Hello again. We're almost done with this story. I think I've got another chapter and an epilogue yet. For those of you who just can't stand it and need to know what happens without complete spoilers check out Vladacula Bonus Features.
Danny walked into his home and closed the door again behind him. "Vlad!" There was no answer. "Vlad?" The quiet was an eerie kind. Danny started up the steps to investigate. He stopped outside the closed bedroom door. "Vlad…?"
When there was no answer he cautiously eased the door open.
Vlad was sitting on the edge of the bed, his back facing the door. "The windows downstairs are uncovered."
"What? How would you-" Danny covered his mouth and stepped further into the room. "Are you alright?" He walked around the bed.
Vlad turned away from him although there was no hiding it. Half of his face was marred with black flesh.
Danny's doctor instinct claimed him. He sank onto his knees in front of him. "Let me see." He reached for Vlad.
"There is nothing you can do," Vlad argued, brushing Danny's hand away.
Danny caught his wrist. "Does it hurt?" He looked over the charred knuckles.
"Not as badly as it appears."
"I have some ointment in the-" Danny stood.
Vlad stopped him. "They are no ordinary burns. There is nothing that will make them heal faster except for blood."
"Vlad, I'm so sorry," Danny said sadly. "I thought you'd sleep all day. I should have-"
"It is not your fault," Vlad reassured. "I was being nosey."
Danny's mood didn't lift. "I should have anticipated it."
"Daniel, it will heal in due time," Vlad insisted.
"There is nothing I can do to help?" Danny asked. "I could let you-"
"No, the next time I drink from you will be the last." His uninjured hand touched Danny's face and moved back into his hair. "Now go."
Danny nodded somberly. "I will be downstairs."
"We will go to the manor for the transformation."
Danny paused. "Vlad, I'm scared."
"I know, Daniel. I will be with you through it all."
"A sweeter sentiment has never been said," Danny replied.
Vlad smiled though it seemed to hurt.
Danny offered a careful kiss to the kinder side of Vlad's face. The vampire sighed, closing his eyes. Danny straightened and walked out of the room quietly. He walked down the steps and turned into the small annex off the entry way.
He stood there a long moment. Danny stared out the window to a small rosebush residing between the two houses. It looked beautiful in this late eve light. The red flowers gleaming in the final hour of light.
His mind was incredibly chaotic. Should he be doing something? What does a man about to die do?
Danny looked back at his trunk then to the table by the stairs. He turned and crossed to it with a sudden urgency. His mind was clear, what he needed was mapped out before him.
He rummaged the drawers for his box of matches. He didn't bother to close the drawers before moving to his trunk. He fell onto his knees, set the box on the floor and released the latches. The lid swung open, knocking against the table, its owner too busy with his search to mind.
Danny found what he was looking for and took it up with the matches. He passed through the narrow hall to the swinging door of his kitchen. It beat at the doorway with the force he had given it.
Danny threw the book onto the cloth covered table, the matches onto the iron stove. He forced his way around the chairs and clutter that had never seemed to be in his way before to get to the cellar door.
Danny had torn through his home. Clothes from his trunk, scattered across the floor, drawers nearly falling out of their shells, a violent door still swinging on its hinges, chairs shoved this way and that among a once neatly organized kitchen. His wave of commotion came back up the dark staircase, carrying an armful of kindling.
Danny pulled the handle of the stove, its hinges squeaked as the heavy door opened. The small cuts of wood thudded into the belly. Still on his haunches he turned, reaching up onto the table for the leather bound notebook and box of matches.
He tore a page and lit a match. He sank to sit on the cold floor, letting the two strangers meet. The fire crawled up the paper. It devoured the words Danny had collected in all his years of classes until all that was left was a hopeless scrawl of letters. Both went into the stove to melt against the logs.
Danny tore a group of pages from their bindings. They perished just as easily.
Sketches of people, of nameless organs, of life and limb, victims to the same monster.
The room started to fill with smoke. Danny stretched up to adjust the flue. The buttons of his jacket caught on the pages, turning them for him to the sketch of the vampire upstairs.
Danny fell back. He looked down and with a soft sigh traced the lines that made the image. He closed the book and caressed the bindings before tossing it into the fire and closing the stove door.
