DISCLAIMER: I own nothing and no one. Warnings are: Slash, vampirism, language, innuendo, boysex, death, and lots of violence. Don't read if you don't like.

A/N: LAST CHAPTER! It feels so weird to finally be done with this story. Reviews and concrit would be lovely :)

----

"Let him go," Pete whispered, voice dangerously low. His eyes conveyed a desperate message to Patrick's that Patrick somehow interpreted.

Nate shook his head, smiling crookedly. "I think not. I may have lied earlier when I said that Adam was my best bargaining chip." He pursed his lips in thought, running his fingers lovingly along the line of Patrick's throat. "That turned out to be such a disappointment. Patrick, though, has proved to be an able one."

Pete's teeth clenched in anger. "Let him go," he repeated. "None of this was even his idea in the first place, Nate. He only met me through Bill. He didn't want to be involved in vampire affairs, nor did he want to know that Ryland and Travis were on the lookout for you."

"I'm not worried about that," Nate replied. "See, the thing is, he stuck with you. Didn't run off when you told him you were a vampire. He loves you. And love is a dangerous thing, is it not?"

Pete bared his teeth in answer.

Nate laughed coldly. "Don't be so hasty to hate, Pete. Otherwise, Patrick here"—he drew his nails along Patrick's throat, pushing in enough to make Patrick sputter a bit and wince—"he'll die. Plain and simple. Clear enough for you?"

"Crystal," Pete muttered through clenched teeth.

"Good." Nate smiled. He pulled Patrick closer to him and Pete's body tensed up, anger pulsating through every atom. Nate noticed this and kept smiling, pretending to contemplate while he spoke.

"What do you think I should do if you go through with what I'm telling you to do? Let Patrick go, or simply…" he gripped Patrick's cheeks in his hands, roughly twisting his neck sideways so that he could look at his face, see the fear etched into every pore, "let him die?"

Pete snarled loudly, black hair falling into his eyes. "You let him die and I'll rip you to shreds."

Nate shook his head. "Too many death threats today, Pete. One more isn't going to faze me. I live my life off of carnage." He bared his fangs. "And the blood of pretty humans."

Pete bit back the retort that ached to slip off his tongue. He knew from experience that keeping his cool with Nate was the only road he could possibly choose right now, for both his and Patrick's sakes.

"Fine," Pete said with fake complacency. "We'll talk it out, okay? None of us gets hurt. I just want to know why you're doing this."

Nate laughed, catching them all off-guard. "'None of us gets hurt'? What about Chizz, Pete? Did you say the same bullshit to him?"

Pete's mouth opened to speak but for once, no words could come out. At the time, he hadn't felt bad about killed Chizz. He'd just been another obstacle in Pete's way to Nate. He still didn't feel that bad about it, especially with Nate asking the questions.

But with Patrick's life so precariously on the line? He couldn't take chances now. Better to pretend to sympathize than to not do anything. "I'm sorry," Pete replied. 'I was just—with the whole Gabe thing, I didn't know what to do."

Nate scoffed but didn't press the matter. Patrick, however, was having none of it. He struggled again, doing an impressive imitation of an angry vampire as he snarled at Nate. "Seriously, fucking let me go. I'm not going anywhere without Pete."

Nate sneered at him. "Sorry, no can do, Stump. One thing I've learned is to trust no one. People are at their most honest when they're about to die. And since you're not dying, yet…"

"Enough!" Pete snarled, losing it. He took a step forward, fangs bared, eyes glowing unearthly red and muscles quivering. "Either you let him go or we all go down."

"Empty threats," Nate trilled, moving his arm up to press against Patrick's throat, effectively stopping Pete from moving closer in fear that Nate would strangle Patrick. "You said you wanted to know why I went to all the trouble to do this, didn't you? It's simple. Those fucking hunters killed Victoria, and what's life without love?"

"Gabe told us, maybe—"

"No," Nate growled, jaw setting. "Gabe's a fucking coward, just like everyone else. He left me when the going got rough, and I come back to find out he's a messenger. A fucking messenger." He paused and shook his head in disbelief. "I should have killed him when I had the chance."

"Your best friend?" Patrick got out, swallowing with difficulty.

"Not when I came back he wasn't. He was repulsed."

