories, and Hannibal sharing them with him helped him to adjust to this century even more. He learned of the explorations across the ocean and then across new lands. And, like in times before, when those with the gift began to grow too big for their britches--his mate's new vernacular would take a little time to get accustomed to--Hannibal would become a hunter, trying alone to curb some of the problems.

He kissed Hannibal as if his life depended on it. Wrapping his arms around his mate's back he brought him closer and realized that his life and sanity had always rested with Hannibal. Had something happened to his mate he would have destroyed the world.

"Shhh," Hannibal whispered. "We are together as we should be. This will all come to a resolution today."

Drake breathed in his mate's scent with a soft sigh and felt everything through the bond.

"They believe I am the vampire king."

Hannibal shrugged. "You are a king," he stated before turning his head to look at the clock on the wall. "We need to shower and dress. We have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in."

Drake easily stood with Hannibal still in his lap before gently depositing the other man on his feet. Drake chuckled at the images that his mate sent to him of them in the shower. "I do not believe we have time for that," he stated.

"I know," Hannibal agreed. "But maybe later, definitely later."

They were quiet as they walked through the bedroom not wanting to wake Zoe. And the shower was quick to prevent them from trying any of the things that he, and especially Hannibal, could think of.

As he and Hannibal were about the same height and size, Hannibal was able to find clothes from the closets of objects that the Talos' had provided him.

"Asher always did have good tastes," Hannibal said, turning to him.

Drake couldn't disagree. The soft brown leather pants reminded him of the first time he'd seen Hannibal across a battlefield. Strong, capable and sexy as hell. He had wanted him then. His mother had noticed and the leader of the other army had willingly become the first vampire to save his people. But Hannibal had been different from the others his mother had made. Stronger, faster, able to walk in the day with him. Able to walk by his side. To quietly lead, not from fear but because Hannibal had cared for his people. Drake looked again at the image Hannibal now portrayed--strong and capable and very much the warrior king.

Hannibal laughed. "And as much as I loved you in the armor, and I do love you in it, let's skip it tonight."

Drake snorted and chose another simple black suit with a shirt opened at the collar. Both men were showing the matching stone necklaces, a gift from his mother before she had faded.

He would follow Hannibal's lead and then if things went bad would destroy anyone who tried to kill his mate.

~~~***~~~

Hannibal watched as Asher left the cell like a man on a mission and if the ash the blond was trying to wipe from his suit was anything to go by then Asher was fulfilling his task. However, he had been a little surprised when Asher had ordered the cell locked with his sister still on the inside.

He leaned back in the chair and Drake, who was sitting on the edge of the table behind him placed a hand on his shoulder. It was comforting and fortifying. He was going to need it for what was coming next.

The dozen or so vampires standing in the room when Asher returned were shocked into silence and non-movement when the blond man knelt in front of Hannibal and bowed his head.

"I know who you are," Asher said, softly. His voice barely above a whisper but carrying in the quietness. "You are the King."

Whatever had happened in that cell while alone with his sister, Asher had obviously made some very tough decisions. Hannibal didn't doubt that Asher was still a prick, but he thought there might just be a chance for him after all.

"I knew you would figure it out," Hannibal said. He reached out and brought Asher's head up. "You were always the brighter of the two. But you kept that hidden and let your sister have the forefront to protect yourself. You thought it would keep the crazy at bay. And maybe it did for a while."

"Yes," Asher answered softly. "She was..."

"A good Catholic girl violently turned against her will," Drake finished.

Hannibal reached up and squeezed Drake's hand. He knew his lover was beginning to understand.

"Yes."

"And you took the gift voluntarily to stay with her. To try and protect her, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Give me your wrist, Asher."

Asher pulled his sleeve up and presented his wrist, vein side up, to Hannibal. Hannibal took the wrist and bit. This seemed to snap the others in the room back into some semblance of life as a gasp went around the room as the human seemed to have magically acquired fangs.

Hannibal took several deep swallows before swiping his tongue over the wound and releasing the wrist. Asher seemed dazed for a moment but quickly returned to himself by snobbishly straightening his cuff.

"Drake is going to bite you now," Hannibal said matter of factly. "For you, it will feel good at first and then it will hurt. A lot. Then he will feed you and that will hurt even more. Pain you have never felt before. And if you live through the process, then you will stand on this side. Do you understand?" The what you are being offered was left unsaid. "Do you accept?"

Asher nodded and before the blond man could stand Drake had him on the table and was already drinking. "The rest of you," Hannibal said, pointing at the other vampires milling around and then off to the right. "Sit. Over there and be quiet."

Hannibal glanced behind him. Asher had made that first moan of pleasure and then what sounded like a yelp. Now he whimpered and thrashed slightly, but there had been no screaming; even as a few bones had popped and mended.

He had been surprised when he had bit into Asher and felt that pull that signaled the other man carried the recessive gene of his people. Danica did not have it, but genetics were sometimes fickle. This hadn't exactly been on his list of things to do before the Nightstalkers arrived, but Hannibal had always been good at playing things by ear too.

The thrashing stopped and a few seconds later Drake leaned over the chair and kissed him. He could taste Asher's blood on his mate's tongue.

