Trevor grunts, brings around his whip, and cleaves a demon in two with a tell-tale snap.
The whip forms a loose coil in his hands as he pauses. Takes it in.
From where he’s standing it would seem as if that was the last one. The demon’s halves steam on the snow, blackened from the inky blood surrounding the ambush.
The goddamn disappointment that was Gresit growing ever-distant behind his back, he had been making slow headway eastward. Trevor’s been traveling towards Braila for nearly a week.
Off the beaten path, of course. Alone, of course.
Traveling through the woods had its uses, largely the allowance to never have to talk to other people, but it also had its downsides. Such as: demon ambushes.
A couple of demons versus him and his whip. It hadn’t been a fair fight but what the hell else had he been expecting? Honorable, one-on-one duels? Trevor hasn’t seen that shit in years.
Trevor looks over the twisted bodies, three by his count, and staunches the urge to throw up. Not because he’s a fucking delicate flower or the like, but because the stench is so blindingly awful. Downright nauseating. That, and he’s winded. His breath is coming in ragged drags and he can feel the burn of a nasty scape he took on his left arm.
He’s damn lucky to have rolled fast enough to keep the blow from taking the whole arm off.
After a minute of silence, Trevor deems it quiet enough to bundle his whip. The body of the ambushers are unmoving black lumps, dead red eyes staring out, but Trevor doesn’t give enough of a shit to burn them.
So they’ll sit there, rotting away into the snow and then the ground or maybe, maybe they won’t rot at all. Maybe they’ll freeze into chunks of dark ice or become a tasty bite for the next big hellbeast that comes through. Trevor never sticks around long enough to find out.
He’s about to leave, gets a whole two steps away from the bodies when he hears it.
His hand goes to his belt, to his whip. He scans the forest around him before he hears it again.
A long, drawn out whine, same as the first time.
Trevor frowns and tries to pinpoint the noise. It had been faint, as if carried on the wind, but it sounded like… like a normal animal. Injured, perhaps, by the demons before Trevor had come along.
The moment passes; Trevor doesn’t hear a third whine. Likely whatever had made it finally kicked it. Such is life on this bitch of an earth.
And yet... Trevor surprises himself by walking towards the sounds’ origin.
He must be some sort of masochist, wasting time like this. He’s not sure what he’s expecting to find aside from a dead animal. Probably not even an animal he can turn into dinner or, better yet, a warm hat.
The demon ambush took place in a clearing— now he’s headed into the deeper woods. The broad trees grow closer together as he trudges through the snow, the sunlight struggles to reach the ground through the denser canopy. Despite the hour the forest transforms into twilight, which would make the whole thing pretty spooky if Trevor didn’t currently live in Dracula’s pity party hellscape.
Farther along he gets confirmation he’s on mark because there’s blood in the snow. He doesn’t even stop to examine it as he continues onward, familiar as he is with the scene. The red droplets splatter the ground and lead around trees, lead around fallen logs and snowbanks.
They lead straight to a massive white lump that is nearly invisible in the snow.
It’s hard to tell what it is from this distance, but whatever it is, it’s absolutely massive. Closer on he can see the thick white coat is marred with a bloody gash… likely the wound that’s left the trail through the snow.
The lump doesn’t move. So, dead animal had been a good guess.
A glint catches his eye and Trevor walks closer. Yup, that’s a sword sticking out of the snow a few feet from the furry lump.
Upon further inspection it’s a very fancy sword.
Trevor tests the heft of it in his hand and hums in appreciation. Yeah, that’s fine craftmanship. The blade is thin, polished, and balanced. In fact, the sword would be flawless except it’s way too long- like, an entire arms-length too long. It’s fucking absurd, is what it is. The fine hilt is decorated and inlayed with what looks like pearl. So, a very fancy, expensive, and frankly excessive sword, then.
Who the fuck would leave something like this? Trevor can’t imagine that it was used to kill the now-dead animal since the blade has remnants of black blood, not red. Definitely used on demons or the undead.
Trevor looks around for a human body, trying to figure out if someone could be buried in all this snow, when he sees them.
Two golden eyes peer out from white fur like twin lanterns in a blizzard. Staring directly at him.
Trevor takes a step back while holding out his new fancy-ass sword some idiot left in the woods. The eyes follow his movement. Ah, so it’s not dead. Very not dead.
But despite the revelation the beast doesn’t try to move from where its laying on its side. Just shifts its eyes, slowly drifting towards the sword he’s holding out. It blinks. Huh. At this point Trevor can see the big black nose and the line of its snout and the flattened ears.
That’s… that’s a wolf. A huge fucking wolf. Bigger than any wolf has any right to be.
The wolf lets out a whine, long and pitiful just like the previous ones.
Something in Trevor’s chest clenches at the sound.
No. Uh uh, no, not today. He tears his eyes away from the animal and takes another step back.
When he makes to turn around and walk away, the wolf makes another noise.
It sounds… sad. Pitiful. Wounded.
“Ugh, fuck you,” Trevor says spitefully as he points at the wolf with the stupidly long sword, “Don’t try and win me over.”
The wolf slowly blinks its huge eyes before whining again.
His heart tightens fast and hard in his chest.
Oh no, he’s fucked.
“A compelling argument,” Trevor grumbles, strapping on the sword and stepping closer. The wolf simply watches as he gets on one knee to inspect the wound; there’s a huge slash across its torso and one if its legs doesn’t look quite right. It looks pretty nasty, but it’s impossible to know exactly how nasty just by looking.
Trevor presses gently near the wound which gets him a low growl, but when he looks over at its head it stops.
The wound doesn’t spill much blood, possibly due to the freezing temperature, and there doesn’t seem to be any guts spilling out. The front leg seems to be broken or fractured or something- who’s to say? The wolf could probably survive from the injuries if the woods weren’t fucking cold as hell and swarming with Dracula’s army. As things are now? It’s just future carrion.
There’s a moment of hesitation where he’s staring down at the wolf, where he actually considers what the fuck he’s doing.
The moment passes. He retrieves the last of his bandages from his pack.
It won’t hold in the long run, but it will keep it from bleeding out until he has the time to deal with everything. He starts wrapping the wound even though he knows fuck-all about how to treat an animal and the wolf just… lets him. It watches him through the whole process— doesn’t even try and snap his hands off.
Overall, it’s surprisingly docile for being almost 200 pounds of wild killer instinct.
Once he finishes the gash he turns to the leg. Trevor knows what he’d do for himself; he’d make a splint until he had time and alcohol to reset the bone on his own. Can he do the same thing for a wolf?
Yeah, why not. He finds a stick straight enough for his liking and brings it close to the fucked-up leg. The wolf decides that now’s the time to get upset and starts growling at him.
“Don’t be such a baby. Or uh, puppy. Be a— a grown-ass wolf, like a man.”
That works in shocking the wolf into silence for a moment. The growling starts again, but much quieter.
Trevor tries to be careful binding the splint to the leg with his remaining bandaging but the wolf is a fucking princess over it and does in fact try to take a bite out of him. It’s bad enough that Trevor ends up smacking its giant snout with the splint stick, which should have ended up with him getting his face ripped off. Instead it startles the wolf into letting him finish splinting the leg somewhat decently.
Trevor looks proudly upon his handiwork before waving a hand over it. “Hope you, ah, like my work. Because I don’t know much about wolves but… I think I did a damn good job.”
The wolf looks back at him, seemingly dazed. Probably awestruck with gratitude.
“Yeah, you’re welcome.”
Even with Trevor’s magnificent effort in patching things up, it doesn’t look like the wolf is going to walk around or that it can even get up. His suspicion is confirmed when the wolf tries to rise and punches out a pained cry.
“Alright,” Trevor decides aloud, to himself, to the wolf, “Alright, but you’re not gonna like this.”
And then he gets his arms under the wolf and hoists it up, up, up and over himself until the big furry weight is situated over his shoulders, one set of legs over each side.
“Fucking hell you are heavy.”
The wolf growls as if insulted. Trevor jostles his shoulders a little.
“If I’m gonna carry your gigantic, ungrateful furry ass through the woods you— you’re gonna have to shut up.”
The wolf huffs a hot breath but does indeed quiet. Actually, it stays quiet for the entirety of the torturous walk out of the demon-infested area, and yet it can’t seem to help itself from drooling all over Trevor’s right arm.
Trevor makes the grand decision of taking them both back towards the road in an effort to avoid future demon attacks. He can handle his own, obviously, but he’s not sure how he’d also protect a giant bundle of useless fur. He tells the giant bundle of useless fur this information, and he also tells it how much he loathes going back to the roads.
Demons? Manageable. Ungrateful village folk? Sad families with forgone homesteads? No, no thank you.
But alas, traveling folk are less likely to try to kill him than the demons. Just, less likely. The people of Gresit enjoyed challenging that likelihood, as devout people of faith are currently wont to do, which made helping them a fun exercise in self-destructive altruism.
It takes almost half an hour to get close to the main road with the enormous weight of the wolf on his back. He eventually finds a small cave, barely large enough for him to stand in, and sets the animal down as carefully as he can. Within the hour he has a fire going near the mouth of the cave, gets a bedroll set up, and finishes skinning a skinny rabbit he caught early in the day. By now the sun is setting, sinking low and making the sky musty orange.
Once he’s cooked the rabbit staked on a stick over the fire, Trevor turns his attention to his new… friend.
The wolf is watching him, as usual. Trevor notices that the golden eyes have gotten a little droopy, a little sleepy, and the animal has its large head on the ground.
Trevor crouches between it and the fire, really gets a good look at the thing. As massive as its head is, its not nearly as big as he originally thought. More fur than anything, he’d have to guess. Still, way too big for a dog and above average for a wolf. But…
“You’re a friendly fella, huh,” Trevor thinks out loud. He takes a strip of the rabbit meat and puts it on the ground in front of the wolf. The golden eyes watch him for a moment, look at the meat, then look back at him.
“Oh, what?” Trevor interrogates suspiciously, “You too good for campfire rabbit? Or do you think I’m a shit cook?”
The wolf stares back at him, blinks once, then noses the meat. Once the rabbit meat is fully smelled to oblivion, the wolf guzzles it down with a show of sharp, white teeth.
Trevor whistles. That is— that is a big mouth. A lot of dangerous teeth in there. Maybe he should reconsider…
…Nah. He hasn’t gotten this far by being a coward.
He offers up another strip of meat except this time he holds it out in his hand. Maybe it’s colossally stupid but Trevor has a hunch and he’s far too impatient not to test it immediately.
“If you bite my hand off, this whole budding friendship of ours is over.”
The wolf doesn’t move at first. After a long stretch of seconds, to Trevor’s absolute wonder, it raises its giant head and carefully, delicately, takes the food from his hand. Doesn’t so much as scratch him.
It’s literally eating out of the palm of his hands.
“I knew it,” Trevor says in confirmation, eyes narrowed. The beast stares at him as it finishes the scrap. Trevor points a finger at it, though he’s still careful not to put his finger too close to be threatening.
“You’re not a wolf. You’re too- you’re too well behaved. Tame.” The not-wolf yellow eyes are suddenly big, comically wide— as if it can understand that it’s been caught in the lie. Trevor has heard rumors of these things, has never seen one in person. Now that it’s sitting in front of him it’s all too obvious.
“You’re one of those wolfdogs.” Big enough to fight off bears, docile enough to be around humans. Trevor had thought the notion to be too ridiculous to be true. But in all his years traveling, he’s never seen a wolf behave like this, and he’s never seen a wolf that looked, well, that looked quite like this one.
The wolfdog in question tilts its head. Trevor takes it as a sign.
He slowly moves his hand to the creature’s closed snout, palm up, empty of any food. The wolfdog sniffs his hand with a loud wuff. Then, it tentatively bumps its cold wet nose into his palm.
Trevor feels… something.
He feels sort of stunned, feels sort of grossly touched by the whole thing. He feels… ugh.
Well, in for a penny…
“You should growl if you’re thinking of biting my hand off,” Trevor advises aloud and tries to emit a sense of calm as he shifts his hand away from its snout and towards its head. Him and the wolfdog watch each other as Trevor reaches out, waits to get a growl or a snarl, and finally touches the top of its head when he doesn’t get one.
The top layer of its coat is a little stiff, bristly, not at all what he was expecting. As he moves his hand back towards its neck the fur feels a bit like horse hair in its coarseness. The fur tickles his hand as he passes it through the dense thick of it. Starting to feel confident, Trevor drifts his fingers to the space behind the large, erect ears.
“Holy shit.” The fur there is soft, incredibly fucking soft, it’s probably the softest thing he’s ever felt in his entire life. Trevor shares this information with the wolfdog as he does an experimental dig with his fingers.
He sees the long, busheled tail thump once, twice against the snow.
“I knew it,” he repeats, only this time he has a small smile on his face that he’s having problems keeping off. “I fucking knew it.”
He is so, so fucking smart.
Any other idiot in the woods would’ve thought this was a wolf. Well, Trevor Belmont knows a good deal about the non-human things out there in the world, and this here is just a big, lost dog.
Definitely a dog.
Trevor ends up spending the rest of his evening trying not to get bitten to death as he stitches up the wolfdog’s shoddily bandaged gash.
Despite his efforts he still gets a bite on his arm that’s too shallow to draw blood but deep enough to bruise, which— which he doesn’t deserve. He’s saving this thing’s life and getting shit for it. Well, fuck the dog. It’s not like he’s keeping it.
The wolfdog will get better, eventually, and then fuck off to wherever it came from. It probably has an owner or something. Probably belongs to whoever owned that dumb fucking sword. Until then Trevor will be provider of ear scratches and medicinal care. Maybe the wolfdog will catch him a squirrel in return. Maybe he’s just a special sort of moron for taking care of someone else’s dog.
They sleep through the night, the wolfdog and him. Trevor in a wool blanket, wolfdog in its thick-ass winter coat. He’s pretty sure the wolfdog has the better deal.
In the morning Trevor fixes the dog a new, better leg splint and checks the stiches. There’s no sign of corruption and it’s holding together just fine. The wolfdog gets snappy whenever Trevor spends too much time around the wounded areas so he doesn’t get a good look at the leg.
“Is your leg even broken?” Trevor mutters. He gets a low growl for trying to touch it again. Figures. He could have sworn it looked much more fucked up when he found it in the snow; the leg is looking far better now than he would have expected.
Trevor decides to stay another day at his little makeshift cave camp for purely logical reasons. He has things to do. Important things. He can stand to delay his traveling by a day.
It has nothing to do with how the wolfdog doesn’t seem to be walking any time soon or that it keeps staring at him with those huge, golden eyes.
He cleans his weapons. All of them. Then he sharpens the blades, one by one, methodically and proficiently until he’s satisfied. The fancy sword is in good shape and miraculously doesn’t need anything aside from a quick clean. It’s strangely frustrating how well kept it is, considering it got abandoned blade-down in a snowdrift.
Trevor doesn’t sing while he works but he does… complain. With the wolfdog as his entrapped audience he complains about how much he hates walking in the snow, how he hates the unrelenting cold, how he hates that he gave Sypha his good winter coat out of some sense of brotherhood he’d thought was long behind him, how the coat he then had left with him was woefully shit in comparison.
He laments on how he misses beds, real beds, even the shitty hay pallets some inns tried to pass off as beds. He misses ale, pretty much all ale, even the shitty river swill some taverns tried to pass off as ale. He misses his brothers and sisters.
He doesn’t expand on the last bit because he doesn’t. Hadn’t. Won’t. Not even to his silent companion.
Instead he spends extra time detailing the last instance he had had good drink, a real good drink, because it feels like it has been years. Fuck, maybe it has been.
With the cleaning and sharpening done, it leaves one last chore on his agenda.
Trevor shoulders his bow and arrows, gathers all the necessary supplies. As he gets up to leave the dog whines— awake enough to worry about Trevor leaving, apparently.
“I’m gonna get us some food,” Trevor explains to an animal, like an idiot. He’s yet to meet a dog, or wolf, or any animal that can understand him. But his rations are for one Trevor-sized person and he’s not sure how long it will be until the animal can hunt for itself. The wolfdog stares at him unblinkingly, then tries to get up before collapsing on the ground again.
“No you—you stay put.” He points at the dog and ignores the growl that it’s started up. “Stay.” Does it know commands?
“Staaaaay,” Trevor draws out, taking a few steps back. The wolfdog doesn’t follow, so Trevor counts it for a success.
Maybe it knows other words? Whatever, he’ll have time to try things out when he gets back.
Later, when Trevor has caught some game and gathered some wood, enough to constitute as ‘not bad for an army of one’, he returns to his little camp to find the wolfdog exactly where he left it. Its eyes are closed, the mass of it unmoving. It’s only when Trevor gets close enough to drop his bounty by the burnt-out fire that he considers exactly how unmoving it looks.
He swears and he’s over at its side in an instant. His knees are smarting from how hard he hits the ground but it hardly matters, hardly registers as he buries his hands into the chest fur to feel for the rise and fall of its breathing, a heartbeat, anything.
He feels all the soft fur between his fingers, but no heartbeat. No telltale rise-fall of the chest.
Trevor feels something in his stomach churn. He ignores the way his throat starts to close up. He’s a fucking expert at being detached. This isn’t any different than all the burned-out villages, the small corpses, the half-eaten horses. It’s not different.
What a waste of time, he thinks. He carried a fuck ton of dog ass in the snow and for what?
His hands are shaking. He wills them to stop by closing them into fists, tight in the dense coat of another one of his endless fuck-ups.
The wolfdog moves its head and rolls over so abruptly that Trevor falls on his ass in shock. It stares at him before breaking out in a yawn, long rows of white teeth flashing as it does so. Once again, the wolfdog proves itself not-dead despite all signs to the contrary.
“Fucking… you sleep like the dead,” he hisses. Trevor’s hands are still shaking. In true Belmont fashion his dread curdles to anger in a split second.
“What the hell wrong with you?” What the hell is wrong with him? He should leave it here. If he takes it with him on his miserable mission to kill Dracula it’ll get killed along the way for sure. You don’t bring pets on suicide missions. He’s already fucked up enough by letting Sypha come along.
Oh sure, she had assured him they would find a “savior” under Gresit and together the three of them were destined to take down the strongest vampire of all time. But they didn’t find a savior under Gresit, they didn’t find anyone, so of course they were still going to try to do the impossible anyway. What would Sypha think if he shows up with a big dog? What, ‘oh hey, Sypha, is this the savior you were looking for?’ Yeah, right.
The wolfdog blinks, then starts licking one of Trevor’s hands like some sort of weird primal apology. Its breath is hot on his freezing hands and Trevor feels as though he is watching himself from a distance, letting some wild wolfdog lick his hand. He is so fucking weak.
“I brought food,” Trevor says faintly, still sitting on his ass.
The wolfdog gives a quiet wuff, which Trevor takes as a thank-you, and that’s that. Trevor shows off his masterful bounty of goods, the wolfdog does fuck-all, and they both settle in for another cold night.
It’s a good thing he had a successful hunt, since they get snowed in for nearly two days straight.
A storm, fast in its approach but long in its assault, traps them in the tiny cave. If Trevor hadn’t gotten more food they would have starved. And if the wolfdog wasn’t around to curl in against him, Trevor would have frozen to death.
The first day Trevor curses his luck and grunts his grievances and keeps a good distance between him and the wolfdog, who does a whole lot of sleeping. By the second day Trevor is freezing, his shitty wool blanket providing only minimal comfort. At one point he unintentionally falls asleep after curling up into a shivering ball. When he wakes, he finds that the wolfdog has settled against him. Trevor marvels at the new warmth shielding him from the seeping cold and cautiously puts a hand into the fur in front of him.
Wow, fuck, the coat on this thing is way denser than he had imagined. He has his hands sunk in and still doesn’t feel the bottom. The undercoat is soft, too, far different than the coarse outer layer he’d been dealing with.
Trevor adds his other hand in the fur for good measure. It’s like warming his hands in front of a fire, except the fire is a dog and capable of biting his hands clean off.
The warmth of it makes him sleepy but the danger of it makes him distinctly not-sleepy. Who the fuck is dumb enough to sleep next to an unfamiliar wolfdog they found deep in the woods?
Trevor, that’s who.
Something is going to take him out of this shitty world eventually, and if it’s a big fluffy dog then it’s not such a bad way to go. And so he sleeps, and he sleeps well enough all things considered.
Trevor wakes up on the third day, sky clear and snow piled high outside, to a mouthful of fur.
Ah, one of the many downsides of partnership. At least the beast can’t judge him.
Trevor discovers he is wrong.
Turns out, the dog can judge him, and it judges him a great deal more than anyone else.
Thing is, Trevor has always wanted a dog.
When Trevor was a child, he had gotten into his head that a dog was the ideal best friend for a boy who didn’t have many friends. He heard a number of stories describing them as loyal creatures who would protect their masters from the direst of threats. He had also heard that the bond between a boy and his dog was something akin to sacred in nature. To Trevor, all dogs were small chivalrous knights who happened to also be very entertaining to look at. He had spent many afternoons in his favorite tree imagining a courageous hound at his side— almost as often as he imagined being a courageous man at the side of his father.
The summer Trevor was ten, their neighbors’ sheepdog had puppies. The Greysons were the closest family to the Belmont estate, far closer than the village below, and he often saw the family’s sheepdogs run in the rolling fields where they put their sheep to pasture.
Bedelia, the youngest Greyson daughter, had brought him to their barn and shown him the litter. Nearly a dozen puppies had stumbled about in the hay with their inquisitive eyes and clumsy legs while the dam watched over them. The farm horse and dairy cows lumbered in the background, completely obsolete to Trevor as he crouched in front of the puppies who insisted on his attention.
Bedelia knelt next to him. “What do you think?”
One of the whelps was chewing on his hand with sharp little teeth while another played with his untied bootlace. Some of them were sleeping together, fat bellies rising slowly in pile of fluff that was otherwise indistinguishable as multiple creatures.
“They’re so floppy,” he remarked while watching the extra skin bunch up as Bedelia rubbed one’s back. Trevor chewed on his lip. He was hesitant to reach out and instead kept his hands in his lap. His family had horses and he was accustomed to their care, but horses were infinitely bigger and stronger animals. The puppies in front of him appeared alarmingly fragile with their pink noses and soft padded feet.
His father did not teach him how to handle fragile things. His father spent a lot of time teaching him rather the opposite. Trevor’s skill deficit struck him then, quick as his mother’s temper, and left him feeling just as stung from the might of it.
“Trevor.” Bedelia looked at him keenly with her dark eyes. She held her skinny arms out in front of herself, raised casually around air.
“Put your arms like this,” she instructed as imperiously as being an eleven-year-old girl allowed.
Trevor copied her, partially because he wanted Bedelia to like him and partially because he was accustomed to being told what to do. Bedelia, seemingly pleased with his compliance, scooped up one of the puppies and placed it in his arms with a gentleness Trevor envied.
“Um,” Trevor protested belatedly, unsure of how he agreed to this. The dog in his arms squirmed rambunctiously. After a moment it settled, apparently satisfied with the manner in which Trevor’s arms supported its rump and oversized paws. It was a tricolored pup and its mixed fur was duck-down soft in his hands. It was also lighter than he had expected.
A cold wet nose nudged his neck and it made a few small, quiet yips before huffing hot breath into his hair. Trevor had two fears: one of squeezing it too hard, and one of not holding tight enough and dropping it. That left him little room for error, so he was extremely cautious in using one of his hands to pet the top of its fuzzy head.
With his wiry arms around the pup, Trevor felt something take root in his body, like spilt still-warm tea soaking through a tablecloth.
Lately, it seemed as though his father was only concerned with how best to turn Trevor into a soldier. And yet, the protection of innocents was just as much a bloodright as monster slaying; at least, that’s what his brother always said. Trevor knew this, even if it had fallen wayside to weapon training and the studying of monsters.
This, this thing in Trevor’s arms, it counted as innocent too. It felt like a good first step, protecting a dog. He could work up to bigger things like people later.
Bedelia startled him out of his thoughts with a cough.
“So, do you want to keep him?”
“What?” Trevor squeaked, nearly dropping the whelp. He stared at Bedelia’s serious expression with a sense of wonder that was usually reserved for blackberry tarts or especially graphic illustrations.
“We’ve had more than we expected. And it’s a lot of mouths to feed. I’m sure my parents won’t mind it.”
“I—I don’t know, I don’t, I’ve never had one before—”
“Come on, Trevor,” she said with a roll of her eyes, “It’s a puppy, not an infant. Besides, he likes you.” The small dog was indeed snuggling up against Trevor’s warm chest, its heartbeat faint and fast against his own.
“How can you tell?” Trevor asked softly.
“I just can,” Bedelia said with the authority of someone who had experience with these things, and who was Trevor to argue against experience?
When Trevor had brought the puppy back to the estate, the first person he came across was his father.
He had just returned from a hunt as evident by the bedraggled pelt draped across his father’s horse. As his father dismounted, Trevor saw the vacant red eyes that belonged to the pelt staring out at him. Dead as they had been, they still possessed an unholy sheen to them— glossy as glass. He stifled the urge to look away from it, knowing full well his father would berate him for the cowardice.
“Ho, what’s this?” His father’s face was ever hard to read. His voice, however, was familiar; deep and rough in the way a woodaxe felt in the hand.
“A puppy,” Trevor blurted out. He realized the redundancy only after he had said it. His father grunted dismissively, striding from his horse and trophy as the stableman led them away. Trevor had earlier placed the puppy on the ground to romp but quickly scooped it up so that he might follow after his father’s long steps.
“The Greysons gave him to me.”
“How kind of them,” his father said without looking at him, “Knowing that, I’m sure they’ll understand.”
“That you must return it to their farm.”
“What?!” Trevor exclaimed before he could think better of it. The pup wriggled in his arms and so he jostled it to a better position. “But you—I thought—”
“You thought what?”
“He—I could train him!” Trevor rushed eagerly. His father would never let him waste time on a such as thing as a household pet, so Trevor had invented a plan. “I’ve seen the Krusts use their hounds for hunting. He could help us, you know, later on. Dogs use their noses and stuff.”
Trevor knew it was the wrong thing to say when his father stopped. His bearded face was set towards the manor while his broad back stretched tall as a mountain to Trevor.
“Help us?” his father said quietly, the warmth that inhabited his voice during meals wholly absent. Trevor anxiously waited for him to say more until the silence stretched on beyond a simple pause.
“Yes,” Trevor insisted, saying it with a resolve that swallowed his hesitations. His father turned to him then with a sigh. He wore the lines of disappointment on features, an expression as intimately familiar to Trevor as the bestiary illustrations he obsessed over in the hold.
“What do the Greysons’ hounds do, Trevor?”
“They protect the sheep from harm,” Trevor said quickly, having gone over this argument in his head many times. The walk between the Greysons’ farm and the Belmont Estate was a long one.
“From wolves and other wild beasts.”
“And what manner of beasts do we hunt, Trevor?” His father’s words were not harsh or even said in anger, and yet Trevor felt the blow of them all the same. He saw the future he had crafted that afternoon slipping away like it was made of snow, like it had always been made of snow, and Trevor had been foolish enough to labor over something that would melt in the sun. Trevor didn’t answer, hating the way his eyes burned no matter how hard he willed the feeling away.
His father took a knee so as to be close enough to meet his eyes at level.
“Son,” his father started in his ever-familiar lecturing tone, “We Belmonts do not hunt wolves. We do not hunt bears. We do not hunt boar. We hunt...?”
“—the night itself,” Trevor finished scratchily, as was expected of him.
“Exactly, Trevor. We have a job, a duty, and though it is largely thankless it is ours and ours alone. This fellow here,” and his father gave the small dog an easy pet between his ears, “Isn’t like us. No amount of training could make him what we are. Everything has a design. Vampires will drink blood, the Church folk will pray, sheepdogs will herd sheep, and Belmonts will hunt...?”
“—the night itself,” Trevor repeated, more begrudgingly than he had the first time.
“Yes. And how do you think this fellow would fare against a vampire, or even a gargoyle or specter?”
“But he’ll have me,” he protested in a quiet voice. He jutted his chin up as he waited for his father to deny it, or to tell Trevor that he wasn’t ready; that he wasn’t enough on his own.
His father did no such thing and instead, much to Trevor’s surprise, he nodded in agreement. “This is true. But the truth is larger than that. There will be times you cannot be there, or will not be there in time. What will happen when you aren’t there at his side? It only takes once.”
“So how do you do it?”
“Me?” His father’s dark eyebrows drew into a wrinkled furrow. Trevor swiped an arm across his face, his fears buoyed close to the surface like air trapped under ice. He focused on regaining the stern, grown-up expression he had practiced. He was so focused that he nearly missed how his father’s hard-lined mouth had softened.
“If we cannot save someone it may feel like failure,” his father said, “but if we do not try, we have already failed. Part of protecting people is knowing that you cannot protect everyone, all of the time.” He paused before continuing with a deep fondness Trevor yearned to hear and yet heard less often, “It’s why you must not place him in danger, just as I, you.”
The choice that was given to Trevor was in truth not a choice at all, but he stood and mulled it over as if it was one. It was easier to agree when his father was looking upon him with a certain warmth that only appeared at Trevor’s success with a whip.
“That’s a good lad.” His father gave a small smile and clapped him on the shoulder before rising to his feet. Trevor tried not to sway under the impact. Once back to his usual towering height, his father struck a pose Trevor was as accustomed to imitating as he was to seeing it. It looked like this:
With his back straight and both arms crossed over his chest, he untucked one hand to gesture it forward, palm up.
Trevor knew this meant his father was about to present him with wisdom that had either taken generations of Belmont quests to attain or that his father had come up with on the spot. It didn’t matter much to Trevor whichever was the origin. He liked to stash away the adages as they came, like small coins that would someday become a treasure if only in number.
“Remember, son,” his father said seriously, hand forward, palm up. He stretched out a pause and spoke slowly, clearly for the drama of it. “If you can keep someone out of trouble, then you’ll save yourself the trouble of saving them later.”
Trevor’s eyes went wide. “Yes, father.” His father was very smart. And very good with words. Trevor was not, but he had decided he would be very good with words when he grew up.
His father dropped his expressive hand to his side with a grunt of approval. It was a dismissal, and Trevor knew it for what it was. He also knew that he had already pushed enough— any more would likely tip the balance into something sour.
So Trevor watched his father walk away towards the manor and swallowed his final protest. It caught thick as blood in the back of his throat, heavy and unspoken.
He'd already named him.
On the third morning of being trapped in a tiny cave, Trevor gets sick of calling his companion ‘Wolfdog’ and ‘Hey You’.
Actually, a number of ‘Big Boy’ renditions get thrown into the ring after Trevor witnesses the wolfdog taking a piss. During the snowstorm there wasn’t anywhere to relieve themselves out of sight of each other, which, what? It shouldn’t matter, it’s a dog.
Well, it would seem Trevor found the only dog in Wallachia with a sense of discretion.
Trevor watches the wolfdog pee, okay, because he’s curious. He feels weird about calling it ‘it’. Even then, his previous attempt to get a look at the— the bits— had resulted in the dog snarling at him for what felt like an hour. So, when the dog goes over to what Trevor had mentally dubbed the Piss Corner, Trevor watches.
“Man wolf dog.” Trevor announces each word distinctly before chuckling at his own joke. The wolfdog does not find it funny and, strangely enough, will not meet Trevor’s gaze. His big ears are angled back awkwardly. As if he’s embarrassed. Did more intelligent animals have a form of... modesty?
No, definitely not. They were naked all the time, unless you counted the fur, and if you did count the fur, then that would mean...
Trevor falls asleep because thinking about it makes his head swim.
The next day is the same as the first, except the wolfdog gets promoted to Fluffy Boy (for the warm cuddling) and demoted to Bastard (for the ungodly shedding).
On the third morning, Trevor is sick of the cave and running out of things to call his temporary buddy. His gratitude for the sun peering through the melting snow wall is immense since he needs to get the fuck out. He hasn’t stretched his legs in hours. In days. In forever.
They both emerge from the makeshift bunker into a white expanse. The snow is deep around his legs and covers everything in a thick, undisturbed sheet that glitters like opal. Adding to the peaceful scene is a wash of clear sunlight which makes the whole thing blindingly, blindingly bright.