Pete stepped forward and Nate instantly was on the defensive, pressing if fingers to Patrick's throat, drawing out a gurgling, choking noise from him. "Step closer and you'll regret it, Pete," Nate snapped.

With a sigh of defeat Pete fell back, exhaling through his teeth, fangs scraping against his bottom lip when he bit it. "This is useless," he stated. "Holding Patrick hostage isn't going to make me any more companionable and it definitely won't make you intimidating. Not that you ever were in the first place."

"Pete," Patrick warned, hyper-aware of the brute force quivering in Nate's body and how close he was to dying. One slip up and Nate could do whatever he wanted.

Pete ignored Patrick's plea and narrowed his eyes, glaring at Nate's dirt-stained face and ragged clothes with distaste. "Reckless. That's what you used to be, Nate. Reckless to an extent. Now you're just being stupid."

"You're wrong."

"Am I? By what Gabe says, you took risks but still cared for your friends. And it seemed you cared a lot for Gabe as well."

"You're wrong!" Nate screamed, lips pulled back to show the deadly ivory of his teeth, sharp points of his fangs raised barely above his bottom lip. "Gabe doesn't know shit. He's just flattering himself. I loved Victoria, not him."

Pete smirked. "Denial is a beautiful thing."

Pete saw it coming, knew what he had just done was dangerous and stupid and just as reckless as Nate was being. He knew, as soon as the last words left his mouth, nothing good would come out of this.

"Love is a useless emotion," Nate replied smoothly, holding Patrick out at arm's length, strong hands gripping the other's biceps with crushing force. He licked his lips as his eyes scanned Patrick's body, lust showing as a dark glint in his red eyes.

He pulled Patrick back to his chest, holding him still with one hand while the other reached up to tip Patrick's neck to the side, ignoring Patrick's squeaks of fear and his futile struggles to move his head back. Nate leaned down and inhaled deeply, hissing in delight.

"Blood is sweet," he murmured, glancing up to see Pete tense, fists clenched and jaw set in anger. He licked a circle around Patrick's carotid. "But even sweeter when it's stolen."

He positioned his fangs above the pulse point, felt Patrick whimper and squirm in his grasp, tendons in his neck tensing in anticipation.

Suddenly Nate spun him around, keeping one hand on his neck as he raised the other. It was like it was slow motion for Patrick, who watched Nate lift his arm, muscles flexing smoothly under tough vampire skin, a horrible howl detaching itself from his throat.

Patrick winced as behind him Pete screamed, rushing forward. In the next second, before Pete could tackle him out of the way, Nate brought his hand down, slashing a clean line from Patrick's collarbone to the side of his ribcage.

With a gasp of pain Patrick collapsed to the ground, blood welling up between his fingertips where he grasped his side. He felt the bone, slick and hot, under his fingertips and he gagged.

"What did you do?" Pete screeched, pushing Nate against a tree trunk and balling his shirt in his fists. He lifted Nate a few inches off the ground in his anger.

Nate just laughed. "I did you a favor. One less poison in your life."

Pete snarled, pushing his hand against Nate's throat. "I'll fucking kill you."

"Then do it! Just kill me and get it over with, Pete." Nate's voice was desperate and wild.

"You asked for it," Pete replied. He reached up into the tree and snapped off a dead branch.

"See you in hell," he hissed, raising his arm and driving the limb through Nate's chest. For a second Nate looked at him with a glimmer of hatred in his eyes that was quickly replaced with regret and pain before he went still.

"People are at their most honest when they're dying," Pete reiterated, muttering. From behind him he could hear Patrick breathing wetly, occasionally coughing and screaming weakly in pain as a movement jarred his wound.

Pete instantly turned around and knelt down at Patrick's side, biting his lip as he looked into Patrick's eyes, ignoring the flecks of blood on his face. He pushed hair out of Patrick's eyes.

"Shit, Patrick," Pete breathed, closing his eyes.

If Pete could throw up, now would be the time. The ugly gash that gaped across Patrick's chest bubbled red, staining the edges of the ripped shirt Patrick still had on. Blood pooled and spilled down the sides of Patrick's ribcage, a hint of which Pete could see gleaming whitely in the dark light of the forest.

