A/N: Ur. I don't even know.
I feel reluctant to plunge ahead in the story and write the kind of crazy-intensive fanfic I usually do, because I don't know what SUPER-vital changes Miss Tessa is going to bust out. Not that I'm concerned with having my fiction be relevant, but it sounds rather lame to say "So UM I totally wrote this when I didn't know that THIS was THAT and before ALL THAT OTHER STUFF happened so just sort of pretend that it didn't". I know she's got kickass plot for us, and I don't even want to BEGIN to infringe on that.
SO HELLO THERE ALTERNATE UNIVERSE, HOW ARE YOU.
It's a swap-game, which I've seen others do before and it interested the hell out of me. Otherwise I did it all for the vampire-Worth, which spawned from a cosplay joke between myself and RaeHimura and has got to be the fucking scariest thing ever. Kinda proud of the twist on Conrad, though. It'll grow on you, or I hope it will. He's the angry ex-paranoiac we all know and love, he's just found another profession that will make people leave him alone.
This is like LEAPING into the second chapter, except I don't even know what the first chapter is. Go me. WOO. I'd also ask that you read chapters one and two before axing it: this fic has two distinct plot-lines and 'feel's and if you get through chapter two and you still dislike it, you're never going to like it but thanks for playing!
Warnings: language, violence, sexual content/innuendo
Pairings: Worth/Conrad and bromantic …/Hanna.
Dotdotdot is more like a shepard to Hanna than anything. Oh and uh Conrad is openly gay, or at least self-admitted gay. And Worth's just Worth. Which means horny. And awful. And shut-up-yer-gonna-like-it flavored.
Dead of Night
"I placed the time of death at about five hours before his body was recovered, but the first cuts are at least two days old. The rest of them, particularly the ones on his thighs and feet, seem too ordered and ritualistic to be the work of defense or otherwise and they all range from twenty-four to ten hours old."
Say it, he told himself, swallowing against the lump in his throat. Say it. If there's one man who won't look at you like you're crazy, it's him.
"He was, uh… played with. I think."
The tall man nodded, as if he wasn't surprised by the information or Dr. Achenleck's gruesome assumption. Handsome and broad-shouldered and sporting the most attentive almond eyes that three a.m. had to offer, the Detective scrubbed at his chin briefly and put out his gloved hand.
"What kind of weapon — " he used the word politely and cautiously, as if there were others standing around in the chilly examination room, " – do you think could have inflicted the wounds?"
"Nothing in any, uh, kitchen or home, unless there's a very sharp curved fire-poker out there somewhere. The lacerations are messy but the skin is unstressed in a way that suggests the initial puncture was sharp and the rest was torn open easily," Conrad supplied, making a short pawing motion in the air. "Fits the pattern for something with sharp tip and a blunt shaft. They almost look like… heh, claw-marks. Not really. But almost."
Conrad Achenleck intensely disliked the sensation of reaching into the dark hole in front of him — namely, the tall man's unflinching gaze — and expecting to find something that would make him stop, like a wall or something squelchy and disgusting. But no: he just kept inching deeper and deeper, feeling like he was already up to his shoulder, and if something were to bite him now, it would bite his whole arm off. Worse, if he fell through, he wasn't going to end up in Wonderland.
The young coroner had no idea what kind of world this man lived in, if he seemed to passively agree with all of his wild suggestions then continue looking on expectantly.
"Th-that's all I can gather so far." He bit his lip and hesitated just long enough to convince himself of his good conscience before passing the tall man a photocopy of the collage of examination photos he'd taken. Just the best… or, er, worst of the lacerations along James Maleck's back. "I hope it… helps."
In whatever the hell you're doing which will stay far outside of my door, he wanted to add, but the Detective took them with a nod so grateful and contained that Conrad just nodded back, suddenly rubbing his clean examination gloves over each other nervously.
"Thank you. This will give us a better idea of what we're dealing with. You might have just single-handedly solved our case," the other man said sincerely, then flashed him a tired smile. "I hope I don't see you again anytime soon."
"Wouldn't be too much to ask," Conrad agreed, glancing up at the ever-wakeful security cameras as the tall man tipped his fedora. He exhaled uneasily. "I'm starting to sigh in relief when I get gunshot wounds and, uh, piano-wire lacerations."