“Fucking... fresh hell.” Trevor shades his eyes with a hand. Squinting at the transformed landscape, his poor stupid eyes eventually adjust enough for him to watch as the wolfdog wanders from the cave to stand out and away from Trevor. He’s still got a limp and there’s old blood crusting the large bandage— but the days of rest have done him good.
So good in fact that Trevor fully expects him to limp away. Just, limp off into the distance as they each go their separate ways.
He’s as free of the cave as Trevor and no longer on death’s doorstep. The big guy will probably head back to his owner using whatever uncanny sense of direction God gave to wild creatures, and Trevor will head towards a town using the shitty map given to him by Sypha.
Trevor opens his mouth to say goodbye before realizing he doesn’t do goodbyes, especially not to dogs who can’t speak human. That would be moronic. He instead does the mature, well-adjusted thing by swerving on his heels to walk away without so much as a word.
A minute into his trudging stomp through the snow Trevor feels like tearing out his hair because he can’t stop thinking about the fucking dog.
He glances over his shoulder, then, and nearly jumps out of his skin; his hand shoots to one of his knives on instinct.
“Christ! You— I almost took a crack at you. Shit!”
The wolfdog stares at him. He doesn’t have the decency to look even a little apologetic. If anything, he looks awfully pleased with himself for scaring the shit out of Trevor. That thing is silent on the snow, limp and all. It’s incredible.
Trevor doesn’t say this, though. Eyes narrowing, he cocks his head to the side.
“You planning on sticking with me, boy?”
Those golden eyes keep staring back at him. Not even a blink. The staring contest endures until the wolfdog breaks it with a small, tentative wag of his enormous tail.
“It’s fine, I guess. If you want to come along.” Trevor looks away and the brash part of himself breaks the surface of his façade. A faint smile tugs at his lips. “I’ll protect you.”
At the very least, he can try.
“Frosty, hey, come here boy.”
The dog does not come. He doesn’t so much as look at Trevor from where he’s standing by an old pine tree, staring longingly after the raccoon that had scampered up its branches.
“Hey, uh, Blizzard. Get back here.”
No response to that one, either. Trevor strokes his chin and muses, “How about... Ah—no no, Al—”
The wolfdog snaps his attention to Trevor, quick as a whip.
“...Alphonse,” he finishes slowly.
Although previously interested, the wolfdog blinks and angles his head away, the rejection as clear as if it had been said aloud.
“What? Don’t like people names? Not even... Beniamin?”
The wolfdog briefly glances at Trevor before walking even further away from him. Wow.
“Alright then, Shitbitch,” Trevor mutters. The wolfdog gives him a look of such distain that it actually gets Trevor to roll his eyes. At a dog.
Now that the wolfdog is still around and— from the look of things— not running off anytime soon, Trevor had become hell bent on naming him. The task had originally seemed easy, maybe even a chance for some boy-and-his-dog bonding, but. Well.
This dog, this fucking wolfdog, he doesn’t like Trevor’s names.
He doesn’t like any of Trevor’s names, even the good ones. And Trevor knows that he doesn’t like the names because he makes damn sure Trevor knows.
The first name Trevor had called him was White Fang, which hey, he thinks it’s a great name for a dog. It’s majestic and shit. It took him a long time to come up with it, too, all so that the wolfdog could snort and hobble away like Trevor had offered him garbage.
He hadn’t been deterred by what had transformed into a challenge. So far there had been: Frostbite, Brandy, Crystal Dagger, Cloudtail, Ghost Hunter, Lightning, and finally, Howard.
The wolfdog hadn’t taken to any of them, much to Trevor’s dismay. It’s as if the wolfdog is determined to remain a nameless thing, drifting along without anything tangible for Trevor to grasp. Intangible...
With the wolfdog now back at his side, he casually peeks over at him. “Moon-mist?”
Trevor yelps at the answering nip at his ankle.
“Damn—Fuckin’—Okay, Princess! D’you like ‘Princess’? Because that’s what you fucking are.”
Ah, yes, the wolfdog raises his snout to the air, snootily. Mocking him with half-lidded eyes. Unbelievable. Trevor wants to trade for a better, less dickish dog.
The biting puts an end to Trevor’s naming fun for the rest of the day in fear for his delicate ankles. The headway they do make is sluggish in the snow and only somewhat due to the dog’s remaining limp. They walk in companionable silence, a silence that Trevor starts to understand as very different than the silence he keeps on his own. It feels different, at least. It feels... nice.
He begins setting up camp as the sun sets—not in a cave, thank you— and throws the wolfdog some of the food he’d acquired over the day. It had been a group effort; the wolfdog, chasing shit up trees and Trevor, shooting said shit out of trees.
Sitting around the fire, Trevor settles in to clean off the knives he had used. His companion is laying down a few feet away, his massive head resting on equally massive forepaws while his breath stirs the snow in front of him.
Even with the splint, even with the bandaging, the wolfdog looks ever the regal creature. When he sits like this, like a house pet on a hearth, he appears all the more feral. Untamed— like nothing in him could be touched or moved by man.
There’s a stillness to him that speaks of violence rendered. It should be a threat to Trevor, but all it does is arouse a sense of kinship. Trevor can’t exactly say why. Maybe it’s because he’s always being called an animal. Maybe, being excommunicated, he’s already closer to being one.
It makes Trevor feel foolish about trying to name him. Who is he, anyway, to name something else? Perhaps the dog already has a name, one that Trevor will never know, or perhaps he doesn’t want one at all. Shit.
“I’m not very good at this,” Trevor admits, albeit gruffly. He scratches the back of his head and looks over. The wolfdog is gazing at him with his characteristic half-lidded eyes as the firelight flints against them, and from the shadows of his face the irises reflectively glint with the luster of gilded coins.
The memory unspools from him, unbidden and swift, of his mother’s dowry— how it had been kept in the manor, not the hold, and how it had looked all melted together, after.
“Aurum,” he mouths to himself. The word spills from him unprompted, surprising him in how smoothly it slots into the air around them.
He’s likewise surprised by the sudden weight added to his lap. Head heavy on Trevor's thigh, the wolfdog allows him to rub the space behind his ears. He certainly does say a lot, for a dog.
“Aurum,” Trevor repeats, and grins when no bites land in judgement upon on his leg. It’s a start.
Trevor knows his real name. It stands in his mind, a shadow on steel; a man shaped like a coffin.
He faces towards the beast and calls him what he is.
EDIT: For all of you who didn’t major in classics, ‘aurum’ is latin for ‘gold’.
I am endlessly grateful to my beta, Danny, who saves you all from reading my mistakes. I am also grateful to my best friend, Morgan, for demanding I write this story in the first place.
And thank you, readers, for your kudos, comments and compliments! Each and every one had me opening up my computer to write more, even when I had 'finished' for the day. I am a very slow writer, so thank you for your patience as well.
Thing is, Trevor doesn’t know shit about dogs.
He thought he did. He grew up with horses. Shit, he was practically born on one. Dogs and the like are just... smaller creatures. Besides, even a well-led horse could get in a temper and kick a man’s eye out of his head. How hard could training a dog be for a practiced, assertive man such as himself?
It’s hard. It’s really, really hard.
The wolfdog watches as Trevor chucks a hefty stick over his head. He watches the stick’s trajectory impassively, sharp eyes trained on it, and doesn’t move. Doesn’t move so much an inch. Bastard.
Aurum stares at the stick a moment longer before turning to Trevor in that slow way of his that Trevor now understands as entirely deliberate. Nothing about the wolfdog is slow. He is either perfectly still or explosively quick— anything in-between is specifically meant to piss Trevor off.
“You’re supposed to get it. The stick.” Trevor points at it for good measure. “It’s fetch.”
The dog looks at the stick again, then back to Trevor. He snorts and manages to look indignant about Trevor’s attempt to do a completely normal, everyday thing.
“Don’t fucking ‘wuff’ at me, buddy. You should be good at this. It’s natural instinct or whatever.”
Aurum stares at him, completely unreadable. Trevor can’t tell if he’s being challenged. Is he being challenged? Does he need to— to dominate him or something? How does he do that? Does that alpha male shit apply here?
Trevor skeptically eyes Aurum. “I’m the alpha.”
Aurum doesn’t react. Perhaps more clarification is needed. “I’m, uh... alpha-ing you. You’re being alpha’d, buddy.”
The wolfdog huffs and grins, his red tongue lolling out of his mouth. It’s like he’s laughing at him.
“Sit,” Trevor tries in his most commanding tone, hands on his hips and back uncomfortably straight. Aurum stares at him some more, then amazingly, begins to sit. It’s the slowest sit in all of fucking Wallachia but it’s sitting.
Almost. Almost sitting. The wolfdog halts the sit process with his butt hovering mere centimeters from the ground.
“No, sit. Siiiiiiiit. Furry ass on the ground, boy.”
Aurum looks away from him, butt still hovering. Fine. Trevor leans over and pushes the dog’s butt the rest of the way himself. Standing back, he evaluates the full sit. It’s close enough, probably. Something oddly pride-shaped lodges itself into his chest.
“Good boy! Good sit,” Trevor praises the wolfdog. Aurum’s ears perk up a little at that. It’s cute.
“Aurum, down.” The wolfdog blinks, then stands up because he’s a punk-ass bitch.
Trevor runs a few more trials and discovers that for all that Aurum is clever he is equally disobedient. He knows sit, stay, and lay down but goes about performing them with varying degrees of compliance. “Roll over” is an utter failure. “Fetch” results not only in failure but also in Trevor chasing after the stick himself. The few commands Aurum does know are inconsistently followed, like they depend on Aurum’s fanciful wolfy-whims.
Trevor knows that this is what they call ‘bad behavior’.
He’s not even surprised, really. Aurum is one of those rare creatures that manages to be just as stubborn as Trevor himself. No, he’s not surprised. Instead, he has a suspicion.
He tests his suspicion later in the day when they’ve stopped for Trevor to take a quick break. Sitting on a rotting log, Trevor holds his hand out to Aurum.
“Aurum, shake.” The wolfdog glowers at Trevor’s offered palm in open contempt.
Trevor scrubs his other hand over his face and sighs. “Aurum, shake my hand... please.”
Aurum daintily places one of his huge-ass paws in Trevor’s awaiting hand with the kind of poise used by proper ladies at exquisite balls.
“Oh,” Trevor groans, shaking the paw as expected, “Oh, you righteous bastard. I can’t believe this. You want me to ask nicely?”
The white paw drops from Trevor’s hand to his knee with an answering wuff.
“Ugh, you’re such a prat.” He rubs the soft fur behind Aurum’s ear. “Who raised you to be a gentleman, hm?”
The wolfdog’s golden eyes slide over to his and shine with flattery.
“Don’t look so pleased with yourself. You’re a dog, not a lord.” Trevor pauses in his petting, frowning, “Aristocratic manners won’t win you anything out here.” Not these days. They were the first holdover he shed once he was on his own. As it turns out, you don’t quite notice the weight of those things until you dropped them.
“We need to get moving,” Trevor grumbles, but waits a few minutes longer. Aurum has settled his head on his knee and Trevor idly runs his hand over the shape of it, thinking about what kind of person trains their dog to be polite.
Mmm, some posh idiot, probably. A sadist, maybe. ‘Please and thank you’ his ass. Training or no, Trevor doesn’t like the idea of a dog being more civilized than him.
Thankfully, it only takes another day for Trevor to reassure himself that he has slightly better manners than a dog.
The day starts normal. Starts good, even. The splint comes off in the late morning. Trevor settles down to change the bandaging and finds that everything about them look... well it’s hard to say what they look like. The torso wound seems closed but the area is obscured, covered, absolutely matted with old blood.
He tries to wash some of the gunk off with melted snow but Aurum is having none of it. Nearly takes his fingers off with those sharp set of teeth, the ungrateful git. He bandages it back up with a clean wrap anyway, thinking he’ll try cleaning it again when the wolfdog is too tired to care. The splint comes off entirely because the leg looks fine. Like it was never in a bad way to begin with.
It’s baffling. Trevor’s too grateful to really question it, and besides, it’s not like he actually knows anything about wolfdog anatomy. Maybe something about their cross-breeding lends itself to faster healing. That’d be crazy, right?
Fast recovery aside, the wolfdog still has a small limp. It’s like a hiccup in his otherwise graceful tread, and there’s something close to frustration in the way Aurum holds himself. But he’s quicker, now; doesn’t need Trevor to slow down to keep pace.
They start making good time. They’re sticking close to the road where the snow is more melted and it’s easier to trek along without sinking into a bank.
Braila is a while off still, but according to Sypha’s map there’s a small town up ahead. At the pace they’re at they’ll make it by nightfall. If the village is miraculously untouched, then Trevor can have a drink, sleep on a tavern bench, maybe find some stores for him and Aurum to split during the rest of the trip. If the village was visited by hellspawn... well. Well. Maybe the drink will be free and maybe there’ll be a bed some poor farmhand didn’t spill his guts on.
Trevor’s looking down at his map, feeling distinctly thirsty, when he hears the sound of a horse.
He snaps up and sees the two travelers the same moment they see him. Shit on a stick.
It’s two men, one on horseback and one on foot, coming from the direction he’s heading. The horse looks shitty, the men look worse. Trevor knows that he looks like shit himself— he hasn’t shaved in ages, hasn’t taken a bath in longer, and he’s wearing a second coat made out of shed wolfdog hair and congealed demon gore. But he’s ruggedly handsome at least; he’s been told as much. These fellas, in Trevor’s gracious opinion, are ugly on top of looking like shit.
No, he does not want to talk to these people if he can help it. He’s not gonna walk any closer to the road than he already is, he’s not gonna trade bad news, he’s not gonna give some strangers the chance to judge him.
Trevor raises a hand to give a half-assed wave. The man on foot raises a hand and the man on the horse raises a goddamn bow.
“Oh come on,” Trevor complains as the bowman knocks an arrow. “Really? I haven’t even—”
He’s ready for the arrow to come at him, he already has his short sword out in his hand. What he isn’t expecting is for the arrow to go wide around him and thunk harmlessly in the snow behind him.
Right where Aurum was just standing.
Fuck. Oh fuck.
“Fuck,” Trevor says, with feeling. He starts running, pulling his legs through the snow like it’s nothing, like his legs aren’t already burning from days of walking. But the wolfdog is shooting ahead of him in a white streak, fast as the arrow that came his way.
He’s beautiful, Trevor thinks, watching in a curdling mix of awe and horror as Aurum leaps into the air. His huge body forms a graceful line that ends in an arrowhead of teeth, and Trevor has a moment to admire it before Aurum barrels into the archer.
The wolfdog knocks the man clear off his rearing horse. It’s instantaneous. One moment he’s there and the next he’s not. Both strangers are yelling... well, screaming. The horse has decided to get the fuck out of there and it bolts, leaving Trevor plenty of room to see Aurum’s hulking figure standing on top of the guy who’s moved on from screaming to full-on blubbering.
The other man, still in the screaming phase, is approaching Aurum with a big stick over his head. It would be funny if Trevor didn’t think the stick was big enough to knock his brain loose from his skull. It’s still a little funny, though.
Trevor catches up just before the man gets a swing at Aurum. “Whoa!” he shouts as he inserts himself between the stick and the dog, arms raised in front of him, “Whoa now, no need to be hasty—”
“It’s gonna eat ‘im!” The man doesn’t lower the stick. His eyes are bugged out and dart between Trevor and the dogpile on the ground. “God almighty, it’s—it’s killed George!”
“I doubt it,” Trevor says gruffly, as evident by the sniveling behind him. He takes a step back, arms still outstretched, and looks at Aurum. The wolfdog is standing with his front paws pressing down on the man’s chest. A row of white hair is raised in a stiff peak along the dog’s scruff and back. Despite the man’s larger size, not only is he unable to get Aurum to budge off him but it also would seem that he’s having a hard time breathing.
“Off, boy,” Trevor orders. Aurum ignores him and leans his head down, his snarling maw brought to be even closer to George’s face. The poor guy starts crying harder.
“Jesus Christ, Aurum, get off the fucker for Christ’s sake!” He shoves at the wolfdog which doesn’t so much as budge him. Nevertheless, it does get Aurum to look at Trevor. His lips are still pulled back into a dreadful snarl.
Would Trevor like to let Aurum rip this man’s throat out? Sure. It’d be easier, certainly.
But should he? Then Trevor would have to also fight the idiot with the stick. He doesn’t love the idea of murdering normal people traveling on the road. Feels distinctly un-heroic.
“Please get off,” Trevor grouses. Aurum keeps growling but finally steps off the guy, thank fucking God. Trevor turns to talk to Stick Man just as the man starts swinging down at Aurum with his dumbass log of a tree branch.
Trevor reacts immediately with a swear. He’s fast enough to catch the stick on its stroke downwards and jerk it out of the stranger’s hands where it goes spinning into the snow out of sight. The splinters he gets for his trouble have enough bite to make him wince. Fuck, those are going to hurt coming out later.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” the now-stickless man shouts, and he sounds like he wouldn’t have cared if his swing had taken out Trevor instead of the dog. Rude. Even though Trevor’s hand itches to go to his weapons he restrains himself and gestures around them.
“Me? Me, huh? What the hell is wrong with you?”
The man stares at him blankly.
Trevor scowls, places a hand on Aurum’s head next to him. “Your friend fucking attacked my dog.”
“Your dog?” the man repeats in shock. He looks between Trevor and the dog again. “That’s... your dog?”
“Yeah, your ears broken or something?”
“Are your eyes broken? That’s not a—a fucking dog!” The stranger points at Aurum who starts growling again. “That’s a wolf, dipshit!”
Okay, now that gets Trevor slipping into anger territory. He puts a hand on his sword’s hilt and draws himself up to his full height. “He’s a wolfdog. Dog. As in, what kind of bastard goes around shooting at other people’s dogs?”
The guy seems to understand his disadvantage, what with his stick gone and Trevor standing in front of him armed to the teeth. “Uh, well, we uh—”
“How’re we s‘pose to know that’s a dog?” the other man chimes in from the ground. He’s sitting up with his eyes locked on Aurum, “It doesn’t look anything like a dog!”
Aside from a few tears in his clothes and the piss-stain on his trousers, the guy, George, looks fine. There’s also a good amount of dog drool mucking up his beard and shirt but Trevor hardly counts that as harm done. Better than a shredded jugular.
“We thought you were being stalked by the beast, see.” The man in front of Trevor looks more sheepish than mad. “Thought we were doing you a favor.”
“Yeah,” George adds from the ground, nodding hastily. “Yeah, you should, uh, put a collar on it or something.”
“Hm,” Trevor grunts. He doesn’t say anything else, and the three men all stare at each other in silence. Aurum is also staring, but that’s just what he does.
“Are you...” George gets up from the ground, looking nervous. “Are you sure that’s a dog?”
“M’hmm. Yup,” Trevor says with confidence. He pats the wolfdog’s head. “Aurum, sit.”
Aurum slowly sits into a miraculous full-on sit. He still looks angry, absolutely pissed-off, and the sitting doesn’t lessen the murderous intent swimming in his golden eyes. Cool.
Trevor gestures outwards and impulsively says, “Aurum, go fetch.”
Aurum stares at him. He stares back. He tries to communicate with his eyes the way that Aurum does, but he’s pretty sure he just looks like he’s going to shit himself.
He’s about to repeat the command, or better yet, try a different trick that has actually worked in the past, when Aurum stands up. The wolfdog then turns around, tellingly slow, and starts... walking away. He pads over a ways off to the bow half-buried in the snow. He sniffs it.
To Trevor’s complete amazement, he picks it up in his mouth. They all watch expectantly as Aurum carries it back over to the group. The wolfdog stops a short distance in front of them.
Amazing. Truly amazing. This beautiful, terrifying dog won’t fetch a dumb stick but he’ll grab a man’s bow? Now that? That’s standards.
“Good boy,” Trevor starts, feeling rightly smug, “Now drop—”
Aurum snaps the bow into pieces between his massive jaws with a resounding crunch.
“Uh.” This is not good. “Uh, bad. Bad dog.”
Aurum gives the bow another crunch before dropping the pieces, his half-lidded eyes shining with unrestrained amusement. Trevor is— he’s— it’s impossibly funny. His dog is such an asshole.
The archer gives a little gasp and his friend gives him a consoling pat on the shoulder. Well, they did try to shoot him.
Aurum walks over to Trevor, who in turn gives the two men a shrug. “We’re working on it.”
The wolfdog thumps his tail on the ground a few times while looking enormously pleased. The smaller man looks like he’s got something to say, but before he can argue with Trevor his good pal George slaps him across the back.
“Yeah, yeah mate we can see that,” George says with too much enthusiasm, “Great dog.”
Aurum growls. Both men take a step back. Cowards.
“Your horse seems to have, uh, abandoned you.” Trevor glances around and yeah, there’s no sign of that thing. He turns a palm up to the strangers, “You know, if you want some help—”
“We’re good!” Stick Man says quickly.
Trevor grins, “If you say so. Best of luck with that.”
The two men back away slowly, nodding and making excuses as they put some distance between themselves and Trevor. Eventually they turn around and start calling for their horse, if you can even call that sad thing a horse, and Trevor is left alone with his wolfdog.
He turns to Aurum. “Boy, you’re a real git, huh.”
The bushy white tail does a few wags. Shortly after, Aurum seals the deal with a wet-nosed bump. How can he be mad when Aurum is off being a defensive powerhouse with a bad attitude and a cute face?
“Idiots,” Trevor grumbles as he watches the men bumble around in the distance, “Can’t even tell a dog from an actual threat.”
The village is destroyed.
Destroyed is the nicest word for it. Decimated is more accurate. One side of the place is practically leveled; the only evidence that it used to be buildings are the splitters of house frames sticking out of the sooty ground. The other half of the town is more or less intact which consists of some ragged houses and small, small businesses.
Aurum sticks close to his side as they move through the remains, seeming on edge with his luminous eyes sweeping the scene like twin lighthouses. Trevor doesn’t feel the same sense of danger. Why should he? There’s no one left from the look of things, and demons don’t waste time on empty towns. They pass a few mangled corpses, a few people pieces that aren’t so recognizable when they’re not attached. It’s not nearly as many as Trevor would expect from a village of this size. It’s within reason to assume half the village cleared out, maybe more, before the hoard reached them.
Trevor eyes what used to be a man halfway out of a doorway. There’s a pitchfork still gripped in his withered hands and no head on his shoulders. So, some townspeople risked the roads and woods while others thought to fight. Seeing as there’s no one around to greet them, Trevor would say the fighting didn’t turn out so well. Surprise surprise.
He spends the hour before dark looting. The people he leaves be, only stepping over them when he has to, as he goes through the damaged buildings. He grabs a thing or two out of the town’s dinky smithery and a scant amount of preserved food from the houses.
Aurum doesn’t follow him inside. Each time Trevor passes through the doorway or steps through a caved-in wall, the wolfdog waits just outside of the structure, watching. At first Trevor assumes it’s out of fear or—or a kind of watchdog sensibility. But when he comes out of a partially collapsed house with a thick moth-eaten blanket, he recognizes the dirty look Aurum is giving him.
“It’s fine if you want to go ahead and judge me,” Trevor remarks with an eye-roll, “Just don’t get all huffy when you’re cold and I’m not.” He cocks his head to the side towards the top half of an old lady decaying out in the yard. “Besides, she’s not going to be using it any time soon.”
He marches himself to the village tavern with his ‘ill-gotten’ loot, noting that the sign says “Goat’s Gruff” in peeling paint. There’s even a mounted goat head hanging over the bar.
Trevor eyes the hairy head with suspicion. “What is it with countryside peasants and goats?”
He tosses his pack to hang over the shitty trophy and gets to work. A good bit later and he’s reclining in a pile of blankets with a bottle of wine. He’s the king of—of goat... shit, uh, mountain. The tavern is trashed and most of the goods are missing but it has all four walls, a roof, and no dead bodies. That makes it damn luxurious real estate.
The chair fire in the tavern fireplace makes the room illuminated and warm. Yeah, chair fire. He stacked a couple of broken wooden chairs together because it’s all just wood, and it’s not green or damp like the wood he’s been dealing with outside.
Between the fire, the blankets, and the wine, Trevor is cozy. Toasty, even. By the time Aurum decides to dignify him with his presence, Trevor has downed an entire bottle and is deep into a second. The world is pleasantly fuzzy.
He offers the remainder of the wine to his companion who delicately sniffs the rim and declines it with a wrinkled snout. Of course.
“Suit yourself,” Trevor says cheerfully, taking another swig. Eugh, it’s puckeringly sour and tastes like ass. He makes a face. “You’re right, it’s shit. But to waste it would be... wasteful.”
Aurum huffs and surveys the room. He doesn’t seem impressed by Trevor’s chair fire or blanket mountain. Then again, he rarely seems impressed by anything.
It reminds him of an idea he had earlier. Rummaging haphazardly through his blankets, Trevor searches for his very good, very smart idea. It draws attention from the wolfdog, who pauses in his assessment of the tavern to instead watch Trevor with mild curiosity.
Eventually, Trevor finds the item and brings it out with a triumphant grin. “Ha!”
Aurum takes one look at what’s in his hand and snorts dismissively.
It’s a collar. Well, it’s almost a collar. It’s a belt.
It’s a belt Trevor found in the wrecked smithery that was likely made for a child going by the size of it. The slim black leather is pressed with a geometric folk pattern common to this region, and the craftsmanship of the little diamond shapes makes Trevor think the maker was at least a somewhat competent cordwainer. The buckle is simple copper but well made.
Trevor’s seen fancier belts worn by priests, though any decoration is baffling to him. Belts were for two things; holding pants up and pretending they were whips. Now they served a third purpose: dog collars.
Aurum is not interested. Trevor knows it probably has nothing to do with how the design isn’t up to Aurum’s standards. But. He had also known it would be a hard sell.
He rolls himself forward so that he’s sitting up, “Look, I don’t have a, uh, problem with you being all... wolfy. It’s incredible. Incredibly majestic. But the people out there aren’t... they aren’t forgiving.” Trevor stares at the makeshift collar, feels his mind get slippery on it. “Wallachia is a shithole,” he grunts to his bottle, “They hate, destroy anything they don’t understand and—and they don’t understand half of what the fuck is happening. Hell, I don’t even understand half of what’s happening. What I’m doing. I feel like I have to be what my parents would have wanted, but I...”
Trevor’s brain stalls, gets stuck like it always does when it came to his family. It was an uprooted nail that snagged the threads of his thoughts. And if he tugged at it, pulled away too fast, it would unravel in an unpredictable way. Fuck. It’s enough to force Trevor to finish the rest of the wine.
“The burden of it it’s... it’s fucking bullshit, you know? It’s like... I can’t fucking leave them be, can’t—can’t let them all get gobbled up by monsters even when they’re yelling, ‘eat me, eat me!’” His voice twists mockingly at the end as he flops his hands around. “They don’t deserve it, really,” he admits, “They’re just... stupid and bad at fighting. So bad at fighting, Christ.” It’s going to make him depressed just thinking about all the shoddy pitchforks.
He looks into the bottle, frowns at the dry bottom. Maybe he can find another bottle if... wait. Wait. Can Aurum sniff out libations?
“Boy, wine!” Trevor slurs and holds out his empty bottle. Aurum looks at the bottle. Aurum does nothing.
“No no, wine! Wine. Er, go fetch more wine.” Trevor gestures with the empty bottle again. It must work because the wolfdog ever-so-gently takes the bottle from Trevor into his mouth. Success!
Aurum steps away and drops the bottle to ground with a clank. Then he sits. Un-fucking-believable.
“Traitor,” Trevor moans, “You—you’re supposed to be my... my best friend! Betrayed in the end... by man’s best friend.” He opens his palm to the ceiling dramatically with a hiccup. “Truly, all of Wallachia is lost.”
The traitor comes over and steps into Trevor’s blanket mound. Trevor squints at him from his drunken slant before flapping open the bundle in a truce, which Aurum takes the time to consider before tucking into his side. Seeing as the wolfdog is as big, if not bigger, than himself, the blankets get sort of... thrown over him.
As Trevor opens his mouth to continue complaining, the wolfdog pushes out a drawn-out sigh and stretches himself halfway across Trevor’s lap. He smells like dog. He also happens to be heavy, and warm, and very, very fluffy.
It’s definitely going to put his legs to sleep. Hm. That’s a problem for tomorrow’s Trevor.
“You going to let me put this on?” he asks as he brings the collar out again. “It just tells other folk that you’re not, uh, a wild animal. That you’re mine. It’ll keep you out of trouble, and if we can keep you out of trouble...” Shit. How did it go?
“...Then, it’ll keep us from the work of... fuck, of cleaning up your mess later.” Mmm no, that’s not it.
Lucky for Trevor, Aurum is a dog, so he doesn’t give a shit what he’s saying. The wolfdog grunts and barely cracks his eyes open, which is basically an enthusiastic yes as far as Trevor’s concerned.
It only takes two, okay, five attempts to get the thing on. His hands aren’t as nimble or skilled as they could be and the angle is terrible. Aurum doesn’t help at all and his big head weighs a fuck ton. Once he successfully gets the collar notched, Trevor slouches further into the blankets and buries his hands in the soft fur in front of him. “I’ll get you a, uh, nicer one later. Covered in jewels and gold and shit, since you’re such a fucking princess.” Did they make collars like that? Sounds exactly like the nonsense rich bastards wasted money on.
Maybe Trevor could get one with the Belmont family crest on it, once this was all over and it wasn’t the same as pinning a target to your chest.
Y'all, thank you for your incredible support! I love that you love what I love, which is by and large general buffoonery. I hope you enjoy your monthly update as much as Alucard enjoys being a big prissy meanie.
And to clarify, no, Alucard does not know who Trevor is (specifically, a Belmont). That's called Drama.
Alucard get out of the way there’s a demon coming. oh my god he has airpods in. he can’t hear us. oh my god.
“No biting,” Trevor lectures, one hand flipping about in the air, “Don’t bite people. One, because you’re better than that, and another, it’s gross. Good dogs don’t bite random people. It makes you look bad. But, more importantly, it makes me look bad.”
Aurum growls and shows Trevor a sliver of white, white teeth.
“See? That. That—you gotta keep those in there.”
The dog widens his mouth, cracks his smile into something grotesque.
“I’m serious!” Trevor laughs and lazily bumps Aurum’s snout with his hand. The wolfdog immediately clicks his jaw shut. “Biting? Bad. It’s always bad.” Trevor annunciates ‘bad’ each time, hoping to convey some level of disapproval.
On the road earlier that morning, they had passed some countrymen who first solicited Trevor for food and coin, then said some unfriendly things once they realized they wouldn’t get any from him. It wasn’t anything unusual for Trevor, hell, he’d been in their position numerous times. This specific occasion however, the travelers had made a comment about Aurum, something about buggering, something about bitches, blah blah blah.
Trevor hadn’t been listening, so he had almost missed Aurum biting one of the guys in the ass.
At the time? It was hilarious. The guys had squealed like a stuck pig, the small group scampering away as quick as their feet could carry them. Aurum was all narrowed eyes and contemptuous stares, pretending the whole thing hadn’t happened.
Even now, Trevor has a hunch that Aurum isn’t taking him seriously. “You can’t just bite people because they’re rude.”
Aurum gives Trevor a confident look that says that yes, he can.
“If you bit every asshole you’d met, you’d have to sink your teeth into half of Wallachia.”
Aurum considers this, then carefully puts his mouth over Trevor’s arm, entirely without force or pressure.
“You calling me an asshole?”
The dog removes his mouth and wuffs cheekily.
“Shitbitch,” Trevor says, mostly with fondness. He looks out over the farmland as they walk.
The farms are largely abandoned. It must have been recent, going by the still well-kept state the fields are in. With these many farms, these many crops, it would make sense that they were not far from Braila. A city that big would require acres upon acres of local food to supply its population. With each field they pass, they get closer to their goal. Closer to Sypha.
“Now, if we’re talking about extremely rude people... yeah, maybe. If someone was attacking me, per se, you can go wild. Also,” Trevor pauses, scrunching up his face, “Priests. God, I don’t like them, can’t stand them, couldn’t care less about them.”