He didn't have to force himself not to attack at the sight and smell of freshly-spilled blood and wounded creature; the only things on his mind right now were ways of trying to help Patrick that didn't involve cursing him.

"Pete," Patrick rasped out, coughing slightly, voice determined like he knew what Pete was thinking. "D-Do it."

Pete shook his head like there was a pesky fly circling him. "I can't," he said, voice cracking. "I know I said I would, but Patrick… you won't like life after you've become one of us."

"I'll die. I am dying, Pete."

He was right; there wasn't much time left for Pete to decide what to do. He looked at Patrick's lips, shining wetly with coughed-up blood, his rapidly-dulling eyes that still somehow held a spark of hope, of life.

He was amazed that even though Patrick had to be in an immense amount of pain—Pete could tell he was by the way his eyelids kept fluttering and every other inhale would be sharp and prolonged—he was speaking as rationally as one could get in this situation. It was this revelation that spurred Pete to do what he believed to be the right thing.

"I'm so sorry," Pete whispered quietly, kneeling down so that he was hovering above Patrick's face. "I didn't want this to happen."

Patrick reached up a shaky hand to weakly stroke Pete's cheek. He gave a smile that turned out as more of a grimace. "I trust you."

Pete kissed Patrick's lips first, gently licking away the blood, then continued down his jaw, nipping as lightly as he could, trying to make this seem like something it wasn't. Like it was normal, just foreplay, just love. But as Pete neared Patrick's neck, felt the pulse of his carotid, sluggish and slow, beneath his lips, felt Patrick tilt his neck, giving him more access, he knew even Patrick was aware of the gravity of the situation.

Patrick gripped Pete's free hand with his own, silently urging him on. Pete mouthed softly at Patrick's neck before he bit down, going soft at first and then harder as his fangs punctured the skin and blood flowed into his mouth.

Painful wasn't the best way to describe it. At first, it felt like a love nip, as Patrick imagined it would if he and Pete had ever gone this far when Pete was vampire and he was human, and the pressure increased as Pete went deeper, intensifying the stabbing pain that hummed in the back of Patrick's mind.

A scream caught in Patrick's throat, dying away as the rest of the world grew dim. Vaguely he registered Pete pulling away, looking at him through troubled eyes, and then the pain in his chest disappeared to be replaced with a burning like liquid fire coursing through his veins.

He tried to say Pete's name, choke out anything, but everything stayed caught in his throat like a bad case of drymouth. He wanted to scream, to jump in a lake to douse the fire that had engulfed his body, but he was mulishly immobile.

"You'll be okay," were the last words Patrick heard as a blurry vision of Pete hovered above him. "Three days."

And then he was falling, falling into a deep, crushing darkness.

----

"I'm so sorry… I didn't want this to happen."

"I'll die. I am dying."

"Pete!"

With a start, Pete jumped up from the armchair he'd been sitting on. He rushed over to the couch where before Patrick had been asleep—if you could call it that—for three days.

Kneeling down on the floor beside the couch, Pete looked at Patrick with worried eyes. "'Trick," he breathed. "You—are you doing okay?"

Patrick gave him a wan smile. "I've been better." He avoided the look in Pete's eyes because he knew. From the moment he opened his eyes, he could tell he was changed. He felt the fangs, felt the burning at the back of his throat. Everything in the room was clearer, sharper, louder.

"You know that… that you need to drink from me now." Pete's tone of voice made the question a statement. Patrick just nodded. Pete motioned for him to scoot over, and when Patrick did he took the place where Patrick had been sitting moments before.

Now—and with a tint of dark humor mixed in—thanks to this, Patrick could tell when Pete was aroused, and the thought made him want to blush. Had Pete been able to smell it on his as strong as this before?

"Later," Patrick whispered when Pete moved a fraction of an inch in to kiss him, the barely-perceptible movement prolonged in Patrick's keener eyes.

Pete's expression hardened in what could have been anger or sadness or both, but he nodded. Bending down, Pete carefully bit into the tender skin of his wrist, right where the pulse would have been, allowing the blood to well up and trickle down.

Almost immediately Patrick latched onto Pete's arm, locked there and shaking as the blood flowed into his mouth, working like a fire extinguisher to diminish the heart in the back of his throat.