The man smiled like oh, he knew except that was creepy and Conrad wished that no one knew, especially himself. But his visitor was on his way out the next moment, so Conrad just tugged at his scrubs and jostled his smock and listened for the click of the examination room door, then turned back to the other man who required his attention: James Maleck, whose port-mortem pin-ups he'd just passed off to the Detective.
A little illegal, yes, but James was none the wiser and he had no family to raise protest. He might even appreciate the attempt to find his real killer and bring a halt to this stupid hunt for a serial killer who was either propping his feet up on a Maui beach or dead. The feds really did have a talent for making convincing cover stories, but certain coroners with internet access could easily find out a serial killer's MO and James Maleck was not the work of Raphael Price, the accused. The Detective had surely seen through it, too, or freaky wounds were just his business.
Dr. Achenleck didn't quite know why he continued giving the older man so much information, especially when his job could be on the line for breathing a word of the stranger injuries he'd seen. There was just something so calm about the man. He wasn't one for reading people, as he had a slight social allergy to them, but he knew he could trust the Detective.
That was his title, now: the Detective. Like the Doctor. He had a name, yes, but he had only used it once with a considerable amount of reluctance, and it seemed so ill-fitting that it immediately went under the rug. Whatever he asked for, no matter how much Conrad initially scoffed and waxed poetic about red tape, the Detective eventually got.
There was absolutely no way to explain the sorts of bodies Conrad was getting now, anyways, and he wasn't going to take the lead officer's blathering as any sort of excuse. No one could see that kind of carnage and sleep well at night and he was scalpel-deep in it. He honestly wanted to know what was going on if he was going to feel safe walking the streets at night and the Detective seemed like the best way to do that.
He had met the man four weeks ago when something was going terribly wrong with his condo. Well, place itself was functioning well enough if you didn't count the overturned furniture, but roosting at the center of the maelstrom was a little purple bat-thing that talked. No, not talked, but bitched. Constantly. He was dumb enough to mention this oddity when reporting the disturbance in various tones of hysteria (higher depending on how many times it had managed to bloody his shoulders and rip his best shirts). Needless to say, no pest control would believe him, much less his land-lady, and the one de-batter that did come ran out screaming five minutes later with a gash across his ass.
At the end of his mental rope and bleeding from most of his face, Conrad had called some sort of… paranormal investigation squad. Modern day ghost-busters, and yes he realized how stupid it sounded, but there had been a bat in his living room who nearly bit his nose off and then called him a pussy directly afterwards. After the call, he sat wringing his hands in the kitchen, telling himself he wasn't hiding, until the doorbell rang. He crept through the living room where the bat was sleeping on his favorite lamp and opened the door with shaking, red-smeared hands.
"Mr. Cross?" he whispered desperately, looking up at the very tall, thin man sporting an orange sharp-collared button-down that practically glowed. A black tie and a gun-strap cut through the middle of it and his gloves were worn but made of real kid leather. Partially shaven and fully handsome, the Detective looked slightly amused to find the younger man crouching in his own doorway.
"Actually… no. I'm his assistant."
That was all in the way of a name Conrad got out of him before he gave the coroner a deferential, business-like nod.
"This is Hanna, Mr. Achenleck. He'll be helping you with your vampire problem."
The man he would know as the Detective stepped aside and a dead little boy walked into his doorway, staring endlessly with electric blue eyes underneath a swath of caution-tape-orange hair. There was a sharpie in his faintly green fist.
"You know you've got something on your face?" came the curious, powder-soft voice, making Conrad Achenleck's jaw drop something vicious — before he exploded at the kid for stating the obvious and thinking he was a fucking idiot and of course there was blood on his face did they have any idea what he'd been dealing with so get the hell in here, what were they waiting for?
They got the evil little creature out, after a few suspicious dealings with a hammer and some squiggles on his carpet that he was told would wash out with warm water. The quiet little boy — because he wasn't dead, just quiet, what a ridiculous thought – even put a protective rune on the back of his door so she (she? Well, it was purple) couldn't come back immediately. If she tried, apparently she would get a hell of a stomachache.
The word vampire was used liberally in any and all explanations, but Conrad preferred to ignore the very possibility as long as it meant this condo was his own again — and, being a respectable upper-middle-class American, he was very, very good at ignoring things.