He points at his dog. “You see a priest? Free chew toy.”
Aurum tilts his head, his gold eyes inquisitive.
“If the Church actually did half of what they claimed to do to help, or if they focused more on exorcising monsters rather than its own people, they’d have more of my respect.”
The wolfdog snorts dismissively.
“Yes, I do have respect for some things! Deep, deep down. Way deep down.” Trevor rubs at his stubble. “But as it stands right now? The only thing worse than a troop of fucking self-righteous priests is a bunch of vampires.”
The final stretch of road to Braila is not as empty as Trevor had expected. Or hoped, really.
It’s dusk. The color of everything has been slowly leeched away along with the sun’s desertion, but there’s enough fading light left to see dark shapes coming out from the forest tree line.
The movement is... ragged. Unsettling. The sight immediately puts Trevor on edge, holding him in place even though the shapes aren’t moving in his direction. Aurum stills next to him, gold eyes intent on the shadowy figures. They had been traveling somewhat close to the road and yet still close to the brush to avoid being out in the open. It’s one of the many reasons Trevor hates traveling via road in the first place; it’s a tactical nightmare.
Today though, today is his lucky day. The group of Dracula’s demons haven’t noticed them and keep lumbering farther and farther away. After a moment Trevor begins to relax.
That’s when the screaming starts.
To Trevor it’s a siren call. His feet are already moving, picking up speed, carrying him towards the shipwrecking rocks of a treacherous fight. This time, Aurum stays at his side rather than racing ahead. Together they speed directly towards the screams, which grow louder and louder with each passing step. Most of the snow has been replaced with ice and melting slush. It makes him uneasy, knowing their ability to run quicker is at the risk of hitting a patch of neck-breaking ice.
As they approach the scene Trevor’s stomach drops.
It’s a caravan of people. There’s two dozen, maybe more, and they look like average farmers and village folk going by the clothes and carts. He’d wager they’re the refugees from the abandoned town, slowed in their escape to Braila by their livestock and elderly. They would’ve been in the walls of Braila by now, had they abandoned their weak and ill. The thought does little except leave a bitter taste in Trevor’s mouth.
Some of the demons are ravaging into a horse or, ugh, what might have once been a horse. Or a cow. The other half are laying into the people as evident by the abruptly cut-off screams and gurgling sounds. Trevor counts the hellspawn. Six. Six on one, or six on two, if he counts the wolfdog. Not the best odds. Hell if he cares.
“Hey, ugly!” Trevor enters the fight spectacularly by chucking his idiotically long sword like a javelin at a scrawny bat-like demon that had been within snatching distance of a young girl. The sword spears the demon through its gut and keeps going. The sword hits a wagon with a thunk, sticking into the wood and trapping the large ugly bat in place. Like a screeching nightmarish meat skewer.
The second demon, a larger and more humanoid figure, turns from the burbling man it has its claws in just in time to get a face full of angry wolfdog. The thing is big. But so is Aurum.
In an instant the creature is knocked to the ground with Aurum latched onto the juncture between the demon’s shoulder and neck. Trevor spares the struggle another glance in time to see the wolfdog tear off a chunk, get sprayed with black ichor, and go back in snarling for more.
It’s savage and disgusting. Really horribly gross. Trevor is so smothered in pride, he could sing.
The bat demon is still tugging at the sword in its belly, its unnatural hands scrabbling over the hilt slick with dark blood. Trevor approaches cockily and takes a firm hold of the hilt.
“Need some help?” He pulls the sword out of the wagon, then continues slicing upwards with the same momentum. The demon parts midway without resistance. Damn, but that sword is as sharp as it is long. Which is to say, far too much. Trevor isn’t sure how to use it except as an over-decorated spear. He moves on to a third demon who is making a committed beeline towards Aurum.
“Look here, you great nasty lug,” Trevor taunts in the same moment that he throws the fancy sword. This time it misses, but he immediately follows it up with two daggers. The demon turns at the last second and takes the daggers in its shoulder without so much as a grunt.
Fine by him. The point hadn’t been to cause damage. It had been to distract.
Aurum sweeps the creature’s legs out from under it like a furry battering ram. It gives Trevor the leverage he needs to leap on top, brace himself on the demon’s chest, and decapitate it with one downward swing of his silver short sword. As he retrieves his daggers from the meat of the dead demon’s shoulder, he catches Aurum’s eyes.
The wolfdog’s maw and chest are covered with ichor— a wild butcher’s apron. His golden eyes are bright and shining with excitement. They share a look. Trevor, well, he doesn’t think of himself as a team player, but the two of them work well together. It reminds him of how he and Sypha took charge of Greshit’s defense, what with her magic and his experience. The collaboration feels intrinsic. Natural.
Trevor grins. Aurum grins back.
Three down. That leaves Trevor and Aurum with the other three demons, who have since abandoned partying on the horse corpse in favor of lumbering towards them.
Trevor reaches under his coat and takes his whip in hand.
Vampire Killer curls in his palm as familiar as a lover. The last remaining piece of his family legacy aside from his own drunkard ass and a pile of ashes. The one thing he never sold off, never traded for a drink or a warm place to stay the night. Sometimes, Trevor would swear he could feel the energy worked into the leather, the consecrated blessing that makes it invaluable. But he doesn’t have a lick of magic in him—so all he feels when he lashes it out is the tell-tale snap of the whip meeting its mark.
The skin of the demon starts to bubble where Vampire Killer’s attack lands. A few seconds later and the whole thing is bubbling, expanding, bulging monstrously as it burns from the inside out. A few seconds more and it explodes.
The last two demons seem to catch onto the fact that Trevor is more than a man with a pitchfork. They’re able to dodge Trevor’s strikes once, twice. The third time catches one in the leg— which is all it takes for the consecration to do its work. The last demon comes rushing at Trevor through the flames but he’s already spinning, whipping Vampire Killer around in a deadly swift snap.
There’s something truly satisfying about fighting with a whip. More satisfying than swordplay or target practice. He tries to use his other options when he can, in the pursuit of keeping the skills sharp, but his whip is still the sharpest tool he has.
“Should’ve left more to you, huh.” Trevor turns, then, to Aurum.
The wolfdog is staring at Trevor, completely motionless. Wait, no. He’s not staring at Trevor—he’s staring at Trevor’s hands as he coils his whip between them. When he places it back on his belt, Aurum’s gold eyes follow.
Trevor steps closer, grin fading. “What—”
Aurum takes a step back.
Trevor hesitates. The villagers are slowly reemerging from their hiding spots, returning from the random directions they took when they fled from the slaughter. They watch, but no one ventures closer.
“It’s still me, buddy,” Trevor says slowly as he placatingly raises his hands. He tries taking another step forward only to have Aurum back away again.
What. The fuck. His heart is still racing from the fight and the sound of it rises strong in his ears. “What, is it... this?” Trevor asks, slowly, while putting a hand back on his whip.
The wolfdog starts growling. Ah. That, then. As Trevor takes the whip off his belt, the growling grows louder. Understanding unfurls in his chest. He knows what fear looks like on animals, in people. He knows what it means when a horse shies from the crop, when a child flinches from the raised hand of a parent. When a dog growls at the sight of a whip.
He drops Vampire Killer on the ground.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Trevor promises, making a show of stepping away from the weapon.
To his shock, Aurum doesn’t stop. His growling only grows deeper. His ears are flattened against his head, lips drawn back, tail midline and tense. The picture of animalistic animosity. And he’s staring directly at Trevor.
It stops Trevor dead in his tracks. It doesn’t make any sense. He doesn’t understand, he can’t think—can’t see past the new look in Aurum’s eyes. Like he’s more of a stranger than the day he found him in the woods.
The weeping and chattering of the crowd beyond could be nonexistent for all Trevor is concerned. And yet, the frantic shouts of the young girl from earlier catches his attention. She’s waving erratically, eyes wide and fearful, and Trevor can’t hear what she’s saying. But he can see where she’s pointing.
Unlike the other civilians, she’s not pointing at the menacing wolfdog. She’s pointing at something else.
He fucked up— he miscounted.
There’s a seventh demon.
It’s charging towards Aurum in an eerie vacuum of sound. The wolfdog isn’t looking, he’s too busy staring at Trevor like an angry fucking moron.
“Move!” Trevor roars, and a few things happen at once.
Trevor lunges for Aurum like his life depends on it. Aurum lunges for Trevor like he’s going to rip his throat out. The demon lunges for the two of them like it’s going to rip both their throats out. The villagers scream, because of course they do.
At the last second Aurum seems to realize that either he doesn’t want to kill Trevor or that they’re in danger, because he doesn’t go for Trevor’s jugular. Instead, he swivels toward the incoming monster, too slow, for once not quick enough to get out of the way in time.
Trevor gets to Aurum first. Ha! He crashes into the dog, has a split second to bask in his own glory, and then has an ungodly foul, stinky demon slam into his body.
The demon roars as it lifts Trevor from the ground with one arm, forcing both of them to cut through the air until Trevor’s back hits something hard. A tree? The ground? It’s hard to tell. He’s too busy trying to catch the breath that was forced out of him on impact. The cool part is he hadn’t heard or felt anything snap, but that doesn’t mean much because everything hurts like hell.
The demon puts more weight on him and something does snap.
Trevor screams. Or, he would, but there’s no air in his lungs to scream with, so what he does is push out a pathetic little wheeze. The demon laughs one of those dumb ominously deep laughs. Trevor doesn’t think it’s that funny.
His vision is swimming, dimming, blurring dangerously at the edges. He feels like he’s going to throw up. Well, that might be from the undead stench more than the asphyxiation. The demon doesn’t budge, no matter how hard he pushes or how hard he struggles.
“Try try try, little human.” The demon grins, mouth wide and sharp. “But we are an army, and you are just a man.”
“Close,” Trevor rasps, “Not... just... a man...”
“Oh?” The amused demon lets up on him a tad, gives him enough air to continue.
“I’m... a goddamn Belmont.”
Trevor tries pushing again, only this time he uses a sword.
The silver blade sinks into the demon with a sizzling hiss. Room for air? No no, that’s room for sword, thank you. It’s a bad angle and Trevor doesn’t have the force behind it like he normally would, but it’s enough incentive to get the demon off of him.
Trevor gulps in air, then tucks in and rolls to the side. Nails scrape into the ground where he was moments before. He tries to stand, get his feet under him. His legs aren’t listening to him. Shit.
He has a good view from the ground of the demon rearing back, black blood oozing from its charred flesh, when a crazed dog claws his way onto its leathery back.
Aurum sets into the demon like a wolf possessed.
There’s a lot of snarling, a lot of wet sounds. Trevor tries to watch, he really does, but it’s so, so hard to keep his vision straight. He’s so—fuck, there’s so much pain, so much—
He blacks out.
“Is he dead?”
“I can’t tell if I can’t see ‘em, now can I?”
“God, I wish I were dead,” Trevor moans. He feels like he was stepped on by rocks. He feels like his bones were chewed on by a hellhound and then buried in the dirt for later. He feels like shit.
“That’s a no, then. Stranger, you mind calling off your... dog?”
Trevor cracks open his eyes. Ah. Aurum is standing between him and some of the caravan villagers who look uncomfortable with getting within mouth-distance of the wolfdog. It’s hard to fault them for it, considering the amount of gore clumped in Aurum’s fur. There’s more black than white at this point. Trevor can’t see the dog’s face, but he assumes it’s covered in the same unearthly stuff.
He coughs. Christ, but his throat burns. “Aurum, be... nice.”
Aurum doesn’t look at him. However, he does move over slightly, allowing an older man with bald head to approach Trevor’s comfy spot on the slushy ground. The man introduces himself as Stefan to Trevor, who introduces himself in turn as... Trevor. Clever, him.
“Don’t know where you get a dog that size, but it’s fierce. Loyal. Wouldn’t let anyone get close enough to see if you were still with us.” The man, Stefan, kneels next to Trevor and looks him in the eye. “We’d be dead or worse if you hadn’t been here. Thank you, son.”
Trevor glances away, chest tight even though now he’s got plenty of air. “Don’t mention it.”
“Where’d you learn to fight like that, anyway?”
“You pick things up, you know,” Trevor says absentmindedly. They must have not heard him earlier, then. What he said to the demon. In his experience that’d be for the better.
Stefan gently moves Trevor’s heavy winter coat aside, peels off the thinner layer under it, and promptly stills.
“What?” Trevor scrapes out. The man doesn’t respond but there are some gasps from the onlooking crowd. Even Aurum turns around, finally gracing Trevor with his half-lidded stare. Trevor is trying not to panic. “What, is it bad?”
Looking down, he steels himself for the worst. Please don’t have guts out, please don’t have guts out...
Ah, no guts. Blood, yes. Lots of blood, a worrying amount of it, to be exact, covering his abdomen. He hadn’t noticed getting sliced up in the one-on-one match. He can’t feel it either, which is probably not great.
The blood conveniently fails to cover the golden crest on his shirt. Definitely not great.
It doesn’t have to mean anything, change anything. It does anyway. It always does.
“There’s nothing I can do to help you,” Stefan says loudly, gaze hard on the Belmont crest. He stands back up. “The wounds are too grave.”
Trevor clenches his teeth. “Is that so?”
“Yes.” The man hadn’t even fucking looked under Trevor’s shirt to see the damage. Bastard.
“What happened to being dead or worse without me?”
“How do we know you didn’t bring the beasts here yourself?”
Trevor tries to sit up on his elbows and does not react well to the spike of pain that shoots up his torso. So, no sitting. He presses his ruined clothes against the tear in his abdomen, hissing through his teeth at how truly unpleasant it feels. Not much else to do, except hope it’s enough to staunch the bleeding.
He doesn’t bother hiding his scorn as he sees some of the countryfolk behind Stefan nod.
“I saved your fucking lives,” he grits out, old anger rekindling hot in his belly. “The least you can do is take me to Braila.”
Now it’s Stefan’s turn to not look Trevor in the eye. “I’m sorry,” is all he says. He sounds like he might mean it. Worthless. The guilt isn’t enough to convince him to overlook Trevor’s sin of being an excommunicatee, an exile, a Belmont. Trevor supposes he should feel lucky they don’t feel obligated to do their Christian duty by putting him out of his so-called Godless misery.
The other villagers have already begun walking away and the old man joins them. Aurum watches the entire thing in his usual way: silent, impassive, unmoving. Trevor lets out some particularly offensive curses. It won’t help things— he hadn’t thought it would anyway— but it does grant him a pitying glance or two as the caravan departs with their dead and wounded. Likely, they hope to bury their dead as close to the city walls as possible. Or, maybe, they just don’t want to bury them close to Trevor.
“Sure you won’t do me the honor of digging me a grave? I could roll myself in it, make things easy!” Trevor shouts after them before succumbing to another coughing fit. Some of what comes out is tinged red. Fuck.
He’s left behind, along with the dead horses and a few carts too damaged to travel. Oh, and the dog.
“They didn’t want to bring you either, huh,” Trevor mutters grimly. “What, did you get excommunicated too? Did you... what, piss in a church? Bite a priest?” He laughs and it quickly turns to a cough. Aurum had kept a mild amount of distance between them, yet now he pads closer, looking concerned. Good. Trevor will take concerned over... whatever that was earlier.
“Are you still angry with me?” The wolfdog blinks slowly but doesn’t do anything else. He’s still standing out of Trevor’s reach. The black collar is visible at his scruff, though it’s hard to distinguish past all the black goo surrounding it.
“You know who is going to by angry? Sypha.” Trevor clenches his fists at his side and stares up at the sky. He’s trying to ignore the pain throbbing from his chest, his stomach, his head. “She’s going to be so, so angry. I mean righteously pissed off.” He pauses. “Not at the fucking ungrateful villagers. At me.”
Aurum bumps an ichor-covered snout against his arm and Trevor glances at him out of the side of his vision. “We’re supposed to fight Dracula together. The Dracula; King of the Night, Lord of Darkness, Eternal Pain in my Family’s Ass. Her and the other Speakers— a damn stubborn lot, mind you— have a whole prophecy about it. About me. Like I needed another reason to fight for the people in this shithole.” The wolfdog doesn’t make a sound, just stares at Trevor with a new level of inhuman intensity.
He had meant what he said, back in Gresit. Dying has never frightened him. It’s the purpose behind it, the intent, wasted. Trevor slides his gaze away. “I can’t— If I die here, I can’t well go off and die saving Wallachia.” An awful thought occurs to Trevor; he squeezes his eyes shut and grimaces. Fuck. If she was willing to take on the castle one short, what’s one more missing legend? Sypha will probably storm the place on her own, just to try.
There’s a wuff close and loud in his ear. It’s wet and very, very cold. Turning his head, Trevor levels Aurum with a soft expression. “I— I haven’t known you for very long, but... you— you’re a good boy.”
Giving a small whine, the wolfdog takes it as permission to start licking Trevor’s face. “Eugh, stop—cut it out, ugh.” God, but his dog breath stinks like it’s the mouth to hell. With his face scrunched up, he shoves pathetically at Aurum’s invasive, affectionate head until the licking stops. “Actually, if I die, you could try being less of an asshole to the next guy who saves your life. Twice.”
The wolfdog stamps its front legs, seemingly nervous. With Aurum with him, maybe Trevor can figure out how to get out of this particular mess. The scrape across his belly is very not good, his head feels like a flattened grape, and something tells him he’s broken at least one rib. But he’s seen worse. Survived worse.
“We’re so close,” Trevor says scratchily as he stares off towards the departed caravan. Braila is an hour, no, less than an hour walk away. “Mm’jus’ so... tired...”
Aurum barks. It’s loud and abrupt but it sounds dampened and muffled. There’s another bark, and another, getting farther and farther away. Like a call for help.
Not even an idiot would be caught wandering around after dusk these days. Aside from the rescued villagers there would be no one—and who would stop to help a random stranger and his loud, enormous dog?
Like always, it’s all up to Trevor. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder to keep his eyes open, to stay awake. So hard, actually, that when he later hears approaching footsteps, it takes a massive amount of effort to crack his eyes wide enough to get a look at the source.
From his position on the ground, Trevor takes note of the black, polished footwear that appear to stretch on for ages. Fucking unpractical from the looks of them, no matter how refined or shiny the leather may be. Just like that stupid sword.
“Nice boots,” Trevor croaks.
It’s an inconvenient time to pass out, so of course, that’s what he does.
I am so sorry this update is late, as I try to post a new chapter in the first week of every month. I am also working on a different Castlevania oneshot that will probably be done before this story is finished, so that has taken some of my time. Thank you, dear readers, for your support! I read each and every comment. I'm considering wallpapering my bathroom with them so I can get a motivation boost every time I sit on the toilet. And thank you, Morgan—because of you, all I could think about while writing this chapter was:
Trevor: I’m tReVor fucking Belmont
Alucard: and I’m boo boo the fool
When Trevor wakes up, he wakes up slowly.
He blinks away the gritty feeling of sleeping too long, taking note of the soft sheets under his hands and the weak sunlight piercing the half-open window near the bed. Through it, he can see the paneled walls of another house. He’s not outside or on the ground which is... unexpected. He doesn’t remember coming inside a building of any sort. He doesn’t remember how he got here— wherever here is— which is usually very, very bad.
He flops his head away from the window and sees a familiar halo of wild hair.
“Sypha?” he croaks. God, his voice sounds awful. There’s a good chance he looks awful, too. Sypha, of course, looks wonderful. Her face is framed by her red-blonde curls and wide-necked cowl, and it’s currently pinched into a mixed expression of worry and joy.
“Trevor!” She practically throws herself on top of him, abandoning her bedside chair. “You stupid, stupid man. You were almost a dead stupid man, Belmont. Dead! I do not see you for weeks and when I do, you are riddled with holes. You are terrible.”
“Uh, thanks.” Trevor feels the tide of guilt creeping in as her blue eyes gloss over with unshed tears. It’s nearly as heavy as the weight on his chest, but not quite.
“You’re crushing my ribs.”
“Oh!” She quickly releases him from the hug. “Sorry. You broke them. Your ribs, I mean. Three of them.”
“Ah, that would explain it.” He feels lightheaded. “How—?”
“I healed you, to some extent.” She begins counting off her fingers. “You had three broken ribs, a concussion, and a horrible wound in your gut. It was... challenging. I have mended you to the best of my ability, but all of the bruises and such remain.” Now that she’s said it, she does seem tired, worn out in the way she had been after fighting demons in Gresit.
Trevor glances down at himself. With the blanket pooling around his waist, the bandages covering his chest and abdomen are completely visible. The unwrapped parts of his body are smattered with bruises, most which are already an ugly purple or yellow. Nice. He looks like a plum that had taken a bad roll down a hill; squishy and tender. It still beats dying.
“Thank you,” he says again. He actually means it this time.
Sypha leans in close— it feels vaguely threatening. “What happened?”
“I...” Trevor looks up to the ceiling and tries to remember. “...I got in a fight?”
Sypha rolls her eyes. “I know. One does not get an open wound like that from slipping on stairs.”
“It’s fuzzy.” That would be the concussion. As he stares at the ceiling, the pieces start to emerge and fit together in his head. “I was by the road... we were close to Braila. There were demons... and traveling villagers.”
“‘We’?” Sypha repeats, but Trevor continues as the memories rush back with increasing speed.
“We killed them all, but—but Christ, there was one more. It almost—” Trevor lurches forward in bed, eyes suddenly wide. Shit, that hurts. Sypha tries to shove him back down but he waves her off despite the pain.
“Those fucking villagers!” he snarls, “Stupid... fucking villagers. Left me for dead!” Despite his anger, it’s not nearly as important as his next question. He turns to Sypha. “Where’s Aurum?”
“Aurum. My dog.” At her bewildered expression, Trevor keeps talking, “He’s white, fluffy, huge. As big as me. Kind of looks like a wolf but... anyway, have you seen him? Is he here?”
“Trevor,” Sypha says slowly, “You have a dog?”
“Yeah, it’s a long story.” His heart jumps into his throat. “You... haven’t seen him.”
“No. Just you.” She appears thoughtful. “Well, and the handsome man.”
Sypha’s stare increases in intensity tenfold. “What do you remember about getting here?”
Trevor remembers the villagers leaving, him bleeding out on the ground, Aurum searching for help.
He remembers... hair. Long blonde hair, and lots of it. He remembers the wind, cold and biting, whipping in his face as the world blurred past. He remembers the feeling of soft leather, the not-feeling of numbness spiraling outward from his gut. There had been a smell, metallic and sour; the kind of smell that left a sulfuric taste in the back of his mouth after a messy demon cleansing. And under that smell had been... something else. Something familiar, like damp wood, but not. Something... herbal?
“Someone carried me.” Trevor hesitates, brow scrunching up. “A woman?”
“Definitely a man. Although he was very... ah, pretty.” Sypha pouts. “You do not know him?”
“I don’t know any ‘pretty’ men,” Trevor grouses while fighting the irrational flare of jealousy. Sypha picks up on it, because of course she does, and she grins mischievously.
“It is a shame, because I am very interested in seeing him again.” She sighs. “It would be nice to look at someone who knows how to brush his hair.”
“Hey, I know how to brush my hair. I just don’t see the point.” Brushing hair is a complete waste of time, as is bathing—and a lot of other stupid, frivolous things. “I was too busy, I don’t know, dying? Why didn’t you get his name?”
Sypha frowns. “There was no time.” She goes on to explain how she had arrived in Braila the day before Trevor’s fight with the demons. She had been making night rounds in the lowest part of the city ‘helping the people’ when the stranger had appeared and asked for her by name.
“And he said ‘Are you Sypha?’ and I said, well yes of course, that is my name, yes. And then he just—” Sypha mimics a motion with her arms “—dropped you on the table in front of me. Thunk! And I am thinking, this strange man is very beautiful and, oh look, a Belmont! Why does he look worse than usual? Why is he bleeding? Is he breathing? Is he dying?”
Sypha waves her hands around. “When I looked up, he was gone! Vanished. It was strange.”
Trevor grunts. “So, he didn’t say anything about a dog.”
“Great. Just great.” Trevor steels himself before sitting up further. He also tries to swing his legs around out of the bed, but it only slides him to be positioned awkwardly sideways.
“What are you doing?” Sypha asks with a note of alarm.
“I need to go find my dog.”
“No no no, you will not, not when you are like this.”
Trevor groans; she doesn’t understand. “He’s alone. He could be lost! How is he supposed to find me in the city? What if someone attacks him?”
“Calm down, Belmont.” She fusses over him and manages to get him settled closer to how he had been when he’d woken up. “You need to rest. But since this is so important to you, I will go look for him myself, and...”
He wants to tell Sypha that it won’t work— the wolfdog probably won’t trust anyone else. If she did manage to find him, what would she do? How would she lead Aurum back? He’s not a pick-me-up kind of dog.
He wants to tell her, but he gets distracted.
“...Are you even listening to me?”
Wordlessly, he holds up a finger and slowly points it to the door.
There’s a shadow under the door, blocking out a chunk of the yellow light bleeding in from outside. Trevor hadn’t noticed it at first, that is, until it moved. It wasn’t moving now but every Belmont instinct was screaming inside Trevor’s head: shadow bad, shadow danger. Punch shadow.
Sypha is looking at the doorway, eyebrows tilted in confusion. “That... is a door, Trevor.”
“Something’s behind it,” Trevor says quietly, “Listening to us.”
The shadow shifts away in confirmation and Sypha’s eyebrows shoot up into her hairline.
Trevor flops himself over in the saddest attempt of getting out of bed possible. Sypha is quicker, shoving Trevor none-too-gently back into the bed as she stands, a look of determination set to her features. He watches as she sweeps across the room with a hand already forming a sigil. They both hear a distant clatter right before Sypha yanks open the door.
There’s nothing there.
“Sypha, wait!” But she’s already rushing outside, leaving the door wide open behind her. Shit. He needs— he needs to back her up. He can’t be this useless. Grunting with effort, Trevor forces his body to move, forcing it up despite the aching protests his wounds make in response.
Once he’s sat up, he assesses his surroundings. Sypha has set him up in a bed by a wide window and there is a small bedside table with strange bottles on its surface. The room has a simple fireplace, basic furniture, and a tall sloped roof. There’s another door aside from the door leading outside. Trevor would guess a washroom. His clothes are nowhere to be seen, but he sees Vampire Killer coiled up on a table on the other side of the room. Out of reach.
By the time Sypha returns, Trevor’s struggled himself into an upright position with his legs dangling off the bed. She stops in the doorway and stares at Trevor, winded, all while wearing an indecipherable look on her face.
Before he can ask what she may have discovered, Sypha steps aside.
A white, fluffy, huge figure enters the frame.
“Aurum.” The name comes out of Trevor like a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. With a small tail wag, the wolfdog steps around Sypha and pads into the room.
He looks... good. Really good. Okay, so there’s some black spots of demon gore crusted on his pelt, but it’s cleaner than the last time he saw him. The wolfdog stops close to the bed out of Trevor’s reach. His posture is more awkward than Trevor’s ever seen it—filled with a sort of hesitancy that’s a departure from his characteristic stoicism.
The sight of him is doing something weird to Trevor’s chest. It feels like Sypha stretched too many bandages over his ribs, too tight. Trevor opens his arms. “C’mere buddy.”
The wolfdog takes it as the invitation it is and puts his giant front two paws on the bed. It nearly knocks Trevor over. Trevor buries his hands in the deep, plush fur around Aurum’s neck and pulls him in for a fluffy hug. The dog sniffs loudly in Trevor’s ear, dragging his cold nose across Trevor’s neckline and the side of his face. Sitting up hurts, and Aurum reeks in a mix of dog-stink and old demon blood, but it’s—it’s fine.
“I missed you,” Trevor admits softly into the fur tickling his face. Even muffled, the admission gets him a telling ear flick out of Aurum. The dog spends another eternity sniffing and occasionally licking Trevor, checking him over in his animalistic way, and Trevor lets him because he’s a pathetic, injured man.
“That? That is your... dog?”
Trevor peeks around the scruff fur he’s squished his face into to look at Sypha. She’s still standing in the doorway, watching the scene with an air of suspicion Trevor is unfortunately familiar with.
“Yeah, my dog.” Trevor emphasizes the word ‘dog’ like it’s three syllables, not three letters. “A wolfdog-dog. And no—” he raises a pointed finger “—he’s not a wolf.”
“I did not say that he was,” Sypha says slowly. Her eyes narrow ever so slightly at Aurum. “I think— no, not a wolf.”
“Fucking finally. Someone gets it.”
“Trevor, I do not—”
Aurum interrupts her with a booming woof.
“Ah, that’s right. How rude of me.” Trevor waves his hands around Aurum. “Sypha, this is Aurum. Aurum, Sypha.”
Aurum barks again. It’s a short, happy sound. He trots over to Sypha and sits patiently in front of her. Even from his position in bed, Trevor can see the puppy-eye-shit the furry bastard is pulling. Wow.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Sypha says with a hint of a smile, temporarily disarmed by doggy charm. She dips to a crouch which ironically makes Aurum a little taller, despite sitting. “Trevor tells me that you traveled with him...” her eyes dart over the black ooze flaked haphazardly in Aurum’s fur “...that you fought at his side.”
The wolfdog blinks and tilts his head.
Sypha looks back at Trevor, then stares at Aurum for another moment. Her stare is intense, searching, as if she’s looking for something. After a strangely long stretch of time, she reaches out and gives the dog’s head a small ruffle. Not only does Aurum let her, but he goes as far as to push his nose into her hand when she tries to take it away.
She giggles and goes back to scratching his head. “Oh, you are a very cute thing. We are going to become good friends, you and I.”
Trevor’s dumbfounded. Aurum doesn’t like people. Aurum doesn’t like anyone. Sometimes, he thinks Aurum doesn’t even like him. Now he’s sitting in front of Sypha, tail wagging, begging for pets like a common whore. It’s baffling, is what it is.
“Did you name him?” Sypha asks distractedly. She’s moved on to double-handed chin scratches.
“Obviously.” Trevor almost laughs at the thought. “What, you think he told me one himself?”
Sypha gives a noncommittal shrug, which is typical Speaker bullshit. Maybe some of her people can talk to animals; who fucking knows?
She peers into Aurum’s golden eyes in consideration. “It is a good name. It suits him.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Trevor reclines back in the bed and stares at the ceiling. He still thinks Howard was a real winner.
Trevor spends three days in hell.
Hell being this house, this bed. They’ve lost so much time already. He can’t lay in bed, wasting away time they don’t have. Every minute he’s trapped here is a minute Dracula has to rip apart more of humanity.
He tells Sypha this. More than once. Each time she shakes her head, slathers him in medicinal balms and curative spells, and essentially tells him to get less fucked up the next time he’s in a fight. Or to shut up.
For all of Sypha’s magical healing, her bedside manner is slim to none.
Aurum stays by him through all of it. He doesn’t try to get up on the bed with Trevor, small as it is, and doesn’t try to jostle into Trevor’s space, fragile as he is. On more than one occasion Trevor wakes to the alarming sensation of his hand being licked from where it dangles off the bed, which, alright, it’s more sweet than gross. And yet, for all that Aurum has protected him from danger thus far, he does very little to protect Trevor from Sypha.
“Stop being such a baby,” she scolds Trevor, “I am almost finished.”
“It stings.” He attempts to pull his leg away from Sypha’s ministrations but she has the thing in a vice grip. Whatever Speaker salve she’s using stings something awful and smells like foul cheese.
“I thought the great Trevor Belmont had put a half dozen stitches in his side without a single tear.”
“Yes, well, I had a tankard of ale in my belly as well.”
She pauses mid-rub. “You gave yourself stitches while drunk?”
“Yeah, how else are you suppose to do it?”
“Ugh.” She shakes her head. It might be Trevor’s imagination, but it feels like Sypha starts rubbing the salve in extra hard. Trevor looks to Aurum for backup only to be met with a judgmental stare that rivals the one on Sypha’s face.
“Shut up. You’re a dog,” Trevor whispers, “You don’t even have hands.”
Aurum snorts disdainfully and uncurls from his watch-post position next to Trevor’s bed. After stretching his long white legs, the wolfdog gives Trevor another scornful eye from over his shoulder and pads out of the room.
