Chocolate and Honey
Disclaimer: I do not own or make any money off Dark City or its lovely boys. :)
In the sunshine of Shell Beach, it was easy to forget about everything that John Murdoch had left behind in the city. Easy to lose himself in the warmth of the sand, the salt sea air. In Emma s no, Anna s smile. Easy to push aside the man who filled his synthetic memories. Thinking of Daniel Schreber brought about other, darker memories. Things that came back to him all too easily in dreams.
Then came pain, scarcely two weeks after he d ended the eternal night. What began as a slight stomach ache quickly escalated to bouts of debilitating agony, cramps and nausea and the most horrible hunger, but everything he tried to eat came back up again. And he was freezing cold, no matter what the weather was like, no matter what he wore. Whatever it was that was wrong with him also seemed to effect his sense of smell, and suddenly he couldn t stand to be around anyone else. The scent of them, like a sharp acid, a metallic tang, hit the back of his throat and triggered the bouts of pain, triggered the hunger.
He chased Anna away, turning angry when she tried to stay, saying hurtful things until she left in tears. It was easier, alone. Better for her not to have to deal with this. Easier for him to get through the pain without the trigger of her scent. But he was so tired.
One morning when he awoke, his legs gave out as he started down the staircase of his simple home in Shell Beach, replica of the one in his childhood. There was pain the dull ache of flesh striking wood and plaster, until he lay crumpled at the foot of the stairs, in the entrance way of the house. Staring blankly across the dusty hardwood floor. Noticing the strange, flat package on the floor, slipped through the mail chute. Gathering his energy, sitting up slowly, inching across the floor to it.
There was no return address, just his name in tidy, copperplate handwriting. John Murdoch, Lighthouse Road, Shell Beach. He tore off the paper, opened the thin box.
A letter on top, neatly folded into a cream paper envelope. His name written again on the outside. He opened it, blinking several times to focus on the letters.
Please forgive me, that I have left you alone to suffer this. I haven't
your strength, and as such, I cannot follow you out into your golden,
sunlit world. I pray that this package finds you in time. Please drink
the medicine I have enclosed. It will give you strength to come find me.
I will give you any answers you seek. But please come quickly.
This is all I can send you, and it will not last long.
Doctor Daniel Poe Schreber'
He read the letter through twice, then looked down at the box again. Nestled carefully in tissue was a thin glass vial, filled with dark liquid, almost black. Medicine? He turned the vial over in his hands. He had no reason to distrust the doctor, despite his aversion to remembering those dark nights, remembering what had happened in the city. Still, he could focus on the Daniel in his memories. The Daniel that had taught him everything, how to be strong, how to overcome. How to defeat the Strangers.
He uncorked the vial and drank it before he could second guess his decision. He tasted wine, and sweetness, like syrup, and heat, and a strange metallic tang. He could feel it slip down his throat, warm and tingly. Almost immediately there was a rush to his head, like alcohol, like nicotine, but stronger. Left him seeing stars. But the ache inside was gone, and he let out a sigh of relief, feeling as if a great weight had been taken from him that he didn t know he d been carrying. Then there was nothing else he could do but what Daniel had asked. Wrapping himself up in a long coat, even though the sun was blazing. Tucking Daniel s letter into his pocket, catching the single bus into the city.
The bus driver, the people around him looked at him strangely, bundled up against the cold. He ignored them, hunkering down in his seat, watching as the seaside disappeared, replaced with city walls he d hoped he d never see again, with dusty, colorless buildings, with the hustle of the city.
Finally, he reached Daniel s office, though when he thought back on it, he could never quite remember how. Taking the elevator up to the top floor. Stepping out into darkness, and being instantly and horribly reminded of the Stranger's city, their darkness. Their night.
Somehow, he had no problem seeing. There were hints of light, pinpricks escaping the thick black curtains that hung over the windows in the hall. His eyes adjusted quickly, and he crossed the hall, knocking before opening the door with Daniel s name etched on the glass.
"Daniel?" For a moment, there was no response. The room was dark, silent, and the air smelled stale... and underneath that, the rich scent of... of what? Rich and warm and sweet. Like the medicine. He stepped further into the office, puzzling over the bodies of a few white rats on the floor. "Daniel?"
A moan, almost too soft to hear. Then, slightly louder. "John..."
He found the doctor behind the desk, crumpled on the floor. "Daniel? Oh god let me get the light - "
"Don t - !" Daniel gasped, holding a hand out to him. "Please, just... just let me speak. I don' t... know how much -- longer I can.... god John, I'm sorry.|"
He knelt down beside him, helping him to sit up, lean against him, arms around his shoulders. Whatever he d smelled earlier was stronger, sweeter, and he realized somehow that it must be Daniel. The blonde was shivering against him, skin ice cold and clammy. "God, you're freezing... Daniel... what s happening to us?"