That calamity said and done, Conrad was thrown into the long and arduous task of piecing his very trendy apartment back together. He dearly hoped that was going to be his last encounter with anything of the supernatural sort and was almost thrilled to immerse himself in the mundane world of price shopping for suitably mod furniture. No more bats, no more strange young men who smelled like dust and didn't breathe.
The kid's assistant had been handsome, but if he dealt with sassy bats all the time, Conrad flat-out wasn't interested. His décor couldn't take much more of this, and lovers came and went but furniture stayed.
The next week, as if some destiny time-bomb had been set off, strange bodies started showing up at the city morgue where Conrad worked as the assistant coroner. Some were discovered in the strangest of places, all were disfigured. There was general coughing and hand-waving and a distinct air of nervousness among the higher-ups, but Conrad couldn't let any of the exotic and truly awful deaths go without an explanation, even if it was a quiet one. So he found the card the man had left him with ("We aren't pest control, but in case your place becomes a roost again, we'll be around to help") and had a very awkward one-am conversation with him, all focused around not admitting that there were other night-time bogies out there who might be doing horrible shit to people.
Conrad had never experienced anything more supernatural than a hokey three-card-trick magician at his third birthday party. This was plainly ridiculous and he was incredibly ill-equipped to deal with it even as he was being dragged in kicking and screaming. He was the nervous sort, introverted and defensively sarcastic and cowardly to a fault. If there was some sort of demon movement going on in the streets of their city, the gods had better get the memo and choose another key-master, Conrad thought grimly, snapping his gloves up his wrist.
The assistant coroner looked at the white body laid out flat on the table, prone and stiff. James Maleck, twenty-seven. Average height, slightly overweight, blond. Skin flayed. Spine exposed. Slices grooved deep into the bloodless flesh. Both eyes torn out.
Who, or what, could have done this? The textures alone were transfixing.
Finding himself incapable of looking away, Conrad finally gave into his most famous semi-nasty niggling urge and peeled off his gloves, feeling the cool air of the examination room hit the sweaty places between his fingers. The place was practically a walk-in freezer and the relentless fluorescent lighting and cobalt tiling only completed the look. Three examination tables stood like aluminum lunch trolleys, attended by a generous spread of surgical instruments. He clenched his hands and stretched a little, trying to banish the imagined clotted post-mortem grime hanging near them.
Conrad got his pen and his sketchbook from his bag and leaned back on the far counter, staring a little longer at the mutilations and starting out with a jagged line for the spine. He was just recently trying a new technique where he didn't take his pen off the paper and rarely looked down: he just felt the lines and forms of the object. Each vertebrae was damaged, chunky and ruined, like white mountains in the desert of the man's broken back.
Sometimes he thought the only thing that had gotten him through medical school was his fascination with the human body. Knowing every avenue of sinew was his greatest achievement, and that wasn't a word he used very often. The idea of learning what instruments could break the body's earthy gorgeous symmetry, and in what ways, had been his motivation for becoming a coroner. It was creepy, yes, but he liked to work nights and was generally a solitary person, and nothing said 'weren't you on your way out?' like a room full of dead people on ice.
He'd begun to think of them as his friends, or at least little guardian angels against office small talk.
"In'nerruptin' yer jack-off time, am I?"
Conrad yelled, failing to toss his sketchbook into the air only through the grace of God and sweaty fingers. He whirled and scrambled backwards, knocking a container of swabs over and sending them cascading over the floor and his open bag. The invader looked at him like he'd already disappointed him, which was a look oddly condescending and superior for an unwashed stick of a man with a prickly face and a curled lip and the tackiest fur-lined coat he had ever—Conrad gasped, blood instantly dropping to his gut.
That face. That coat, with the fur. Those teeth.
It was the vampire. From the alley. With the Detective.
They'd met at a bar a few days ago. Conrad had been half-drunk already, thought he'd seen something in the garden near his condo and didn't know who else to talk to. It was pathetic, but his nerves were worse than normal and this was the kind of shit that would get a therapist to send you in. He described it as best he could, still not used to being brutally and insanely honest. After nodding a few times, Marc assured him that what he'd seen wasn't a threat — gnomes ate grubs and voles, the garden must be full of them – and he left the bar shortly after, saying he had to get back to home.