Sypha smacks Trevor lightly across his non-injured leg. “Why must you insult him?”
“He can’t understand me, he’s a dog,” Trevor drawls, slouching further into the bed. “Besides, he deserves it. He’s way more of an asshole than he’s letting on.”
Sypha raises a skeptical brow. “I do not believe it. He has been nothing but sweet.”
“It’s all an act. He’s playing you.” For every moment the dog spends at Trevor’s bedside, he also spends that time charming the pants off of Sypha. It was unraveling the careful picture Trevor had formed of the animal. If Sypha asked Aurum to sit? He sat, immediately. Shake? But of course. Roll over? The furry charlatan would be on his back in seconds. Trevor tries not to take it personally— he also has a hard time saying no to Sypha.
“Maybe, if you were nicer, he would listen to you more,” Sypha says evenly. Done with the salve, she starts wrapping his leg in clean bandaging.
“Maybe he would listen to me if I had tits,” Trevor mutters, earning him a smack in the shoulder. “Hey hey, I’m wounded!”
“You are about to be more so, Belmont.” The bandaging is being wrapped a bit too tight. Oh no. Trevor is being threatened. Sypha is a threat. Where is Aurum when he needs him?
“Aurum, save me! Sypha’s gone mad with power!”
He hears the sound of heavy paws before the wolfdog appears in the doorway, as if summoned by Trevor’s desperation.
“Aurum,” Trevor repeats as his smile pulls downward, “You— what the hell— that’s fucking dangerous!”
The wolfdog has the horribly long, extravagant-ass sword between its teeth. Like an oversized stick.
“No. Bad dog, drop it.”
Aurum does not drop it. He tries to get through the door and the sword hits the doorframe with a clunk. It won’t fit.
“Bad, bad dog. That’s not yours.”
The situation has Sypha hiding a smile behind her hand as she watches and offers no help, of course. Trevor has a hard time keeping on the disapproving look he considers his Alpha Face when Aurum tries to get through again with another clunk.
Determined, Aurum considers the doorway without dropping the sword. After a moment the wolfdog turns, angles his head so that the sword pokes through the doorway point-first, and shuffles purposefully into the room.
Sypha claps her hands gleefully together at his triumph. “What a smart boy!”
Trevor groans. “Don’t encourage him. Aurum, drop it.”
Aurum trots up to the bed with a familiar glint in his eyes. It should serve as a warning to Trevor, as the dog immediately dances back when Trevor tries to snatch the sword. His fluffy white tail wags. Taunting him.
“Please, for the love of— ugh, drop it... please.”
Tail still wagging, Aurum gently places the sword on the ground in front of him. He sits and looks so incredibly, indefensibly smug.
“Good boy or whatever.” His dog is not a good boy. He’s the worst. The absolute worst.
Sypha picks up the sword, marveling at the intricate hilt. “This sword is beautiful,” she notes with wonder, completely ignoring how senselessly long it is, “I do not recall you using it back in Gresit.”
“That’s because I didn’t have it. Found it after. Some idiot left it in the woods.”
Sypha is giving him an unreadable look. “You found it with the dog.”
“Yeah. Wait, how’d you know?”
“Intuition,” Sypha says casually, like it isn’t some weird cryptic Speaker nonsense. She’s staring at Aurum who in turn looks bizarrely guilty. There’s something Trevor’s missing here.
Trevor frowns. “Are you suggesting that Aurum ate his owner and all that was left was his sword?”
“Oh, no, that would be silly.” Sypha smiles at Trevor and it is bright with mischief. “Now, roll over so I can get your back.”
“Yes ma’am,” Trevor grumbles. He rolls over.
“Good boy.” There is unmistakable satisfaction in Sypha’s voice.
He can’t see Sypha, but he can see his dog— who is sitting in front of him with the biggest shit-eating grin.
Y'all, it's been a weird month. Last week my fiance found a stray puppy outside his work and I'm the dog lady so, uh, I'm living out this story in a way I didn't sign up for. It's a shame-- she's a girl, so "Howard" is not in the running. However! The next chapter will be longer to make up for how short this one is.
Also: You fools. You thought I would give you Alucard? So easily? Absolutely not. Let the ruse continue...
ATTENTION: There is mild sexual content starting in this chapter. The rating has not changed due to the content being mild.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Each and every day holds new horrors for Trevor.
“A bath? Are you mad?”
“It is just a bath, Trevor. Hot water and soap.” Sypha’s mouth thins into a small frown. “Normal people pay good coin for them.”
“Normal people,” Trevor scoffs, “Do I look ‘normal’ to you?”
“No. You look like you crawled out of a sewer and you smell even worse,” Sypha responds immediately, voice dripping with disgust.
“I’ve done that, remember? You were there.” This is average, non-sewer stink. It’s practically musk.
“You know what I mean.” She clicks her tongue and gestures to the whole of Trevor laid out on the bed. “You should clean yourself, now that you are doing better.”
“Don’t we have more important things to do? Like killing Dracula?”
“What, with your stench?” Her hands go to her hips. “I do not have the time to keep you from getting an infection from your own waste.”
“We’re trying to keep a low profile, and now you want to parade me about a small lump of the city, in the nude?”
Sypha appears confused for a moment before waving a hand dismissively. “Oh, not a public bathhouse. Here. I drew you a bath here.”
Trevor groans. Suffer a bath without the entertainment found at a city bathhouse? “You can’t be serious.”
“Try me,” Sypha says, entirely serious, “Go, before the water gets cold.”
Shit, she means business. He looks at Aurum who is standing by Sypha with his snooty nose in the air. Oh, this is bad. It’s two on one. He sinks further into the sheets.
Sypha points her finger towards the washroom door. “Get in the tub, Trevor, or I will bring the tub to you and pour it over your enormous fat head.”
Aurum is totally laughing at him, his red tongue out and eyes bright with amusement. Well, Trevor has no problem dragging others down to his level.
“Fine.” Grumbling as he sits up, Trevor glares at the wolfdog. “But he’s getting in too.”
The long red tongue vanishes.
“That... is not a bad idea,” Sypha admits. There are still remnants of their demon fight plastered into Aurum’s dense fur like small, gruesome souvenirs. The scent of ichor is layered on top of general dog-odor in a way that makes Trevor smell pretty good in comparison. And that’s saying something. Clearly, Sypha has been too preoccupied with Trevor to complain about it, and Trevor couldn’t give a shit what his dog smells like. Now, though, now the bath is personal.
Trevor gets to his feet slowly, waving off the arm Sypha offers. “C’mon boy. Scrub a fuckin’ dub.”
Aurum doesn’t move; Trevor hadn’t expected him too, anyway. He stares at the dog, the dog stares back. Sypha stares at them staring at each other.
The Alpha Face isn’t working. “Come. On,” Trevor grits out while tugging Aurum’s black collar. Aurum jerks his head back so fast that it nearly pulls Trevor on top of him.
“If I have to take a bath so do you,” Trevor bitches bitchily as he regains his balance, “You smell like dead shit.”
Aurum’s ears flatten against his skull and he looks at Sypha with a pitiful whine.
“Trevor is right, you do smell kind of gross,” Sypha says, condemning Aurum to his fate. When Trevor walks to the washroom, the wolfdog follows, dragging his tail on the ground.
After closing the door behind them, Trevor is hit by the humidity of the small room. Steam hangs in the air, warm and all-encompassing, and it’s damp but cozy. In the center of the room there’s a large wooden tub alongside a simple washbasin and pile of linens.
Aurum sniffs the air with interest. Okay, yeah, the room smells good, all floral and feminine. It’s intimidating. He shouldn’t have trusted Sypha— as if she would consider soap and water to be enough. Trevor doesn’t want to walk out smelling like a rose, but he’s not foolish enough to go back out there to demand a new batch of less frilly bathwater. Sypha seems capable of drowning a man on dry land.
Trevor peers into the tub and curses. Sure enough, there’s little petals floating among the bubbles, swirling around as steam rises off the water. Trevor stares at it like it’s a cauldron of stew Sypha has threatened to cook him in. He dips a hand in and recoils. That water is hot as all hell; is she actually trying to cook him alive?
Well. Looking at the tub isn’t going to make it go away.
Rolling his shoulders with a sigh, he starts stripping off his clothes. Most of his layers are already folded out in the room, as he’d been in the bare minimum the past few days. The loose shirt comes off first and it’s bloody difficult. His ribs are bruised and tender; his muscles ache near where the hole in his gut used to be. At one point he gets caught up in his shirt. The ensuing battle would be embarrassing if Trevor had any dignity left to lose.
“Finally,” he grumbles, chucking the infuriating thing at the wall. He looks down at himself and assesses the damage. The bruises on his chest and sides are fading to a mottled yellow, far less ugly than they’d been when he’d first woken up. It’s somewhat hard to tell how extensive the harm really is due to the layer of dirt and blood on his skin. The only place on him clear of grime is his stomach where a raised, red starburst of flesh stretches out across his left side, still fresh enough to be pink and angry. It’s bigger than most of his other scars. Most of them. It looks... better than he thought it would. Smaller. If it weren’t for Sypha he’d still be in stitches. If it weren’t for Sypha he’d probably be dead.
“Check it out,” Trevor says to Aurum as he twists to the side. He pokes the scar for good measure, sucks in a breath. Still somewhat raw, that is. “I look fucking heroic.”
Aurum’s yellow eyes are wide in his face which is wrinkled like he swallowed a lemon, all pinched and traumatized. He’s still standing by the door as if Sypha will rescue him at any minute. Haha. Fat chance.
The trousers and pants go next, peeled off with ease compared to his shirt— even if bending over hurts like a bitch. He kicks the clothes off in Aurum’s direction, who is inexplicably startled by the canon of stinky fabric hurtled his way. The trousers nearly smack him in the face.
Fully naked, Trevor points at the tub. “Ladies first.”
The dog won’t look at him or the bath. Great. Perfect time for the animal to pull this bullshit. “If you don’t get in, I’m gonna have to haul your stupid ass in myself. Neither of us want that.”
No, Aurum certainly doesn’t want that. He slinks closer to the door.
“Fine, have it your way,” Trevor declares before moving towards him. Not only does Aurum slink further away but he tries to skirt around Trevor to the other side of the tub. Trevor lurches and the dog repeats the maneuver. And again. And again.
It’s a small bathroom. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. They’re going to keep at this until Trevor scoops him up into the tub like a pathetic baby. Because that’s what he is: a big, fluffy, pathetic baby whose two fears are soap and human nudity.
He can see the moment the inevitability of the situation finally sinks in for Aurum, because the dog stops slinking around the room. Instead, Aurum stares mournfully at the rose water as the damnation it is. The dog gets his front paws on the edge. Pausing, he hangs over the lip with an untoward amount of resignation. Woeful golden eyes turn on Trevor. Here is the well-meaning mutineer and Trevor’s the mean pirate overlord making him walk the plank.
“Ugh, stop being so dramatic. In you go.” Trevor hefts the furry butt up and over and into the water with a splash.
Pushing him in the tub is a blessing. What follows is anything but.
Trevor has never tried to wash an animal like this before and he never will again. This? This is torture. At first, he starts by leaning over the tub, desperately dousing the dense fur while it defies logic by never getting wet. How? How is that possible? Attempting to dunk Aurum’s head into the water goes poorly as well. The piteous dog is as stiff as a board, studiously staring straight ahead into the void as if the bath is something he needs to power through on sheer force of will. Every so often he puts his forelegs up on the edge of the tub, and every time Trevor has to pull him back down. It only takes a few minutes for Trevor’s back to feel like it’s going to crumple in on itself while the white coat in front of him stays firmly half-wet. That—that cannot be normal.
This is some real horseshit. He wanted them to go one at a time so he could maybe, just maybe, enjoy a good soak, but no.
“Stupid... unbelievable...” Muttering, Trevor shoves the dog over enough to give him room to slide in the hot bathwater himself.
Water sloshes over onto the floor as he settles in with more grumbling. The tub is not exactly made for two. Fortunately, he does fit and the water is, admittedly, very nice. It would be relaxing if not for the mass of misery sitting in front of him, begging Trevor to end his sad, sad existence with his big yellow eyes.
This is both hilarious and terrible. Hilarrible. The dog tries to squirm out of the tub which only results in getting water all over the floor. His escape plan is easily foiled with some expert manhandling—er, doghandling—on Trevor’s part, mostly because Aurum doesn’t have a lot of purchase in the sloshing water or slippery surface of the tub. Turns out his effortless grace does not extend into this specific territory. Eventually, Trevor gets them situated so that they are facing each other, his legs on either side of the animal, effectively trapping his dog as he cups water in his hands and splashes it over Aurum’s massive head.
Aurum looks at him with betrayal and endless suffering. Like this ordeal is infinitely more painful than the time he was beaten half to death in the woods.
Why? Why did he end up with the most melodramatic dog to walk the earth? If the furball could talk, Trevor knows, he just knows he would monologue about the smallest of inconveniences.
“Bonding. This is bonding,” he reminds himself while reaching for the soap. Lather, scrub, repeat. There is—there is a lot of dog to cover. Trevor tries to work the suds into the fur as best as he can even though he has no idea what he’s doing. It’s just like washing hair, right? It’s the same. Just a big man covered in hair.
Trevor uses the same soap to wash his own hair at the same time. It’s called being efficient.
Near the end of it, he takes some of the soap-stiff fur in his hands and forms a tall ridge down Aurum’s head and neck. A laugh bubbles out of him, dragging a responding glower from Aurum.
“You look handsome, boy.” Trevor’s grin is wide in his face. Aurum growls menacingly and it blows a stream of bubbles off Trevor’s hair into the air around them.
The final bathing step involves a lot of creative and copious water-dumping. He tries to wash out the suds by hand and does a fair enough job of it. However, the first cooperative effort of the bath is made when Aurum cuts the ordeal short by dunking himself in the murky water to rinse out the rest of the soap. God only knows why he couldn’t do that at the beginning. No, he had to wait ‘til the end.
“You’re free!” Trevor proclaims with a shooing gesture. Aurum stands, hesitates, and for a moment Trevor thinks he’s going to leap out of the tub.
After a prolonged pause, the wolfdog shakes his entire body like a wrung wash rag right in front of him.
Hands are inadequate shields against the torrent that falls upon Trevor. It’s the same as standing in the first band of a storm except the storm smells like wet dog. Ugh. Aurum gets out of the tub before Trevor is done sputtering, producing another full body shake once all of his paws are back on the ground. Padding over to the linen pile, Aurum begins dragging one out and un-stacks the whole stack in the process.
Rolling his eyes away from the mess, Trevor stretches out into a more comfortable position within the tub. He finishes washing himself lazily, then settles in. He sits. And sits. He sits long enough that he actually begins to relax. Finally. He now has some space to himself, and he intends to squeeze in a little enjoyment. He intends to squeeze in a little enjoyment, literally.
It’s been a long time. Unbearably long. He’s been trapped out in the cold, crashing in any warm corner he could find, then smacked about by a giant oozy demon. The past few days he’s been under Sypha’s care and watchful eye and hey, there’s some things that those big blue eyes don’t need to see. But he’s human, just human. Full of blasphemy and a week’s worth of pent-up frustration.
Pushing a breath out through his nose, Trevor wraps a hand around himself and closes his eyes. Ruffles around in his mind for an image, maybe a couple of images, logs for the fire. He thinks about bright hair and long legs and soft skin. The water’s still warm, still slowly draining the tension from his body. He shifts his legs open a little wider, slips himself lower so the water comes up higher on his chest. The soap lather is slippery even in the water and it makes his hand glide over his dick. Fuck, but it’s good, so good. He tightens his grip and grinds the back of his skull against the tub’s hard edge with a groan.
It’s not often a man gets a bath to himself. No bathhouse, no socialites or gossips. Just a man and his hand and his dog.
Trevor cracks an eye open and peers to the side. Tries not to freak the fuck out when he’s faced with the luminous amber eyes staring back at him. The instant Trevor looks at him the dog glances away, caught in the act.
It’s just a dog. A dog. It’s totally fine, it’s not weird—
“Urghh.” Try telling that to his dick. Why can’t he have anything nice? You save a creature’s life and then you can’t rub one out without thinking about the responsibility.
“Go away.” Aurum doesn’t move. “Stop—stop looking.” That just gets the dog to look directly at him. Fuck.
“You’re the worst,” he grumbles as he sinks further into the water, “A total pervert.” So much for that. God forbid he actually enjoy a bath even once.
Aurum is a fluffy, fluffy boy.
Sypha says as much, only with far more cooing and charm than Trevor thinks is warranted.
“I’m also clean,” Trevor points out after clearing his throat. Sypha looks up from where she has her hands buried in the wolfdog’s coat, which is blown out to such a massive degree that it nearly engulfs her. She’s up to her elbows in white fur and clearly loving every minute of it.
Sypha gives him a once over, top to bottom. ‘Impressed’ is not a word Trevor would use. ‘Begrudging satisfaction’ is closer to the mark.
“This is true,” she answers slowly, without the cooing or charm. She goes back to running her delicate fingers through Aurum’s scruff and the bastard gives Trevor his smuggest look yet. Evil, suck-up bastard.
When Trevor grumbles and stomps over to the fireplace, Sypha offers him a sweet smile that borders on condescending. “Do you need me to comb through your hair too, Trevor?”
“No.” Don’t be ridiculous. He doesn’t need to—to stoop to Aurum’s level. He goes on to mutter something about having his own hands and, besides, who bothers combing their hair? Shaking it out in front of the fire, Trevor contemplates if he has the strength to wrangle Aurum into a haircut. It would be good for all of them to shave a mass of that fluff right off. Well. It would be good for Trevor.
Once Trevor stretches himself out next to the fire, it doesn’t take long for him to feel the weight of the afternoon settle in. He’s spent days in bed, resting and healing, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that something as easy as a bath has him feeling the way he does after a long spar. The hot steam from the water only adds to the lull. Heat from the bath, heat from the fire. He doesn’t realize how close to sleep he is until there is a warm hand at his shoulder.
“Hm?” He peers up at Sypha blearily.
She angles her head back towards the bed he’d spent the last few days. “I changed out the bedding. You will not thank yourself tomorrow if you sleep on the ground.” She speaks quietly, mouth quirking in the corner. That’s what clues Trevor in to the huge mountain of fur next to him.
Trevor wants to say something about how the ground is fine. He sleeps on the ground all the time. But. “Where’re you sleeping?”
It takes some squinting and searching for him to find the rungs of a crooked ladder set against a far wall. He directs his squinting eyes at Sypha. “How long has that been there?”
“Where did you think I was sleeping? Outside?” Alright, fair enough.
Wincing at the old-man crack that comes out of his spine when he stands, Trevor lumbers over to the bed. Aurum also comes over to the bed.
“No,” Trevor starts, frowning as the dog looks at the bed and then at him. “No, nope.”
Aurum lets out a thin whine.
“Sypha,” Trevor calls out. He reconsiders his stance on begging. “Sypha, would you—”
“Absolutely not,” Sypha says. She’s already halfway up the shitty ladder, but not so high that Trevor can’t see her smiling. She shrugs, finishes climbing, and vanishes into the dark loft. Not a moment later her voice floats down to him, “He is your dog.”
His dog continues to stare at him with his sleepy eyes, as if that’s going to get Trevor to change his mind. It won’t.
Trevor grumbles and surveys the room. There’s a rug by the fire, an extra blanket over a chair. It’ll do.
“Voilà,” he proclaims a few minutes later to Aurum. One hand gestures to the pile of rug and blankets he’s created, then moves to the bed next to it, “Bed for dog. Bed for people.”
Aurum stares disdainfully at the makeshift dog bed and puts his forelegs up on the people bed.
“No. Bad dog.” Trevor puts the front paws back on the ground himself, repeats the motion. “Your bed. My bed.”
Aurum sits close to, but not quite on, his floor bed. The stubborn animal does, however, let Trevor shove him around until he’s basically on it.
“Good. Down.” Mmm, that’s still a sit, not a down. Trevor is far too tired to care. He crawls into bed and snuffs out the candle.
“Goodnight,” he puts out into the dark, into the silence.
He gives it ten minutes.
Not even five minutes later there’s a shifting of his pallet, hot breath in his hair. Aurum has his head resting on the bed and is gazing at him with his bright eyes.
“No,” Trevor grunts. He pushes the big head off, only for it to return within seconds.
“Aurum.” Even in the dark he can see the white tail give a half-wag. “Aurum, no.”
The big eyes blink and stare at Trevor a moment longer. Then the heavy weight of Aurum’s head disappears from the bed.
Trevor loosens a breath, sends out a silent blessing to whomever will listen.
He’s nearly asleep when Aurum jumps on the bed.
Groaning, Trevor shoves uselessly at the furry demon invading his space. “Boy, you’re killing me. What, you—you think you’re a person? Dog, dog bed. What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?”
All of it, apparently, since the dog refuses to be shoved off the bed and only settles in further. Wriggles in closer. Just as the bath was made for one man, so is the bed. Trevor is already regretting the amount of hair that’s going to be in his mouth when he wakes up after this.
But the thing is, Aurum’s coat is... exceptionally fluffy. Unbelievably soft. Softer than it was on the road.
It’s enjoyable on the hands, okay? He admits it.
“I suppose it’s fine, this one time,” Trevor allows. The fluff has won him over. He’s just glad Sypha isn’t around to rub his face in the evidence of her being right on yet another thing.
His hands sink into the fur and are completely engulfed. There’s no end to it. He pushes deeper until he reaches what he can only assume is skin. It all feels the same, soft and warm and dense. Cracking an eye open, he gives an experimental scratch.
Aurum rumbles, rolls over to give him more access. It pulls a quiet huff of amusement out of Trevor. That’s right, idiot, Sypha’s not the only one with hands for belly scratches. As he rubs lazy pets into the furry, furry tummy, Trevor comes across a bump. Not a bump, really, but a ridge. He had come upon it before, in the bath, but hadn’t thought much of it.
Now though, now it appears under his fingers, buried deep in Aurum’s fur, and the raised flesh stretches endlessly in each direction. Trevor recognizes the feel of it across the callouses of his hands. He has plenty of his own. But none like this.
The scar, it’s... enormous.
He traces it and feels something ugly open up inside of him as the scar goes and goes and goes. The line of tissue starts at the wolfdog’s shoulder joint and crosses to the other hip, slices across his belly, unnaturally hard in comparison to the softness surrounding it.
He knows what leave scars like this one. It’s the kind of strike meant to kill, the gutting of a fish end to end, bow to stern. It makes the puckered starburst on his own side look like a lucky potshot. It’s not from whatever attacked Aurum in the woods. It’s older.
A sinkhole stretches dark and wide in Trevor’s stomach, the same gut feeling from when he had come across the animal in the woods. Sticky as tar, bitter as bark. It’s a trench he can never seem to shovel enough of anything in to keep full.
He traces the scar until he falls asleep and dreams of putting a sword in the monster that made it.
When Trevor wakes up in the morning, he’s half-tangled in blankets out on the ground and Aurum’s sprawled on the bed like a king.
And yet, his mouth is still miraculously full of dog hair.
“How nice of you to give him your bed, Trevor,” Sypha crows from the loft, and laughs when Trevor is too busy spitting out fur to defend himself. Aurum flops over and hangs his stupid head off the edge of the bed to mock him cheekily with his half-lidded eyes.
Whatever. It’s a one-time thing.
“This game of yours sounds boorish,” Sypha says skeptically, her small hands wrapped around a mug brimming with alcohol.
“Yes but it’s simple.” Trevor wants something simple. He’s not asking for much.
“You go first, then.”
“Alright, let me think.” He takes a drag from his wooden cup, which had been conspicuously less full than the one given to Sypha. The bartender’s generosity speaks far louder than the furtive glances he keeps sending her way. Not that she’s noticed, sneaking her own furtive glances under the table to Aurum’s hulking form. How amusing it is, to think of all of the jealousy inspired by a dog.
Trevor swivels around to sweep their surroundings for choices. The pub is half-full of city folk, most of whom are gossiping about whatever horde attack is most recent. The lamplights are warm and low, the fire warmer. The owner had tried to kick Aurum out of the place within seconds of their arrival, but had been thwarted only by the smooth flutter of Sypha’s big blue eyes. “He is my protection,” she had said, her voice high and feminine. “Please,” she had said, with a gentle touch on the man’s arm. He had folded like a house of cards in the wind. Just another element Sypha wields with deadly precision.
“How about our kind, gentleman pub owner... and the bartender—” Trevor spots a man with an enormous beard and fat pouch of coin. He jerks his thumb in his direction, “—and that guy.”
Sypha frowns, cranes her neck to see the patron he’s mentioned. “The one with the bald head or the solider?”
“No, the one with the funny hat.”
“Ah, I see.” Sypha purses her lips. Taps the wood grain of the table. Her face twists and she pouts, “Must I kill one?”
“That’s the rules. You can start with something else.”
“I would marry the nice pub owner man,” Sypha answers, much quicker than Trevor was expecting.
“Okay,” Trevor says slowly after waiting for an explanation and getting none. “....because?”
“He owns property, and a business,” she explains like Trevor is particularly slow. “Oh, and we would have a summer wedding, and have cider, and I would put many, many flowers in my hair. My people would have to be there, of course, not to mention the many traditions we would need to celebrate—”
“You don’t have to describe the—” Trevor pauses as Sypha blinks owlishly at him, “—nevermind. And then?”
“Wait, do I not sleep with the one I marry?”
“I mean, I guess. You can? But you have to pick someone different.” When Sypha opens her mouth to argue he groans. “It’s a game, Sypha.”
“Well. Then I bed... the bartender.” She puts her head on her propped-up hand. “He would serve me another very full drink; except I would insist that we drink it together. And then—"
“You don’t have to describe it,” Trevor repeats firmly, swallowing around another draft. He can’t tell if she’s fucking with him at this point. “So you kill the poor man over there? But what of his impressive and stately hat?”
“I do not like it at all,” she says imperiously.
“So you kill a man because you don’t like his hat?”
She shrugs and tries to hide her grin from showing, badly. “I have killed men for less.”
Has she? Before he can ask, she claps her hands together. “I answered your riddle, yes? How did I do?”
“You did great,” Trevor says drily, “But I told you, it’s not a game you win.”
She gives him a dirty look that explains to Trevor that yes, it is that type of game and yes, she plans on winning it. He casts his eyes to the ceiling and holds back a smile. “Your turn.”
“Does it need to be people we can see?”
“You mean, only people around us?” Trevor flaps his hand dismissively. “No, of course not. It can be anyone, anything. That’s the fun of it.”
Sypha hums and takes her time to think. Trevor takes his time to finish his mug and gives Aurum a few dotting ear-scratches under the table while he waits. By the time she’s ready, Trevor’s on to the next drink.
“I have one,” announces Sypha with a devilish smile. She counts off a finger, “That bishop, the one in Gresit—”
“He’s probably already dead—”
“And Dracula.” Sypha ticks off a third finger before settling back in her chair. She takes a small sip out of her cup and watches him with deceptively guileless eyes. “Choose wisely, Trevor.”
He frowns and twirls a hand around. “It’s easy enough. I—hm, no, that’s not it—” Taking a long pull from his mug, Trevor mulls it over with a scrunched-up face. “The Bishop of Gresit— I mean, he isn’t dead yet, is he? Never saw that sanctimonious fuck after the whole thing. So... so, kill him. And even if he is dead, I’d kill him again. The shit—I mean the absolute shit he said to me was insane, Sypha, insane. Beyond insane. Then fuck the goats, right, because when in Rome, right—”
“You would rather— a goat than the bishop?!” Sypha gasps with a small hiccup. The mead she’s been nursing has driven a flush into her cheeks.
“No!” Trevor protests in mock offence, “Two goats. Two. I’d rather make love to not one, but two goats than his wrinkly, deluded, self-righteous ass.”
Sypha’s face is trapped between disgust and delight. “‘Make love’? Trevor, Trevor please no—"
“—and two, by the way, come on Sypha, two? That’s fucked up. And—and that leaves the obvious. Marry Dracula.”
Sypha hits both of her palms against the table with a snort, looking close to tears. “You— obvious— marry Dracula?”
“Yeah. He had a wife! A human wife! That means—it means something, doesn’t it?”
Trevor nods. “He’s obviously into humans in more than a midday snack way. Good chances. Also,” he raises his index finger, “I’m told he’s very handsome.”
There is a long groan from under the table.
Sypha’s on the edge of a breakdown. “What? We— we are on our way to kill him. The ‘obvious’ answer was to kill him, Trevor.”
“Imagine it,” he starts, drawing his hands through the air while staring off in the distance, “We arrive at his castle, his big spooky castle, and he flaps down the stairs, all hissy and broody— I have yet to meet a non-hissy, non-broody vampire— and the Lord of Darkness is prepared for our battlements, and, and—and we seduce him.”
That does it. Sypha breaks. She laughs and laughs, tears rolling down her face. “I cannot, Trevor, please—”
“Yes, I’ve cracked it. This— this is why we were chosen, Sypha. It never said how we were to defeat him. We could defeat him—” and here he waggles an eyebrow “—with bewitching wiles.”
“What?!” Sypha gasps, nudging Trevor in the side. “You do not have any of those.”
“Bewitching wiles,” Sypha repeats. She struggles into a solemn expression for all of a moment. “I would have to carry the whole mission and keep you from making an ass of yourself.”
“Hey,” Trevor doesn’t even have it in him to be offended. “You can be wily enough for the both of us.”
Smugness twitches at Sypha’s mouth. “Very well. My turn again.”
“You just went,” Trevor complains. He’s trying to frown but his mouth keeps curling into a grin.
“Yes, well, I have another one.”
He should have known exactly what he was getting into, should have known before Sypha points at herself and lists, “Me, the handsome stranger, Aurum.”
She was right. There is a way to lose at this game. “This is stupid,” he grumbles with a glance away from the table. Anywhere away from Sypha. The barmaid is a few tables over, adjusting her cotton shirt so that even more of her bosom spills out over the edge.
“How is it stupid?”
Trevor tries to think past the fog of the drink and his eyes get stuck on the excessive amount of cleavage headed towards their table. The warm weight of Aurum’s form shifts against his boots. “Well. Aurum’s a dog.”
“Two goats, Trevor.”
“It’s not the same.”
A massive tankard of ale slams on the table in front of an even more massive pair of breasts. They’re at eye level. It’s not staring if they’re blocking everything else in sight.
“Hey there ladies—lady,” Trevor corrects himself, mustering the strength to look at her face. It’s alright as far as faces go, brown eyes and round cheeks and a good number of teeth. It’ll do.
“I haven’t seen you here before,” the barmaid says with an unsubtle flutter of her lashes.
“That’s because I haven’t been here before,” Trevor says with the air of a guest visiting a newly furnished manor and not a shit bar. He can feel Sypha staring at him. He takes the kick she gives him under the table without flinching. “My sister and I are just passing through.”
“A shame.” The barmaid looks Trevor up and down without a single glance at the other patron at the table. “We could use more... strong men like you around here, times being as they are.”
“I don’t know about... strong.” Trevor goes ahead and flexes his arm as he reaches for the tankard. The barmaid’s eyes follow the motion with interest.
Sypha makes a disgusted noise. “Trevor, please.”
“Trevor?” A flirty smile grows on the barmaid’s face. “That’s a fine name. I had a cousin named Trevor.” She leans across the table, and wow, that blouse is not securing anything. “Wasn’t nearly as fine.”
Trevor opens his mouth before his brain has fully caught up. Before he can speak, a growl swells into the space between the two of them.
The barmaid quickly straightens away from the table even as Trevor says, “Oh, that’s my dog. Don’t mind him, he’s friendly.”
With her eyes glued to the dark underside of the table, the barmaid laughs nervously. “I didn’t think we allowed dogs in here.”
“Well, Aurum here is really friendly,” Trevor annunciates through gritted teeth. He nudges Aurum under the table. “He’s always nice to young ladies like yourself.”
Aurum is not nice to young ladies. Aurum is not nice to anyone. Aurum proves this by growling louder.
“He gets nervous around strangers. You know.”
The barmaid nods like she doesn’t know at all but wishes she does. After a moment, she boldly crouches down and offers a hand. “Hey there, big fella. Aren’t you... big, for a fella.”