He climbed back onto his feet and walked back into the front room.
He felt more at ease now. His good-byes to his past were said, what laid ahead was a new adventure. A smile pulled at Danny's lips.
Dark finally came and Vlad appeared on the steps. His face healed. He walked around the banister and down the hall.
Danny was raking the ashes to keep the fire fed.
"Are you ready, Daniel?"
Danny looked up. He stood calmly. Then with just as much sobriety took up an oil lamp and threw it onto the floor at the mouth of the stove. The oil spilled over the kitchen tiles along with broken glass.
Vlad didn't move.
Danny rearranged chairs and pulled curtains to make kindling out of his kitchen.
Vlad had no comment.
"I don't want them to worry about me," Danny explained anyway. "If I'm dead they will mourn me and move on easier than if I disappear." He picked up his coat and followed Vlad down the hall, knocking lamps over as he passed.
Behind the swinging kitchen door came the whoosh of hungry and unleashed flame finding fresh fare.
In the carriage they sat on the same bench. Danny watched out the window, listening to the sound of the horse's hooves. Vlad took his hand. "I will not leave you."
Danny looked towards him with a nervous smile. Vlad leaned across the seat between them to give a reassuring kiss on the temple. It was a wordless exchange and did its job.
Danny squeezed the hand in his and moved closer to lay his head on Vlad's shoulder. The ride seemed to stretch on forever but Vlad's hand never left Danny's. Not even as he lead them through the impressive doors and up the grand stairway.
Danny stood in the middle of a small sitting area beside a pair of large glass doors. Vlad went to work lighting several lamps, turning the intrusive blue light of the moon into a soft glow of candle fire.
Danny walked towards the balcony doors to look out at the night sky. It stretched forever onward like a blanket wrapping the Earth.
He felt Vlad's hands on his shoulders. Vlad leaned down and kissed his skin softly. "I can do nothing for the pain. That would require a trance."
Danny nodded in understanding. Vlad's fingers caressed the other side of his neck. "I am not hungry. Death will not come quickly," he continued to warn.
Danny swallowed thickly.
"I may be gone when you awake but I promise to watch over you in sleep. You are in my care now, doctor," Vlad said lightly with a soft smile.
Danny sighed and closed his eyes. He relaxed against the vampire, leaning back into him.
"You are ready then?"
The brunette reached for Vlad's hand. Arms wrapped around Danny's chest, their fingers intertwined. "If you stare into the abyss…" Danny gasped hard as teeth bit into him. He gripped hard at Vlad's hand and began to struggle.
Vlad held him tighter in his arms. He wanted to sooth him, to comfort him, but to stop drinking would only prolong Danny's suffering. He put his hand on Danny's heart, feeling it beat with its panic.
Danny's body trembled, a sound left his lips as Death laid theirs upon him. His head hung heavy, and body turned boneless.
Vlad loosened his hold. Danny's knees bent, he fell to one side, being caught by Vlad's arm. Vlad reached around him to move the sleeve of his free arm up to his elbow. He put his own skin to his mouth and cringed at the wound he forced on himself.
The moonlight rained in through the vast windows, catching every shadow of Danny's graying features. Red blood dripped into an unconsciously agape mouth. Vlad spoke softly to the room that had no ears to hear him. "The abyss stares into you."
Slowly color came back to Danny and Vlad gave his wrist time to heal. He slid his arm under Danny and effortlessly hoisted his lifeless body up. He turned away from the window and laid Danny onto the bed.
He sank down onto the edge, sitting at Danny's side. He bent down, kissing the brunette's forehead. Vlad touched a hand to Danny's cheek, watching gray skin turn pale. He reached down taking Danny's hand in his. "You will come back," Vlad said. He leaned down again. "Please do not linger in death too long."
He laid Danny's hand on his chest and stood from the bed, walking to the door.
Danny groaned. He had a splitting headache and the light of the candles made it burn. The sound of his own painful voice rang in his ears. The only comforting thing was the soft bed he laid on. He strained to open his eyes. The light and shadows dancing on the walls, pulsing with the flicker of the flames.
He groaned again and tried to sit up. The rustle of the blanket around him sounded harsh enough to wake the dead.