The Detective had only been gone two minutes when Conrad sat up ramrod-straight, realizing he had forgotten to tell him about something he'd found in a new body. A stone, a completely white river stone found in a man's throat when the cause of death was unknown, was that normal? No. So he went out after him. He only made it half a street before he heard something down an alley — a kind of scrape, like vans against an alley floor and a guttural and squeezed oomf — and turned.
He crept in further, glancing nervously up at the rough brick walls, then instantly drew back and froze.
"I'm fine, Dr. Achenleck."
"Please don't, uh. Don't call me doctor," he said faintly, staring at the Detective and the ragged man holding him up against the wall. He was wearing some kind of long, thin coat that had once been white, bursting with matted fur at the throat and cuffs. He turned and his narrowed eyes flashed white like a cat's in the sudden glare from passing headlights. A low growl, prickly and sourceless, rippled through the narrow black alley.
"What I mean is, I think you should leave," the Detective said over the gnarled fist strangling his tie, voice forcibly, aggressively calm. His pretty almond eyes flickered up to the lips curled inches from his ear. "My friend has just informed me he hasn't eaten in a while and I think that pertains to you."
The 'man' turned his way again and grinned in what seemed like a disturbingly showy manner, until Conrad realized there were two ivory fangs jutting over his bottom lip.
"Yeah. Piss off, puppy," he growled, messy cockney-aussie-something accent grinding against Conrad's red ears. "Or I'll have words for 'im and teeth fer you."
A vampire. A fucking vampire. His heart stopped for a full two beats.
"Okay," he heard himself whisper, faint as the water trickling out of a drain further down in the gritty blackness. He stepped back, foot scraping against wet concrete. "Okay."
Then he ran all the way home. It was only two blocks and, yes, score one for being brave. He was all too ready to take to heel and run and let that man — thing – vampire — kill the Detective but he figured from the stony look in the man's eye that he had at least seen its type before. Knew how to kill it.
Obviously it hadn't needed killing, or the killing didn't go as planned. One was good, one was bad, especially if the thing was in his office and wanting to chat.
Unable to help from sagging against the counter, Conrad took one deep, horrified breath, then another, then clutched his sketchbook against his pounding heart as if to smother it.
"How the — how the fuck did you get in?" he burst out, slamming his fist down on the table.
"Magic," the vampire answered immediately and grinned, flashing enormously long fangs set in his jumbled teeth.
Conrad knew nothing about vampires (and regretted the reality that made him learn), but weren't they supposed to be clean and chilly and beautiful and have perfect cat-fangs? This one was cockeyed and too skinny, bordering on emaciated. His coat and skin were matted with general filth and his fangs looked more like one would think belonged to a wild wolf: too narrow and jumbled-up. The sight of it all distracted Conrad enough that the strange vampire was able to snatch his sketchbook right out of his hand, ignoring Conrad's stunned and lame "H-hey!" as he swiped back for it. The invader squinted at it, tilting it to another angle in the barely-buzzing fluorescents.
"I could see yer boner from the surveillance system. You really get off on this shit, doncha."
It was a statement, not a question, and Conrad immediately felt himself getting offended and high-strung, not even acknowledging the terrifying possibility that the creature really might have had access to the security system.
"It's beautiful," he blurted out, thinking it wasn't the stupidest thing to say. He gulped, then looked at his pen-scratch drawing of vertebrae tumbling messily down the page and felt the blood rise to his face. No one had ever caught him in the awkward act of sketching his patients and it showed, even though he had nothing to prove to this freak.
Lucky that defensive ire was keeping him from pissing himself.
"Inspiring, at the least."
"Yeah," the vampire humfed and tossed the sketchbook aside like it was a used condom, making Conrad fume instantly and scramble for it. The invader turned and picked at his ugly teeth, turning over a nearby scalpel with his other hand. "Inspirin' to yer dick."
"What are – do you need something?" the young coroner demanded icily, really quite fucking impressed with how he was handling this. He gathered his sketchbook and stowed it underneath his bag, safely away from the stranger's dirty hands. He didn't even want to know the thing's name, he just wanted him out.
Out before he could eat him alive. Right.
"Yeah, I do. You hang out with that guy. That guy with the hat, who thinks he's hot shit."
The vampire reached into a pocket of his fur-trimmed coat, which made Conrad tense and get ready to bolt, but he only pulled out a pack of cigarettes and plucked one out, dangling it between his long fingers.
