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now you know what we are

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David and the others are particularly brutal when they kill the people on the beach with Michael there to watch them, clinging to a tree, fangs bared, longing to join them but too afraid to actually do it. David walks back over the hill, the light from the campfire silhouetting him. He’s resplendent in this light, the moon and the fire bouncing off all the leather he wears, blood covering his face. He didn’t have to be that messy, of course. This was a show, all for Michael’s benefit. He’s radiant and triumphant, a teenager who knows he will never die, who cares nothing for his own cruelty, who revels in his own brutality, shared with his brothers. And now, he’s shared it with Michael.

“Now you know what we are,” David says, “And now you know what you are. You’ll never grow old. And you’ll never die.” He says these things as if they actually answer any of Michael’s questions. David never actually answers any questions. He usually just ignores them. This explanation is too much to handle. Michael can’t deal with it, the idea of killing other people. It disgusts him. His own need disgusts him. Fuck, he wanted to join them, these murderous would-be brothers, the terrors of the Boardwalk. But if he does this, this thing David wants him to do, then how can he go back? How can he go back to Sam, his mom, their house, their life? He doesn’t know, and so he baulks at it, runs away with David’s echoing laughter in his too-sharp ears.

He doesn’t have a destination in mind, just runs along the beach, trying to cool off, trying to get those teeth to go away again, trying to forget (though not entirely wanting to forget) the way David looked, standing on the sandy hill, proud and laughing, the smell of blood and eternal summer radiating off of him. He comes to a stop somewhere, heart pounding in his ears, remembering the screams of the unlucky victims. He remembers Sam’s horror at his lack of reflection, the way Nanook attacked him.

“What the fuck am I gonna do?” he asks out loud, voice raw. It’s barely a whisper, though it sounds loud in his ears.

What sounds even louder is David’s too-familiar laughter.

Michael looks up, teeth still bared, eyes red in the dim light.

But it’s just David, alone and cleaned up and beautiful, washed out and too pale in the moonlight, bits of metal on his coat glinting silvery-white. Of course he’s laughing. David is almost always laughing. Why not? He knows, or thinks he knows, that nothing can touch him. He’s utterly sure of himself in a way Michael never has been. That’s part of why Michael followed him in the first place, after all.

David stalks towards him on the sand, boots barely making a dent. There’s nothing graceless about David, nothing stumbling or frantic. Michael wonders what he must have been like when he was human. He was probably a lot like this. He doesn’t seem like the type who was ever insecure, ever unsure. Maybe that’s just the vampire influence, but Michael imagines otherwise.

“You can’t run from me, Michael,” David says through his lingering laughter.

“I’m not running from you,” Michael says, immediate and defensive. He regrets it immediately, expecting more of David’s laughter to answer him.

Surprisingly, David doesn’t laugh. He stops a few feet away and regards Michael, his smirk softer than usual.

“What are you running from, Michael?” he asks softly.

Michael snorts and shakes his head. “Fuck off, David,” he says.

David takes a step forward. “What are you running from, Michael?” he asks again, still soft, but more insistent.

Nothing,” Michael says, taking a step back and hating himself for it even as he does it.

David doesn’t step forward so much as glides across the sand, preternatural speed cheating Michael’s less-developed gaze. It seems more like teleportation. One moment, David is out of arm’s reach and the next, he’s inches away, more than close enough to touch. Michael has to stop himself from backing away again, though he can’t hide his surprise. David always has one up on him.

“What are you running from, Michael?” David demands, maddeningly soft.

Michael swallows. His eyes flick down to David’s mouth, remembering the way he looked with his fangs out, blood wet and shining on his face. His pulse races, and then he wonders something he hadn’t before. Does David have a pulse? Under all that leather, does he have a beating heart? Is he even warm? Michael knows practically nothing about vampires, and Sam’s stupid comic book facts don’t really help a lot.

David catches him looking. Michael knows he’s made a mistake as soon as his eyes come back up to David’s. He was looking down a moment too long, too obvious, too interested. He tries so hard to be aloof, but he’s anything but, and David knows it.

David’s mouth twists into a grin, feral and hungry. His mouth crashes against Michael’s before the fledgeling vampire can do anything about it. Michael is shocked at himself when he realises he doesn’t want to stop David. His hands come up and grab David’s coat, clenching the leather too tightly. Their kiss is like a fight, bordering on the edge of angry because Michael can’t let his frustration go. He hates David’s smug laughter and his refusal to answer any questions. He hates how gorgeous he looks stalking along the boardwalk like he owns the place. He hates his stupid bleached hair and the way he looks at Star.

But he doesn’t really hate any of those things, and that’s the most infuriating part about it. He wants to be a part of David’s world, but mostly he wants to be with David. That’s the real allure, more than the blood and the flying and the reckless adrenaline. All of those things are cool, sure, but David is at the centre, at the heart. David is what Michael really wants.

What are you running from, Michael?

Michael doesn’t want to admit that what he’s running from is himself, and has been since David first roared into his life on that bike.

David pulls away from the kiss, all triumphant laughter. Michael gets mad enough to regret giving in, regret playing into David’s hands. It’s just like everything else, the food, the blood, the racing. He’s always exactly where David wants him.

“Go fuck yourself, David,” he spits out, shoving the vampire away from him. David takes it in the same stride he takes everything else, like he doesn’t give a shit about anything in the whole world. Nothing can touch him. He’s a young god in his own mind, an immortal with all the time in the world to wait for Michael to come around or not. When Michael shoves him, David uses the momentum to propel himself up into the air, laughing like he had when Michael had run from the gruesome scene on the beach.

“You have to come around sooner or later, Michael,” he says. And then he’s gone, leaving only his laughter and the rush of the wind echoing around Michael. Of course David has the last word. Of course he does, and Michael can’t do anything about it, because he doesn’t have enough control over his half-vampire powers to fly off after David. He shoves his hands in his pockets and storms home. Like so many other days lately, he falls into a restless sleep, this time dreaming of David’s mouth against his and imagining the taste of the blood he’d refused.