Pete bit back the urge to pull Patrick off and kiss him. From experience he knew that after today their next time would be a thousand times better than any previous ones.

For Patrick, drinking this blood was like giving him the breath of life. Another chance at living. How could he have ever thought that this was disgusting? It was more satisfying than a drink of water after a long, hot walk. Better than food after being starved for a week.

"Patrick." Pete gently pried him away, tilting his head upwards.

For one horrifying second, he didn't recognize Patrick's face. Before, he'd been a shy, angelic boy who'd seemed no raunchier than a kitten. Now there was a bloodthirsty glint in his eyes, the part to his lips that was the telltale sign of a vampire scenting the air.

The blood smeared on his lips, glinting ominously in the dim lighting of the living room, brought into the open the fact that this was all real. It wasn't a dream. Patrick was stuck like this forever.

Pete shook his head. What was he thinking? This was Patrick Stump, the person he'd fallen in love with. Having just turned him didn't matter. If anything, it should have made things easier.

"How do you feel now?" he asked, apprehension evident in the tense way he held himself.

Patrick nodded slowly, still pondering over whether this… relief he was feeling was because he was awake and okay, or because of something else that dwelled inside of him. Something that was excited by the taste of smell of blood and that held a primitive presence. "I'm… okay."

He blinked a few times, swallowed, and turned to face Pete. "Thanks," he whispered, looping his arms around Pete's neck. He parted his lips and breathed deeply, closing his eyes at Pete's musky scent that was a mix of old cologne and a tiny whiff of the decaying smell all vampires acquired after years and years.

"You smell gorgeous, Pete." Patrick smirked. "Wanna do it?"

Pete's eyes widened. "Not—right now?"

Patrick rolled his eyes. "No, later. Of course now, asshole. You saved my life. Don't I owe you at least a little something?" He moved to sit on Pete's lap, dipping his tongue into Pete's ear as he whispered, "Maybe if you fucked me I'd feel a little more comfortable."

"It's—it'll be a lot different than when you were human," Pete explained, forcing back a groan.

"So?" Patrick moved away and pushed Pete down onto the couch, straddling his hips.

"I'm alive because of you, Pete." He had a flashback to the fight with Nate, how he'd been held as a bargaining chip. He could still feel the deathly coldness of Nate's hands, feel the brush of fangs against his jugular and then the rush of blinding, excruciating pain as Nate ripped into his chest. Shuddering, Patrick stroked down Pete's face, bending down to kiss him.

Pete placed his hands on Patrick's hips. Looking into Patrick's eyes, Pete was sure that if he'd been human his breath would've caught in his throat.

Patrick's skin, already creamy and flawless when he was human, glowed with eternal beauty. Despite the fangs poking from the corners of his mouth from arousal, he still held onto the aura of innocence.

Pete brought a finger up to touch Patrick's lips, brushing the pad of his index finger against a fang. Patrick's mouth opened and his tongue darted out to brush against Pete's finger.

"I love you," Pete whispered. "And being a vampire doesn't change that."

"I know." Patrick reached down to unbutton Pete's pants.

Pete laughed, lifting his hips up to help Patrick to pull down his pants. "I can tell," he said, reaching for the hem of his shirt to pull it off.

"I never noticed you changed my shirt," Patrick commented before slipping it off.

"I had to. Your blood is too tempting."

Patrick rolled his eyes as he pushed down his pants and kicked them off. "Shut up," he said, rolling down his boxers.

Pete smiled. "That's too hard to do when you're around," he replied, lifting his hips now to pull down his boxers, groaning when his half-hard cock brushed Patrick's.

"Shit, yeah. So good." Patrick groaned.

"Told you," Pete muttered, gripping Patrick's hips. "This is gonna be the best sex of your life, Patrick." It felt weird to be gripping Patrick's hips now; before they'd been fleshy like all humans and softer with the small bit of weight Patrick carried around the middle.

The skin of a vampire, however, was firmer, like canvas pulled tight over a drum. He felt a momentary flash of longing for Patrick's old body that stopped as soon as Patrick aligned his hips with Pete's and ground down.

Pete arched his back. "Fuck, yes."