"Marc Raney," Conrad said slowly, strangely mesmerized by the way he lit it up and took a drag that made his emaciated chest fill out, ribs straining at the coat. No smoking allowed in the morgue, but could vampires really…?
"Yeah, him. You see the zombie?" he asked, like Conrad shouldn't be staring at him like he was insane. The vampire put his hand out and chopped it about shoulder-level, smoke leaking out of the corner of his mouth. "Lil' kid zombie, bout yay high. Glasses, stitches all over. No pulse."
"He's not a zombie," Conrad said immediately, tone almost scandalized.
"He's fuckin' dead and he's walkin' around," the vampire snorted violently, then shook his head with a disbelieving growl. "Naw, he's fuckin green and he blinks every three years. There's naiveté then there's plain fuckin' idiocy, which is yer excuse?"
Conrad shut up, suddenly very absorbed in his knotted up hands. Well, yes, he couldn't deny all of that, but what about the other signs? The young man named Hanna had walked into his condo with the Detective and he didn't seem to be attached to his assistant's elbow, gnawing away. Then again, maybe he hadn't been hungry. Maybe the Detective had fed him earlier.
A jitter went up his spine at the thought, especially when he was in a room with another one of those eats-humans variety of impossible creatures. God, how had he never known that the night was this dangerous?
"But zombies are… they… eat flesh, don't they? And drool," he added hopefully, wilting when the vampire rolled his eyes in the most scathing manner possible and flicked his barely-smoked cigarette into a tool tray.
"Christ, why'm I even botherin'," he growled in disgust, and gave Conrad a look that accused the coroner of being the science fiction addict he was, using rainy days as an excuse to stay in and watch bad sci-fi channel movies. Conrad almost turned red, brow knitting.
Nothing to prove to this freak, nothing to prove.
"Why are you so concerned about some… zombie?"
"Knew 'im before he was murdered," the vampire answered shortly, hands going into his filthy coat pockets. "Wanna find out who did it."
"So's I can rip their throat out, y'stupid nosy fag," he snarled softly. A purely animal ripple went through his skinny frame, his fangs glinting in a way that made Conrad's blood run cold and said fuck fascination, get this thing out of here.
"Talk… talk to the Detective. He knows more than I do," he murmured, shoulders inching upwards. He tried not to let his utterly paralyzing nervousness show but he failed miserably: the step backwards and the clattering impact into a tool tray didn't help.
"Already talked to 'im. You saw how that went."
"Maybe if you didn't make a habit of stalking people and scaring the shit out of them before you tried to strike up a conversation, things would work out better for you," Conrad suggested acidly, hands out like no shit Sherlock.
The vampire's expression clearly said he thought that was the stupidest bit of advice he'd ever heard. That was alright — Conrad was used to being disregarded — but the coroner nearly gulped aloud when the vampire's scowl abruptly slid into something far more indulgent and lecherous. He turned around and half-propped himself on the counter, hips jutting out in a lazy, cockeyed way that Conrad told himself was not at all come-hithery.
"Maybe I like talkin' t'you more," he purred, tilting those absolutely-not-inviting hips. He leaned back on the counter, fur collar sagging luxuriously around his needle-sharp shoulders. The lines in his throat stood out, deep and starved. "Maybe I'm in the mood fer a little distraction. Yer an artist. You wanna show me yer… etchins?"
"You've already seen them!" Conrad bit out, derision and hysteria growing neck and neck. "And mocked them."
"Well good, 'cos I ain't in'nerested. Hate artfags."
Conrad blinked violently, unable to do much else. The vampire looked around the hyper-clean room curtly, sniffing in a way that was incredibly dog-like, then shook his head. He harrumphed.
"Damn. Thing about morgues… stay here too long, they always get me hard."
Oh god. Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod.
And then Conrad snorted.
"W-was that a rigor mortis joke?" he asked (prayed) faintly. The vampire smiled.
"Floors me again 'n again. You humans're too fuckin' easy. You think just 'cos somethin's got a sense'a humor, that means it doesn't wanna rip you apart," he chuckled, wandering a few steps closer with an easy coat-swinging swagger. "And here selkies are some'a the funniest bitches I know. Lucky fer you, puppy, I ain't in a rippin' mood."