~~~***~~~

Drake pulled back and waited to see what his mate would do next but not before leaning down and whispering into his mate's ear, "He'll live and I believe the changes will take."

"Excellent."

Drake stood from the kiss, but left his hands resting on his lover's shoulders. He could feel Hannibal's emotions through the bond as they bounced from worry to excitement to laughter and readiness for the upcoming confrontation. For his part, Drake was just enjoying being able to touch and truly feel his mate.

Asher stirred behind him and Drake turned to look at the vampire that was just over a century old. He watched as Asher struggled to sit up but the young one was able to pull himself to a sitting position.

The first thing Asher had done was to pull a handkerchief from his pocket and clean the blood from his neck before straightening the collar of his shirt. Drake knew his amusement at that had been felt by Hannibal through the bond.

"Told you," Hannibal tossed over his shoulder.

Drake only chuckled.

Asher seemed to ignore them as he slid from the table, still a little unstable on his feet but he made it the few feet to them and knelt again in front of Hannibal and Drake. "My Kings," he whispered.

Drake leaned over the back of Hannibal's chair. "Do you understand young one what I've done to you?"

"Removed the taint of time," Asher answered, not looking up.

"Yes."

"How do you feel?" Hannibal asked, leaning forward to lift Asher's chin just as he'd done earlier.

Asher opened his mouth to answer but stopped, searching for the right word. "I feel steady," he paused. "Less mad. This will not work for my sister, will it?" he asked, sadly.

"No."

Drake squeezed Hannibal's shoulder, urging him to follow through while at the same time giving his mate the assurance he needed.

Hannibal straightened in the chair. "She may have been mad long before being turned and her method of turning did not help. There is another alternative, but it may not work," Hannibal stated. "And if it does, it won't fix the crazy."

Asher looked towards the cell where his sister was still locked away. "The human's cure?"

"Yes."

Asher nodded. "May I have time to think on it?"

"If she comes after me or mine," Drake spoke, the beast under his skin moving. "I will destroy her."

"I understand, my Kings."

"Get off the floor, Asher, and have a seat at the table," Hannibal ordered. "Your life is about to get even more interesting."

Drake turned to the other vampires in the room. "Get out. Leave the building. Run. If we need you, we will find you."

When some of the vampires began to protest. Drake calmly removed his jacket and shirt and let his true nature out.

Hannibal laughed at their reactions. "I suggest you leave and take anyone else you pass with you. He's rather fond of feeding from your kind."

"I will leave a dried husk," Drake rasped.

They scattered.

Hannibal’s laughter continued to ring through the room as he stood and walked towards Drake. Drake turned to look at his mate but said nothing.

"I love it when you do that," Hannibal told him, stroking the rough skin of his other form. "It makes me want to do unnatural things to you."

