D doesn't visit old friends, ever.
Mostly because by the time he's finished with a job and somehow wanders back to their last residence, he visits grave markers. He has the decency, despite the pain, to plant crosses over their burial sites, mourning over the scars left in his hands from the work of it. Even half-breeds feel the pain of that holy marker but he never ever regrets it. Not ever.
Yet what he does regret is the scene at Doris's ranch.
Aged as she is, Doris is a beautiful and mature woman – her long raven hair unbound and flying in the breeze with little care. The lines in her face are elegant, almost drawn with in with a brush, and those dark, dark eyes stare fondly at the little boy running to and fro all over the yard.
He isn't Dan.
Dan is a young man now; his eyes are thoughtful as they gaze on his sister and watchful as they look on the child. From this distance, shrouded in the shade of many bordering trees, D knows the boy is not his. It will never be his. And he regrets.
What does Doris know about raising a dhampir child?
D knows the village hates them but they are also too cowardly to touch the werewolf hunter's daughter and son, or the little hell spawn sickled on mother's blood.
How did she bear it?
When the child was born, did she see how eagerly it lapped at the blood on its face? The tiny teeth that pricked her nipple during feeding, milk mingling with blood? How about the first time it spent too much time in the sun, did they know to bury him in the moist earth until his body cooled? How would they know? Who would they ask?
D remembers his own human mother, pale with fatigue as she feed him nightly. He remembers the stern gaze of his father baring down on him, his face masked with shadows but his eyes gleaming like forbidden rubies. D knew not to stare so deeply even as a babe, the overpowering aura was suffocating but he refused to cry – he didn't want to worry mother.
And his father mistook that as strength, as proof his experiments worked, what they were D doesn't know. Maybe he will never fully know.
But he knows his mother had some idea of what to expect, having born other failures, having gone through similar experiences.
But who did Doris have?
The child appeared healthy and happy by all accounts, and thank goodness took after his mother. His dark hair was long and wild and utterly curly, his face was freckled and his skin put off a slight preternatural glow. But his eyes were wrong. Unlike the void of glittering nighttime that were Doris's eyes, the boy's eyes were opaque white, almost silver. His pupil looked like some vain creature struggling for shade, he appeared all too wild and eager for a dhampir child. Had they not told him the origins of his birth? Or did Doris fabricate a lie about some strong silent stranger that rescued her from a creature of evil?
D lowered his gaze when the boy suddenly stopped and turned towards him, squinting at the shadows and then running into the folds of his mother's skirt. D tipped his head slowly, hoping she wouldn't move, wouldn't run to him as if she was twenty and not a staggering forty-five.
Her face flushed, brief anger and prolonged pain, and she took the boy's hand and slowly made her way down the hill. D wanted to turn and run, he wished nothing but to flee but there she was – radiant as the last stars in the sky, a perfect moon unburdened by shadow. He loved her all over again, finding himself drawn off the horse and into her arms. She held his face in her hands, searching his mournful eyes with a laugh and a quick kiss to his lips. He leaned in as she pulled back, fighting a growl as Dan stumbled down the hill after them with a rifle slung over his back.
"Took your sweet time, didn't you?" Doris scolded gently. "Now I'm old woman."
"D?" Dan flushed as D faced him. "It really is you, isn't it?"
The dhampir nodded, not finding the proper words to speak. Doris lifted the child onto her hip and D shuddered. He felt drawn to this child, like how humans were drawn to him. And the boy stared at him with Magnus Lee's eyes, those bright unyielding irises more naïve than ruthless.
Dan might've actually bit back a gasp as the dhampir lifted his hat up and gently picked up the boy's hand, kissing his knuckles. The boy blushed deeply, hiding his face in Doris's neck, but peering out from her dark hair, he too smiled.
Doris breathed out slowly, taking D's right hand and squeezing it.
"You'll stay for a little while, won't you? We've a lot of catching up to do…" she looked away, unprepared for the full power of his stare.
D nodded. "I'll stay…for a while."
"Great! Al, why don't you and your uncle go into the house and get things ready?"
Al nodded shyly and Doris lowered him to the ground where Dan took his hand. Al turned around to stare at D and grinned, pulling his uncle up the hill with little difficultly. And once the two of them disappeared over the crest of the hill, Doris sighed and put a hand over her eyes. Her shoulders shook and D pulled her into his chest, the wind dragging his cloak around the two of them. She did not cry, but she pushed against him until D's back was pressed against the trunk of a strong tree. He took her shoulders and pushed her away, her hair smelled like daisies and honey and everything too sweet.