He let his coat fall off his shoulders, where it rumpled onto the tile floor. Suddenly he was close, too close, but Conrad was stunned by the body heat he didn't feel coming off of the man. The pure aura of him — the weight and dry strength hiding in his cool body, his stringy bare arms laced with so many paper-thin cuts — hit him and plugged his mouth. Conrad's back hit the metal table, stopping him cold. The young coroner's breath caught at the vampire's slow, steady approach and the curious, intelligent intent in his wine-red eyes.
The creature's hand touched his first, too-long spindly fingers brushing over the back of his knuckles. Conrad grabbed for them, needing to feel just how dead they were so he could gain the revulsion necessary to strike out, but it was just cold. Cold and almost delicate, those hands were. Callused.
Then the vampire smiled again, just a roguish jerk of his thin mouth, and bent down and — kissing? They were kissing, now?
Where was the biting, the messy death? …Okay, well, there was the biting. Ooh.
The vampire pressed in, twisting in a way that brought their chins scraping together and gave Conrad a full, rather unfortunate blast of his secret kink: stubble. It was firm and kind of really awesome and then he parted Conrad's numb lips and nipped at the tip of his tongue, minding his fangs.
Down below, the vampire's hand dug into his hip and pushed in a way that made Conrad half-pant into his mouth, eyes shutting. He hadn't been kissed in months. Kissing was good. The man's lips were cool and almost refreshing, alien and flexible and… sexy?
No. Fuck no, his brain screeched at him, hysterically banging its food-tin against the bars of the prison this monster had locked it in. Conrad roused, grimacing into the kiss but unable to do much else.
No, this wasn't him. He didn't kiss men he'd barely met before, much less scary skeezy dead men when he was working three feet away from more dead men — at least Mr. Maleck was washed – but there was something about the fascination and fear that made him feel like a computer with a fifteen second lag-time. He could see it happening he just couldn't do anything about it. His plain disbelief was keeping him from acting: who broke into a morgue at three a.m. and asked about zombies and then kissed you, and got you to go along with it all?
He would learn the term 'glamour' — fancy speak for low-scale vampire hypnosis — later. At last, the vampire broke away and, thank god, there was air. Conrad sucked it in greedily and ducked his head, tingling from head to toe.
"C-christ," he stuttered. He licked his lips and warmed them with the back of his hand, instinctively blocking the vampire from more. He looked up, eyes wide behind his square glasses. "You're so cold."
"Haven't had a bite inna while," he purred, then leaned in close and nodded behind them, to James Maleck still lying prone on the table. "S'it like makin' out with one'a yer buddies?"
It took Conrad a minute before he realized the vampire meant making out with James Maleck, the dead man he had just cut open two hours ago. He threw up his hands, stopping just short of shoving the bastard and his sick assumptions away.
"No! I — god, I'm not a —" His voice went so high he choked, face reddening. The vampire looked at him like he either didn't know the word or was too afraid to say it because it was true, so Conrad grit out, "I'm not a fucking necrophiliac."
"Your loss." The vampire's eyes glinted evilly. "Sommuv us do a lot more than lie there and rot."
God, he was having trouble getting his breath. Which didn't help, because the vampire was leaning forward again like he'd like to suck it clean out of his body, too close. Too fucking close, and then Conrad's hand was on the vampire's shoulder, stopping him.
"What's your name?" he forced out, needing to stop this train-wreck. When the vampire froze and stared at him, Conrad stuttered, "You people do have, uh, names, don't you?"
"Luce," he said after a moment, in one disgruntled growl.
"As in, Lucifer?" Conrad nearly gagged.
"Naw, as in Luce, what my mum said when I popped out." When Conrad looked like he didn't believe it, the vampire grimaced. "Christ, you are the type that gets more annoyin the more they talk."
"Well," he said angrily, thinking up a really good comeback but still mostly stuck on the whole half-making-out-with-a-vampire thing. Unfazed, Luce picked up the slack with an impatient jerk of his head.
"Aright, mind shuttin' up, then? I hate talkin' while I eat."
Then he bent over again, just like that, except it wasn't to his face it was to his neck and—
"What the hell!"
Conrad reached back and grabbed the first thing his hand fell on, then slashed it across his front as hard and viciously as he could. He felt it hit — felt it catch and cut — and Luce the vampire jerked back, one skinny hand clawed around the dark streak on his sinewy forearm.
