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what we do in the neon city

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It had been centuries since he had been knocked out of the sky in his bat form and left to the will of the rapid winds of nature, threatened by predators and vengeful prey alike.

The last time he remembered it happening, it was in the heat of an intense duel in the 16th century, a slight miscalculation against an old scholarly rival who had chosen a tool that closely resembles what modern humans refer to as a baseball bat. A farce in the otherwise clean duel that he would have won. 

But if you asked Warrick Brown, his oldest friend, he would tell you that he had simply ran into a thick tree branch mid flight after spotting a red-headed wench exiting a local pub. 

This time had been as equally as embarrassing. A bet gone wrong--as most of their shenanigans begin, much to Sara’s chagrin--Nick had two choices; grow a mustache or live in bat form for a full week. 

It should be easy, he had thought. He always had an affinity for birds, studied them and watched them and his ability to transform into a bat at will had been the closest he could ever get to being one. 

What they didn’t tell him, is that he would be spending his week outside of the safety of the coven. 

No big deal, he figured, he was an adult by vampire standards, he could just have Greg check in on him in some small cave he would seek shelter in during the day--

But Greg no longer served him. Not in that way, at least. 

Not since he had been turned by him. 

Greg had become more...rebellious, even if Nick was his sire, he was no longer his master. He started talking back, but what was Nick to do? As far as he was concerned, Greg could go anywhere else in the world, especially since he was done with that first week of nurturing. A baby bird ready to leave the nest. 

And yet he chose to stay with Nick. 

Well, stay with him so long as Nick hadn’t been pseudo-banished from his own home.

But he wouldn’t call it a banishment, so much as it felt like a vacation. He got to soar around with fellow creatures of the night, startle unsuspecting victims as he playfully swam through above and through their hair, perch himself underneath the tallest signs and take in the beautiful neon playground, it was an euphoria he hadn’t felt in quite some time…

At least for the first two nights, until he became hungry. Then he realized it was a trial of survival.

He had decided to take up residence in the morgue--even in bat form, he’d still need to eat and he knew the layout of the room well enough to know where he could hide in the shadows and feast on the pints of blood collected by the far too sweet for his own good David Phillips. It may have been a bit more boring than he would have liked, but at least it was safe. 

That is, until he was spotted by Dr. Robbins, who promptly swat him out of the air with his crutch. 

But the coroner, even with his fear of creatures far smaller than him, still had a good heart and his assistant bring the poor unconscious bat to what Nick presumes is an animal shelter or perhaps hospital--as the first thing he saw when he came to was a wall filled with other creatures--dogs, cats, birds, even large lizards. 

Part of him knew the bet would be lost, but the other part of him had admittedly been startled enough to revert back to human form.

“What the--? Oh, for fu--” a stream of curses left his mouth as he quickly switched in and out of bat form, fluttering around the cage and using his humanoid form to push against it.

But it was a futile effort, and soon he settled with some deep breaths as the animals became more and more sullied by his outburst.

“My four legged and...not...four legged brethren, a-and my feathered brethren! My deepest apologies. It is unjust for any of us to be sentenced to the confines of these small cages, much too small to contain our spirits!” he proclaimed, and a few dogs barked out, a few cats meowed. “I say now is the time that we rise up as one and band together--the ones that surround my voice, heed my call, if we all take the time, take the effort, we can pull this wall to the ground and shatter the bars that holy shit--!”

The door to the room opened, and he quickly shrunk back into the fluttering black ball bouncing in the cell as a human woman assisted a golden dog into the room.

Golden dog...mayhaps it was his loyal friend, Greg, here to save him. Word traveled fast in the lab, after all, and Super Dave was quite the gossip…

“Here you go, sweetie. It’s okay, you have nothing to worry about,” the woman comforted as she placed the dog in the cage below Nick, who began to bounce forcefully into the floor of his cage. The woman stood up and looked at Nick. “My, my, is someone getting unsettled? I know it’s so late in the day, way past your bedtime. I can bring you a blanket to cover the cage, if you’d like…”

The woman left the room, and Nick waited three seconds before expanding into a cramped, but more vocal form.

"GREG!! MY MORTAL TURNED IMMORTAL LOVE, YOU'VE COME TO SAVE ME!" Nick laughed. 

The dog beneath him let out a gruff bark.

"Why are you waiting to return to your true form? Arst thou still practicing? You can do it, I believe in you!” 

The dog whined.

“Take your time, it’s okay, my friend. So long as we have each other, this prison is not a prison, but a new home--”

The door opened once more, acting as the switch that triggered his transformation, which he quickly stopped when he saw that there were no humans present.

Just a dog. 

A German Shepard. 

One that happened to speak french.

“Oh, Sam! My most loyal companion--No offense, dear Greggo--Please, come hither, ouvrir le loquet!” 

With one impressive leap, Sam was able to pull down the bar that had trapped Nick and he flew out of the cage before landing on his feet on the floor in front of the dog that eagerly awaited praise. 

“Good boy! Good boy!” Nick smiled, and with one final pat he returned to his full height and released the rest of the animals. “Free! Be free, my comrades!” 

The sea of animals fled the room, he heard the echoes of screams and of...laughter? as he unlocked the final latch, the one to Greg’s cage.

“Well, Gregory, I must say I can’t help but be slightly disappointed, but the charade can end, I understand now, you’re rubbing my loss of this bet in my face, which will soon no longer be naked, and decorated with a soft wave of hair above my lip...Greg? Is there something wrong?”

He was truly concerned, while Greg was still a novice in his transformation skills, he would never take this long to turn back…

“Hey! Leggo that CSI wannabe, Stokes. You’re making me jealous.”

Nick spun around and saw Greg leaning in the doorway, his bright smile accentuated his lushious red lips, his skin pale and cold in comparison.

“Greg!” Nick sighed, quickly embracing the man before his face narrowed in anger. “It is not polite to play tricks on your former master!” 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah well consider it payback for that time you did turn me into a dog--”

“I’ve told you many times, that was not me, it was that warlock, Hodges--”

“Yeah, because you got into a ‘quarrel’ with him!” Greg scrunched up his face in a mocking accent.

“How-How did you know I was here?” Nick blurted, changing the subject. 

“Oh, we’ve been following you, another bet...we didn’t think you’d last this long without getting hurt, to be honest.”

“‘We?’”

“Rick and Sara are right outside...with a copy of the security footage.”

“I must destroy that tape.”

“Too late, Warrick’s already on his way bringing it to Archie,” Sara mused with a puckered smirk as she appeared behind Greg. 

“Not if I can help it!” Nick growled, and flew like a speeding bullet into the night.

He landed in Warrick’s afro.