The grin and thoughts Hannibal was giving him were quite lecherous. Drake leaned down and kissed his King, and Hannibal returned the kiss without thought.

~~~***~~~

When Abby and Blade barged into the building they found no resistance. Not even when they made it to the upper level. What they did find was four people sitting on one side of the conference table.

Hannibal was sitting in the center typing on a laptop and talking to Asher who sat on his right. Zoe was to his left with a juice box and a bunch of paper and markers that were spread out in front of her and Drake. She was happily coloring. Drake was sitting on the other side of Zoe whispering to her as she colored and giggled.

"Once a vamp, always a vamp," Blade said gruffly, jaw jutted out. "Traitor."

Hannibal proved that he did have tact and ignored Blade. His focus was on Abby as she raised her bow and readied the Daystar loaded arrow. "Abby, darling, I wouldn't do that," Hannibal said.

"They killed Hedges and Dex and left Som...." Abby halted her rant and looked at the little girl.

But Zoe proved that she paid more attention to the world than the adults thought and finished Abby's comment. "Mommy will be fine in a couple a'days. Uncle Hannibal told me so and Uncle Drake apologized for his arr," she stumbled over the word error and, pausing for a second before finishing with, "...his mistake."

"Whistler," Blade hissed and Abby fired the arrow.

Hannibal moved at the same time as Abby fired. He stretched across the table to the left while also bringing his right hand up with a gun. He fired twice, hitting Blade with both shots--one in the right shoulder, the other in the left knee while his left hand grasped the shaft of the arrow just inches from where Drake's chest would have been had the other man not moved to the right to cover Zoe.

He moved back to his seat, placing the arrow and gun on the table in front of him. "Shame, shame Abby, firing a weapon that could have hit Zoe."

Hannibal glanced to the left to see that Drake had moved to sit in Zoe's chair and that Zoe was climbing into the other man's lap. He smiled at the image it made before turning back to Abby and Blade.

Blade was standing, breathing hard, and glaring as if he could burn a hole through Hannibal. "I'll kill you," Blade gritted out.

"Not likely," Hannibal replied, picking up the arrow and stroking the vial of green liquid. "Not even with this. And no one harms my family."

"Gone vamp again."

"Where are my manners," Hannibal said, once again ignoring Blade. "Have a seat Abby?" He gestured to the chairs on across from him. "We should have a little chat."

Blade pulled his silver glaive and threw it at the large window with his left hand. The aim was off but Hannibal assumed it still had the desired effect when the window began to shatter from floor to ceiling. The daylight awnings for a section of the window refused to completely slide shut and Hannibal could just make out the predawn light.

Asher tried to stand, but Hannibal grabbed his arm and kept in place. "Stay."

"Yes, my King," Asher acknowledge even as the first ray of light crept towards the blond man's hand.

Hannibal kept his hand on Asher as the first soft rays of sunlight passed over the younger vampire and did nothing--no burns, no flames. Asher stared at his hand before turning wide eyes to Hannibal.

"Asher why don't you take Zoe back upstairs," Hannibal ordered. "We wouldn't want her hurt by random arrows and throwing star-things."

"Yes, my King," Asher said, standing up and walking towards Drake and Zoe.

"Hannibal!?!" Abby protested.

"Tell me, honestly Abby, that Blade wouldn't consider her collateral damage and I'll let her stay." Hannibal waited while the female hunter said nothing. "Yeah, I didn't think so."

He turned to the little girl. "Zoe, sweetie, would you mind taking Asher upstairs and showing him the view from your window? He's never seen the city during the day before."

Hannibal smiled as Zoe gave him a look that clearly said I know what you adults are doing and I'm going to play along for now. She hopped off of Drake's lap and held out her hand for Asher to take. Once the vampire did, Zoe pulled on his arm and started for the stairs. "Come on, Mr. Asher, let's go."

Abby was barely out of earshot when Blade growled. "You let that thing fuck with you and now you think you are the king?"

Hannibal laughed. "More times than not, it's the other way around, thank you. And I've been doing it since before Rome was even a kingdom."

"That doesn't make you a king, Hannibal," Abby said, still standing. "That makes you delusional."

Hannibal shook his head and had the gun aimed at Blade before Blade could move his hand more than inch. "I have no problems shooting you again," Hannibal said. "At some point your need for blood to heal the wounds will take over your entire being and you will have to feed. And there are only two sources nearby, Zoe and Abby. And you won't get anywhere near Zoe. Sorry Abbs, family first."

Blade pulled his serum inhaler out and took a drag off of it. "Lies."

Hannibal shrugged. "There's another option for you," Hannibal continued, picking up the arrow and snapping off the head that contained the Daystar and pocketing it. "Take the cure. Become fully human. Lose those mutant abilities. No more extra strength, no super reflexes. Just a mostly human, Eric Brooks."

"No," Blade growled.

"See, I didn't think you'd go for that one either. You don't want to be human. Lose that killing instinct that comes with being a hybrid. That thing that gives you an edge."

Blade rushed the table and Abby followed. The fight had begun.