Patrick smiled, leaning down to kiss Pete's neck, nipping softly. "It feels good to be the vampire here," he muttered against Pete's cold skin. Pete laughed, stroking down Patrick's back.

"Two of us," he said as he reached between them to nudge Patrick's hips up. "Gonna come if you keep doing that," he clarified when he saw the look of confusion on Patrick's face.

Patrick straightened up, biting his full lower lip that had been turned kiss-red. The light from the setting sun reflected off his pale skin, seemingly illuminating it from within. Patrick reached down and took the base of Pete's cock in his hand, positioning himself over it.

Pete's eyes widened. "Patrick, maybe you shouldn't—" He was cut off when Patrick pushed himself onto Pete's cock in one fluid motion, not stopping until Pete was in to the hilt.

Pete grunted in the back of his throat. "Jesus."

Gripping Pete's coarse, black hair in his hand, Patrick tipped back his head to lick and nip at the column of his throat. As he tugged Pete's head back down to kiss him, open and dirty, he slowly began to move.

"It doesn't hurt now," Patrick whispered against Pete's cheek. "Probably later, but now it feels so goddamn good."

"Mmm." Pete was only capable of vague, animalistic noises as he attacked Patrick's mouth, tongues sliding over each other, Patrick's hips undulating against Pete's, occasionally swaying from side to side, causing Patrick's pleased, breathy moans each time the tip of Pete's cock brushed against his prostate.

"Care to—ahh—touch me?" Patrick breathed, splaying his palms on Pete's tanned chest, devilish glint in his eye. Pete's eyes traveled down, watching Patrick's cock bob with every thrust, blood dark and leaking.

"Insistent bastard," Pete muttered, propping himself up on an elbow to reach over and squeeze the base of Patrick's cock, stroking roughly to the tip, using his thumb to spread pre-come down the shaft.

Patrick laughed, thighs shaking now as his orgasm loomed closer and closer. As his steady movements began to falter, Pete moved his hand from Patrick's cock and supported himself with both elbows as he lifted his hips up to meet every downward thrust.

Patrick tossed back his head, moaning loudly and snaking a hand down to jerk himself off, finish what Pete didn't. Pete bit his lip as he watched him, whispered, "Come on, Patrick… fuck, just like that. Come for me." Patrick flipped sweaty ginger hair out of his face as he stroked once, twice, and came wetly between them, Pete's name branded on his tongue.

Pete groaned loudly, grunting as he spilled deep into Patrick. His limbs felt useless, like jelly, as Patrick slumped on top of him. "Best sex ever," Patrick murmured against Pete's skin.

Pete just laughed. "I told you."

Patrick lifted his face up, grinning stupidly. "I said I'd keep my promise."

"What—" Pete began, but stopped, remembering what Patrick had said before he had to be turned again. Pete laughed again, moving forward to kiss Patrick's smile. "Of course."

----

"How's it feel?" Pete asked again the next morning.

Patrick shrugged but smiled, showing off his early-morning fangs. "Thirsty."

Pete chuckled, draping his arm around Patrick's neck. "I've got a cure for that, then." He led them into the kitchen and temporarily detached himself from Patrick to push aside the glasses to grab the blood from its secret compartment.

Pulling out a clear pitcher and two glasses, he set it all down on the kitchen table before pouring two half-glasses of blood. He handed one to Patrick before taking his. He waited for Patrick to take the first sip before he did, draining his glass in one gulp.

"I can't believe I'm drinking this," Patrick commented, furrowing his eyebrows as he held up the glass for inspection.

"I think you can," Pete replied, noticing that the glass was completely empty save for the residue left at the bottom and on the sides. "It's weird, at first. But you get used to it really fast. You're just lucky you've got me."

Patrick rolled his eyes. "Way to flatter yourself."

Pete rolled his eyes and got serious. "You know these first few months won't be easy, right? Staying away from humans is necessary. In your mind, you've got two compartments: human, and vampire. Most of the time you're mainly human. But whenever there's danger or food, the vampire side becomes dominant. Being around as many people as you do at work, and in such close quarters, won't end well."

"Like… I really wouldn't try to kill them." Patrick's eyes widened in such a way that he resembled a small child. "There's no way."

