Tony finally slowed to a walk after 10 blocks, clutching a painful stitch on his side. He could see the sun peeping in the horizon. Henry won't be following then. Would he have gone after me if it wasn't for the sun, Tony wondered. You told him not to, the voice inside him pointed out. Yeah, like Henry ever listens to anybody. A shiver made him realize he forgot to grab a coat when he dashed out of the condo. The black sweater and the thin shirt he wore underneath offered little warmth. He couldn't go back; how embarrassing would that be after his dramatic exit. Not that Henry would notice if Tony crawled back inside the condo. The vampire would be in his boarded-up room by now.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee stopped Tony in his tracks. He found himself standing in front of a Tim Horton's. That'll chase away the chills, he thought. And give him a chance to figure some things out. He dug his hands into a front pocket of his jeans looking for some cash and was cheered to see twenty dollars. It hadn't been that long ago when his hands would have come up empty when he pulled them out of his pocket. And it's all because of Henry, the voice inside his head whispered.
Tony stared at the bill in his hand and fought the insane urge to hurl it as far from him as possible. Instead, he glanced at the coffee shop then shoved the money back into his pocket and continued walking.
Henry knew the moment the sun relinquished its hold on him that Tony wasn't in the condo. The young man's scent permeated the air, but the only heartbeat he could hear belonged to Vicki. Worry enveloped him. Whether Tony intended it or not, Henry was getting a taste of his own medicine.
After dashing madly all over downtown Vancouver, Henry spotted Tony sitting on one of the benches that dotted Stanley Park. The Catholic-raised bastard son of Henry VIII raised his eyes to heaven and gave a quick thanks to God. He also made a mental note to find the nearest Roman Catholic church and make a substantial donation. His search hadn't been an easy one. The rain that had doused the city earlier in the day had wiped traces of Tony's scent, making it almost impossible for Henry to pick up his trail. Almost.
For a while, he considered the possibility Tony was already hitchhiking his way back to Toronto. Now that he'd found him, though, Henry wasn't quite sure what to say, where to start.
"Henry ... you forgot. I waited for you and ... you forgot."
The truth is, he did forget.
He did call Tony to let him know he was getting ready to go home. He had even thought, with Vicki already fed and sleeping, that maybe he and Tony could enjoy a night out, just the two them. They hadn't that in awhile. With all the arrangements that needed to be made before, during and after the move to Vancouver, they barely had enough time to say hello to each other. And Henry very much wanted to make Tony feel at home in Vancouver.
But Midnight, the mediator vampires used when they were looking for territories, had called him back inside the club that served as his office. He'd thought about calling Tony again and telling him he was going to be a bit late after all. But he'd convinced himself the talks were going to end soon and he can make up the time easily — driving fast is never a problem for a vampire who enjoyed enhanced vision. Then his former territory was tossed in the negotiating mix yet again and Henry forgot about everything but keeping Toronto open for Vicki.
Tony jolted when Henry gently dropped a jean jacket around the younger man's shoulders and sat beside him.
"It's rather chilly out here," Henry commented.
The response was a curt "thanks."
Henry sighed softly. He heard the subtext loud and clear: Fuck you.
"Tony, I'm very so—"
"I'm going back to Toronto."
Henry closed his eyes and tried to keep himself from growling "no." He had expected something like this. That's why before he stepped out of his condo to search for Tony, he'd spent an hour on the phone, calling bus stations and checking to see if anyone who fit Tony's description bought a ticket to Toronto.
He tried to keep his tone as even as possible. "Why?" Though, of course, Henry knew why. Toronto was familiar, comfortable and more than 2,000 miles from vampires who apparently don't have very good memories.
"I been thinking—" Tony began.
"I've been—" Henry automatically corrected.
"Fuck, Henry! Is this really the time to fix how I talk?!" Tony looked at the vampire incredulously. Here he was, making the one of the biggest decisions of his life in as many months and the bastard was focusing on grammar.
Henry looked chagrined. He couldn't seem to do anything right.
"I'm sorry. Please, go on."
He felt Tony's eyes linger for a second or two, as if to check whether he was sincere or being patronizing. Henry carefully schooled his expression, not wanting to provoke another outburst. It took a few moments to satisfy Tony.