A soft sigh. "Forgive me, John. I... lied to you. About them, about the... experiments."
He couldn't comprehend what Daniel was saying. :What do you mean? I saw them Tune, I saw you inject those people with new memories... Emma has new memories."
"That part... was real," the doctor sighed. "But their purpose... was not to learn. We were not the - subjects of their - experiments. We were... a farm."
A slight nod. "The memories were -- just cover, so that we -- wouldn't live any one -- life, long enough to -- discover the truth. Or question -- the eternal night. There were two things, you see. That they - needed, to survive. One - the bodies, that they inhabited. Dead, yes, but... not when they moved in. Two - blood. To sustain - the dead. The hosts."
John tried to sort through and make sense of his words. "Blood? Like... vampires?"
In the darkness, Daniel smiled weakly. "A little... yes. Like vampires. And this is... what is wrong with us."
"Daniel... I don t understand...."
"That night... when you woke up with -- no memory. You had been sentenced -- to play a part, a role... events that always happened, again and again. They would -- kill. Ritualistic, harvest the -- blood. And then -- create a murderer -- to take the fall. You. When you were caught -- they would take you, and you -- would become a host -- for one of them, one that needed a new -- body. You were to be -- the next Mr. Book."
"But... I woke up."
"You didn't - wake up on your own," Daniel started, then suddenly jerked tense against him with a cry of pain, spasms jerking his twisted frame.
"Daniel?" He tried to catch his arms, stabilize him, only to have Daniel shove him away with surprising strength.
"Don't touch me!" The doctor curled under the desk, arms wrapped tightly around his body, breath coming in hard gasps, shuddering. John found himself wondering if this was how Anna had felt - helpless and angry at the inability to do anything in the face of this pain.
"Daniel... the medicine...?"
The other man gave a sharp, gasping laugh that sounded more like a sob. "No," he managed. "I can't... just... please, wait...."
And so he waited, curled helplessly on the floor, watching Daniel fight the pain, watch him gasp for breath, and slowly, slowly come back to himself.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, struggling to sit up, finally allowing John to help him, touch him.
"You sent the last you had to me?" John asked softly, and the doctor gave him an almost heartbreakingly sad smile.
"Oh, my friend... you don't understand...." Blue eyes closed briefly, softly. "I am... your medicine."
John felt a cold shiver of ice run down his spine. ".... what?"
The doctor gave a soft, shuddering sigh. "I was... meant to be a host, when they... first took us. So long ago. but... they realized that my... knowledge was too valuable. So they..." he swallowed hard. "Injected me with -- their blood. To give me strength. Keep me from -- ageing. And to control me. This is what -- I did to you. This is -- why you can Tune."
John found himself shaking his head slowly, and his voice, when he spoke, came out horrified. "That vial you sent me... was your blood?"
"Blood... and wine." The softest smile.
Daniel's fingers reached up in the darkness, brushing his cheek gently, and the touch was somehow electric, the scent of his skin so sweet and enticing that he let out a low groan despite himself.
"I couldn't -- let them kill you," the doctor said softly. "You were too... beautiful. So I gambled. That the -- control they had -- over me, through their -- blood, would not be passed -- onto you. Only my -- strength."
"But if I... if you.... I hurt you, Daniel. How could I act against you?"
"I... allowed you to." He smiled, and John couldn't help but remember the man from his memories, the strong, handsome figure. "Such strength. You are... so beautiful." Then he grit his teeth, trembling, choking on another cry of pain.
"What can I do?" John asked, helpless.
"I'm -- dying," the doctor gasped. "Without their -- blood. As you will -- without mine."
Shaking his head, unwilling to accept Daniel's words. "What about other people? You said the Strangers used our blood. We could take just a little from everyone, we wouldn't have to kill anyone. Like... a blood bank."
"It won't work," Daniel's words were a soft sigh, exhausted. "It will... stave it off, for a while. The rats..." A soft laugh. "My poor rats. It's not enough to -- to live. That's why... regular people -- smell so unappetizing." His fingers curled in the front of John's shirt. "Please -- help me into the next room...."
Daniel was much lighter than he'd expected... or perhaps he was stronger. It didn't matter. He pulled him to his feet, supported him on his shoulders, and the smell of honey was so sickly sweet that he ached with it. A gasping, pleasant ache. Like desire.
Beyond the office was a lab, shelves of glass beakers glinting despite the darkness. A strange, low table, filled with deep grooves, groves that sloped to drain at bottom, into glass beakers. Daniel stumbled to it, fell onto it. A tray sat to the side, medical scalpels on clean white gauze. And rows and rows of bottles of wine, three quarters full. "What... what is this?"