A pain settled in his chest and hunger in his stomach. He called for Vlad, his voice again hurting his own ears.
He struggled on his feet, his joints protesting. He braced a hand on the bed and tryingly used it to step towards the door.
Danny's legs collapsed and he fell to the floor, the horrible screech of his voice still calling out.
Finally Vlad came. He looked surprised to see Danny where he was. "Daniel, you're weak," he scolded, "you mustn't push yourself. Come." He led him back to bed.
"Where did you go?" Danny asked.
Vlad kneeled in front of him. "You will be upset… but, you must drink, it's the only way."
Vlad turned towards the door, calling, "You may come in now."
The door opened a little further a woman walked into the room. Her expression was blank, eyes vacant. "She's in a trance, she won't feel a thing," Vlad assured and took Danny's hands pleadingly.
"No, Vlad! I-"
"Daniel, you are dying," Vlad said frankly. "This is the only way to survive."
"But…" Danny looked back at the girl.
"She is one person among millions. They will always be one out of millions."
"But she could be the one that means something," Danny argued.
Vlad shook his head. "She means no more to the world than you or I. You are a man of science, you understand the law of-"
"Medicine," Danny corrected, "I was a man of medicine."
"Medicine," Vlad agreed. He searched Danny's blue eyes. "Life does not spring forth from nowhere. Something has to sacrifice itself. Her life in exchange for yours." Vlad stood, his hands slipping from Danny's. There was no more protest.
Vlad walked towards the woman. He stood behind her. "My friend is very shy but he has a secret for you. If you lean in close he might tell it to you."
She moved towards Danny. She dropped down in front of him much like Vlad had.
Danny shook his head. "No. I can't."
Vlad rushed to his side. "Daniel, please." He took Danny's hand in his and with as much gentleness as one leading a fawn to slaughter he caressed her neck, persuading it closer to Danny. "Don't come this close just to die in my arms."
Danny met his eye. "She won't feel it?"
Vlad nodded. "Not a thing."
Danny closed his eyes and leaned forward until his lips touched warm skin. Something primal took over then. It was dark and swirling, drowning him in a feeling of complete surrender to the beast he now was.
He felt the hot surge of blood flowing down his throat. He took it with a greed he never knew. He rocked the dying girl in his arms, desperately clinging to anything human.
It was amazing.
It was incredible.
It was the most terrifying thing in this dark and horrible world.
He dropped her. She fell like a heap of bones and flesh onto the floor. Danny fell back on the bed. Such pain resided in his chest and now in his stomach. He just managed to roll to the end of the bed before something came plummeting up his throat.
Vlad stroked his back. "Everything will be okay. You just drank too long."
Danny's fingers curled around the bedpost. Coughing and spitting onto the floor. He pulled himself up and flung himself into the vampire's arms with crying sobs. "What have I done?"
Vlad shushed him and stoked his black hair. He kissed the top of Daniel's head. "I am here. I will always be here."
Danny curled up like a terrified child into Vlad's embrace.
Vlad pulled Danny closer still and laid back on the bed. He caught the brunette's face in his hands and coaxed him down for a kiss. He tasted of blood and bile but Vlad didn't stop.
Danny tiredly laid his head on Vlad's chest. He smiled weakly and moved up to put his face in Vlad's neck, finding it warm and inviting as apposed to the dead cold it had been when he was alive.
Danny didn't even ponder it. How the dead are alive to one another. He accepted it and fell in love all over again.
Her blood had been cure to the pain. The room stilled; all its horrible visions fell to what they were in reality. It was like a child needing the light to scare away the monsters.
They were the monsters now. Danny smiled down at Vlad. His senses were brilliantly anew. Colors, feelings, touch, taste, it was all so unfathomable. He could hear Vlad's voice before he said a word, could feel the heat of the lamp across the room, see the light through his eye lids.
For all its noise, the wind outside, the creak of old floors, the rustle of bedding, the room was without life. It mattered not though, there were much more pressing things to explore.
Vlad's hands were an amazing sensation, his teeth no longer a deterrent but instead spurred on feelings of familiarity and almost warmth.
Among pale yellow satin, with a dead body on the floor, they explored this new world of immortal love.