"OK, so I think I should go back to Toronto. You guys are all set here. Vicki is better. Well, getting better anyway, but she will be. Better, I mean, soon. And the condo is all sun-proof and everything now. Your rooms anyway. Locks are all good and strong so you don't have to worry about intruders. You don't really need me anymore. You're all set. So I should go. I should go back ... and you know, I'm just —" Tony stopped. He realized he was babbling. Somewhere between when he started talking and when he stopped his anger at Henry had turned to fear over leaving. What the fuck am I doing? I don't want to leave. There's nothing waiting for him back in Toronto. He doubted he'd get his job and apartment back. Here, he had two people he really cared for. People who ... don't need him anymore. Way to go, idiot, pointing out your uselessness.
Tony waited for Henry to say something, anything. The vampire's silence made him uneasy.
Tony drew a ragged breath, hoping to calm his nerves. When he felt steadier, he repeated the one thing he knew was true. "You don't need me."
Henry heard the pain in Tony's voice, and wondered how he could erase it. Raised as a prince, the bastard son of Henry VIII is not used to explaining himself, and in his 450-plus years, Henry could count on one hand the number of times he cared enough to make the effort. This time, an explanation may not be enough. It dawned on Henry that this time, he might have to ask. To beg.
"No, I don't need you," Henry said quietly. "I don't need you to run errands for me. Or for Vicki. You're right, I don't need you to watch over us when we're asleep. We're secure enough in the condo."
Tony's shoulders sagged beneath the jean jacket. It's one thing to think you know something. It's another to have it confirmed right out for you.
Henry reached out and took Tony's chin, but the younger man wouldn't meet his gaze. "Why did you think I asked you to come to Vancouver with me?"
"You needed somebody to drive you and Vicki." Not to mention, personal blood bank, Tony thought.
Henry frowned. Had he ever given the younger man the impression he saw him only as a lackey?
Tony abruptly stood up and dug something out of his front pocket. He shoved a hand toward Henry, who warily accepted a crumpled twenty-dollar bill. "I'll pay back what I already spent."
At a loss, Henry tried to give back the money. "What? Tony, this is not ... This is ... "
Tony turned pleading eyes at him. "I'm not comfortable taking money from you. It feels to much like ... . Look, I'll pay you back somehow."
Henry merely shook his head.
Tony began pacing. "I also don't want to be the fifth wheel here." He stopped. "Or is it third wheel?" He started pacing again. His rants seemed more directed at him than at Henry. "This time, you and Vicki are together-together. No more Michael Cellucci. Buh-bye grumpy Italian cop."
"That's not quite right," Henry said softly.
"How weird is it for me to be at — what? What's not right about what I said?" Tony frowned. "What did I just say? Cellucci ain't moving to Vancouver!?"
Henry shook his head. "You said Vicki and I are together. For now."
"What do you mean? Now that she's" — Tony mimed biting and made claws with his fingers — "like you, you're going to be together forever."
Henry frowned at the image Tony presented. "Excuse me?"
"You're both immortal!" His tone didn't quite hide the "Duh!"
Still a bit disturbed by Tony's vampire impersonation, Henry just stared. After a moment or two, he finally spoke. "Remember what I asked you to tell the good detective sergeant just before we left?"
A beat before: "Something about slicing eternity?"
Henry barely managed to keep his eyes from rolling. "A year is a small slice of eternity."
"Well, that's all I have with Vicki."
"All I have is a year to teach her how to be." Henry tore his gaze away, unwilling to let the younger man see his pain. "A year before the parent-child bond is forever severed, before our nature drives us apart."
Tony tried to absorb the information, but it didn't make sense to him. "But why?"
"Vampires are very territorial. We can't have other creatures like us near us, Hunting in our city. Their scent drives us to want to kill them."
Realization started to dawn. "And you knew? When you changed her ... you knew?"
Henry smiled sadly. "I couldn't let her die."
For a while, the two men sat in silence as the lights of the city made the water shimmer. Each was lost in thought, imagining a world without Vicki Nelson.
Henry broke the silence. "Tony, look at me." He let the Power rise in his voice and Tony was compelled to obey. "I could tell you that the reason I asked you to join Vicki and me here is because I wanted to offer you a fresh start. You would believe it. And it would also be true." Henry dropped his hand, and then dropped his gaze to his hands.
Henry let the Hunter ease back, until there was no hint of the Prince of Man nor of the Prince of Darkness. Until it was just Henry. Naked and vulnerable. then he looked at the young man fate, in the form of Vicki Nelson, had dropped into his life. His friend. His lover.
"But my reasons are more selfish than that. The truth is, I knew I was going to lose Vicki. But I didn't want lose you both."