"I wish you'd come back sooner."
"D, will he live long?"
"Longer than most."
"Promise me you'll look after him?"
D started, lifting her chin and gazing into her eyes. Left Hand snickered at the gesture, reading his partner's mind and checking for any abnormalities, any sickness, anything, everything.
Doris giggled and pushed his hands away, resting her chest against his chest and sighing.
"I'm fine, you dolt. Just old. Getting old." She amended. "Dan…Dan doesn't trust me."
D exhaled softly, taking the reins of his horse with Left Hand, and clasping one of her hands in his. They walked to the stables in silence, listening to the clutter of activity sprawling out from the open kitchen window. Al was bouncing around the kitchen as Dan sat patiently in a chair, watching.
"Al's…he's a good kid – "
"What does he eat?"
"What do you think? I feed him or we take blood from the sheep."
"They sell blood capsules in the village now, ya know? Can I get any? No, of course not." She growled, taking the reins from him and leading his horse into a stall.
"I've thought about leaving, of just…packing up and getting out of this shithole but where would we go? Anyone can look at Al and know exactly what he is. Everyone down there knows who his father is and I can't even begin to tell you how they tried…"
He knows. He knows. He knows.
He's done it himself with cambions and mutants, prevented those hapless creatures from growing up into jobs he'll take one way or another. With the dwindling number of Nobility over the last hundreds of years, it pays to have servants that can create strong offspring.
Werewolves, witches, mutants, oni, the fickle fae, demons…
Drown them, stake them, crush their bones, halt their heartbeats, quiet their moans.
"We're ready! …Momma?" Al tiptoes into the stable, glancing anxiously at D before running into her skirt again. "Momma, are you crying?"
"No!" she turns and smiles tearlessly, but her eyes are wet. "It's just dust, my little star shine."
"Momma, I'm not dumb." Al mutters, he looks up at D. "Did you make her cry? We have a rule against making Momma cry, ya know?"
Doris laughs and picks Al up in her hair, planting kisses all over his chest as he flails and squeals. She lets him go and he scampers out of the stable, sticking his tongue out childishly before dashing back inside. She turns back to D with a shrug.
"I'm not looking for an apology though, I know you have stuff to do…people to save." She crosses her arms over her chest.
"I'll stay for a while." He repeats. "There are things he needs to be taught."
He leaves the stable next, waiting outside for Doris as she closed the large door. They walk together into the house where D slips off his swords and puts it in the usual place, removing his scarf and hat and setting them atop the sword's hilt. Al stares at it appraisingly but Dan swats the back of his head, returning the boy's attention to the table. Doris walks around to a container, pulls out an opaque canister and passes it to Al who gulps it down greedy, carefully swiping his tongue across his lips once he's finished. He lingers at the table, watching D, as his mother sets down the food. None is given to D.
"Why doesn't he get any?" Al asks inquisitively.
"He already ate, Al." Dan replies, his eyes on his cup of coffee.
"Did you?" Al looks at D.
"You don't talk much, do you?"
"What? No one visits, so I have to be curious about strangers, right?" Al looks over at Dan expectantly.
"In a way…maybe." The young man falters. "Besides, he isn't a stranger to your mother and I. He is D, our friend."
"D?" Al looks unconvinced. "Just a letter? Why?"
"Al, darling…" Doris attempts but Al hops out of his seat and struts over to D's side of the table with an awfully determined look on his face. His eyes are just barely shimmering with power.
"It's short for something else." D allows, watching the shine dim out in the boy's eyes. But it's back in an instant.
"Really? Mine too!"
Doris groans, an audible " please don't" passes her lips.
"My full name is Alucard, but Momma says I shouldn't use it till I'm older. It sounds too old."
"It does," D agrees.
While not looking directly at either Dan or Doris, both humans feel an air of caution around D, though he entertains Al with stories of his "adventures". Both know that a lecture of some sort will occur this evening once Al's been put to bed, and they are pleasantly surprised when D is the one carrying Al upstairs. Young dhampir will sleep, D says shortly, it will get harder the older they become.
Because at one point or another, he will leave. He will realize that as he gets older, he doesn't age the same way his mother or uncle does. As they grow older and older, the greys becoming more prominent and the wrinkles more pronounced, he will remain unchanged. And when Doris and Dan die, no one in the village will tolerate his presence and he will leave.
So perhaps it is better for D to stay for a while. Give that child as many good memories to last him a lifetime where no one will ever love as deeply as the woman who bore him into this world.