Pete nodded. "Yeah, you would if you had the chance. Patrick, you're not just a human anymore. You need to realize that. You're new and your stamina and self-control are low."

"So what, I just quit? Or say I've got a case of the vampire and call off for a few months?"

"More like a year," Pete replied, unfazed.

Patrick opened his mouth, thought better of it, and shut it. He shook his head, looking down at his hands. He closed his eyes tightly, wishing that this wasn't true. Why had he wanted this in the first place? Pete never bothered to warn him just how severe this would be before the fight.

Pete looked at Patrick; head tucked down, chin on his chest, and somehow knew exactly what he was thinking. "I warned you," he said lowly. Patrick's head shot up in surprise.

"No—" Patrick started.

"Yes," Pete replied firmly, cutting him off. "I told you how dangerous this was. How much you'd hate it because when you're human you don't realize all the freedoms you've got. I wasn't ever going to turn you, but to save you… I had to. It killed me, Patrick. It honestly did, but I did it so you'd live."

"This is living?" Patrick asked quietly, looking at the glass and then into Pete's eyes. "Everyone's allowed to have their second thoughts, Pete. What am I going to do now? If I can't call off, then I have to quit. Buzzwire is my life. I love working there."

Pete pursed his lips, raising an eyebrow. "You said you hated it."

"They were going to promote me," Patrick muttered. "I was a few stories away from being given a shot at the field reporter position that Spencer had just left."

"Spencer Smith is quitting?" Pete asked in disbelief. "Wow, I liked his stories."

Patrick shrugged. "So did everyone else. It was my chance to shine, Pete. I can't believe this."

"You wanted this," Pete said, narrowing his eyes. "Patrick, this isn't my fault."

A glimmer of anger appeared in Patrick's eyes. "So it's suddenly my fault for nearly dying?"

"I'm saying it's your fault for fucking getting in the way."

"You let me come," Patrick said dangerously. "You could've said no, but you didn't, Pete. You knew what would happen if worse came to worse, and it did."

Pete ran his hand through his hair in exasperation. He wanted to be angry. He wanted to be able to scream and throw things. He wanted to believe that this was all Patrick's fault, because it was easier than admitting that he had nearly killed the one person who meant the most to him in the world.

Instead he sighed and let his shoulders slouch in defeat. He picked up the glasses and rinsed them off in the sink, putting the pitcher away in its hiding place. Pete wanted to avoid looking at Patrick for as long as possible, but after a few minutes he heard Patrick curse under his breath.

"No you don't," Patrick said, voice close. Pete spun around in surprise, forgetting that Patrick's steps would be quieter now. A semblance of a smile graced Patrick's lips before he put two of his fingers under Pete's chin, tilting his face upward and mirroring what Pete had done what seemed like years ago.

"I know what you're doing," Patrick continued. "You tried this before. You can't ignore me or the problems right in front of you. You're a horrible liar, Pete." He cracked a strained smile.

Pete started to shake his head but stopped. Patrick was right. "I was just so worried," he rasped. "I knew from the beginning that knowing you would be too dangerous, but I ignored my instincts and let my heart take over."

Patrick rolled his eyes. "You're such a sap." He grabbed Pete's hand, looking deep into the depths of his eyes. "I'm here forever, and so are you. So why not make the best of eternity?"

Pete began to say something but was cut off by Patrick's lips pressing insistently against his. Pete moved his arms to wrap around Patrick's neck while Patrick snaked his around Pete's waist.

They broke apart, Patrick chuckling. "So not used to not breathing."

"You get used to it," Pete said.

Patrick smiled lopsidedly. "You may have said that before."

"Get used to it," Pete reiterated, pulling Patrick flush against his body. "Let's go see how Bill's doing."

----

Pete knocked on Bill's door while Patrick peered into the living room window curiously. They were both anxious to see how Bill was doing without Adam; when he'd last called Pete the day after the fight Pete said he'd mentioned something about Gabe staying at his place for awhile, but just how permanent that had become Pete wanted to see.

After a few seconds the door opened and a gust of heat rushed out to mingle with the chilly winter air. Bill poked his head out, curly brown hair falling into his face. A smile stretched his lips when he saw both Pete and Patrick there.