The dog does not move to sniff the hand. Trevor imagines that he’s staring at the offered hand like a peace treaty made of meat. This is confirmed when he peeks under the table to see the nasty glare Aurum is giving the barmaid, bared teeth and all. Trevor has a sudden vision of Aurum biting her hand clean off.
Panicking, he stands up from his chair, startling the two other humans and dog alike. Dizziness hits him like a pound of bricks. “I, uh.” Shit. “I—Wouldn’t you know it, my dog has to piss. Outside. Right now.” He drags Aurum to the door. It’s not exactly dragging. It’s more like Aurum is accompanying him out but making it difficult.
Once outside, Trevor wheels on Aurum. “Why—what is wrong with you? Could you get your head out of your ass for just—for fifteen minutes?”
Aurum glares at him, golden eyes narrowed and pissy like he even has something to be pissy about. Fucking—as if Trevor doesn’t have plans. Big plans. Big, busty plans.
“I have a date with that barmaid once I figure out what her name is.”
Aurum snorts obnoxiously.
“What? Hey, I was doing great back there. If you hadn’t—If your attitude wasn’t a fucking wasteland of towering horseshit, I would be knee-deep in—”
Aurum gets a mouthful of Trevor’s trousers and tugs. Between the surprise of it and the amount that Trevor has had to drink, it succeeds in pulling him to the ground.
“You piece of shit dog,” Trevor spits, “You wanna go? Let’s go.” As he says it, Aurum pushes him over with a shoulder check. Trevor blindly gets his fist in the dog’s fur and yanks. They end up rolling around, scrambling in the dirt, and there is a lot of kicking and nipping involved.
“What is going on here?”
The both of them pause. Aurum is half on top of him while Trevor has a foot planted square against the dog’s chest. Blinking, Trevor looks up at Sypha upside-down.
“What are you doing?” she hisses. Sypha is furious. With her quiet voice it’s not so obvious, but Trevor has spent a lot of time making her angry. It’s all in the tense tone and the tight fists at her side.
“He started it.” He knows how pathetic it sounds once he says it. The chances of Sypha taking his side are slim.
To his surprise, Sypha shakes her head and glares at Aurum. “I expect this from him. But you?”
Aurum appears frozen. Trapped between Sypha’s disappointment and Trevor’s boots, he wilts. After he steps off Trevor, he trudges over to Sypha with his tail low to the ground.
“Good news,” Sypha says once Trevor has gotten himself into a sitting position, “We have been hereby banned from this establishment.”
“Why? By who?”
“By me. That was so horrific, I am going to have nightmares. Nightmares, Belmont. We can never be seen here again.”
“Now who’s being dramatic,” Trevor mutters. Luckily for him, Sypha merely narrows her eyes instead of ripping his head off. She huffs and starts walking away.
“Hey.” Neither Sypha nor Aurum stop. “Hey, you’re not going to help me up?”
Trevor scrambles to his feet and follows after them. Once he’s caught up, he walks sullenly on one side of Sypha while Aurum walks on the other. He won’t look at the dog, and the dog seems content to do the same. They trek the entire walk back to their appropriated house in absolute silence.
Sypha stops in front of the door. All of a sudden, the tenseness leaves her shoulders. She seems... defeated, almost.
“I am tired.” She sounds it. Guilt sprouts at his heels.
“I’m sorry, alright.” He isn’t sure what he’s apologizing for, just that he’s made her upset. He sees Aurum nudge her side with a small whine.
“Hmm. I accept your apologies.” She glances at Trevor with just a hint of a smile. “Now, you should apologize to each other.”
What? “I’m not apologizing to a dog,” he grumbles. Aurum huffs as if the same indignity applies to him.
Sypha merely waves her hands in the air, exasperated. “Suit yourselves. I for one will be sleeping peacefully. Upstairs.”
Leaving the two of them alone, together. Trevor glares at Aurum as Sypha enters the house ahead of them. Leaning in, Trevor warns, “You’re not sleeping in my damn bed tonight.”
He means it this time.
An hour later, with Aurum smushed up against his side, Trevor is forced to wonder.
What, exactly, is fucking wrong with him?
When he wakes up in the morning, Trevor finds himself on the floor once again.
This morning, however, reveals no dog on the bed.
In fact, Aurum is nowhere to be seen.
Trevor does a quick search around the house. It’s a small house. Aurum is a big dog. He’s about to start climbing up the slapshift ladder when Sypha starts coming down it.
Sypha peers down at him with a questioning look.
Trevor tries to look casual, decides to lean against the wooden wall. “Have you seen Aurum?”
“Good morning to you too, Trevor.” She finishes climbing down the ladder before glancing around. “And no, I have not seen him. Perhaps he went outside.”
“Perhaps,” Trevor admits distractedly. She’s right, of course. Doors likely mean shit to Aurum. He’s a weird dog—he can probably open them with his big nose or some sort of nonsense.
As soon as his boots are on, Trevor makes for the door.
“Where are you going?” Sypha catches his hand as he passes her at the table. “I thought we were going to the market today to get supplies. Together.” Sure enough, there’s a list sitting out on the table in front of her. She’s clearly been adding to it while he’s been getting dressed.
“I’m going to look for Aurum first. He’s probably not far.” The dog can’t understand that they have plans to go shopping at the market. At least, that’s the rationale Trevor uses when he goes outside and starts calling his name.
Trevor searches the area surrounding the house. There are tracks that lead from the house towards the outskirts of the city, but the prints are soon obliterated by the foot traffic of city folk. He keeps walking, calling out the dog’s name and ignores any strange looks he gets for doing so.
It takes a good half an hour before the panic creeps in, starts pushing at his ribs.
It’s fine. It’s fine. They had a fight, if you can even call it that. Trevor had been drunk, he had—he had tried to kick him. Maybe he had kicked him. Sure, the beast had been biting holes in his clothes as they wrestled on the ground but... he had kicked at him. Trevor can’t remember it clearly.
It’s not fine, not really. Regardless, Trevor pushes the feeling down and keeps looking.
By the time Trevor circles back to the house, an hour has passed. Maybe more. It’s possible, he realizes, that the dog may have returned back to the familiar ground without passing Trevor. With that in mind, Trevor smothers the anxiety prickling at him and slams open the door.
He’s expecting the house to be empty, what with Sypha at the market without him. He’s not expecting her to be back so soon.
And she’s not alone.
“Oh good, Trevor, you’re back,” Sypha greets him cheerfully from her seat at the table, “Look who I found while out at the market. Allow me to introduce you—"
“There’s no need for such formalities.” The stranger’s voice is smooth and light, like polished steel, and there is a noticeable tilt to it that smacks of aristocracy. “We’ve met before.”
Trevor stands in the doorway with his grip tight on the doorknob. The voice is new. Everything else is... familiar, somehow. It’s eerie in a way he can’t quite put his finger on. His gaze drops under the table. He sees black, polished leather boots that stretch on for days.
Ah, that explains it. His presumed mysterious rescuer has specific tastes. Specifically bad. Trevor glances at Sypha and catches her encouraging nod.
“I suppose so,” he says slowly, looking back to the stranger with a measured stare. “Sorry, didn’t catch your name the first time.”
“My apologies.” The man smiles politely, lips closed, and Trevor thinks, oh shit. Shit, Sypha is right yet again. He is very pretty.
“The name is Alucard. A pleasure.”
This is dedicated to all the readers out there with a dog. You understand Trevor’s (and my own) suffering. And sorry for the massive delay. Finishing and putting out the oneshot was part of it, but life is also, as they say, whack. Additionally— this is a much longer chapter than usual, so please, enjoy.
UPDATE EDIT: I’m sorry for the update delay. I have had a very busy few months and, to top it off, my laptop has dramatically died. I’m waiting to see if I need to recover my hard-drive data or if the device is salvageable (I had written nearly the whole new chapter in a word document).
Basically, the next update may be a while BUT I haven’t forgotten or abandoned this story. It is my baby!! I’m gonna see it to the very end!
“A pleasure, yeah,” Trevor repeats. His eyes catch on the man’s unbound hair and the fine embroidery it spills over. Polished buttons gleam like little soldiers in a neat row, not a single one missing or out of place.
Trevor looks to Sypha, then points at this stranger, this ‘Alucard’. “What’s he doing here? Who the fuck is this guy?”
The young man’s delicate brow wrinkles, “I believe I just said—”
“No, I mean who are you, really?” Trevor repeats in an entirely hostile manner. He doesn’t move from his position by the door, doesn’t move closer to the table.
“He is the man who rescued you! Goodness, Belmont,” Sypha huffs and crosses her arms. “Do you have any manners at all?”
“Thanks,” Trevor draws out to Alucard without any measure of gratitude.
Out of the corner of his eye he sees Sypha’s pouty, pissy expression. He ignores it in favor of keeping his full attention on the stranger who has his gloved hands folded politely on the wood in front of him.
The rescue— it’s true. He understands the odd sense of familiarity now, he understands that Sypha would recognize the man better than Trevor. There’s little doubt in his mind that the stranger before him is the same man who rescued him. What he doesn’t understand is why the hair on the back of his neck is standing on end. He doesn’t understand why his instincts are screaming for him to run.
A hunter learns to listen to his instincts. Ignoring them is a good way to get dead.
Trevor says, voice flat, “What do you want?”
“Belmont!” Sypha admonishes while Alucard looks at Trevor like he’s grown a second head.
“I had wished to see if you had recovered,” Alucard answers haltingly, “When I saw you last—"
“Excuse me?” Now Alucard is staring at Trevor like he’s gone on to grow a third impossible head.
“I said, bullshit. I’m not an idiot. You didn’t follow Sypha all the way here just to see if I made it, she would’ve just told you.” Trevor catches how Alucard’s gaze darts to the side. Caught out. Steadying himself, Trevor takes his hand off the doorknob in case he needs it elsewhere.
“I’ll ask again. What. Do you. Want.”
Sypha opens her mouth, probably to chew his head off, but Alucard answers before she has the chance.
“The same as you. To put an end to the demons ravishing the land. To end the cruel slaughter.” Something unreadable lingers on Alucard’s face. “To end the cause of it all.”
That’s... not what he expected to hear. Trevor laughs. “What? You mean, you want to kill Dracula?”
“You honestly expect me to believe that?” Trevor chuckles, then glances at Sypha for backup. Instead, she gives him a quelling look, which has him turning back to Alucard with a frown. “...You’re serious.”
“Very.” The man is very serious. Seriously gorgeous. Ugh, Trevor is considering gouging his own eyes out with his thumbs.
“Not to be rude,” Trevor says rudely, trying to look anywhere but the man’s face. The boots... they’re so goddamn shiny and horrible. “But what makes you think you can fight Dracula, the Dracula, and why— why would you even want to?”
“I have my reasons,” Alucard answers airily.
Now Sypha is also staring at the stranger, like she was expecting him to say something else. What the fresh fuck is going on? It’s like— like there’s something Trevor’s missing, something that’s keeping his nerves tight as a wire, and it’s going to drive him insane.
“Tell me why, right now, or get the fuck out,” Trevor demands.
For some unfathomable reason, Alucard looks to Sypha for help, a twist of discomfort in his expression.
Sypha just shrugs, gestures and says, “Well?”
“Well,” Alucard starts, then stops. His fidgets uncomfortably for a moment before unfolding his hands to lay them flat on the table. He clears his throat. “Well, you could say it is my... responsibility.”
Trevor shuts the door behind him with his boot and steps closer. “Go on.”
“I— well, you see, in truth,” Alucard pauses delicately, darting a glance at Sypha before continuing, “It is as much my destiny as it is yours.”
What. No. Absolutely not. “Sypha, did you tell this guy about the prophecy?” Trevor groans and rubs at his face. “I told you not to tell people about this— the thing, why did you tell him—”
“I didn’t tell him,” Sypha whisper-shouts through her teeth even though the guy is right next to her. “He already knew about it!”
“I’m the soldier,” Alucard interrupts, arms tense against the table. At Trevor’s dumbfounded expression, Alucard’s eyes flit to Sypha beside him. “Scholar.” The same eyes draw slowly to meet Trevor’s pointedly. “Hunter.”
Trevor comes closer to the table, deliberately looks Alucard up and down, and sneers, “You don’t look like a soldier.”
Alucard bristles. “The Sleeping Soldier, in Gresit.”
“You don’t look sleepy, either.”
“Well,” Alucard says softly, eyes hard, “What do I look like, then?”
Trevor slams his hands on the table and gets up in his face. “Like a bitch.”
“For the love of—!” Sypha exclaims, right as Alucard’s elegant features contort into a mask of fury. The expression is outright terrifying. Trevor reacts off a hunch, makes a show of reaching for his whip, and watches as the stranger lurches away from the table.
No. Lurching isn’t quite right. Alucard disappears from the table in a blur. He reappears standing beyond it, looking far less restrained, less human, than a moment earlier.
“That’s what I thought,” Trevor snarls. He knew it. He knew it. The chills, the immaculate clothes, the pale skin. Whip fully in-hand, he moves to strike.
Sypha throws herself between them. “Stop this at once!”
Trevor halts with his arm up and shakes his head angrily. “Get out of the way.”
“No! Trevor Belmont, you will put your weapon down this instant.” Sypha is holding her open hands out at Trevor. Not placatingly, but threateningly, given the too-blue of her eyes. Trevor also notes with dismay that she has her back to Alucard and is entirely open to an attack.
“You don’t understand,” Trevor says quickly. Maybe, just maybe, he can get to her before Alucard. “He’s—”
“A vampire,” she says in exasperation, “I know, Belmont!”
“You— you know? You knew?” Trevor lowers his whip and stares. “Then why—”
“Because unlike you, I listen to people when they speak.” Sypha glares at him hotly. “You could say it makes me a good Speaker. Or a good person.”
Trevor hikes his shoulder up. He knows he’s being defensive but is helpless to stop. “I don’t care what some bloodsucker has to say.”
“Too bad,” Sypha says imperiously. Her eyes are still bright with magic and anger when she points at the table. “Sit.”
They stare and stare until finally Sypha wins out. He sits... but only because he was planning on sitting, anyway. Sypha gives him another look. Trevor sighs and puts Vampire Killer on the table and crosses his arms.
“He’s going to eat us,” Trevor mutters darkly as he keeps a trained eye on Alucard. The vampire is stiff as a board, glaring a hole through the whip curled on the surface of the table like it’s a particularly venomous snake.
“Hm, I do not think so,” Sypha muses, completely unconcerned with the monster standing a few feet away. She sits on the edge of the table which places her above Trevor. “I think he will help us.”
“That’s the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard,” Trever grumbles. “Why would a bloody vampire want to go and off Dracula?”
“Because he’s my father.”
Trevor waits and waits, but there’s no punchline coming to complete the joke. His eyebrows shoot up in disbelief. “Dracula doesn’t have children.”
“Really? Tell me, Trevor Belmont, of House Belmont,” Alucard says drily, “Why my father would make the existence of his progeny known to humans? Let alone a family of vampire hunters.”
“...Fair enough. Except, that still doesn’t explain why you’d want to kill him.”
Alucard responds coolly, “Is it so hard to believe that not every vampire wants to eradicate humankind from the face of the earth?”
“Yeah, it is.”
The vampire is silent. Possibly weighing his options. When he speaks again it’s a touch quieter. “My mother was both human and humanitarian. When I attempted to remind my father of that fact, he dealt me wounds so severe I was forced to remain in my private keep until they healed.”
Trevor tries to keep the surprise off his face. It shouldn’t be surprising. He knew Dracula’s wife was human, that she met her end at the direction of that preachy bishop. If there was a Dracula’s wife, a Dracula’s kid wouldn’t be so far-fetched. It makes sense, as loath as Trevor is to admit it.
Trevor narrows his eyes. “Say we believe you—”
“We believe you,” Sypha says sincerely. Gratitude shines in Alucard’s eyes, transforming his features handsomely while Trevor fumes about the unfairness of it all. She would take Alucard’s word for it, for everything? Just like that? Though, truly, Trevor can’t think of a reason for the vampire to craft such a lucrative tale if he simply wanted to kill and eat them. It’s weird, and he doesn’t like it one bit, but it is... compelling. Besides, he can still stake the vamp when it eventually turns on them.
“Fine.” It’s totally not fine. “Alucard. Is that even your real name?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. I am known to the Wallacians as Alucard,” Alucard explains as he returns to the table. He stops before both of them and stands with his back straight. “However, my given name is Adrian Tepes, son of Vlad... Dracula Tepes.”
Sypha clasps her hands together. “See? A proper introduction.” She looks at Trevor expectantly.
“What? He already knows my name.”
Sypha huffs but continues with undaunted enthusiasm, “Now that we are all here, and are known to each other, we can move on with our quest.”
Trevor hunches forward. “What are you suggesting?”
“We should find Dracula’s castle.”
“It’s not that easy,” Trevor gripes, “As we discussed in Gresit, it doesn’t stay in one place for very long. The moving is a problem.”
“He is correct.” Alucard finally sits down at the table with a wary glance at Trevor. “The castle can be transported through magical means. Just as soon as we may find it, the fortress could vanish within minutes.”
Sypha leans back thoughtfully. “So, you are saying we need to trap it.”
Trevor doesn’t get why they’re both looking at him so intently. “I know how to trap animals, monsters, the like. Not demonic castles.”
“You told me earlier that your family had a secret library of some sort, and that it was near to Braila.” Sypha tilts her head. “We could start there.”
Alucard hums in agreement. Before the planning can go any further, Trevor shakes his head. “We can’t leave yet.”
“Why not?” Sypha questions with a frown. “There is little more I can do for the people here, and we cannot prepare a city of this size for an attack.”
“I—what? I don’t give a rat’s ass about the city. We can’t leave until I find Aurum.”
Sypha’s big blue eyes get bigger. “Oh. Right. Oh dear.”
“Who is this Aurum?” Alucard says in a monotonous, bored tone. “An old contact of yours?”
Trevor wrangles his earlier anxieties until they settle down. It keeps his voice from doing anything embarrassing. “He’s my dog. And he’s missing.”
“You’ve been traveling all this time through demon-infested territory... with a dog?”
“He’s big,” Trevor says defensively. “You should know, vampire. Didn’t he bring you to me? In the woods.”
“Ah. Yes. That. I had forgotten.” The vampire doesn’t strike Trevor as the forgetful type. No, Alucard strikes him more of the pretentious type, especially when he examines his fingernails indifferently and adds, “You’re certain he’s not, say, I don’t know, a wolf?”
What an arrogant prick. “Definitely a dog.”
“Really? From what I saw, he seemed to me to be very much a wolf.”
“An easy mistake to make,” Trevor retorts. “But I think I know more about my dog than you, fangs.”
Alucard seems to want to argue further on the subject but instead assumes an unimpressed frown. “Surely pursuing and destroying Dracula is more important than wasting time—"
“God, shut up.” He cannot overstate how much he hates this stupid, presumptuous vampire. Why Sypha invited it into their tiny shed of a house, he will never understand. What’s more, he hates the concerned look the two are sharing in front of him. Unbelievable. He didn’t expect the vampire to care about a dog, but Sypha. She should care.
“Looking for Aurum isn’t a waste of time,” Trevor says tensely. “Right, Sypha?”
Sypha glances between the two of the them with quick flicks of her eyes. After a moment of looking at Trevor, she bites her lip. “I—well—”
“I thought he was your fluffy boy,” Trevor reminds her, which puts a blush in Sypha’s cheeks. She’s likely embarrassed just because the ‘beautiful’ stranger is present. “Aren’t you worried about him?” Like me, he thinks, aren’t you worried like me. The worry is oppressive. It’s enormous. It’s taking every ounce of his restraint to not go out of his mind with it.
“He was not with you when Alucard brought you into this city, to me.” When Sypha points it out, Alucard twitches. “And after, it took some time for him to return to your side.”
“If that is so, then the beast will surely follow us once we leave Braila,” Alucard says dismissively. “It’s not necessary for us to go looking for the thing.”
Trevor wants to get to his feet, put his hands under the table, and flip it in the vampire’s stoic face. He settles for gripping the wood hard enough to turn his knuckles white. “I’ll decide what’s necessary, bloodsucker.”
“This is ridiculous. Can’t you see?” Sypha admonishes, and for once her disapproval isn’t directed at Trevor. She’s staring at Alucard with a funny pinch in her face. “He won’t leave without him. What, then, do you suggest we do about it?”
Alucard looks to Sypha with an imploring stare. After a moment of silence between the three of them, the vampire slowly turns his gaze to Trevor with no small amount of loathing.
Alucard says, like he is marching towards a painful death, “I suppose we shall search for the beast.”
If the search for Aurum is teaching Trevor anything, it’s that they’re better off without an additional member in their party.
“When I said ‘we’, I meant Sypha and me. Why’s the vamp gotta be here?”
The vamp in question tilts his mouth into a small frown. “You were the one who decided I could not be permitted out of your sight.”
“Yeah, because I don’t trust your shoddy sob story for a second.” Trevor curls his lips. “You’re the exact sort of monster trying to skin us alive.”
“Oh, pardon me,” Alucard drawls, “If only I had thought to ravage the townsfolk before introducing myself to you, then I could be drowning in the blood of innocents. Alas.”
“Saving the life of a monster hunter was very foolish of you, Alucard,” Sypha points out with a smile.
“That too. Ah, my evil schemes and plots, tragically foiled by my sense of charity.”
“I changed my mind,” Trevor gripes, “We should have left him tied up in the house.”
“Tie me up, pray tell, how?”
Trevor gives him a dirty look. “With your stupid long hair, maybe.”
Alucard fingers a pale strand of his stupid long hair impassively. Most of it is hidden under a large, wide-brimmed hat that shields his pale skin from the cloudy sky. Once finished with the detached examination, Alucard tosses his hair over his shoulder with the fluid grace of a river. “It’s far too silky for that. It would never hold.”
Trevor scoffs. He turns to Sypha to see if she’s hearing the same shit and—oh, oh no.
“Is it truly so silky?” Sypha asks curiously, sidling up to Alucard with wide eyes. Oh no.
“Indeed. Care to feel for yourself?”
Trevor smacks away her hand as she reaches out to touch it. “Don’t do that!”
Sypha pouts and cuts straight for Trevor’s knees by saying, “Jealous much, Belmont?”
“I’m not— he’s not even— why would you—" Trevor sputters.
“No need to get upset; it’s an open invitation,” the vampire says with an infuriatingly smug look about him. What a tosser! The spawn of Dracula is a right fucking prat, fancy hair and all.
“I would rather shove my hands in broken glass.” Trevor crosses his arms and settles into a sullen silence.
It doesn’t stop Sypha and Alucard from conversing about this or that, things like the swarm and the Speakers and Dracula’s castle. He tries to tune out the chatter. Instead, he ends up listening to Alucard describe some of the peculiar areas of his childhood home, like a tower exclusively built for star charting or a hallway made entirely of marble. Sypha speaks of her grandfather and describes a heroic adventure from his younger days, which hey, Trevor didn’t know the old geezer had once been a huge badass. Not that he had ever asked Sypha about anything regarding her family or caravan, but still.
It’s bloody fantastic. Alucard gets along with Sypha within hours, better than Trevor has managed in days, and isn’t that swell? Trevor’s no good at talking to people. He knows this, knows that he’s far out of practice after traveling alone year after year, but seeing the open expression on Sypha’s face stings like a freshly split lip.
Traveling with a silent companion was easier. Talking wasn’t necessary, and when Trevor did talk the dog never said things like “How rude, Belmont” or “That’s beyond disgusting, Trevor”. The dog never said anything at all, except when he did— with his expressive face and luminous eyes and enormously fluffy tail. He misses Aurum. The sentiment emerges both bittersweet and entirely unwanted.
It’s been at least a couple of hours and Aurum is nowhere in sight. Trevor is about to suggest they split up to cover more ground when Alucard clears his throat.
“As much as I enjoy the company,” he says directly to Sypha, “I believe we could complete a more thorough search of the town if we split up.”
“No way,” Trevor says automatically. “That’s a terrible idea.”
“You’re just saying that because you believe all of my ideas to be terrible on principle.”
Alucard’s expression remains blank. “Do you have a more reasonable argument forthcoming?”
Trevor looks to Sypha who has started walking a few lengths in front of them, seemingly content in letting them sort this one out themselves. No help to be had there.
Trevor glares at Alucard. “I’m not stupid enough to let a vampire loose—”
“—in broad daylight?”
“—in any situation,” Trevor finishes tersely.
“I can assure you; we will have a much better chance finding your dog if we separate,” Alucard insists with a strange look on his face. His insistence only serves to makes Trevor more suspicious.
Alucard’s mouth twists. “In that case, I can continue the search alongside Miss Belnades.”
“Absolutely not,” Trevor hisses. What, like he would leave Sypha alone? With a strange vampire? Whom she likes? Trevor shoves a finger at Alucard. “I’m not letting your pointy mouth out of my sight.”
This seems to make Alucard massively uncomfortable. Good.
“We’re splitting up!” Trevor calls out to Sypha. She twists with flourish, her Speaker robes billowing around her as she grins.
“Good! Finally, some sense.”
“You can work your way east—” Trevor jerks a thumb over his shoulder “—and we’ll go west. Stop when we reach the city walls, then meet back at the house.”
Sypha blinks owlishly with the grin still plastered on her face. “You are going... together?”
“Belmont insists we are to remain inseparable,” Alucard says, voice tart.
The Speaker’s grin splits into a laugh, “Wonderful! I am sure you two will have no trouble finding Aurum if you work together.”
“It’s not the best use of time,” Alucard retorts while drawing his dark cloak further around himself.
“Is it not?” Sypha rocks on her heels, looking between the two of them. “You could use the time to get to know each other.”
“I know enough,” they grumble in unison, which sends Sypha into a fit of laughter.
She promises to see them back at the house before spinning off in the opposite direction. They watch her leave in silence, and the silence stretches on long after she’s out of sight.
Trevor grunts and starts walking, peaking out of the corner of his eye to make sure Alucard is following. The vampire does indeed follow.
Not long after, Alucard clears his throat and is obviously about to open a conversation with him. Trevor doesn’t want this. Before Alucard can get so much as a word out, Trevor shuts it down by shouting for Aurum. He shouts for Aurum down alleyways, at strangers, and across a singular shitty bridge. Every time the vampire looks even remotely like he might start talking, the shouting begins anew.
It takes a total of five occurrences of this for Alucard to take the hint and keep his mouth shut.
For a while they both wander the city streets in silence, searching for a familiar bulk of white fur. Occasionally one of them will stop a stranger to ask if they’d seen anything, though it proves just as fruitless. He watches Alucard approach a group of street urchins and is surprised when the children don’t scatter at the dark figure approaching them. He wishes he could say the vamp looked more conspicuous, but with the oversized cloak covering his fine clothes and the broad hat covering his fine hair, Alucard appears like any other gloomy, worn-down refugee.
Clearly, he sneaks one too many glances once they’re back to walking because Alucard notices. “You will not likely find your mutt by staring at me.”
Trevor looks away and starts paying more attention to their surroundings. The vampire’s right about one thing, but— “He’s not a mutt,” he says with a defensive furrow of his brow.
“Not a mutt, not a wolf,” Alucard muses, “Yet unlike any domesticated dog I’ve seen thus far.”
“Seen a lot all holed up in that castle, have you?” Trevor responds snidely. Alucard says nothing in return which deflates Trevor a bit. He kicks a pebble in front of him and watches it scatter a group of pigeons, tries to keep his voice flat when he says, “Aurum’s different.”
A thousand reasons come to mind: Aurum is smarter. Faster. Stronger. Braver. Better. Aurum is infinitely more disobedient and infinitely more loyal. Trevor isn’t sure what he’ll settle with until it comes out of his mouth. “He can keep up with me.”
“I assume you do not mean as a drinking companion.”
“I mean he can fight.” As worried as he is about the dog being alone on the streets, Trevor knows Aurum can largely take care of himself. “He’s strong, and far more intelligent than some wild beast. I’ve been training him.”
“Forgive me,” the vampire drawls with a cheeky smirk, “But I doubt any animal trained by you can be described as intelligent.”
“Sod off. Aurum is a fucking genius by dog standards and our training has been going flawlessly. I’ve taught him all sorts of commands—”
“And he listens to you?” Alucard interrupts, tone laced with doubt.
“Of fucking course he listens to me! He knows who’s in charge.” Trevor pointedly does not mention an entire month of failed alpha stares and posturing and begging on his part. One time, he had been so desperate for Aurum to just listen to him that he had bribed the dog with most of his own dinner. Another time, when teaching Aurum ‘roll over’, Trevor had demonstrated the move himself only for the dog to stand on him until he was wheezing.
“Aurum is as obedient as they come,” Trevor continues, lying through his teeth. “Besides, he’s sharp enough to think for himself. Once, he knocked a man clean off his horse without so much as nicking the steed.”
He can tell he has Alucard’s interest from the glint of the vampire’s eyes. “And what happened to the man?”
“Eh, he lived to see another day. Pissed himself crying, though.” Trevor grins at the memory and gets a chuckle out of Alucard.
“Did he deserve it?”
“Oh, without question.” Then Trevor launches into the story; how the two men had attacked them on the road, how Aurum had single-handedly scared the shit out of them. He makes it sound like it was his idea for Aurum to snap the bow into kindling. A fitting punishment.
“... and after that we got him a collar,” Trevor finishes. “Helped cut back on people attacking him on sight.” Suddenly a horrible thought occurs to him. Shit... what if Aurum isn’t wearing it? What if it fell off? No, Trevor had been sure to keep the thing buckled and snug, especially after the few times Aurum had slipped it off of himself.
Alucard has grown quiet beside him. The brim of his hat covers his eyes, which makes it difficult for Trevor to read the strange emotion undercutting his soft voice. “It sounds as if you care quite a great deal for your... pet.”
“Yeah.” It’s strange, admitting as much to a stranger when Trevor wouldn’t admit it to Sypha. He cares. He had nearly forgotten what it felt like to care, had spent years putting distance between him and caring. And now he is reminded of why. This shit? Caring? Hurts.
“I care enough to look for him, anyway. The sooner we find him the better.” He tries to sound less-caring-like; ends up sounding like a worried old maid. He is super un-succeeding at remaining detached and disgruntled.
“From the way you have described him, I am sure Aurum is far from helpless,” Alucard suggests with a touch of concern.
“That’s not it. The people here— I don’t trust them.” Trevor gestures around at the crowded buildings. “They’re jumpy, scared. They’ll take one look at him and decide he’s dangerous.”
“Judging a creature’s nature from appearance alone,” Alucard scowls at Trevor with an acerbic set to his pretty mouth. “How horrible, Belmont. One could go as far as to say, bigoted.”
Trevor knows what the pompous vampire is getting at and doesn’t bother keeping the scorn off his face. He cuts in front of Alucard and brings them to a halt. “Don’t fucking compare yourself to Aurum. Your kind wouldn’t know loyalty if it took a shit right in front of you.”
“If he’s so loyal,” Alucard snips, “Why isn’t he at your side?”
Trevor throws his hands up. “I don’t know! What if something bad happened?” The longer he’s gone, the more likely that’s the case. Aurum wouldn’t— he wouldn’t just leave him.
There’s a tick of muscle in Alucard’s jaw. “Why—what has you convinced of such a thing? It’s been merely a day, nothing ‘bad’ happened.”
“You don’t know that.”
“As a matter of fact, I—” Alucard stops short, his expression shifting from exasperated to troubled. He’s not looking at Trevor, not really, but rather over Trevor’s head.
Trevor follows his gaze and turns slowly to look behind himself. At first, he doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary. They’ve started circling back the way they came, back in the direction of the house. The people on the street are milling about unhurriedly without a sign of anything amiss. He’s moments away from asking Alucard what the fuck he saw when he catches sight of the figure running towards them.
He squints. All he can see from this distance is a smear of blue— oh.
“Sypha?” he calls out, but Alucard is already stepping ahead of him. Fuck. Trevor has to basically jog to reach the both of them.
Sypha looks... she looks alright. No blood. No holes in her robes. Her hair is upswept into a rowdy tangle around her head, but that’s normal. She’s bent over with her hands on her knees, sucking in air, and Alucard is looming over her with his hands hovering near her shoulders like he’s not sure what to do with them.
