Note: This is my first ever attempt at writing a vampire story. If there is enough interest in it, I will continue it, so please tell me what you think. Feel free to be as honest as you want.

Kings and Aces

Italy never looked so bleak as London. Nor the Netherlands, or Turkey, or even the thick-hazed country of Western Sahara. London was by far the most dreary city in all the world, and thus it became his home.

---

As a child he had been born in Russia, both poor and brilliant. His mother was a servant for a wealthy family which all the townspeople claimed were inbred. It made no difference to his mother nor his family, since money was worth the same no matter who it was paid by. His father was a carpenter; an artist in his work. Never had the boy seen a man so skilled and so patient as his father, Nile. Surely the boy picked up his mastery of the arts from his father, and his soft features from his mother. As poor as they were, they got by.

In the spring of 1486, when the boy was seven years old, his mother died giving birth to his younger sister, Alluvia. A year later, when the child was only eight, he and his sister were orphaned after their father was brutally murdered by a cruel tax collector. The boy and his sister were taken to an overpopulated orphanage, infested with disease and famine. Alluvia died when she was only two years old from pneumonia. Emmanuel Domi'Nicolas Devore was alone.

---

He scanned the city once more before lifting himself into the dusk air. It would be night soon and his body ached with desire. He hovered tensely, watching the city from the sky longingly. So many years he wasted living in rotting cities in crocked countries when he should have been here. This is where belonged.

"So, you finally came out of hiding did you?" He gave a long side look at the man hovering beside him before turning away and fleeing to his hideaway.

You know Nicky, I was beginning to worry about you.

He did his best to block out his fellow vampire's telepathic conversation but it was useless.

I was beginning to worry about the fact that you once again disobeyed me.

"You know how much I hate being called Nicky," He answered aloud tersely. And it was true, he hated the name.

"Fine, Dominic it is," The man returned slyly, entering the home of his vampire. After all, Dominic was his, and he would find him no matter where he ran.

---

Emmanuel was nearly ten the first time he laid eyes on Mister Xavier Black. If anything, the man who insisted on being called Mr. X was Emmanuel's opposite. Mr. X had dark black hair that contrasted with his nearly-white blond hair. Mr. X's grey eyes were the compliment of his ocean-blue. Mr. X's pale skin was shades lighter than his tanned olive skin, made darker by the orphanage work under the hot sun. Emmanuel was poor, uneducated, free-spirited, artistic, and deep. Whereas Mr. X was obviously wealthy, very well-educated, strict, cynical, and logical. Still, from the time Mr. X first saw the mistreated ten-year old, he wanted him. And Mr. X always got what he wanted.

---

"Nice curtains," Mr. X gestured playfully, touching the thick, green, curtains amusedly. "Didn't know people still used this kind of decor in the twenty-first century."

"I didn't know you were into interior design." Dominic answered without missing a beat. "Something to eat? Drink? Coffee?" Mr. X frowns distastefully, falling back on his vampire's leather couch.

"No. Coffee is sickly stuff. And I'll be dining out tonight. Same as you…I presume?" Dominic's master answers, tucking his black hair behind his ears. Dominic gives him a once over, noting how he never changes in either appearance or personality.

"Your presumption is correct." He sat down in a chair across from him.

"So, what I'm wondering is, how did a twelve year-old child manage to acquire a home?" Mr. X asked ruefully. As Dominic suspected, Mr. X wasn't happy about him running off yet again without telling him. As a matter of fact, Mr. X didn't like the idea of his apprentice doing much of anything without him, let alone without telling him.

"I'm not twelve, as you very well know. I'm nearly five-hundred and twenty-six. Hardly a child," Dominic countered unappreciatively. He hated that after all these years his master still thought of him as Emmanuel. The boy he claimed as his own on his twelve birthday.

---

In the two years that followed Mr. X and Emmanuel's meeting, their relationship had grown tremendously. After speaking with the child only twice, Mr. X had pursued adoption, changing his middle name to Dominic, and his last name to Black. Dominic had initially refused to take Mr. X's middle name as his own first name, but after months of pressing the subject, Mr. X finally got the boy to agree to take the name Salem. Though he forever refused to answer to it.

Dominic knew that his guardian was different. Mr. X went through great pains to convince the rest of society of his normalcy, but Dominic was unimpressed. He knew Mr. X's hearing was too precise, his skin too light, and his habits too strange. Mr. X's obsession with cleanliness and darkness was unnerving, and Dominic finally got up the courage to question it.

---

"But you know where I'm going with this," Mr. X pressed firmly. There was no way he was dropping the subject. His son sighed on the chair across from him unnecessarily. Despite Dominic's real age, Mr. X would always consider him a child. And despite the fact that Dominic had never called him 'Father', Mr. X would always consider him his son.

"Yes, I know. You're upset with me for leaving. When are you going to accept that I'm not a child anymore? In another thousand years?" Dominic answered with aggravation. "Just because I don't age outwardly-"

"This hasn't to do with that, and you know it," His master interrupted sharply. "You keep forgetting who made you this way. I do believe I deserve to know where you are. I deserve your respect. If not as your friend or father, then as your master."

"Well then, Master, it's getting dark. Let's see what we can do about our hunger, shall we?" Dominic questioned, glad to change the subject. He was in no mood to discussion their relationship at the moment. Not now when he had tried so desperately to flee from it.

"Yes," Mr. X replied distractively, "It is getting dark."

---

"Does not everyone fancy a clean home?" Mr. X answered his child's questioning. Mr. X of course knew that his child was far too bright to believe his excuses. That is, after all, why he had chosen him. He needed someone he could rely on, someone he could love and look after. Someone who could fit into his lifestyle perfectly. He watched Dominic's unbelieving eyes.

"People don't like darkness. Not like you do," He answered suspiciously. Mr. X sat down in his huge brown chair, pouring a glass of bourbon. He poured many glasses of bourbon, Dominic noticed, but rarely did he drink them.

"Ah yes, you are right about that. Many people fear the dark. They fear what they do not know…what they can not see. People feel they must be in control…that they must understand everything," Mr. X agreed. Dominic didn't want to hear another of his guardian's lectures on people and life. He had heard enough of those. What he wanted was answers.

"Ah, yes, answers," Mr. X said aloud, startling the boy. Mr. X nodded at his son's shock.

"Indeed there are many things you must learn, child," Mr. X lectured softly. "And one day, you will think you know it all. But listen to me son…there is always darkness. There are always shadows and mysteries and dangers. There is always something you don't know."

In that moment Dominic knew that something was changing. The nervous feeling in his stomach told him something was about to happen, though be it good or bad he wasn't sure. What he did know was it was happening, and fast. Mr. X put his elbows on his desk, leaning closer to the anxious child.

"There's a war going on my son," He whispered, forcing down a swallow of bourbon. "And I want you to be apart of it."

And thus it began.

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