~~~***~~~

The female hunter would have been easy to dispatch if he could kill her but Hannibal had asked that Abby not be killed unless absolutely necessary and Drake could not deny his mate. He did flip her up and over the nearby desk while grabbing the bow. She rolled off the desk and slammed into the wall. While she was down he snapped the weapon in half. He didn't want to let the beast out because it would just be too tempting to end her.

Abby climbed back to her feet and climbed over the desk to jump on Drake. Drake batted her way. "Hannibal does not wish your death," he said, calmly, "but I will damage you if you continue."

Drake caught her by the wrist when Abby came at him again. He spun her around so that her arm was behind her, snapping her wrist in the process.

He leaned down and whispered into her ear. "Still or I will drink from you."

She struggled and Drake nuzzled at her neck and she stopped. "Fear is what you smell like now," he said quietly. "Now watch."

Drake held her in place while he watched his mate and the hybrid go at each other. Hannibal's grin was every bit that of the warrior he remembered from across that long ago battlefield--calculating and deadly. And it was obvious that he was holding back and that Blade still thought he was fighting a newly turned, re-turned vampire. Had it been him against Blade, Drake knew he would have transformed into the image of his mother's people by now. He had always let his rage and hatred control him in battle whereas for Hannibal it seemed to calm him.

Blade pulled his katana with his left hand and shrugged out of the black trench coat with a hiss of pain. He swung the sword at Hannibal and Hannibal ducked and rolled. On the next swing Hannibal grabbed the sword near the handle and pulled Blade in close to him.

"This is going to end badly for you," Hannibal said and it wasn't a taunt, as he easily snapped the blade from the pommel.

Blade pushed Hannibal away from him and tried to reach for another weapon. Hannibal blocked the next attempt just as easily as the previous one.

"My mate," Drake called. "This one grows restless. As do I."

"You were always impatient, my love," Hannibal called back before kicking Blade in the chest and sending the hybrid through the air to crash into the marble wall breaking the tile.

Blade ran at Hannibal and slammed him into another wall. Drake could see that Hannibal's eyes had darkened, they were not yet black but his lover's fingernails on both hands had lengthened and sharpened. The claws easily cut through the leather vest and red shirt.

The growl that came from Blade was one of a wounded animal and he threw himself at Hannibal, taking them both to the floor. They rolled as Blade punched Hannibal in the side trying for several kidney shots. Hannibal used his legs and pushed Blade up and off of him sending Blade crashing into the crossbeams one level up.

"Do you still think either one of them is human?" Drake stated, letting go of the female hunter who had stopped struggling about the time Hannibal had snapped the sword in half.

Abby seemed to sink in on herself and slid down the wall behind her to sit on the floor. Drake sat gracefully down in the chair beside her. "Your Blade," he said smoothly, "hates what he is and hates both sides. Your father was probably the only one keeping him from becoming, what is the term you use now, a mass murdering homicidal maniac?"

"Hannibal's," she said just above a whisper. "Hannibal's the vampire king."

Drake chuckled. "It depends, child, on how you define vampire king. Was he the first human turned, the first that drank human blood to live, no. That creature is long since dead. Is he like what you think of a vampire today, no. Was he the first daywalker, yes. He was a great warrior. I named him mate. Your kind named him king."

"I don't understand," Abby said. "He hunted his own kind."

"He has always protected the humans." Drake did not take his eyes off his mate. "His descendants still walk among you. He was going to explain before you started this fight."

"Zoe."