Trevor nearly knocks him out of the way to kneel at Sypha’s level. “Sypha? Sypha, what’s wrong?”
Sypha’s head shoots up and Trevor can see her eyes are as wild as her hair. She sucks in another breath before she speaks, voice shaking.
“Something happened. Something bad.”
Hoo boy is this late and mostly dialogue. You are all champions for putting up with what I put out, and I love you for it.
Trevor stares ahead at their sad excuse of a house, the front of him warmed by the heat even at such a distance, and he cannot stop thinking about how everything always comes back to this.
The place he calls home, on fire. Again.
Why is it always fire? Burn the house, burn the witch, burn it down. The poor man’s justice.
“I’m sorry,” Sypha says as they crouch together in the shadows of a nearby alleyway. “I arrived back before you, and saw the torches...”
Sypha goes on to explain the full of it; some zealous townsfolk had witnessed her perform healing magic and thought to drive out the evil before it brought more of the same upon them. The Speaker looks close to tears, though too furious to spill them. Trevor is now reminded less of his family estate and more of the Gresit mobs.
Speaking of mobs, the current mob is dispersing. Apparently, it’s not much fun to watch a house burn down if there’s no one inside of it. The group of townsfolk is not very impressive either. Just a dozen angry-looking people, all disappointed that a magician would remain unburnt.
“They think us witches.”
Trevor looks down at himself. He doesn’t think of himself as very witchy. “Us?”
“No not us.” Sypha waves her hand to encompass herself and Alucard. “Us.”
“Me? A witch?” Alucard restates mildly. “I am flattered.”
“Why is that flattering?” Trevor hisses, earning him an affronted look from Sypha.
“Was there anything of import left behind?” Alucard asks, tactfully ignoring Trevor’s comment. He’s watching the flames climb higher and higher; the reflected light dances in his golden eyes. Not that Trevor is paying enough attention to notice, that would be— well. If he notices it’s only because he’s keeping an eye on the vampire. For protective, practical reasons.
Sypha chews on her lip. “All of our supplies from the market. The nonessentials.”
Trevor pats the whip at his side. He doesn’t own much and he certainly doesn’t leave important things behind, not anymore, no matter how safe or secure the location. He has his whip, his coat, his knives and short sword. Funny enough, he’s not even worried about Aurum. There’s no way the beast would allow himself to get trapped or intimidated by an angry mob. Nor would he sit inside a burning house in silence.
No, Aurum isn’t there. And since the mob is wholly unbloodied, Trevor would guess that Aurum had never been in there, either.
Thinking about Aurum reminds Trevor about something else. Something he did leave behind.
Alucard and Sypha both whip their heads around to look at him, startled.
“The dumb fucking sword. I left it near the fireplace.”
“You left it?” Alucard repeats with his pale face aghast. He seems far more upset than Trevor feels, and it’s Trevor’s damn sword.
“That thing is a hassle to carry. My legs aren’t a mile fucking long. Besides—”
“I will retrieve it,” Alucard says curtly, already moving towards the front of the alley. Sypha is shaking her head and looking at the vampire with wide eyes.
“It is not safe.”
“She’s right.” Ugh, why is Trevor agreeing with her? He doesn’t care if the vampire wants to get torched. The sword had been extravagant and pretty, but... “Seriously. It’s not worth it.”
Alucard tilts his head and levels Trevor with a look of disappointment that rivals the ones he usually gets from Aurum.
“As I said, I will retrieve it.” Immediately after Alucard says the words he is gone, his lithe form an afterimage that lingers in the air. It’s as he moved when they first met; a quick blur of motion, fast enough to be mistaken for teleportation. Sypha and Trevor watch as the blur speeds into the building. Remarkably, only one townsperson turns to look towards the sound, only to shake his head at the empty space before him.
“That’s... useful,” Trevor comments. Damn, that speed would be nasty to contend with in a fight. Sypha nods with her eyes still locked ahead. They wait for Alucard’s return, crouched in the mouth of the alleyway. They wait. And they wait.
The minutes begin to stack upon each other, each one longer than the last. The heat from the fire is gathering sweat on Trevor’s brow in a manner not unlike the worry gathering in his gut. A portion of the house’s roof collapses on itself in a flare of sparks just as Sypha grips his arm.
“It has been too long.” There is enough concern in Sypha’s voice to stuff a pallet. Trevor glances at the small hand on his arm, fisted tight in his shirt, and feels a tiny bit bad about what he says next.
“Maybe he’ll come back a bit crispy.”
“What?” Trevor rubs his chin. “He’s a cold bastard. Probably could use a good thaw.”
“Hm. I barely felt it.”
Trevor swears and gets out a dagger the same moment Sypha bumps him and nearly knocks him over on his ass. Alucard stands in the alleyway behind them, insufferably unruffled and smug. There’s not even a spot of soot to be seen. Not a speck.
Sypha rushes to her feet, buoyant as a pocket of air. “You’re back! We were worried about you!”
“Speak for yourself,” Trevor mutters while taking his sweet time to get up. He brushes his pants off and avoids looking directly at Alucard. “Surprised it took you so long just to grab a single sword.”
“Grabbing the sword was a quick matter,” Alucard says, flat as a fact. “I thought to wait behind you, see if the infamous Belmont could sense my presence. Imagine my surprise when you failed to detect such a monstrous threat.” The flash of fangs at the end has to be intentional. Fuck this guy. Except, he didn’t so much as even hear him sneak up behind them, and as far as Trevor knows he’s not gone deaf.
The question must be resting on the surface of his expression because Alucard skims it right off. “I may or may not be able to... levitate.”
“Levitate?” Trevor scoffs while Sypha’s eyes dart to Alucard’s feet which are currently firmly grounded. “What, you mean floating around and shit?”
“How interesting,” Sypha muses, sounding far too impressed for Trevor’s comfort.
“Whatever, most vampires can do— they can do things.”
“Things,” Alucard intones. “Yes, I suppose I can do things.”
“Shut up, you know what I mean.” Trevor turns with a put-upon frown. “Sypha, he probably can’t do anything impressive. He blew his whole load on being sneaky.”
“I’ll have you know I can do far more than that,” Alucard says in that low, sultry voice of his that Trevor has absolutely no opinions about. Absolutely none.
“Oh, do tell,” Sypha says blithely as she shoves Trevor out of the way.
“To start, you have witnessed my speed, that of which is above human capacity. I may also suspend myself in the air for a time, if I so choose.”
“So what?” Trevor sneers, ignoring how moments ago he thought such skills were extremely useful. “Those are in every vampire’s bag of tricks. Next you’re gonna say you can hiss real big and loud.”
“I can shapeshift,” Alucard says quickly, then his eyes widen and he modifies, “A bit.”
That is unusual, for sure. Older, stronger lineages of vampires are known to have additional abilities beyond their brethren, but the abilities vary. Trevor leans forward, now as interested as Sypha. “A bit? What the hell is ‘a bit’ of shapeshifting?”
Alucard glances at Sypha before answering Trevor. “I can assume the form of a... bat. Much like my father.”
Something in Alucard’s eyes shutter closed as his eyelids fall back into half-mast. He blinks slowly, his pale lashes sweeping along into something proud and coy. Something wicked. “I have many talents. Shall I list them all for you? Mind you, it is a very, very long list.”
“I’m sure it is.” Trevor rolls his eyes and holds out a hand. “Enough talk. Give it here.”
Alucard pulls the sword from his coat with care. He hesitates. “Perhaps I should hold on to it.”
“What? No! It’s my sword.”
“Yes but,” and Alucard draws the sword back out of reach, “You did say it was, hmm, what was it? A hassle to carry.”
“You did say that,” Sypha confirms.
“And you left it behind, most carelessly.”
“You did,” Sypha confirms again. It’s like being stabbed in the back twice.
“It’s my sword, asshole,” Trevor grits out, his fists clenched at his sides. “Give it. Back.”
Alucard, the absolute prick, examines the blade with a critical eye before turning the same critical expression on Trevor. “Considering the risks I undertook to retrieve your sword, I expect some level of gratitude.”
Trevor is one nudge away from losing his shit. He stares at the wall behind Alucard and chews out a very short, very sarcastic thank you. The flush in his face doesn’t help.
The vampire must have a death wish because instead of handing over the sword like any decent person, he raises an eyebrow, smirks, and says, “Ask nicely.”
“You son of a—” Trevor goes to swipe at the sword, his sword, but Alucard blurs to the other side of Sypha. She makes no move to stop the vampire, though she does have that look about her that means she’s about fed up with all levels of bullshit.
Trevor squeezes his eyes shut, counts to ten. He imagines shoving a sharp stick up into the soft space in between Alucard’s ribs. He imagines it would make him feel a great deal better. Holding onto the thought, he slowly opens his eyes and hopes the fucker can read his newest fantasy in them.
It’s almost a surprise to Trevor when Alucard actually hands over the long fancy sword. There is a twist of wistfulness in his expression as he does it. “It would behoove you to take better care—”
“I can use this as a goddamn toothpick and it still wouldn’t be your fucking business.” Trevor relishes the way Alucard’s face trips into a look of badly subdued horror.
“Are you both done?” Sypha has her arms crossed over her chest. “Because I would like to know where we will stay, now that our house is...”
“A shitty pile of ashes?” Trevor offers up.
Sypha frowns. “Yes.”
“What about you?” says Trevor, squinting at Alucard.
“Yeah, where’ve you been staying?”
Alucard’s mouth thins into a displeased line before answering. “An inn.”
He then fails to elaborate.
“An inn,” Sypha repeats, appearing for a moment just as suspicious as Trevor feels. The suspicion however doesn’t stop her from smiling wide at the both of them. “Splendid. We could all stay there for the night.”
She does have a point. Dusk is not far off, and Trevor would bet that a prissy vampire like Alucard would only stay in a non-shitty inn. Trevor would love to stay in a non-shitty inn for once in his goddamn life.
“What inn?” Trevor prods.
“I don’t recall the name,” Alucard says with an air of indifference.
“Whatever.” Trevor gestures with a hand. “I’m sure you remember where it is. Lead the way, fangs.”
Alucard doesn’t move. “It was fairly busy, I’m afraid. I am not confident there would be room for more patrons.”
“I can be pretty convincing,” Trevor says with a pat on his whip. “And Sypha can convince a stranger to give her the clothes off his back.”
“That is not true,” Sypha pouts, pushing out her plump bottom lip. Trevor waves at the display, because, come on. It’s not fair.
When Alucard fails to move along, Trevor grunts, “What, is there a reason you don’t want us seeing your accommodations? Afraid we’ll see that you’ve been sleeping in an ugly coffin? Snoozing upside-down in the rafters?”
“All of that is absurd,” Alucard sniffs imperiously. “I’ve been sleeping in a bed just as any other man.”
“I have nothing to prove.” But Alucard’s cool gaze shifts ever so slightly. With a sigh, he begins strolling away without a second glance. “Have it your way. We shall lodge together.”
Alucard’s inn sucks.
It’s dingy, dank, and dark. The city has yet to see the ugly night hordes tear through its streets and so the inn isn’t damaged— it’s simply bad. Braila is a port city, a nice city, so it also stands to reason there are nice inns for fancy folk to stay in. This? This is not a nice inn. It is also not a busy inn, despite what Alucard had said earlier.
“Didn’t know you had a sense of humor,” Trevor says to Alucard as they enter the lower level.
“The name? Rivers Crossing. Doesn’t strike me as very vampire-friendly.”
“Oh yes,” Alucard replies, fully deadpan. “It’s hilarious. I was tempted by The Silver Sun but it was unfortunately booked.”
Trevor snorts out a surprised laugh. “And Stake Out?”
“Now that would just be in poor taste.” The corner of Alucard’s mouth twitches up as he nods to the innkeeper. “If you’ll excuse me.”
Sypha and him hang back as Alucard presumably discusses them as additional guests with the owner.
“You two seem to be getting on,” Sypha says with an air of forced nonchalance. Trevor rolls his eyes.
“Just because I’m not trying to stake him right this very moment doesn’t make us friends.”
“Mhmm.” She doesn’t sound remotely convinced.
“He literally sucks, Sypha. Literally. Did you see what an ass he was about my sword back there?”
“He did retrieve it for you. Out of a burning building,” she points out, as if that excuses everything. “Would it kill you to be nice?”
Oh no. This again. “I can be nice,” Trevor grumbles, “But only to people who deserve it. It’s not my fault everyone we’ve met has been a shitty cockwart.”
“Maybe they would be less shitty if you were nice.”
“Wouldn’t solve them of being cockwarts, though.”
“What’s this about cockwarts?” Alucard interjects casually, like a huge creep. He looks down his nose at Trevor with distain. “Been poking in places you shouldn’t, Belmont?”
“Eat my entire ass.”
“And risk the warts? I do think I’ll pass.”
“When you boys are done, could I please have my room key? I suddenly have the strongest headache.” Sypha looks between them pointedly. Alucard, apparently remembering he is in the presence of a lady, apologizes and hands out small keys. Three rooms, one for each of them. The inn may be shitty, but single rooms sure beats the giant bunk halls he was expecting.
“Alucard and I are going to be in my room for a moment,” Sypha says casually as she pockets her key.
Trevor can’t keep the surprise from his face or the suspicion from his tone. “What? Why?”
“There are some things I need to discuss with him.”
“Things like what?” Like the weather? Trevor can talk about the weather. In fact, Trevor can talk about whatever it is that Sypha thinks she needs to talk to Alucard about. In fact, Sypha doesn’t need to talk to Alucard at all when Trevor is right. Here.
“Things that need to be discussed privately,” Sypha says with a small scowl.
Trevor turns to glower at the bloody vamp and pauses. Alucard’s face, so carefully arranged to be neutral, isn’t neutral enough. He’s staring off in the distance like it will keep Sypha from noticing him even though he’s standing right next to her. There’s something going on there, and fuck it if Trevor doesn’t want to admit how badly he wants to know. It wouldn’t do for them to know how badly he wants to know. Let them talk, then. He has better things to do.
Like getting absolutely sloshed.
“Fine then,” Trevor concedes gruffly, “Keep your secrets.” He walks over to the bar, slaps a coin on the counter, and asks for whatever beer they have.
A few drinks later and Trevor takes it back. He takes it all back. This inn is leagues about the rest.
The beer isn’t good. It’s better than good; it doesn’t taste remotely like piss. He’s had enough beer that the weird smell of the place and the dark lighting no longer bother him. The table he’s at is almost cozy. The only thing that sucks about the inn is how the walls keep spinning.
Hunched over his work, Trevor doesn’t notice his companions are back until he hears his name.
“Belmont, what is— is this...?”
“S’my dog,” Trevor answers to the surface of the table. He hears the rustle of parchment as they pick up the results of his labors.
“This is... quite good.” Alucard sounds surprised. Trevor picks his head off the table and squints. Alucard is holding up one of his first drawings, a fair rendering of Aurum’s head in black ink.
After the drawing passes to her, Sypha gasps. “It looks just like him! I did not know you had such a talented hand, Belmont.”
Bestiaries didn’t make themselves. Every Belmont was instructed in the fine arts, if only to depict their enemies with essential accuracy. It was one of the areas Trevor had been naturally good at. Instead of explaining this, which would take forever, he settles on a shorter explanation.
“Are these to help our search for Aurum?” Sypha asks worriedly.
“Some will be more helpful than others,” Alucard points out cynically as he plucks out another drawing. It’s one of Trevor’s most recent works that had been created after his fifth beer. It's not as masterful. Or accurate.
“Looks the same to me,” Trevor defends and crosses his arms.
Alucard squints. “It looks like a horse.”
“Not my fault your eyes are stupid.”
“Trevor,” Sypha says, still worried, “You’ve just been sitting here, drawing pictures of your dog?”
“Yup. We gotta find him.” Trevor starts gathering all of the parchment back into his arms. “We’ll put these all over town so if someone sees him—”
“What if we don’t find him?” Alucard asks, with a worried expression that matches Sypha’s.
“We’re going to find him. We have to.” Hunching back over the table with his armful of drawings, Trevor mopes and morosely adds, “I miss him so much.”
Sypha puts a hand on his shoulder. “We know, Trevor.”
“Aurum is the best fucking dog. The best. And he— he’s out there missing me. Fuck. He’s probably so sad,” Trevor slurs sadly.
“I bet he is,” Sypha agrees delicately even though she’s staring intently at Alucard.
“So sad.” Trevor presses his cheek into the wood grain with a deep sigh.
Alucard looks weirdly conflicted. Weirdly, because it’s weird for him to look like anything aside from disinterested. He gazes from the drawing in his hand and back to Trevor. He haltingly observes, “You clearly love this... creature.”
“I love him so much and you know what? He loves me too. He might’ve been a mean bitch most of the time, but he was my mean bitch. He’s so mean... and soft and fluffy and— and he gives the best kisses.”
Sypha chokes. Alucard looks like he’s swallowed a bug. Trevor doesn’t care because he still has more to say.
“This whole country is fucking rotten and my dog is one of the only good things in it. So. Fuck everyone else. I’m gonna find him, right after I find another drink.”
He tries to stand and mostly just slides sideways out of his chair. Sypha and Alucard are suddenly on either side of him, gathering him up.
“I can walk b’myself,” Trevor says and fails and also ends up grabbing someone’s ass. He can’t tell whose because the walls are spinning again. He doesn’t get another drink, but he does get back to his room without breaking anything.
There are voices talking, but it’s all very quiet. It’s hard to tell if there’s two people in his room or if his vision is splitting. Whoever it is, they both do a decent job getting his boots and outerwear off before a heavy wool blanket is thrown over him. Someone tells him goodnight. Trevor hopes he says it back, but knowing himself, he probably only passed out the moment it was said.
Trevor rises before the sun with a pounding head and dry mouth. He wakes suddenly, the dark of early morning serving as a timekeeper for his groggy head. By his count, sunrise is an hour away at the very least. After lying in bed for another handful of minutes, Trevor accepts that sleep is a far-away thing and gets dressed.
After some small stretches, Trevor emerges from his room. Is it too early to bother Sypha? Probably. He does it anyway.
“Oi, Sypha. You up?” he says with a knock on the door next to his. She doesn’t answer. Shrugging, he pushes the handle and, to his surprise, the door swings open with ease. The Speaker doesn’t seem the type to leave her door unlocked.
As Trevor steps into the room he notices two things. One, Sypha isn’t here. And secondly, this is not Sypha’s room. Alucard’s black overcoat is draped carefully over a chair in the corner. Ah shit, Trevor had remembered that all of their rooms were neighbors but hadn’t bothered to figure out in what order. But now that he’s here... well. Alucard left his door unlocked. It’s not snooping.
He shuts the door behind him as he begins looking around, definitely not-snooping. It’s not like he ever said he trusted Alucard to begin with. Hell, he’s been touting the very opposite. There is a book on the desk in a language unfamiliar to him and the burnt-out stub of a candlestick next to it. Late night reading, perhaps? Trevor glances towards the bed and snorts. It’s pristinely unwrinkled. Almost as if it was never slept in. Imagine that. With a smug grin on his face, he continues looking around and makes sure to keep an eye out for any cozy beams one might hang upside-down upon.
Then he sees it. It’s small, almost nothing. But Trevor’s searching gaze catches on a hint of black peeking out from under the bed and his heart skips a beat.
He knows before he slowly crosses the room and rifles under the bed. He knows, he knows and still he can’t be sure until it’s right in front of him, damning as sin.
He stares down at a thick black piece of leather. With the metal bit on one end, one might even mistake it for a belt. There is a design imprinted on it, specific to the region, specific to Trevor’s memory. Aurum’s collar. Worn from use on one side, the leather soft in his hand. It’s Aurum’s collar. Trevor would recognize it anywhere. It’s Aurum’s collar, and it’s here, and Aurum is not.
A horrible sound tries to climb up out of him like an animal but he swallows it back. Keeps it in. The back of his throat is tight with the effort. It hurts worse than getting tossed around, worse than broken ribs, broken skin. Years of warning people off and staying untethered just to end up suffering the same injuries. He must be a fucking moron.
Trevor sits there for a while; knees to the floorboards, hands in front, black leather gripped tight. He kneels and kneels and kneels until his knees ache and his back hurts. He kneels until his grief condenses into something cold, something hard. Dangerous. It sinks to the bottom of his chest like a stone.
He stands. He walks out of the room. He takes the collar with him.
In true Belmont fashion his anguish dons the more comfortable coat of anger. Trevor has spent so very long being angry— at the church, at his countrymen, at his father, at himself. Years of his life, drowning in anger or drowning it out. He hadn’t thought he had any room left to get... more. But compared to this, his old rage feels worn. Familiar. This new feeling is a stranger to him, so long has it been away.
The rooms for rent are all on the second level. Floorboards creak and shift as Trevor strides down the hallway, passing rooms and doors without a light to aid the windowless walk. He reaches the bannister in the common area and stops.
From here, he can see the top-down view of where they stayed up talking and drinking. Dim light filters through the windows and it’s no more than the candlelight glowing in the room. There’s an assortment of chairs scattered around mismatched wooden tables, and who would be sitting at one of them, but Alucard.
The vampire has parchment of some sort on the table in front of him, likely a map from the looks of it. He doesn’t turn around at the sound of Trevor taking the stairs. Instead, Alucard only speaks when Trevor has reached the bottom, and when he does his voice is steady smooth like calm waters.
“Good morning, Belmont. I can’t say I expected you to be up at such an early hour.”
“You.” The word comes out of Trevor like a bolt he’d had notched for hours. Swift, loaded, lethal. He hadn’t planned any of this, hadn’t planned what to say. He just knows he’s pulled taut with no give left in him.
Whatever he hears in Trevor’s tone gets Alucard to turn around; whatever he sees on Trevor face makes his brow arch upwards in concern. Well, fuck his misplaced concern. Before he can open his infernal lying mouth, Trevor palms the collar and tosses it so that the thing lands on the table with a clatter.
“What’s this?” Still appearing mildly concerned, Alucard reaches out to examine it and freezes. As Trevor watches, the vampire’s look of concern melts into something else. Something like recognition.
“I fucking knew it was you.” Trevor’s voice starts quiet, kept close. But as he goes on it gets away from him. “I knew it. This whole goddamn time. You— you lying, piece of shit, bloodsucking—"
Alucard looks a great deal paler, even in the dark. “I can explain—”
“I don’t give a flying fuck about what you have to say!” Trevor bellows far, far louder than he intended. The only thing between him and Alucard is one pathetic wooden table, which he slams his hands on before leaning over it. He seethes, “I don’t care why you did it, I just care about how your head is gonna look when I cut it off your thin little neck.”
Trevor’s short sword is out in an instant, slashing out across the table. It misses Alucard by a hair as the vampire lurches backwards and out of his seat. Trevor advances over it, knocking over candles and empty mugs, scattering papers, the freshly forged burn of his rage pushing him forward.
There wasn’t a plan, before. Now there is. The plan is to make the needle-toothed bastard pay. The plan is to make him significantly more dead.
A slash here, a stab there. Nothing lands, not so much as a single hit, but Trevor keeps swinging. Alucard is unnaturally quick and naturally adept at dodging Trevor’s sloppy attacks with the slightest of motions. He makes no attempt to run away. No attempts at returning with attacks of his own. The vampire still wears that goddamn look of concern, barely even enough of it to warrant a difference from his usual apathetic appearance. Certainly, no fear.
That won’t do. Trevor discards his clumsy moves like a heavy cloak. His attacks become faster, sharper, less predictable. The sudden change alongside the addition of some throwing knives catch Alucard off guard.
A knife sticks in the meat of Alucard’s shoulder as he’s forced to suffer a blow instead of dodging it. The blade of Trevor’s short sword halts, its downward path stopped cold between the vampire’s gloved hands. Beyond the sword and the gloves and the hands, Trevor sees Alucard, his golden eyes bright and piercing.
“Stop. We should sit, talk about this like civilized men.” Alucard insists without so much as a twitch. Despite the knife in his shoulder, despite everything, he remains maddeningly calm. He’s not taking Trevor fucking seriously.
“There’s nothing to talk about.” Trevor shoves closer. He lets Alucard get a front row seat to the ruin his heart is set upon laying out. He spits venomously, words raw and edged with violence, “You killed my dog, and I’m gonna kill you. And I’m going to enjoy it.”
Alucard’s half-cast eyes snap wide open. “What? I didn’t—"
“Don’t lie to me!” Trevor roars. After finding Aurum’s collar in the vampire’s room, it had all made sense. Why Trevor had felt like he was missing something important. Why Aurum had disappeared before Alucard’s arrival. Why Alucard had been so dismissive of their search for the dog, all the questions he’d been asking. Like the bastard was hoping Trevor would give up on looking too hard. Hoping Trevor wouldn’t look too close at what was right in front of him. There is no other explanation.
He should’ve listened to his instincts. A monster’s a monster, no matter how convincing it speaks or smiles.
Trevor jerks his sword back only to get it knocked out of his grip when he strikes out again. Fine. This had all been a preamble, anyway. He’s done fucking around.
Vampire Killer unfurls at his feet.
Alucard backs away, his gaze on the whip. “I couldn’t have— your dog isn’t dead. If you would just calm down and listen to me—"
Trevor cuts him off with an easy flick of the wrist. Vampire Killer comes alive, slicing through the air in a whistle of sound. That supernatural blur of movement gets Alucard out of the way, but only just. The next flick snaps closer. Alucard is fast. But such a feat would be best in a large, empty space, and this room is a small cluttered thing. Using his whip, Trevor maneuvers around the room and corners Alucard into hip-checking a chair.
Finally, Trevor gets in a hit. The explosive force throws Alucard clear through the bar and slams him into the stone wall with a crack. It must hurt because the vampire hisses in pain. Good. He wants him in pain. He wants him destroyed.
Alucard braces a hand over the raw hole in his side, eyes narrowed. “Would you please let me explain—"
“Just shut up and fucking die already.” Trevor emphasizes the sentiment with another snap of his whip.
Alucard blurs away. Appearing behind Trevor he tries again. “Listen, the dog—"
The vampire is preoccupied with trying to talk— fucking good lord, the yellow-eyed bitch won’t shut the fuck up— and so he isn’t quick enough to dodge Trevor’s next lashing. The whip throws Alucard into another wall, hard enough that bits of the ceiling shake loose. They might bring down the building at this rate. As if he gives a shit.
When Alucard emerges from the rubble, he looks impossibly furious.
Alucard’s voice, normally low and smooth, comes out a vicious hiss of sharp teeth. “You— you are so blindingly, unfathomably stupid.”
He grabs the next whip lash in his clawed hand, tugs Trevor close. At this distance Trevor can see the livid snarl twisting Alucard’s mouth. “You are so inconceivably thick in the head, it’s like you’re dead from the neck up. No wonder the Belmont line is at its end.”
Trevor sees red.
With a roar he thrusts all his weight into Alucard, recklessly slamming the both of them against a wall that’s yet to have a man-sized crater. Alucard thrashes a short moment before he stills— Trevor has handled another knife, a hunting dagger, up against the pale column of the vampire’s throat. If Alucard thinks he can blur out of this, he’ll be leaving the front half of his neck behind. His whip is still tangled up in Alucard’s hand, trapped between the two of them, trapped up against the stone.
Trevor isn’t an idiot. His strength and weight mean nothing, not to a vampire. That dagger is the only thing keeping Alucard pinned and Alucard knows it. Maybe if he had taken the fight seriously from the beginning, things would be different. A different time. A different place.
“I’ve thought about ripping your throat out,” Trevor says hotly, ignoring the burn gathering in the back of his throat and behind his eyes. “It’s definitely what Aurum would’ve done.”
Cold eyes glitter with resentment above Trevor. Alucard looks like he wants to say something, though he keeps his lips in a thin line.
“Go on.” Trevor feels too tight in his skin. “If you want your last words to be lies, be my guest.”
Alucard stays silent, his gaze a weighted thing. The silence stretches on. Alucard swallows and the dagger shifts ever-so-slightly, draws a thin line of blood in its place. Different emotions flicker through the vampire’s eyes like a deck of cards; like a slow shuffle to find the winning hand. Whatever Alucard was looking for, he doesn’t appear to be happy about finding it. When he finally speaks, he can’t even look Trevor in the eye.
“It’s me,” Alucard whispers in a voice so leaden with dread that the words drop to the floor.
Finally, some truth. Trevor grits his teeth. “Yeah, I already know it was you—"
“No, you don’t understand.” Alucard squeezes his eyes shut and seems exceptionally pained. “You really don’t.”
“Then fucking make me understand.”
Alucard takes a deep, unnecessary breath through his nose and slides open his eyes. They are infinitely more wary than they were while Trevor was beating the shit out of him. The miserable look on his face is almost worth pitying. Almost.
“I couldn’t have killed your dog because it’s me,” Alucard draws out bitterly. “I’m your—your dog. Aurum.”
Trevor blinks. Laughs. It’s not a good or nice laugh. He can’t believe— really? Alucard must think he’s some sort of gullible idiot to believe—
Alucard’s form blurs out as he shifts into a massive white wolf. Or, one could argue, a wolfdog. Trevor takes a step back.
Standing in front of him is unmistakably Aurum.
It’s not some mimicry or imitation. It’s him. He would know him anywhere. A relief so profoundly unlike anything Trevor has felt before sweeps through him and nearly brings him to his knees. The knot in his chest comes loose like an unspooled thread, only to get tangled up in the mess of what this means.
Trevor stares at Aurum. The wolfdog’s yellow eyes are wide in his face and are swimming with the same embarrassment as earlier. Trevor stares at Aurum. Aurum stares back.
No, not quite. Alucard is staring back.
Alucard had— he’d been trying to explain—
“Oh,” Trevor says faintly. “Oh, fuck me.”
This chapter was meant to be a Castlevania Eve gift to y'all but it took some time to wrap... ho ho ho... Merry Season 3mas!
I love you, dear readers, and I hope you enjoy— we are closing in on the end and it's been a wild, wild ride.
COVID UPDATE (July 16 2020): I work as an ICU nurse in the U.S., so the final chapter is taking me longer than normal due to work being A Lot Right Now. Thank you for being patient with me. Stay safe.
When Trevor had been young— maybe eleven, maybe younger— his family had thrown a huge ball.
This was not the first ball they had hosted in the massive Belmont manor, but it was the first ball that Trevor had explicit permission to attend. Previously he had watched from the alcoves while his older siblings stood out in the crowd, jealousy eating away at him like a flock of fluttering moths. Too young to be trusted, too inexperienced to dance. Could he hold a sword? Yes. Could he hold a conversation with his father’s friends? Apparently not.
Until that year. It had been a good year for farmers and hunters alike. The fields were thriving, the livestock were healthy, and the monsters were largely dead. The boon of the first two was the main feature of the event— a feast fit for a king splayed out on the longest table his family owned. But before the feast came the mingling.
Some of the guests were the local townsfolk, many of whom Trevor recognized, and some of the guests were from much farther out. Friends of the family, invited from faraway provinces. A few notable houses were present. Their crests decorated their clothing as proudly as any jewelry and with far more importance. Namely, the du Ponts stood out with their blue-and-gold lion emblems stitched upon their finery. They had traveled all the way from Paris and brought many, many gifts with them. They had also brought their daughter, Marguerite.
Marguerite de Pont was thirteen and taller than other girls her age. She had curly blonde hair with warm brown eyes, a heart-shaped face, and a slightly crooked nose. All of this was surmounted by the fact that she would likely be Trevor’s betrothed. He wasn’t supposed to know this, but he had overheard his parents talking about it late in the night when he was supposedly in bed.
“It’s rude to stare.”
Trevor jumped and nearly trampled onto his sister’s fancy shoes.
“I wasn’t staring,” he lied, turning with a small frown. Claudia did not look convinced. She was five years older than Trevor and appeared far more comfortable in her enormous green velvet gown than he did in his stiff dress clothes.
“If you stared any harder your eyes would pop out of your head.” She tutted and her skirts swished across the floor. “You should go over and talk to her.”
“About what?” Trevor spent his days learning about monsters and running through drills in the countryside. Marguerite was thirteen and lived in Paris. He didn’t know what girls did in Paris.