Daniel turned onto his back, stretching out as if for surgery. Head falling back to bare his throat. "You won't... have much time. The blood will -- congeal. I'm still -- human, that way. Add a half full -- beaker of it, to -- the wine. Cork it. It should... last you for a few decades." That soft, sad smile, but John was horrified.
You - you'll die!"
"I am -- dying." Soft words, accepting. "But... you can live. I need you -- to live. Please... a scalpel, John."
John sat down weakly on the corner of the table, beside his head. Letting his hand cup Daniel's face, and the tight, scarred skin was somehow soft and delicate under his fingertips. "I don't want you to die...."
"Ah, John... you can't -- stop it. Please, let me... leave with the -- knowledge that you -- will be ok." Blue eyes meeting his, pleading, then the gaze was broken by another shudder, eyes shut tight against the pain. "God - !"
John turned, catching his hand and holding it tightly, Daniel's fingers digging painfully into his skin as he fought through it, breath in harsh, desperate gasps. "Daniel...."
"Please - !" A whimpered, desperate gasp. "Please, John! I can't -- it hurts...."
He looked to the scalpels, sickened, feeling his heart pounding hard in his chest. "I can't do it, Daniel...."
"Please...." His eyes are stricken. "It's... so much worse, with you here. Your smell...."
John felt his heart stop. Heard the words from his lips almost as if he hadn't spoken them. "What do I smell like?"
The doctor gave a soft, tortured groan. "Chocolate. Rich... dark... chocolate. John.... please."
Hand shaking a little, he picked up one of the scalpels, cold on the clean white gauze. Stood to lean over him, cupping his face gently, Daniel's lips parting with a soft, tired sigh.
John hesitated, staring at the glint of steel, Daniel's pale skin. The bottles and bottles of wine and glassware. This was worse than the dreams that haunted him, the memories of the Strangers with their white faces and horrible voices, the nightmares of falling though the hole in the world, falling into space like Bumstead.
"No," he whispered softly, and pressed the scalpel to his own skin. Slicing into his wrist, deep into the pulse point, drawing a sharp breath at the pain that blossomed, hot and sharp and red.
"John - !"
He dropped the scalpel with a soft hiss, hearing it bounce onto the floor, somewhere in the darkness. But he was already pressing his wrist to the blonde man's mouth, his other hand moving to support Daniel's head, to keep him from pulling away. Daniel gave a choked, panicked noise, struggling weakly, but John held tight. "Please...."
A soft, helpless whimper, and Daniel's lips parted, smeared with his blood, sealing over the cut. Tasting him. The same rush hit him as before, the heat and tingling, sparks behind his eyes. And all he could smell was honey, was Daniel, and all he could feel was the ache of pleasure, desire, need. Somehow he had climbed onto the table, kneeling, and Daniel had curled up into him, upper body cradled in John's arms, supported against his chest. Shuddering in his embrace, fingers clutching John's forearm so tightly that it hurt, but he didn't care. The sensation was too intense, too beautiful, and he buried his face in the blonde hair, drunk on the rush of sensation, drunk on the scent of him. Then he felt heat on his arm as Daniel pulled it from his mouth, and looked down to see the cut close up by itself, and realized that Daniel was Tuning, closing the wound. Healing him.
The doctor curled into him more, arms slipping around him, holding him tightly. And slowly, slowly the trembling began to lessen, the sensation residing. He heard a soft click as a lamp in the corner of the lab turned on, bathing the room in soft, golden light.
Daniel's voice, soft, wondering. Free from pain. "It never... never felt like -- that! -- When They fed me...." He pulled back just enough to look at him, blue eyes wide behind wire-rimmed glasses. "John...."
"Don't leave me," he whispered, not trusting his voice in the aftermath of so much intensity. Leaning in, almost on impulse, to lick away a smear of his own blood at the corner of Daniel's mouth, he felt another shock as their lips connected. The taste of his own blood had the same deep richness as the wine Daniel had given him, but with the slightest undertone - just as Daniel had said - of dark chocolate. And suddenly Daniel was kissing him, tasting him, his mouth warm and trembling. Taste of sweetness, of honey, of blood. His skin, unshaven, rough against Daniel's soft fairness. And the hunger he felt now had less to do with blood, and more to do with something much more familiar and human. "I need you," he murmured, helplessly, against the doctor's mouth. "Daniel...."
Daniel's voice, just as soft, but wondering, and a little reverent. Kissing him again, intensifying the desire, the all too human need. "I -- love you."
~~ Fin ~~