"Yes."

~~~***~~~

Hannibal was tiring of this fight and Blade's eyes had begun turning red a few minutes ago. The virus was taking hold. Any minute now and it would be time. He guessed he would owe Caulder, maybe he could set up him and Sommerfield with a nice lab somewhere and see if they could cure cancer or diabetes.

His thoughts were interrupted when Blade tried to jump him from the second floor. "Can you feel it coursing through your veins, Blade?" he asked.

Blade growled and attempted some type of martial art movie but Blade's body was slowing down from the injuries that now needed human blood to heal.

"Is the sun starting to hurt? Probably not a lot, just a prickle?"

Blade screamed. The hybrid's teeth elongating more than they ever had before and that was the sign Hannibal was waiting for. He pulled two darts from his pocket and braced for the bull in a china cabinet move that Blade was about to make.

He let Blade slam them into the wall near the cell door. He pushed off the wall and tumbled them to floor. Blade tried to bite right before Hannibal was able to flip them over and plunge the darts into Blade's neck. Hannibal rolled to his feet away from Blade as the black man began to spasm and howl. It didn't take long before Blade passed out.

Hannibal sighed. It was wait and see time now, but this cure had been specifically generated for use on Blade. Even the other hunters had been afraid of him and had begun preparing for just such an occasion. Caulder had just refined it for him. Maybe he owed him a lot more than just a lab since the daystar dart was actually filled with, if he had to guess as the vial was now broken, sour apple soda.

He walked towards his lover and leaned down and kissed Drake before squatting in front of Abby and tilting her head up. Her eyes were wide. "How you doing Abbs?

"My wrist is broken," she replied and Hannibal was sure she was still in shock.

Hannibal took her wrist and probed the injury before quickly popping the bones back into place. He took the jacket Drake handed him and tore it into strips to wrap around Abby's wrist.

"Asher!" he called.

It took a minute but Asher appeared at the top of the stairs. "Yes, my King."

"One, you've got to stop," he stopped when he saw Drake give a small shake of his head and his mate was probably right--now was the time to remind everyone who they were. "Never mind. Could you please bring us a small bag of ice?"

"Yes, my King."

It took several minutes for Asher to come down the stairs with the bag of ice. "I believe your niece has tired of the television and would like to know if it safe to come out now?"

"Is she safe from you Abby?" Hannibal asked, placing the bag of ice on the now bandaged wrist and helping Abby move to one of the small sofas so a pillow and the arm of the sofa could elevate her wrist.

The expression on Abby's face was definitely affronted. "I would never."

Hannibal nodded, sitting down next to her. "But you joined a fight on Blade's word, not mine who you've known for five years, and without all the facts. You could have gotten us all killed."

"But Dex and He..."

"Were an unfortunate accident and solely my fault." He calmed Drake through the bond, the other man waiting to take the fault. But Hannibal had been chosen to lead--had accepted--and if he had moved sooner when he'd felt Drake first wake, then none of this may have happened. The fault was his.

Hannibal turned to Asher. "Cellphone?"

Asher tossed him a phone.

"And Zoe, you can stop hiding by the door and come down."

Zoe raced down the stairs and made a beeline for Hannibal just as he disconnected from his brief call. She climbed into his lap and hugged him.

"Hey there, Zoes, have fun with Asher?"

"Mr. Asher says he hasn't seen a sunrise since 1893. That's a long, long time," she whispered.

Hannibal chuckled and whispered back as if it was a conspiracy. "It is. What else did you two do?"

"Colored," Zoe answered cheerfully.

The elevator doors opened and within seconds Zoe was running across the floor to her mother. Caulder stood next to Anna Sommerfield and helped her off the elevator.

"My King." Caulder acknowledged, bowing his head slightly.

Hannibal snorted. "Do not start," he told the taller man.

"As you wish."

"You are not starting that either," Hannibal pointed his finger at Caulder. "I will drop-kick you back to the eighteenth century where I found you."

Caulder's chuckle was both affectionate and teasing. "I have gotten Dr. Sommerfield up to speed," Caulder said. "But she should be resting and not up and about."

"Did you try telling her that?"

Caulder snorted.

Hannibal grinned. "Went that well, huh?"