“She’s a girl, Trev. You talk to girls all the time.”
“You all don’t count,” Trevor said sullenly. Sneaking another look, he could see Marguerite smiling politely as one of Trevor’s sisters made a joke. “I want her to actually like me.”
Claudia laughed. “What’s not to like?”
Trevor crossed his arms and grumbled, “I’m not Tristan or Roland.”
“I see.” Claudia glanced over to where their brothers were standing, socializing with the local guests close to the enormous fireplace. Tristan had a fiancé who stood with her delicate hand on his arm. Roland was starting to grow facial hair. They were both built like stone towers, hard and immovable from years of handling the family business. Folk liked to say that the Belmonts were a well-balanced family; a house blessed with three boys and three girls. Tristan was the oldest, then Claudia, then Roland, the twins, and finally, Trevor.
Trevor knew that to be the third son was to be the insurance plan. Tristan was the heir, Roland was handsome, and Trevor was… well, he wasn’t either of those things. He was the ladder rung closest to the ground.
“Being the youngest sucks.”
“But you’re so cute!” his sister cooed. Trevor narrowly dodged the hand that shot out to ruffle his hair with a huff.
“I don’t want to be cute. I want to be older.”
“There is nothing wrong with being the youngest,” Claudia said in a tone that bespoke of a remembered lecture. “You are only young once in a lifetime.”
Brow furrowing, Trevor scuffed his shoe against the floor. “No one wants the apple at the bottom of the barrel.”
“You are not an apple,” his sister said sharply. She tapped a finger against her lips as she thought. “You are like… like the barrel, the bottom barrel of a tower of barrels. It might be at the bottom, but it holds everything up. If you took it away, then...” She cascaded her hand down in a fluid motion, “A mess.”
Trevor scrunched up his nose. “So, I’m one step away from being a disaster?”
“No. I’m saying that you are important. Essential.”
“Powerful?” Trevor tentatively added.
“Yes,” Claudia agreed with a slow, sage nod. “Small but powerful Trevor.”
The bottom barrel, was it? He’d heard something similar a while back. Watching Marguerite from the corner of his eye, Trevor felt the distance between them grow less daunting. “Thanks, Claudia.”
She smiled before leaning over to tap him on the nose. “Remember, baby brother. Belmont charm is famous far and wide.” Trevor was pretty sure that wasn’t true— people knew them more for their hunting accomplishments than anything else and his father was always getting into fights— but he nodded anyway.
Dinner was announced shortly after. Everyone slowly ceased mingling and flowed into the grand dining room, seating themselves with a mixed amount of predetermined order. Trevor was of course seated with his family, a sibling on either side, near where his parents headed the table.
He stared at Marguerite, who was sitting directly across from him, until he remembered what his sister said and quickly looked down. He instead stared at his stew and tried to think of something, anything, interesting to say. The Belmont charm did not manifest. It was probably a finite resource that had run out by the time it was his turn to use it.
“You must be Trevor,” a voice said, high and polite. He glanced up and saw Marguerite looking at him with curious eyes.
“And you must be Marguerite.” He cracked a small smile, like it was a shared joke. Marguerite smiled back. A shared joke indeed.
They exchanged pleasantries and Trevor managed to steer away from topics too gruesome for supper, which were most of the topics he would be able to discuss with confidence. He asked her about Paris. She told him about Paris. Her accent carried through her voice when she spoke, and Trevor liked this. He liked her. He liked that this was going so well.
Then she started asking about Roland.
“That is your brother, yes?” Marguerite asked out of nowhere, prompting Trevor to follow her gaze to where Roland sat farther down the table. To Roland, sitting there with his stupid stuble and stupid square jaw.
Trevor felt himself nodding like his head was on a puppeteers string. Maybe, if he didn’t speak, her interest would dry up, quick as a rumor.
“What is he like?” she said instead, her mouth the bank to a river of questions. What did he do for fun? What did he do for sport? She’d heard he trained up unruly stallions as a pastime; was that true? Did he sing? Did he play any instruments? Oh, splendid, which one? More than one? Was he a good swordsman?
“He prefers the axe,” Trevor grumbled as he picked at his food. His stomach folded in half as her eyes doubled in size.
“The axe,” Marguerite repeated reverently, as if Trevor had said Roland shit gold. Trevor rolled his eyes. Yes, Roland was fond of axes. Yes, it made his arms inexcusably huge. But she didn’t know. She hadn’t seen his brother fumble with axes so often that his mother made a habit of checking for lost toes.
When Trevor failed to offer up more details, Marguerite pressed on. “What does he do with it?”
Marguerite blinked. “The axe.”
Trevor snorted. It was a completely undignified noise, one he tried to pass off as a cough. What did Roland do with his axe? Well, he killed monsters. Lots and lots of horrible monsters. Roland’s skills with an axe were not about pleasure or entertainment; they were about survival. But you didn’t just say that to people over soup. And if he told her that Roland went out slaying monsters she would think his brother was cool, or worse, heroic.
“He does everything with his axe. Axes. He has a legion of them, and his favorites have names. Wuuthrad, Leviathan, The Sundering, Maximus.” The Sundering was ostentatiously ugly and Maximus was a double-edged iron axe more massive than an axe had any right to be. Trevor was grinning, thinking that he finally had something unflattering to say about his brother.
Leaning a bit into the table, he quietly shared, “He likes to throw them.”
“You mean throwing axes?” she asked slowly, clearly confused. This only served to make Trevor split into what Claudia referred to as his “shit-eater grin”.
“I mean all axes. Even the big ones. Especially the big ones.” Roland enjoyed throwing his axes in tall spinning arcs and he was admittedly good at it, despite how the method shouldn’t work in the slightest. He liked to say that there was no axe too big, only men too small to throw them. This, of course, was nonsense. Axes were for chopping, not throwing.
“Wow,” Marguerite breathed, not taking that information the way she was supposed to, which was bad. “He must be very strong.”
Frustration boiled through him like rising steam. Why were they still talking about Roland and his axes when they could be talking about Trevor and his whip? How could he impress a girl if he couldn’t mention the one thing he was proud of?
“I’m strong too, you know.”
“I am sure,” she said placatingly, not sounding at all like she meant it. “But there is strength, and then there is power.”
Trevor’s fingers curled into his palms. “Just because my brother is older doesn’t make him more powerful.”
“Does it not?” She tilted her head slightly to the side and her curls bobbed with the motion. “Pardon me for saying so, but you do not appear very powerful.”
Shows what you know, Trevor thought. “I may be the youngest,” Trevor said with a pause to draw himself up straighter in his seat, “But I’m also a power bottom.”
Marguerite’s thin eyebrows shot straight up into her hairline the same moment Trevor heard one of the twins choke on her drink. “You are a what?”
Perhaps she misheard him. “A power bottom,” he repeated, slower and louder. Now Celsa— or was it Sibyl?— was sputtering and coughing in a way that was extremely distracting.
The look of shock on Marguerite’s face was unwarranted. “Are you sure—”
“Yeah, I’m sure. I’m a power bottom.” Then he added defensively, “Everyone thinks so. Right, Claudia?”
He turned to Claudia who was sitting on his other side, and saw that her lips were pursed shut in a tiny, tight line. Her eyes were bugging out of her face, all big and popped, all squeezed-like.
“Right, Claudia?” he repeated with a nudge. Claudia let out a wheeze from her tightly shut lips like she was dying.
Trevor frowned, nudged her again. “Tell her I’m a power bottom. Tell her.”
Claudia’s wheeze turned into a hiss of air, which quickly turned into a croak of a laugh. “Trevor,” she uttered. She was stuck between a breath and a choking sound. “Trevor please.”
An ugly snort came from his other side and he swiveled. There was Celsa, definitely Celsa, covering her mouth with one of her small hands. Her eyes though, were telling: wide and begging with tears forming in the corners.
He slowly looked from one sister to the other.
“What? What’s so funny?” he snapped, all the while feeling more and more like a trap-snared hare. Panicked, he turned to Marguerite and— oh. Oh, Lord no. She was laughing too.
One of his sisters took mercy on him, perhaps more so pity, and a cupped hand found its way to his ear. They explained, exactly, what was so funny.
Trevor’s ear burned.
Both of his ears burned, blood filling them and the rest of his face. He— oh no, he couldn’t bear it, he couldn’t be here, he had to leave, immediately.
He stood jerkily, voice squeaking alongside his chair as he shoved it back. “I— you must excuse me—”
Some of the tablecloth caught and then shifted with the motion, unsettling his dish, resulting in his stew to slosh and upturn on him. Hot soup. Everywhere.
The thing about siblings was that they were much like hot soup; hearty and sustaining, but also fully capable of burning one alive. They would never, ever let him live this down. Nothing else could be worse. It was not the first ball they had hosted in the massive Belmont manor, but it was the most embarrassing.
It was the most embarrassing day of his life. Indisputably.
This is the most embarrassing day of his life.
Trevor looks at Aurum, really looks at him— sees the wolfdog standing in front of him where that stupid prick of a vampire had been moments before— and tries to think of a time when he felt more embarrassed than he does now. Nothing comes to mind. In fact, his mind is such a fucking empty wasteland that he opens and shuts his mouth multiple times before realizing he can’t come up with a single thing to say. Looking at Aurum does not help in the slightest.
Well. The concept of turning tail has never been more appropriate. Swiveling on his heels, Trevor turns his back on his big, bad problem and makes to walk away.
A soft whooshing sound comes from behind him. Trevor starts walking faster and mutters, “Not a fucking word.”
“We must talk about this,” Alucard says anyway from his insidious, not-dog mouth.
“Ohhh, but we mustn’t talk about this. Or anything, at all, ever.”
“Nope.” Trevor doesn’t so much as pause when Alucard blurs around him to block the inn’s front door; he simply makes a sharp turn for the stairs and begins taking them two steps a stride.
Alucard’s voice grows louder. “What are you doing? You can’t truly expect to run away from—”
“Oh yeah?” Trevor’s so good at running away from his problems that he’s in a league of his own. “Fucking watch me, asshole.”
Unfortunately, Trevor crests the top of the stairs and nearly barrels over Sypha. Her hair is wilder than normal and her clothes are rumpled, which is a clear indication that she had just woken up. Apparently even Sypha couldn’t sleep through the racket of Trevor throwing her new friend around the room.
Confusion stretches across her face like a fat question mark. “What—?”
“Nope,” Trevor says again, repeating his new catchphrase until the powers that be let him live his life. He blows past Sypha and increases his speed a clip because he can feel Alucard closing in behind him.
“Stop acting like a child, Belmont.”
“Then stop chasing me, shitbitch,” Trevor mocks childishly, skidding as he comes to a row of doors. Finally. With Alucard hot on his heels, he shoulders the door to his room open and quickly shuts it behind him. Following the lock click, there is the very satisfying sound of someone bodily smacking into the door from the other side.
“Piss. Off.” Trevor leans against the door with a smug grin. However, his grin and petty sense of victory quickly evaporate as he looks at his room.
His room? It’s not his room. There again is the fancy black overcoat draped on a chair. There again is the weird book and burnt-out candlestick. He has, again, stumbled into Alucard’s room. How? How does this keep happening to him, specifically? A glint catches the corner of Trevor’s eye and he spots the door key sitting on top of the page of an open book.
“Get out of my room,” comes the muffled voice of one pissed off vampire.
Alucard lets out a long, frustrated noise of disbelief which implies that the poor sod has never been locked out of his own room before, which implies he’s never had siblings. Trevor has, and he is familiar with waiting things out.
Trevor braces his back against the door, prepares for the inevitable.
There are no more sounds from the other side. Alucard doesn’t try to knock the door down, doesn’t try to talk Trevor into coming out. The silence… it’s a trick. A classic one, and one Trevor will not fall for.
In the silence, Trevor can hear his own still-racing heartbeat thudding away. With his back against the door he stares vacantly at Alucard’s desk, his thoughts sluggishly turning over each other. He hadn’t gotten a good look at Sypha’s face. She’d been confused, for sure. Had she been surprised? And had she been surprised, would it be at Alucard for being a fake dog, or at Trevor for reacting poorly to having a fake dog?
Oh. My god. He has a fake dog. Has? Had. He used to have a fake dog. Now he knows his dog is actually a vampire moonlighting as a dog, which makes Aurum not much of a dog at all. It makes Aurum a vampire, which means Trevor has had a vampire as a pet for weeks. So, okay. Okay. Maybe Trevor had been wrong about Aurum being a dog. But everyone else had also been wrong about Aurum being a wolf.
As he stands there, pondering the wide expanse of new conclusions, Trevor feels a chill at his feet. Ever so slowly, he peers down.
It’s mist. Mist is seeping into the room from under the door. What the ever-loving fuck? Where’s the fucking mist coming from? His gut instinct is to scramble into the middle of the bedroom and get out of the weird, totally creepy mist. But that would remove him from the door.
“Your shitty vampire trick won’t work,” Trevor taunts gruffly. Alucard doesn’t answer.
Then the mist starts to gather in the center of the room. It ominously swirls up, coalescing into a familiar, hazy shape.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
“I’m not sure if anyone has told you this before,” says Alucard, who has appeared from literal air, “But you are quite an unreasonable, difficult man.”
Trevor starts to say something. Then he stops to rub a hand over his face. He sucks in a breath, pinches the bridge of his nose. After a moment, he flares out his other hand and gestures at Alucard. “Mist?”
“Yes,” Alucard says, plain and unhelpful.
“You— Mist. Alright. You can turn into mist.”
“Right. Well, since you’re hellbent on having a conversation with me—” Trevor starts, drenching the word ‘conversation’ with contempt, “—Anything else you can turn into? An assortment of cutlery? A bad draft? Just, you know, I’m worried I’m going to find out you’ve actually been some woman’s cat this whole time and the custody arrangement alone will be a bloody mess.”
Alucard has the audacity to look offended. “As I have said before, I can also assume the form of a bat.”
“Wow. A bat. Wow. Wonderful,” Trevor says sarcastically. “So you’re telling me you could have been a tiny, featherweight rat way back when, but instead I was forced to lug around your massive furry ass? For days?!”
Alucard’s face sours further. “As I was severely injured, I thought it best to remain in that form to— to conserve energy, as it were—”
“That’s a load of bollocks.”
“It’s true,” Alucard emphasizes. “It takes energy to shift, energy I did not have, and—”
“—and so you thought you would sucker some poor, thoughtful sod into coddling you back to health—”
“Thoughtful?” Alucard interrupts before following with a low, incredulous laugh. “You? Thoughtful? That would imply that you think.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means, Belmont, that I’ve been stuck watching you for quite some time. Thinking is not your strong suit.”
One of Alucard’s eyebrows ticks up. “I once witnessed you trip on your own feet because you were too busy doing a crude impression of the Pope.”
Trevor vaguely remembers that. Having run out of things to talk about at Aurum between towns, he’d resorted to celebrity impressions. “Yeah? One time I saw you lose your mind over a goddamn squirrel.” He leans in and harshly whispers, “It wasn’t even a big squirrel.”
Alucard stiffens up. “Some instincts are… harder to control than others.”
“Like pissing on my shoes?”
“At least I had an excuse.” The dhampir’s lip curls. “You pissed on everything, in broad daylight no less. Honestly Belmont, you act more like a beast than a man.”
Ouch. Trevor sneers, “Don’t act so high and mighty. I’ve seen you lick your own asshole.”
Alucard’s head rears back as if he’d been physically slapped. “I— no, it was a burr, I had a burr stuck to my hindquarters, it wasn’t—”
“It was your asshole—”
“How would you know?” Alucard objects in a higher pitch. “Why would you be looking—”
“You were a dog,” Trevor scoffs. “There’s nothing weird about it. Now you? You’re the freak. Pretending to be somebody’s dog for weeks, it’s— that makes you a pervert on top of being the world’s shittiest dog.”
Alucard throws up his hands. “I wasn’t even a dog, idiot. It’s a wolf.”
“Well that’s debatable—”
“It’s not! It’s really not! I was obviously a wolf. Every sane person who saw me knew it as such. But no, the Great Trevor Belmont, monster hunter from birth, can’t even tell a wolf apart from a dog.”
“Neither could Sypha,” Trevor points out hastily. The silence that meets him is vast. Profound. So profound, even, that he tries again, “Sypha… didn’t know?”
Alucard looks away shiftily. Fuck.
“She knew.” Of course she did. Sypha knows everything, why would this be different? Trevor groans and scrubs his face again. “She fucking knew this whole time—”
“To be fair, it was obvious to most that I was not a dog but a wolf—”
“You didn’t act like a wolf!”
Alucard jerks his head, tossing his golden hair over his shoulder. “That is because I am, in fact, largely a person.”
“Half a person,” Trevor jeers and is rewarded with an indignant scowl.
Alucard steps forward, looks Trevor up and down. “Presently, it’s difficult to say which half I should be more ashamed of having.”
Heat creeps under Trevor’s collar at the scrutiny. He closes the gap, shoves his finger accusingly in the dhampir’s face, and quickly fires back, “Depends on which half made you eighty kilos of whiny bitch no matter what you look like.”
“Considering your dad’s enormous bloody temper tantrum, I can help you make an educated guess.”
“Instead,” Alucard growls, “Why don’t you tell me which half of your family tree created yet another miserable drunk?”
Trevor seethes, “I should have left you in the woods to die.”
“I should have left you in the woods to die!”
“But you didn’t!”
And isn’t that funny? He saved Trevor, after everything. Knowing everything. A laugh bubbles up from his chest. “I thought I was saving an unlucky beast, but you? You knew you were saving a godforsaken Belmont. No illusions, no pretense. No one to blame but yourself.” Trevor stops. It strikes him, then, as he stares at the dhampir. “Why would you do that?”
Alucard blinks and looks away. “I don’t know.”
It’s such a boldface lie that Trevor sees through it immediately. “You don’t know? How can you not know?”
“Perhaps I was being nice.”
Trevor laughs again. “You’re not nice. You’re polite, but not nice. And you don’t carry a wounded man, your natural enemy, all that way just to be polite.”
Alucard gets all stiff and solid-looking, like a statue. He won’t look Trevor in the eye. “I was returning the favor. I owed you a debt, and I paid it.”
Except, that’s not it, either. “Why’d you stick around then? You could’ve fucked off after dumping me with Sypha, called it even. Been done with it.” His pulse picks up, which is odd; they’re not even fighting. “But you came back.”
Alucard still won’t look at him. “Yes.”
They’re standing so close. Trevor can hear his own heartbeat pounding in his ears and wonders, for a moment, if Alucard can hear it too. His voice sounds quiet to him under the thundering of it as he asks, “Why’d you come back, Alucard?”
Alucard doesn’t answer, stands absolutely motionless with his eyes cast off like he can’t come up with a lie passable enough to give voice to.
“Don’t tell me,” Trevor says with a forced grin, the load of adrenaline in his body pushing for an escape. “You came back because you missed me. You missed my ‘miserable drunk’ ass. You like me.”
Alucard’s eyes dart over to meet his for all of a second before he’s looking away again, but it’s enough. Thing is, Trevor spent weeks communicating with a partner that couldn’t talk, and Aurum’s eyes were the most talkative. The most expressive part of him. Alucard’s eyes are one and the same— golden and bright and absolutely transparent. He knows what that look means.
“You… like me.” Trevor watches in fascination as Alucard’s pale face tightens. The truth of it is undeniable; it’s as familiar and readable as Aurum’s body language. “Holy shit.”
“No no no, you like me.” His grin stretches wide as he pokes a finger at Alucard’s breastbone and prods with each smug word, “You. Like. Me.”
The dhampir steps back, his expression a shoddy duplicate of his normal detached appearance. “I like you about as much as anyone can like a classless simpleton.”
Trevor isn’t fooled now. “You like that I’m a classless simpleton.”
Horror cracks through Alucard’s cold mask. “I don’t—”
“You do.” Trevor steps forward. Alucard steps back. The apprehension in those hawk-yellow eyes spurs him to keep digging. “My god, it’s worse, isn’t it? You like-like me.”
“What does that even mean?” Alucard says incredulously.
“It means you’ve been carrying a torch yea-big—” Trevor gloats while holding his hands out to frame a large stretch of space “—For me, you pointy asshat.”
Alucard stares at Trevor’s hands. “That’s... preposterous.”
“Is it? Then why’d you come back?” Trevor lowers his hands until they’re framing his crotch. “Hoping to sneak more of an eyeful? Naughty.”
The gold of Alucard’s eyes flash, the heat in them sinking into his low voice as he growls, “You are infuriating.”
“So you admit it, then.” Trevor wets his lips before they curl into a smirk. “Trevor fucking Belmont gets you all hot and bothered—"
He’s cut off by Alucard grabbing him by the nape of his neck— his strong grip tight in his hair— and before he can flinch, Alucard’s mouth crushes into his.
It’s like being slapped. Sudden, unexpected, forceful. Alucard’s lips are soft, so soft, and at complete odds with the sharp pain brought on by the hand pulling his hair. Trevor can barely think; his thoughts abandon him like the world’s most cowardly army in the face of something vaguely threatening. Which, this is— it should be threatening. Trevor should feel threatened.
Instead, when Alucard slips his tongue into Trevor’s mouth, it flints heat down his skin, sparks a fire low in his gut. It’s something coiled and dangerous all the same.
His hands find purchase in Alucard’s loose shirt, but just as soon as he’s made the motion Alucard pulls away.
The dhampir’s breaths come quick and shallow; he’s close enough that Trevor can feel them. Does the bastard even need to breathe? Trevor realizes he’s still staring at his lips, how they look— fuck, they look wet— and so he tears his gaze away to his eyes.
Alucard’s golden eyes are growing wider by the second. “I—”
“What was that?” falls out of Trevor’s mouth before he can stop it. He feels lightheaded. He’d been mostly joking. Mostly. He hadn’t expected... that.
“I have to go,” Alucard says with alarm. He tries to pull away further but Trevor’s hands are still fisted in his shirt.
“Oh no you don’t.” Trevor will be damned if he doesn’t get some kind of explanation for— for this. They weren’t finished. “I thought we were having a conversation.”
Trevor can see the resolve hardening in his eyes, but it doesn’t prepare him for what Alucard does next.
One minute he’s got a handful of shirt, the next it’s empty air. Nothing. Blinking in surprise, Trevor stares in front of him and feels himself slowly going insane.
There’s a bat. Where Alucard had just been there is a bat, a bat that hovers for a moment before it quickly absconds out the window and all but vanishes. Leaving Trevor alone, as hard as he’s ever been, standing around like an idiot.
“Well wouldn’t you know it,” Trevor says to the empty room. “He really can turn into a bat.”
I can: write a whole flashback for one punchline if I want, and I want. (Said punchline is based on a true story, ahaa).
I can't: count for shit. I can't do math. This is 10 chapters, oops, big oops. There will be one more chapter and!! It will be!! Steamy!! I'm sorry!!
I love love love y'all, please stay safe, and I hope this brings some laughter to your day.
Trevor is halfway through his slow trudge down the stairs when Sypha’s voice cuts through the room.
“Belmont! Explain to me this.”
He pauses mid-stomp, glances over, and sees Sypha’s birdnest of bright hair over by the bar. Well, it used to be the bar. Now it looks like an iron cannonball blew through it’s broadside.
Ah, that is a trap. A huge trap. He’s not stupid enough to answer. Trevor resumes stomping down the steps. A cursory survey of the room does make him admit that maybe, just maybe, they did a fucking number on the place. It looks worse than it did before, which is saying something. Chairs and tables are knocked over, some are in splinters, and there are two large, notably man-shaped craters in the stone walls.
Sypha is staring at one of the aforementioned craters. “There is… is this blood?”
“At least we didn’t burn the place down,” Trevor replies evenly as he approaches the bar. He doesn’t go to Sypha, though. No, instead he skulks to one of the still-intact portions and stoops over to rummage behind the counter.
“We?” Sypha’s eyes are drilling a hole through him even though he very, very intentionally is not looking up. “I saw you fleeing from Alucard—”
“I wasn’t fleeing—”
“You were running away from him as if chased by the Devil.”
“Son of the Devil,” Trevor corrects, still rummaging. So far all of the shit down below is empty. Big surprise.
“You both ran off and then I see all this.” The pinwheel of her arms and the reprimand in her tone clearly refer to The Damage They Hath Wroth. The abused wood creaks as she leans over it to peer down at Trevor’s head, her voice getting shriller as she goes, “What happened? Where is Alucard? Why is he not with you?”
Trevor bemoans, “Just another bout of unbelievable horsepiss in my horsepiss life.”
It takes Sypha a long stretch of time before she responds. “Horsepiss?”
“It’s— for once it would be great, just fucking great, if things could make sense. Be straightforward. But noooo.” Trevor bumps the top of his head when he tries to get out from under the counter and swears. It doesn’t stop him from continuing his search as he grumbles, “Everything has to be some— some blindsiding mindfuck of a—aaha!”
Triumphant, he hoists a half-full bottle of ale up from his treasure hunt and places it with reverence on the bar surface.
“Where is Alucard?” Sypha asks again, wariness seeped into the soft lilt of her voice.
Trevor stands and looks at Sypha, looks at her with her openly worried expression, eyes big and mouth small. It takes effort to keep his face blank. There are some cups left un-broken out and about, so he clinks one in front of himself and slides another across.
She doesn’t so much as look at the cup.
“Suit yourself,” he says with a grimace, then takes a long pull directly from the bottle. A long, long pull. Honestly? It’s not long enough. He could keep at it for days and it wouldn’t be enough.
He sets the bottle down with a clunk and says grimly, “I don’t know where the fuck he is.”
This takes Sypha by surprise, going by the little dance her eyebrows perform until they meet in the middle. “How do you not know—”
“—And I don’t care,” he interrupts. “I don’t know, I don’t care. I don’t know or care. He’s a twat.”
“Did you get into a fight.” It’s not a question, so Trevor doesn’t answer. A disapproving frown pulls her pretty mouth downwards before she asks, “Did you lose?”
“Not so much, no.”
Then he hides from her judgemental stare by taking another pull from the bottle. Sypha has that look, like she wants to call him on his bullshit, and yet she leans on the counter and stays thoughtfully silent.
She waits until he’s lowered the drink to ask, “What were you fighting about?”
“He’s a dog. The dog.” And god, Trevor can only roll his eyes at the scrunched up face Sypha makes. “You asked. Alucard. Is. A dog. My dog. You know, the big one with all the damn fur and the hellmouth stink breath?” A small sardonic grin finds its way onto his face and he facetiously holds a flat hand in the air above his waist. “‘Bout yea tall. Full of shit.”
“Oh. Oooooooh.” A war is breaking out across Sypha’s features; the small province of Astonishment is losing massive ground to the proletariat uprising of Guilt. Her tone is borderline theatrical to the point where he can’t tell if it’s on purpose. “Who could have seen— I had no idea—”
“It’s okay, Sypha. You don’t have to bullshit me. I know you know. The two-faced bastard told me.”
“Ahhh,” she deflates with a built-up exhale. He had been expecting more of a fight. Sypha is frustrating like that. With another sigh, she slides lower towards her arms resting on the bar and peers up at him. “Are you angry with me?”
“Yes. No. Ugh.” He is still angry, he thinks. The feeling is smooth and warm like a tumbled stone. All the edges are worn off. But angry with Sypha? Looking at her while she stares up at him with her baleful blue eyes, he finds it... difficult. It’s always difficult to be angry with Sypha for more than a fleeting moment. It’s terribly unfair. He finishes the bottle.
“Are you angry with him?” she asks, despite being surrounded by the aftermath of what only happens if people are very angry.
Yes. No. Ugh. “He’s a liar, Sypha. He lied to me for weeks, and for what?”
“Technically, Aurum never lied about anything.”
“Aurum? What even is— what is a dog?” Trevor squints, chucks his empty bottle behind him, and proceeds bitterly, “A miserable little pile of secrets.”
“What is a wolf?” she corrects cheekily. Sypha grins and her head pops up. “A friend!”
Face souring, he crosses his arms. “No.”
“Oh come on, Trevor. You were inseparable. Inconsolable—”
“—I wasn’t inconsolable—”
“—but you were.” Sypha puffs her chest out and makes a show of scowling. Her voice drops and puts on a gruff edge. “Name’s Trevor Belmont, of the cursed Belmont family. No friends for me. Only pain. But! I do not care. Have I mentioned how much I do not care? I am too big and manly—”
“Come off it, Sypha.”
“—Too big and manly to care. I don’t care about my huge, fluffy very-not-a-wolf dog; it is just that I will kill anyone who so much as looks at him wrong. I would die for him. I almost did die for him. I will tear apart the city looking for him, but it’s not because I care. Also! I never listen to Sypha even though she is always right.”
He wishes he still had the bottle in hand just so he could throw it again. “So— so I care about Aurum. So what.”
Sypha narrows her eyes and it makes him feel like he’s stepped into a very obvious trap. She doesn’t drop the stupid gruff immitation either. “And don’t get me started on Alucard, who I do not care or think about, even a little, especially not when I make staring at his backside into competitive sport—”
“What’s your point?” groans Trevor from behind his hands.
“You are terrible at showing it, but you do care... in your own, stuffy Belmont way,” she says in her normal, lilting voice. Sypha brings up one hand, then another. “You care about Aurum. You care about Alucard. Conveniently for you, they are one and the same. What part of this is difficult?”
Conveniently? Conveniently? Trevor works his jaw before he chews out, “What part of this is convenient?”
Sypha actually rolls her eyes at him. “You act like having feelings for people is a venereal disease. Would it be so bad to admit that you care?”
Yes! The only thing worse than caring is having to fucking talk about it. He isn’t a little boy anymore, sitting on the edge of his sister’s bed, swapping secrets.
Eyes starting to bulge, Sypha slaps the table. “You cannot even say it. Unbelievable.”
“No, I can,” Trevor says through clenched teeth as if she’s stabbing him. “I can say it.”
Sypha waits. Trevor waits. He waits for the words to come and it feels distinctly like when he’s had to retch but can’t. Like bile in the back of his throat.
Trevor clears his throat. “I…”
All of Sypha’s staring is making the back of his neck prickle. He leans on the table and starts again, “I… care.”
“About?” Sypha prompts balefully.
“I care… about…” Trevor sucks in a breath, tries very very hard to push out the word-vomit from his lungs and what comes out is, “...Beer.”
“...Beer?” It looks like Sypha’s gearing up to slap him. “Belmont—”
“I care about beer, alright?” Trevor says hurriedly, “And I’ll admit things are better with… beer around. You know. And that I would be sad or—or whatever without it. So. There’s no... beer here in the inn, anymore, and I guess I care about beer enough to go… looking for it.”
Sypha’s face twitches like it does before she laughs, though her tone is mostly disgusted. “I know it is meant to be a metaphor, but you do speak of beer in that way. Like a jilted lover.”
“Do you want me to go bring him back or not?”
“Yes, please do,” Sypha says agreeably before scrunching up her delicate nose. “No real beer, though. This city has been very disappointing in what they consider drinkable.”
“Metaphorical beer only, got it.” He straightens up and angles to walk out only for Sypha to catch his elbow.
“You know I care about you too, Trevor,” she says in her soft way, as if she’s trying to keep a horse from startling. “We both do.”
Uh, gross. Mega gross. A trickle of warm, pleased contentment worms into his head. So he grunts and shrugs her hand off, grabbing his furred coat as he goes.
“Be nice!” she calls after him, which, stupid. He doesn’t need reminding to be nice to Alucard.
First thing, he’s going to strangle the fucker. Nice can come after.
Three days pass without sight or sound of Alucard.
To his credit, Trevor does try. He drags out a thorough search of the city, asks around, and puts his rather substantial hunter’s skills to use. Hell, he even puts up his drawings of Aurum in town simply because he has them. Maybe they would guilt the shapeshifter into showing his face.
And yet, three days, no Alucard.
There are a number of problems locating him. For one, Braila is a large city— a city Trevor is unfamiliar with— and it’s the kind of city with more spaces for hiding than being seen. He can’t go around asking people if they’ve seen a goddamn vampire prince and risk drawing too much attention to themselves. And… shit. Is he even looking for a vampire? A wolf? A bat? Alucard was a wolf for untold weeks. Trying to find a bat in Braila was the opening to a bad joke. It just wasn’t possible.