It had been a scalpel. Lucky. Conrad's entire body was flooded with relief, but then he heard the hiss.
It wasn't the right kind of hiss: the 'ow fuck aw man I'm gonna kill you' kind of hiss, which he supposed wouldn't have been good anyways. It was the hiss he had heard from men who liked having their ears bitten who subsequently had their ears bitten. It was a 'the spot' hiss, and Luce's curly, indulgent grin left nothing to the imagination on that.
The half-ecstatic tenseness in the vampire's face didn't dissolve when he downright fucking leered at Conrad and bent over and drew his tongue across the cut. The blood, somehow blacker than normal, slipped off the edge of his skinny arm and fell onto the floor, splattering. It was sort of beautiful.
Sort of. Way more terrifying, though. Way, way more fucking terrifying.
"Like a man who knows how ta handle his instruments," Luce murmured, voice rough with something far more dangerous than anger. Conrad quivered in his scrubs, spine liquefied. The vampire surveyed the nearest instrument table like the shiny bits and bobs and pokers were toys. Sex toys.
"Jesus Christ, what are you?" Conrad demanded hoarsely, horrified.
"Yer en'nertainment fer the night," Luce answered, wiping the rest of the blood away like it was nothing. Looking at it, there wasn't a hint that his arm had been cut at all. He straightened and grinned cockily. "C'mon. Just one bite. Feels good. Promise."
"You – you stay away."
Conrad's voice came out low and desperate as he reached backwards again, frantically glancing over his shoulder and then scrabbling for the bone-saw he'd left there, sitting on the tray and still glistening with James Maleck's blood. He grabbed it and scrambled behind the nearest examination table and jerked around, voice going high as he heaved the saw up like an automatic shotgun, heart pounding frantically.
"I said you fucking stay away from me!"
He pinned Luce right on the other side of the madly-shaking saw, like he was keeping the twisted creature there, safely across the room with a table between them. But then there was some kind of tight-chested swoosh like the air had been sucked out of the place right behind him and replaced with something far more solid.
The end of the saw was suddenly empty and Conrad gasped so hard it hurt when stick-thin fingers curled around his shoulders.
"Don't wave somethin' that big around if y'ain't gonna use it, puppy. I jus' hate bein' teased."
He whirled around and Luce pinned him to the nearest examination table. He gasped as the saw was ripped out of his hand and flung across the room, the vampire's devious wolf-face thrust in his, fangs wet and peeking past his lips.
"C'mon, Dr. Achenleck. Jus' wanna take a sample," he said low and nice, like he was afraid Conrad would run away and hide behind his patient and throw shit at him to try and make him leave and that would just be annoying — and what the hell, his name?
"How do you know my name?" Conrad rasped, knowing somewhere in him that if vampires could move that fast, there was no use even struggling. He was going to die here and join James Maleck in the host of supernatural deaths and the Detective would just shake his head and say what a loss. He went quiet-shivery-still, unable to breathe when Luce scratched his clawed fingers slowly down his back.
"Same way I know you'll like this," the vampire whispered into his neck, brushing the collar to his scrubs aside. He bent enough so that Conrad could feel his almost-cool breath in the soft of his throat, which was pulsing rapidly. Luce stopped just as his lips hit skin, making Conrad stiffen and breathe in-in-in.
"And you got a fuckin' name tag. Silly lil' faggot."
Like a crack on the back of his head, Conrad felt an off-color burst of something too embarrassed to be exasperation, but before it could register, the vampire bit into him. The crisp noise was too like cutting into an apple and the pain was so sharp it made his throat close up. The young doctor went stiff as a board against the examination table, crying out and clinging to the vampire's arms. Luce muscled him down before he could struggle, skinny limbs strong as steel girders. The taller man forced Conrad against his emaciated chest and sucked as hard as he could and, with that first movement, some kind of burning pleasure sparked in the young man's veins.
His second noise was softer, more startled, and the third and fourth blended together into some kind of vaguely hopeless keen as the vampire drew from his neck rhythmically, winding his body tighter and tighter. Conrad's hands found grip on the back of the creature's black shirt, clenching and twitching with every suck. He felt the fierce pull change his pulse, make his pulse and sculpt it into something controlled by the creature's warming mouth on his neck.