"Hey," he said brightly, opening the door wider and stepping back to let them in. He nodded to Patrick as he passed. "Glad to see you're alive."

Patrick smiled languidly at his joke. "Glad to see you're doing better."

Bill's smile, if possible, got bigger. "If Gabe hadn't been here I don't know how I'd be, to be honest."

"So he's still here?" Pete asked, appearing from the living room. He placed his hand on Patrick's shoulder, rubbing it. Patrick cast him a warm look and for once Bill didn't scowl or predict imminent doom. Pete took it as a win on his part.

Bill nodded, crossing his arms over his skinny chest. He surveyed Pete's face, chewing on his lower lip for a minute or two before he spoke. "You care that he's here, don't you?"

"What? No, no, I don't. I just…" Pete spluttered.

"Cut the crap, Pete," Bill said, rolling his eyes. "You're doing what I did when you brought Patrick over. I've known you too long."

Patrick snickered, shoving his hands into his hoodie pockets when Pete glared at him, though the gesture was half-hearted. "Okay, so what? I guess caring for friends isn't cool anymore," Pete huffed.

Bill led them into the living room, patting Pete on the back as he went to sit in the chair by the window, moving over to allow Patrick space to sit down as well. "I think you'll get over it."

Just then Gabe appeared from the kitchen, bottle of water in his hand. He blinked in surprise when he saw Pete and Patrick in the room and quickly regained his composure as he set the bottle down on the coffee table.

"Hey Pete," he said in greeting, nodding toward Patrick. "You too."

Patrick scoffed but remained quiet. Pete looked at Gabe, saying, "So you and Bill are fucking."

Bill's eyes widened at his statement. Gabe and Patrick both laughed. "Not quite," Gabe said, looking to Bill. The vampire walked over, slinking an arm around Gabe's thin waist. "We promised not to do that until… until Bill turns me."

"Wait. What?" Pete asked, dumbfounded. He turned to Bill, raising his eyebrows in shock. "You're turning him? Don't you worry about what'll happen when other vampires realize their messenger is one of them? I can't imagine any of them being too happy."

Gabe cleared his throat nervously. "Actually, I'm done with that. After Adam was killed"—Bill visibly winced and Gabe brushed the back of his hand across his cheek in a comforting gesture—"I realized how stupid it is to be doing this. Risking my life, you know. Bill's there for me. I don't need any more excitement in my life."

Patrick made a cute "aww"-ing sound, bubbly saying, "That's so good. I'm really glad for you guys."

Bill smiled, lips pulled back enough to show most of his teeth. "Thanks, man."

Pete just shook his head. "God, this is too much of daytime soap opera for me." Patrick smacked him on the shoulder, glaring at him.

"And you guys look too much alike," Pete continued, feigning distaste. "Didn't know incest was back in fashion." This time Patrick gaped at him.

Pete rolled his eyes. "Come on, 'Trick. I was kidding. I think it's, uh… okay that they're together."

Gabe chuckled. "I don't think I can believe that just yet, Pete."

Bill sat down on the loveseat, Gabe sitting next to him. Their thighs touched and their intertwined hands were on Gabe's lap. Patrick raised an eyebrow, remembering back to when Adam was still alive and Bill sat like this with him.

Bill caught his look and smiled sadly, shaking his head. "I miss him terribly, Patrick. Don't think I've gotten over him already."

"How was he before I woke up?" Patrick whispered into Pete's ear.

"Terrible," Pete replied, worry lines etching into his skin, crow's feet forever fanning out from his crinkled eyes. "I saw him the day after and he couldn't stop crying. He's just putting up a brave front for us. I can tell he's still not okay. Gabe's the only thing keeping him hinged right now."

"And Nate said love was useless." Patrick laughed, pecking Pete quickly on the cheek before placing his hand there, brushing away strands of dark hair.

Pete turned to Patrick, mirroring the hand on his cheek. "Everything he said was, Patrick. He tried to take you from me, but he didn't get the chance to."

"He never will," Patrick replied. "You're stuck with me forever."

Pete smiled, placing his hand on Patrick's thigh, rubbing his thumb over the denim. "That sounds like a pretty good promise," he whispered, leaning in to nuzzle Patrick's cheek, inhaling the new, vampire-y scent. "Forever."