He doesn’t even have time to be disappointed in himself. Sypha does that for him.
“You scared him away,” the Speaker says shrewdly with an aggressive chop of her knife. Fear is a healthy, normal response to danger, Trevor reminds himself as he steps back.
“If he’s scared of me, he’s not going to be very helpful fighting his batshit insane father.”
Sypha throws a dirty look over her shoulder, knife in hand, and Trevor double checks to make sure the table is between them. Not that a table would stop her. It’s the illusion of safety that counts.
“Hmph.” She turns back to the dinner preparations. “We have to continue with our plan, soon.”
Trevor knows this. The longer they wait, the more people die. But if they run off without Alucard, they may well die facing Dracula, and then all of the people will die anyway. A lot of death all around. Typical. And yet neither of them had been ready to talk about moving on— about leaving without Alucard.
“He knows we are going to the Belmont estate,” Sypha continues. “Maybe he went ahead of us.”
There is no doubt in Trevor’s mind that that is a load of horseshit, but he nods. “We should leave tomorrow. It’ll be more than a week’s travel to get to the estate. Less, if we’re quick about it.”
Sypha pauses in her chopping, shoulders bunched up around her ears, and says nothing. Trevor pretends not to see it.
Later that night, he lays on a shitty bed— he had given up the better bed to Sypha— and feels like an ass. A heavy gloom had descended upon them during dinner and remained after. Trevor hates to admit it, but taking on Dracula had seemed almost, almost possible with Alucard on their side. Now it all seems rather… bleak.
It’s not worth thinking about.
It’s really not.
Trevor thinks about Alucard, anyway.
He thinks about his sharp dry wit, his lethal speed, his cold, pointy face. How, no matter how polite and well mannered he tried to be, Alucard had a nasty mean streak. He had truly been the best worst dog ever.
Is Trevor upset with his absence? Maybe. But what’s really maddening is all of the other feelings vying for room at the table. Trevor is a singular sort of man, with singular needs and wants, like food and drink and sex. Sometimes he feels angry, or sad, or less sad. The way he feels about the dog-dhampir is not singular. This is a problem.
His heart had forever been a forest of stumps with a few old gnarled trees, and his feelings for Alucard were akin to a big man swinging around an axe while yelling.
So of course it is absolute buffoonery for Trevor to let Alucard charm his way into his bed.
It starts innocuously enough. There comes a slight noise— a scratch at the door to the abandoned house they’ve taken up in. Then silence, so much of it that Trevor begins to think he’s imagined it, up until he hears the slow creaking of a door being pushed open. It’s probably the same door Sypha busted on their way in. It’s probably Alucard.
The sound of a man clearing his throat cuts through the room. Well, shit. That’s definitely, without a doubt, Alucard.
“If you came for a second ass-kicking, I’m really not in the mood,” Trevor whispers into the night, staring resolutely at the ceiling. He won’t look at him— he won’t look at Alucard’s solemn, pretty face. He won’t. He is also acutely aware of how much he wants to give the dhampir a piece of his mind, loudly, but alas, Sypha. One wall is not enough to keep her nose out of anyone’s business if she gets a whiff of trouble. And if she gets involved in this, he has a feeling it’ll end with them holding hands just to please her.
Trevor’s resentment is quiet but still very much alive, rattling around in his ribcage like a trapped animal. When Alucard doesn’t rise to the bait, he sighs. Figures. He could keep ignoring him. It might not get Alucard to leave, but the idea of being petty brings the small thing inside of him a great deal of joy.
He actually does keep staring at nothing in silence for a bit, even if being petty doesn’t feel as good as the thought of being petty. Instead it’s… boring. The silence is exceedingly boring. Trevor had been the talker between them for obvious reasons. Now it’s up to Alucard to break the silence, but he doesn’t, so Trevor holds back and lets the quiet settle in nice and thick in between them. A stalemate, like the world’s most boring game of chess— which is lunacy because chess is the most boring fucking game in the world as it is.
Neither of them move or speak for what must be an hour. Or maybe ten minutes. There’s no way to tell. He’s just about to give up and say something when he hears it.
A whine, long and pitiful, comes from just inside the doorway.
Oh no. No. The cheeky, pissant bastard. Trevor had been prepared for a lecture, some unnecessary drawn out conversation he had no interest in having. This? This is low. Trevor hadn’t been strong enough to pull away from it the first time. He thinks now, after everything, he’d be strong enough to let it go. Nope. His weak, soft Belmont heart keeps bleeding out like he’s a young kid with scrapes on his knees and fucks left to give.
Trevor presses the heel of his hands against his shut eyes with a groan. “No. Fuck you.”
The whine comes again. Horrible. It’s horrible. It’s fucking cheating, is what it is. Trevor grinds into his eye sockets harder. He knows it’s Alucard, he knows it’s essentially a vamp in a fursuit, but the whine is a hook stuck fast and fierce in his breastbone. Impossible to ignore.
Trevor knows if he looks, he’s screwed. Idiot that he is, he does it anyway.
“Oh goddamn it.” It’s Alucard alright, but it’s also Aurum which is the whole goddamn problem. The traitor looms in the shadows on all fours, his canine eyes reflecting the tiny amount of light from outside. Lingering by the door with his ears flat and head low, Aurum looks as pitiful as he sounds. Again, it’s fucking cheating. Trevor endures the primal desire to go in for a comforting and fluffy hug by focusing on how badly he wants to throttle him.
When Aurum tries to creep in closer, Trevor puts a hand on his whip— still gathered on his hip even in bed— and warns, “Don’t you fucking dare, asshole. I’m done with you.”
Alucard the Dog manages to look even more pitiful. There is dried blood crusted into the white fur at his shoulder and Trevor remembers how satisfying it had been to put it there. It’s Alucard, he reminds himself. You’re angry, he reminds himself angrily, even as the anger starts traitorously leaching out of him.
The huge wolf slinks into the room, the door creaking shut behind him. “I’m serious,” Trevor insists and tries to sound menacing. “You must be stupider than you look if you think you can just... come back.”
Alucard pads closer.
“You pulled that shitty disappearing act and thought I’d be happy to see you?” Trevor says as he sits up, grip knuckle-white on his whip, all while leveling Alucard with a forceful glare. The glare is useless, seeing as Alucard gets right up to the bed like he’s got a death wish. Trevor grinds his teeth like he’s itching to grant it.
“Which, I’m not. I’m not happy to see you.” He tries to mean the words, but his soft squishy heart is doing little fluttering flips in his chest. Can Alucard hear it? He can probably hear it. Bastard.
Narrowing his eyes, Trevor starts, “Don’t—” right as Alucard drops his fat fucking head on the pallet. The wolf lets out a small, entreating whine and— unfathomable, it’s unfathomable how low the dhampir is willing to sink— a hesitant, low to the ground tail wag.
“Are you fucking serious?” Trevor hisses. Alucard has the gall to respond by performing a small full-bodied wiggle. It’s so, so very foolish. And effective.
“I’m gonna murder you and turn you into a rug,” Trevor informs him flatly. “A big, furry fucking rug, head and all; the kind of shit you throw on the floor of a hunting lodge. Probably in front of an enormous fireplace, and I’ll put my dirty boots on it at the end of the day. Maybe drink some wine on it, maybe spill some, who gives a shit. But you won’t be able to complain about any of it, because you’ll be a rug.”
Alucard’s heavy head withdraws with a dejected huff.
“Good. Glad we understand each other.” There is a moment where Trevor thinks he’s successfully bullied the dhampir-dog into submission. Then he is reminded of all his previous alpha attempts as Alucard jumps onto the bed.
“Oomph! Get off!” So much for his bluff. Trevor can’t bring himself to stab him, instead struggling and failing to stay upright. It’s laughable, the way Alucard snorts and squirms around, stepping on Trevor’s crotch and stomach and ribs until he’s properly smothered him. Once settled, the wolf’s bright eyes stare into his— those harvest-moon eyes, always the same no matter the shape of the beast.
Trevor wheezes, “You got something to say, rug?”
There’s a rumble in response as Alucard huffs a breath of hot air directly in his face. Mmmm, yes, the repugnant smell of unmentionable meals-past. He doesn’t bother to keep the disgust out of his tone as he grumbles, “A rug’s too good for you. I’m demoting you to boots.”
At least Alucard has the decency to look vaguely apologetic. Not apologetic enough to get off of him, but still.
“This is a shitty way to get out of apologizing.” Alucard narrows his eyes and Trevor can easily imagine him saying, ‘I have nothing to apologize for, I’ve been nothing but the perfect gentleman, you boorish Belmont’.
Trevor amends, “This is a shitty way to get out of talking about—” God, he doesn’t even want to say it out loud himself, but, “—Us.”
The yellow eyes shift away, which tells Trevor that Alucard is just as embarrassed by the topic as he is. “We’re gonna—ah, hell, we’re gonna have to talk about it eventually.” The giant wolf groans and tucks his head into Trevor’s armpit area.
“Gotta say, not a good choice in hiding spot. Word on the street is— and you’ll never believe this— that I smell foul. Stink, they say. Like a dog.”
Alucard groans again but doesn’t bring his head out. Rolling his eyes, Trevor tries to move him around so that he doesn’t have an elbow digging into his guts.
How pathetic of a man is he? Allowing Alucard to charm his huge fluffy ass into bed, wolf or no. It should be strange... but then again, how many nights spent on the road were like this? Nearly all of them. It was a habit: the two of them, together, curled up for safety and warmth. For comfort, even.
To hell with it. “Fine. Suit yourself,” he yields gruffly, “But if I wake up to a naked man in the bed, you’ll find out how quick I can throw eighty kilos out of a window.”
One very fluffy tail whumps on the blanket and, completely unrelated, Trevor finds sleep faster than he has in a week.
When Trevor wakes up in the morning, he’s half-tangled in blankets out on the ground and Alucard is sprawled on the bed like a king. Not Aurum the wolf, but Alucard the man, his golden hair spilling like light over the sheets.
And yet, Trevor’s mouth is still miraculously full of dog hair. Again.
“Normally when I find you facedown on the ground it is because you are drunk,” Sypha says merrily as she walks into the room. “This is new.”
Jesus Christ above, below, and between. Trevor points a finger at her smug grin. “Before you say anything else, this is—”
“—Not what it looks like?” Sypha grins even wider and folds her hands. “Because it looks like the two of you have finally made up.”
“Nope,” Trevor says, deadpan. “Still full of mutual hatred and loathing.” There is an affirming noise from his bed.
Sypha’s piercing gaze goes straight to the bed-stealing leech. “Good morning, Alucard. It is nice of you to join us.” Then her face becomes ever-so-slightly tighter, as does her voice. “Will you be... staying, this time?”
“Ah, yes.” The dhampir sits up and gives Sypha a contrite expression beyond what Trevor has gotten thus far. “My apologies. I’ve concluded my previous business and may now move forward with our quest.”
Business? Alucard doesn’t have any business in town unless one counts being a coward as a profession. Trevor makes note of how Alucard is almost fully dressed and breathes a sigh of relief. That could have been much worse; Sypha wasn’t going to let him forget this as it was.
“Good!” Sypha says brightly, looking between them. “I’m sure Belmont has filled you in, but we will be leaving for his family estate today. I just need a few minutes to pack and then we can begin.”
After she twirls around and leaves the room, Trevor turns to Alucard to ask, exactly, what kind of fucking game he’s been playing. But the bed is empty.
He swerves his head and there is Alucard, two steps behind Sypha at the doorway.
“Allow me to assist,” Alucard says with his back to Trevor. Sypha replies, something about heavy bags, and then they are both gone from the room.
That— the fucking shifty numbskull. The floor is hard and cold underneath Trevor’s ass, but he barely feels it as he sits there, seething. Does Alucard think he can escape Trevor forever? Really? They’re all going to be stuck together for the foreseeable future, the three of them, out on the mad quest to destroy Dracula and his hoard.
Does Alucard truly think he can fucking avoid him?
Alucard avoids him.
Anytime it seems as though the two of them will have a moment alone together, Alucard magically finds himself somewhere else to be. Sometimes he disappears off on his own, but more often than not he attaches himself to Sypha. It’s like the prissy bloodsucker knows Trevor would rather rip off his own dick than talk to Alucard about his emotions in front of an audience.
After the first few times it happens, Trevor storms away, kicks some rocks, and gives up. Whatever. Who gives a fuck. Does Trevor care? Nope, not him! If Alucard doesn’t want to talk about it— ‘it’ being a whole clusterfuck of insanity including ‘pretending to be the dog of your crush’— then Trevor doesn’t want to talk about it either. They can both just… not talk about it. Talking about caring and feelings is the opposite of what Trevor likes to do for fun, so it should be easy.
They have plenty of other things to talk about, anyway. Things like Alucard’s parents, and how they apparently did lots of ‘experiments’ together for ‘science’, which is without a doubt a sex thing. They talk about Trevor’s propensity for losing bar fights, which is Trevor’s fault for bringing them up in the first place. They talk about Sypha’s caravan, Trevor’s old house, and Alucard’s childhood castle. The moving castle; the castle of Dracula; the weirdest fucking castle for anyone to live in, let alone be raised in. Trevor knew that Dracula’s castle was fucked up, but he somehow never heard about the entire colosseum in it, or the multiple waterfalls, or the hell basement.
“Hell basement?” Trevor repeats, already sick of the concept. The sun has started to set, striping the sky with the warm colors of red and gold. They will have to stop and make camp, soon.
“We have stories,” Sypha continues, “About a subterranean level of the castle that is host to a strange Hell-like dimension.” She pointedly stares at Alucard, who tilts his head away.
“I’ve never been in the lowest levels.”
Trevor jeers, “How have you not? It’s your house.”
“... It is a rather large place,” Alucard says after a moment, adding on a sidelong glance to Trevor. “I can however attest to there being an enormous wine cellar.”
“Is that vamp-speak for a room full of blood?” Trevor prods, imagining such a thing with ease. He can see it now: aged barrels of blood, vintage bottles of blood, maybe some elegant decanters for blood. Alucard is not impressed.
“It’s vamp-speak for a wine cellar,” the dhampir corrects cooly. “Surely you have seen such a thing, given the nature of your… upbringing.”
Trevor is about to demonstrate to Alucard how his upbringing also taught him a killer left hook when Sypha interjects.
“Hold on, I have to powder my nose,” Sypha says, which Trevor thinks actually means she has to go powder her vagina. Or take a piss. She glances at both of them and adds, sternly, “Do not kill each other while I’m gone.” Alucard opens his mouth like he’s about to ask if he can tag along, but clearly thinks better of it.
They watch her dip off the road and disappear past the treeline
Trevor starts, “So—”
“I also have to relieve myself,” Alucard states boldly and begins walking in the direction of the denser woods.
Nope, Trevor is not letting him get out of it this time. He follows after him. “No you fucking don’t.”
Alucard crosses his arms. “Are you to tell me when I can—”
“Okay, do it.”
Alucard turns around and squints. “Do what?”
Trevor points at the ground and commands, “Piss. Right now.”
“Why on earth would I do that?”
“Prove it.” Trevor emphasizes his point with more finger jabbing at the ground. “Prove you have to piss or admit you’re fucking lying—”
“—I’m not going to piss in front of you.”
“Why not?” Trevor mocks, “You used to do it all the time.”
“As a wolf,” Alucard says flatly.
“Great. Then turn into a wolf and piss.”
Alucard is staring openly at him with an empty look, like what Trevor is asking of him is completely unreasonable. “I’m not going to change my form just so you can watch me piss.”
“Then admit it,” he says snidely, stepping closer. “You’re lying about this, just like you lied about everything else, all so you can avoid me.”
Alucard narrows his eyes. “I’m not.”
“Not what? Not lying or not gonna piss?”
And that’s when the night creatures rush them, the rude fucking bastards.
There’s at least ten of them, a mixed batch of demons big and small, but their large number doesn’t make a lick of a difference. They chew through the first half of the horde in a matter of seconds. Regardless of Alucard’s shape, it quickly becomes apparent that the two of them make a good team. He has enough sense to admit it. It feels… well, it feels the same as fighting alongside Aurum.
He’s in the middle of popping a small, skinny night creature with his whip when another one comes from his unguarded left. Swearing, Trevor twists his body to try and bring up his arm in defense. Oh, hell. Too slow.
The grimy thing gets one screeching centimeter from his face right before a sword skewers it, top to bottom.
Trevor sucks in breath, watches as the red light goes out of the creature’s eyes. Then, just as quickly as it had descended, the sword pulls out the body straight up into the air with a squelch. It hovers above him and the dead creature without anyone holding its hilt. The sword, wait—
The sword, his sword— his extravagant and extra-long-as-fuck sword— pivots parallel to the ground before swiftly flying to Alucard’s side.
What. The fuck.
He doesn’t have the time or luxury to really watch as more of the demons close in, but he keeps catching things out of the corner of his eye. One moment, Alucard is maneuvering with the sword in a practiced stance. Another moment, the dhampir drops the sword and it remains suspended in midair. Shortly after that Trevor gets distracted by a nasty beast twice his size and ends up having to use Vampire Killer in a chokehold.
From his delightful ride atop the bellowing creature, Trevor watches the unmanned blade zip around in tandem with Alucard as if being wielded by him. Though, the sword is entirely separate from where Alucard is currently, honest to God, punching a hole through a night creature with a gloved hand.
Trevor drives his short sword into his ride’s skull and hops off of it. Once he regains his footing, he and Alucard turn to the last remaining hellbeast, respective swords at the ready, only for the thing’s head to explode in a massive fireball.
“What did I say about getting killed?” Sypha says as she dismisses the flame summoned at her fingertips.
“You said not to kill each other,” Alucard corrects, because he’s got a fucking death wish and wants Sypha to incinerate him.
“I do not remember that,” says Sypha loftily.
Trevor licks his lips. Thinks. Gives up. “How’d you do that?”
Both of them turn to him, but it’s Alucard he’s staring at. The dhampir cocks his head ever so slightly.
Trevor scowls and gestures at the sword which is still floating. “That. How did you…?”
The unimpressed look stays plastered on Alucard’s face. “It’s my sword.”
“Your—your sword? You. I can’t believe— wait, no, yes I can, I can completely believe you would own an impractical, magical fucking sword the length of a human being that— Christ, is it mind-controlled?”
Now Alucard has the gall to roll his eyes. “Yes. I control it at will.”
“Wait a minute.” An idea hits Trevor like a hammer to the head. “Can you control it as a wolf?”
Alucard walks over to where the sheath fell on the ground during the battle and fastens it to his hip. He doesn’t look up. “Does it matter?”
“I am very interested in knowing this also,” Sypha chimes in with a delicate finger prodding the hovering sword.
Alucard does the thing where his expression gets super obviously shifty, even though he seems to think he’s hard to read. Which. He’s as hard to read as a book for children, with pictures. “I don’t know,” he says, super obviously lying. The traitorous sword slides home in its sheath without Alucard’s hand ever touching it.
“Fantastic. I’ve been lugging around your stupid piece of shit this whole time for nothing,” Trevor groans while he begins stomping away.
“I offered to carry it myself,” Alucard remarks, “Remember?”
Without turning around, Trevor puts up his middle finger.
“Well, he’s not being very nice,” he hears Alucard complain to Sypha, who simply responds,
“Put your finger down, Alucard.”
They are two days away from the Hold when Trevor reaches the end of his rope. Granted, it wasn’t a long rope to begin with, but all at once he reaches the end of his patience and snaps.
“We need to talk.”
“Belmont?” Alucard swears, fumbling with his trousers. “Can’t you see I’m—”
“Oh shut up,” Trevor says, leaning on a tree, “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
“I’m in the middle of— I’m busy,” Alucard hisses. He looks absolutely mortified, hands still caught up in his fastenings.
“I know, idiot. That was the point.”
“What?!” He didn’t realize Alucard’s voice could go that high. “Why are you so obsessed with watching me relieve myself? Why would you—”
“We need to talk,” Trevor starts again, slowly, “About the other day.”
“It’s my sword,” Alucard says, with feeling. “You interrupted my personal business for this? You can’t expect me to give it back—”
“I’m talking about the day I caught you out on being a fake dog.”
“First of all, wolf,” Alucard snips. He appears a bit distracted, what with him trying to put his dick away. “Secondly, you didn’t figure out I was Aurum, you thought I had killed him and then you tried to kill me. Remember? Which— what would you like me to say? I’ve already apologized—”
“You haven’t, actually.”
“Oh. Shit.” That stuns Alucard into silence for a bit. After a moment, his mouth twists ruefully. “Well. For what it’s worth, I am sorry. Truly. It wasn’t my intention to deceive you, nor to deceive you for as long as I did.”
That was… sincere and not what Trevor was expecting. He crosses his arms and grumbles, “So why did you?”
“In the beginning I was injured. I wasn’t lying about that aspect earlier.” Alucard shifts his weight and looks away. “Then I suppose I grew to be more comfortable at your side than I was anticipating. It was… nice.”
Trevor snorts. “I’d think being stuck as an animal would suck shit.”
“It doesn’t, not really.” Hesitating, he glances back at Trevor with his intense, hawkish eyes. “Sometimes the wolf’s instincts feel more natural than the ones passed down to me from my father,” he says, quiet as a confession. Then he slowly shakes his head. “Regardless, by the time I realized you were a Belmont, I was fairly preoccupied in saving your life.”
“With Sypha’s help,” Trevor points out.
“Yes. Sypha.” An awkward laugh falls out of Alucard. “It was at Sypha’s insistence that I— well. I thought we could be… friends, in the same way we were before, even as a dhampir. I did not account for you missing me too much to get to know me.”
Okay, yeah. The irony of it doesn’t escape Trevor either. He shrugs like it’ll shake off the uncomfortable feeling in his gut that stirs whenever people want to talk about their ‘feelings’. “Why didn’t you cut the bullshit and tell me?”
“I thought you would react poorly.”
Trevor scoffs. “I would’ve reacted just fine.”
“Yes, Belmont,” Alucard says mockingly, “You always react calmly to every situation that takes you by surprise.”
Opening his arms wide in the dhampir’s direction, Trevor tauntingly cuts back, “I reacted calmly when you shoved your tongue down my throat.”
Ohooo, does that get a rise out of Alucard. He almost looks flustered. “I didn’t—”
Trevor waves a hand dismissively. “Fine, when you kissed me or whatever delicate thing you want me to call it.” Leaning in with a smirk, he croons, “I reacted just fine to that.”
“... You did.” And boy oh boy, does it seem like it took something out of Alucard to admit it. He looks embarrassed. In fact, the dhampir is flushed pink in the face like a scandalized maiden.
Trevor twists several sounds in his mouth until he asks the first thing that comes to his head, a direct brain-to-mouth special. “Why’d you run, Alucard?”
A small, frustrated noise escapes Alucard as he clenches and unclenches his hands. “What if the companion in front of you... what if you don’t like him as much as the companion you’ve known?”
Trevor can’t help it. He laughs. “What? You— It’s the same to me. You’re the same.”
He strides up to Alucard who is doing a magnificent impersonation of a very stiff tree. Drawing short once Trevor’s standing directly in front of him, Trevor gives the man an exaggerated top-to-bottom onceover, which makes Alucard stand ever so slightly stiffer.
Trevor begins counting off his fingers. “You’re both prissy, and bossy, and bitchy, aaaaand somehow miraculously well-mannered and ill-tempered at the same time. You both have a lot of hair. I mean, an indecently monstrous mountain amount of hair. And the teeth! Big chompers in those mouths, veeeery scary. And—” Shit shit shit, the words keep spilling out of him even as he tries to slow it down, “—You. You have the same pre—uh, gold— golden eyes.” Quick, he needs to talk about something other than his face! Fishing for something else, anything else, he pulls out, “And you always have my back.”
Fuck, that’s worse!
Trevor forces his mouth shut and grinds his teeth. He stares at Alucard. Alucard stares back, and what would you know, his dick didn’t fully make it back into his trousers. Haha. That’s what he gets for wearing pants tighter than a nun’s chuff.
“But you’re forgetting one very important detail that makes you, dare I say it, better than Aurum.” Drawing in a deep breath, Trevor raises a single finger. “I won’t fuck a dog.”
The scowl on Alucard’s face is exceptional. “Am I supposed to be impressed?”
“If you want me to fuck you, yes.”
“And what, exactly, makes you think I want you to fuck me?”
Trevor raises a brow, pointedly draws his gaze down, and lets it linger. By the time he brings his gaze up and back to Alucard’s own, the dhampir’s face is as bright as an oil-fire.
Alucard growls, “Shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything—”
“You were thinking—”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Trevor promises gruffly, “No thinking from me. Not on your life. Do you even know who I am? I’m Trevor fucking Belmommphff—”
Getting shut up by kissing is good; it’s preferable to all the other ways people try to shut Trevor up. Alucard’s only done it twice and Trevor’s beginning to think he has a real talent for it.
They wind up shoved up against a tree. Well, Alucard is shoved up against a tree and Trevor is doing the shoving. Sometimes Alucard doesn’t seem to know what to do with his hands, or how to angle his mouth, but for what he lacks in experience he makes up with enthusiasm.
It takes forever for him to get Alucard’s stupid fucking coat off, so by the time he does Alucard’s breaths have gotten noticeably quicker.
Trevor slots one of his legs in between Alucard’s and is rewarded with a low groan. Fuck. Yes. He mouths up Alucard’s neck, more biting than kissing, and aches from the fervent way Alucard’s hands are grasping at his back.
Trevor takes his time with his attentions, teasing the soft skin under Alucard’s jaw until he eventually reaches his sensitive ears. Through it all, Alucard keeps trying to get more friction out of where their lower halves are touching, clearly holding back his supernatural strength even as he strains against Trevor’s hold. It shouldn’t be that hot. It’s unbelievably stupid how hot that is. Trevor can’t— fuck, he can’t remember ever being this worked up in his life.
He leans into Alucard and says in a low, gravely voice, “Will this be like the time you humped my leg?”
Alucard hisses, “Will this be like the time you pleasured yourself in the bath? Or the abandoned inn? Or how about the—”
“Oh no, this’ll be nothing like that time,” Trevor swears, smiling at the quiet laugh that tumbles out of Alucard against his jawline.
It’s all very, very enjoyable up until Sypha walks within eyesight and begins cursing.
“I thought you were taking a piss!”
A month later has them in far different circumstances.
For one, Dracula is dead and they are living in his house. Trevor’s ancestors are surely rolling in their graves. Even so, Alucard had been right; the castle is a rather large place. It’s full of all sorts of fun things like complex machinery, random booby traps, and a bunch of dead bodies. Seeing as the dead bodies are their fault, Trevor and Sypha had insisted on staying to help clean the place up. Indefinitely.
The place was, and is, a wreck. Getting the castle and Belmont Hold in working order could take months. Years, even. Who could say when they would be leaving? Well, Alucard hadn’t seemed to mind. Anytime Trevor imagines them leaving, Sypha and him, he feels something desperate and sad open up in his gut. So, no. They won’t be doing that.
Not to mention, Alucard is an exceptionally good cook.
Yawning, Trevor stands at the stove and loads his plate up with eggs and meat. Alucard and Sypha are seated at the kitchen table behind him, awake and eager to start the day. Well, Alucard is eager; the dhampir doesn’t need to sleep, but rather he treats sleep like it’s a hobby he expects people to praise him for being good at. Sypha, on the other hand, is very good at sleeping and very bad at waking up.
“Did you rest well, Sypha?” Alucard asks pleasantly, ever the polite host.
“Yes, thank you,” Sypha replies languidly, sleep clinging to her voice. Trevor hears her stretch with a wide yawn before she asks, slyly, “And how did you sleep?”
“Well enough.” Alucard chuckles to himself. “Belmont slept like the dead, despite all of his complaints of me being a pillow princess.”
Sypha nearly inhales her drink and starts sputtering. Uh oh.
“Sorry, I just— what?” she croaks.
“You know,” Alucard says, sounding mildly concerned for Sypha’s health. “I am, ostensibly, a pillow princess.”
“Wow,” Syha says in soft delight. “I suppose... and you are proud of this?”
Big uh oh. Trevor starts carefully edging towards the door.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Alucard responds, starting to sound a touch defensive. “Many people require additional cushioning to rest comfortably. Right, Trevor?”
Trevor freezes with his hand on the doorframe. So close, yet so far. “Absolutely,” he replies, voice pitching up at the end. Shit.
“I see,” Sypha says. There might yet be a God above, because she doesn’t say anything more on the matter. With his feet rooted in place, he watches her take a bite of food, chew, swallow, and then stare directly at him. He knows that look in her eyes. It’s a look that means he’s so, so fucked. He shakes his head but it only serves in getting Sypha to grin.
Sypha impishly comments, “What a gracious partner you must be, Belmont; working so very hard so that Alucard can be… comfortable.”
This makes Alucard pause, fork in the air. “It’s not much work to gather more pillows.”
Sypha, damn her, just grins wider. “But it is more work to make you... comfortable.”
Trevor tries to lean against the doorway in a way that could be interpreted as casual. Alucard directs his fork at Trevor with a frown. “Belmont…”
“Remember, you like me.”
Alucard blinks, puts down his fork, and turns to Sypha in trepidation. “What exactly is a pillow princess, good Speaker who knows all the words and their meanings?”
“Well, as I am sure Belmont explained to you, a pillow princess is someone who, ah, prefers to lie back and be the receiver of pleasure.” Sypha folds her hands in front of her thoughtfully. “People often use it interchangeably with, hmmm, laziness.”
“Fascinating,” Alucard intones, voice flat. “In that case, if you’ll excuse me—” Yup, that’s Trevor cue to get the fuck out of there.
He only makes it halfway out the door when what feels like a sack of bricks slams into his back.
“Fucking… rude animal,” Trevor wheezes from the ground, “Get off.” His massive, fluffy assailant gives him no mercy, licking at his ears in a move that is beyond ticklish. Trevor manages to roll over to attempt to get some leverage, but then he’s forced to defend himself with his hands to keep away the wolf’s slobbering jaws.
“Quit it,” he commands, trying and failing not to laugh. “Don’t be such a, hah, princess about this.”
The thing is, when Alucard kisses his neck and ears, it’s great. It’s the best. When Aurum does it, it’s the worst. And the furry bastard knows it.
Alucard in any shape or form is literally a wall of muscle. The wet snout shoves into his neck, his hair, and ends its attack with a huge licked stripe up Trevor’s face.
Trevor sputters, covering his face with his hands. “Ugh, please. Please no more.”
The licking stops. When Trevor moves his hands, Alucard is above him and looming, his blonde hair a curtain around the two of them. He is also straddling Trevor’s waist, but that’s old hat.
There is a mischievous smile trying to pull at Alucard’s mouth as the dhampir raises an eyebrow.
“Good boy,” he praises before leaning forward to pat the top of Trevor’s head. “Good beg.”
With a wicked smirk, Alucard says smoothly, “Let’s see what other tricks you can do.”
It feels right to bring this to a close alongside the final season.
As always: Thank you Danny for marrying me and editing 50K of hot nonsense. Thank you Morgan for aggressively being my "Number 1 Fan" and helping me through the many, many writer's blocks. Thank you, Netflix's Castlevania's Team, for creating a show so delightful and strange that it captured my heart. And thank you, readers! I write for you! I sat and wrote this whole, longass boy-and-his-dog mess because I saw how much people enjoyed it. The only reason it took me two and a half years is because I am... as they say... big idiot.
ALSO A BIG BIG thank you to those of you who have been following this since the beginning! You're more unhinged than me! You waited TWO YEARS?? For this??? Every time I see one of your usernames I get so embarrassed that I have to sit down.
I hope this story gave you something to laugh about, because it definitely made me crack up writing it. Tell me your favorite scene!! Ask me deep, personal questions like "Why did you write this?" (It was a joke for a friend) and "Who in your life bragged about being a power bottom without knowing what it meant?" (My brother-in-law, to his entire highschool band) Come and talk to me on twitter~
P.S. I am working on yet another Castlevania fic, and may add an explicit-rated sequel work to this one. Subscribe if you want email notifications warning you of all my bad ideas.