A little blood dribbled down his throat, slipping under his collar; Luce's soft tongue chased it with a murmured, hazy fuck, then he was drinking again, gentler and slower, lips toying with his throat. The vampire's effusive pleasure bled into his victim through the vibrating wet patch on his skin, making Conrad eyes close in something close to bliss. He phased out of his morgue and out of his skin and went somewhere completely different, where a deep-drum heart-beat ruled all.
He clung to the vampire's bony shoulders with the last of his strength as he felt it end. He grit his teeth, arching in the demon's arms – the last draws on his heavy blood felt like the last convulsive throes of sex, that moment when you don't know whether you're going to die or come. When the vampire drew away, Conrad's head dropped back instantly, a faint moan escaping his lips. The tiles blurred in his vision, water gathering at the edges of his fluttering eyes. Entangled, they slumped over the counter for a moment in the silent morgue, breathing hard.
"Heh. Pansy," Luce snickered when he found his non-breath, licking his lips. "Fuck, I needed that. Thanks fer volunteerin'. And you got low blood sugar, by the way. Might wanna do somethin' about that 'fore you, eh, pass out."
The vampire loosening his arms didn't help the process of getting back on his feet — or maybe Luce really was just that much of a dick.
Conrad hit the floor and didn't even feel the impact: it was like his ribs had been turned into some sort of impact-dampening shield. Or he was already dead.
Even dead, the cool tiles were a godsend. His body tingled madly, drowning in that relieved, hollowed-out feeling that happened just after vomiting up something really awful. He just focused on breathing, breathing, staying there on the tile which seemed to be slipping out from beneath him piece by piece.
He was going to live. Was he going to live?
"Aw, quitcher whimperin'. You'll live."
Conrad groaned and looked up, greeted by Luce's ugly mug right above him as the vampire crouched next to him.
"And don't get any feathers up yer ass about bein' turned, either. Yer safe on that too. I pulled out," Luce informed him with a singularly nasty helpfulness, baring his awful jagged teeth in another grin and slapping his ass. Conrad just groaned and rolled over, realizing he'd just lost quite a lot of blood and that was it. He wasn't going to die, he was just going to wake up on the floor several hours from now with the knowledge that a creature of the night had fed from him. And then slapped his ass.
"F-fuck you," he whispered against the floor, stomach clenching with the effort.
"Naw, honey, not tonight. M'tired," he simpered back, then stood and gave him a nudge of his foot. Conrad oofed as if he'd been struck with a baseball bat and the vampire rolled his eyes. "Chris', what a whiny lil' fag. Give it a few hours and you'll be back up and runnin' marathons. If anyone gives you shit about it just say you fell nose-firs' inna the chloroform. Symptoms fit."
With that, the vampire walked away, coat swishing behind him and shoes tapping on the floor. Floating somewhere outside of his head, Conrad picked up on each of the noises with pristine accuracy until they all swarmed him and chased him back inside his body. He winced then stared blearily at the little space underneath the examination trolleys, waiting for his brain to dribble out of his ears. It was probably just his abused mind picking up on things, but the way the vampire used the terms made him wonder what the man was before he turned into an absurdly rude blood-sucking freak.
"Huh. This is nice."
Conrad looked up, neck creaking with the effort. The vampire, still there, was hefting up the saw he'd threatened him with: a gruesome bone-cutting specimen, old but sturdy and perfect for grisly-thick sternums. He turned it over with a grin; it flashed impressively in the stark morgue light. The look on his face was downright greedy and entirely too privileged.
"Think I'm gonna borrow it."
"That's… state property…" Conrad murmured, voice entirely too small in the cavernous room. His brow knitted with the difficulty of thinking. "They'll… have my ass…"
"Aw, doubt they'll be the first er the last," Luce said smugly, smacking his lips and slinging the saw over his shoulder. "Iffits any consolation, Connie, I'll be back fer what's left of it. An' take an ear t'what I said and eat a fuckin' doughnut before we knock boots again, eh? Maybe one'a them old fashioned cake ones, specially with the — "
Conrad never heard exactly what Luce liked on his (victim's) doughnuts, as he passed out that very moment and woke an hour later to a nasty blood-sugar hangover and a missing saw and a whole lot of camera footage to delete — and it was only Monday.
Fuck his life.