"Hannibal?" Anna Sommerfield questioned.

Hannibal moved so that he was closer, so that she could sense him. "Yes, Anna," he said.

She poked him in the chest. "You have some explaining to do."

"Yes, ma'am," he acknowledged. "Let's get you to a nice comfy seat.

"First I'd like to talk to your Drake," she stated. "Alone."

Hannibal turned to look at Drake who was already making his way towards them. "Zoe," Hannibal said giving the little girl a grin, "why don't you take Caulder over to Abby and Asher. I think he will have a lot to explain to the two of them."

"Go ahead, honey," Anna told her daughter. "Go away, Hannibal," she added.

Hannibal moved to stand between the two groups. He could hear both conversations that were going on. He could also see that Asher could hear his sister cursing and banging on the inside of the cell door.

When he glanced back at Drake and Anna, Drake was kneeling in front of his descendant and she was kissing Drake on the top of the head.

And then it went to hell.

It all happened so fast. Blade opening the cell door, Danica grabbing Blade and sinking her fangs into his neck for what could have only been for one or two quick swallows before she tossed him aside and was running toward the others in the room. Caulder grabbed Abby and tumbled them over the back of the sofa.

Asher threw himself and Zoe to the ground as well. His body blocking that of the little girl. There was madness in Danica's eyes that seemed not to be able to focus. She ran at her brother and Asher blindly reached for anything he could use to defend himself. Asher's hand hit on metal and he brought it up swinging. The broken blade of the katana easily silenced through Danica's neck. Asher turned his body to fully shield the burning ash from the little girl underneath him.

Hannibal surveyed the room. Drake had swept Anna into a corner but was now walking her towards Zoe. Caulder was helping Abby back onto the sofa. And Zoe was hugging Asher and patting him on the chest.

"Mr. Asher, are you okay? You're crying," Zoe said quietly.

"I will be fine, Zoe," Asher answered, standing up and then helped Zoe to her feet and turned her towards her mother and Drake.

Asher turned toward him and Hannibal waited. "That was no longer my sister," Asher said softly.

Hannibal nodded, but still offered his regrets that they had not been able to try the cure. "Speaking of the cure," he said. "Let’s toss Blade in the cell."

Caulder walked over to the hybrid with him and together they tossed the dazed man into the cell. "I'm thinking the psych ward if this works," he said more to himself than to anyone else.

"And what of me?" Abby asked. "Are you going to toss me in the psych ward?"

"No," Hannibal answered. “I was going to let you keep on hunting."

"What?!?"

"I did say I wanted to talk," he reminded her, dragging one of the large comfortable chairs over to the sofa and sitting down. He leaned back as Drake sat on the arm and leaned towards him, arm resting along his shoulders. "We set laws into place," Hannibal said. "Recently, some have chosen not to follow them. That will be changing. Those that break the rules will cease to exist and that's where you and the Nightstalkers come in."

Hannibal yawned. "Okay. My night started out shitty. The early morning was quite grand. The last couple hours, not so much. Caulder would you mind looking at Abby's wrist, Asher can help you bring up the supplies that you no doubt packed in that van of yours. It will also give you a chance to talk to him."

Caulder nodded. "As you wish," he said. "Anna needs to rest and I'm sure Zoe can keep her mother company while young Asher and I keep an eye on Blade, and Abigail rests."

"As you wish," Asher said, mimicking the other daywalker. "I can also see about getting the window fixed."

"Thank you both." Hannibal accepted their willingness. "Abby, behave."

Abby lifted a single finger in Hannibal's direction.

"That's the ticket," he said with a grin. "We'll see you all this afternoon."

~~~***~~~

Drake carefully stripped his mate, massaging the tense muscles before laying soft kisses across bare shoulders. He moved them to lie on the bed before speaking.

"Are you going to tell them that La Magra was not a god?"

Hannibal stroked fingers across his chest before tracing the brand that marked him as his mother's son. "Your mother was a goddess."

Drake rolled them so that Hannibal was wrapped in his arms and kissed Hannibal's neck. "To some," he agreed between kisses. "But to others she was called Lilith, and they might have issues with that,"

He felt Hannibal shrug. "But my love, that's a story for another time."

End.