Hello guys ! Here comes the new chapter ! I hope you'll like ! I also would like to say that I have corrected any grammar and spelling mistakes I noticed in the previous chapters ; I am so absent minded, it's terrifying ! T_T I just hope I didn't forget any...
WARNING : language, slash (no lemon in this chapter, though)
A big THANK to all the reviewers, those who put this story on their alert/favorite list. I appreciate it mucho mucho ! ^^
CHAPTER 6 : WITHIN
Frederick sat on one of the old and dusty chairs and checked the room full of new found threats. He knew everyone. Seventy two hours ago, they were still considered as good friends. Seventy two hours ago, he was still eager at coming to the mid-seasonal gathering and hear about potential way outs. But now, seventy two hours later, he was under the impression of having been shoved into the shoes of a spy, or propelled into another dimension. He felt thoughtfully paranoid. When one of the vampires smiled at him or nodded, he would freeze and try the hardest possible to convince himself that the vampire in question did not know of his betrayal – could not know of his betrayal.
The social formalities lasted for almost an hour. Freda was in deep conversation with another woman and Frederick nodded politely to those around him with no strength to move forward or even speak. Eventually, all took a seat. Samuel was the first to speak ; to Frederick's greatest displeasure.
The man cleared his throat to catch the other's attention :
"Ladies and gentlemen, dear fellows. Welcome to our three hundred and sixty fourth meeting. I know it is tradition to make a speech, but I thought that maybe, for this year, we could disregard it."
He stopped speaking and gazed at the assembly with the smile of a predator. Frederick shivered in his chair. After a few seconds of silence, Samuel spoke again :
"Indeed, tonight, I have for you, my friends, some good news !"
The other vampires stopped breathing (in a manner of speaking, of course) and began to talk enthusiastically with each other. Even Freda joined a conversation. Frederick closed his eyes. This was not going to be good.
"A few weeks ago, my sons and I found a village of humans. They call themselves "Shasint" and are probably parts of Gypsy clans. I do not know how they came to have information about the stone of Attamon but it happens that those gypsies do know where the stone is !"
Angry voices rose in the room. Frederick tried to disappear from his spot and melt into the floor. He, however, did not encounter any success.
"They have the stone ! I am positive they have it !" Samuel continued with more vigor now that he had the audience support, "And they hid it from us ! To keep us from becoming humans again !"
More cheers rose.
"My sons and I managed to capture one of them before he could leave with the rest of his clan."
"Where is he ?" asked one of the vampire on a harsh tone
"Dead, unfortunately." Samuel responded a bit too quickly
The audience burst out in rage but Samuel tried to keep them calm :
"Ladies and gentlemen – ladies and gentlemen – please", he said waving his hands, "we tried to make him talk to no avail. Those men are as tough as they are stubborn ! However – however – one of us remained alone with him for a moment and I like to think that perhaps luck was a bit on his side, more than it had been for us anyway. That is why I am now going to give him the lead."
Frederick closed his eyes. Samuel made a sign toward him.
"Frederick, my friend, the stage is now yours. Enlighten us !"
When he reopened his eyes, the audience was staring at him and he wished with all his might that he could evaporate in thin air. As this would not happen, he left his chair and walked toward the podium. Dozens of pairs of eyes were locked on him. The moment he had feared all month was eventually happening and it felt worse than he thought it would. As he could not remain silent forever, he cleared his throat in an attempt to fill the heavy silence of anticipation.
I carry the plight of our community on my shoulders, he thought as Freda smiled encouragingly at him.
After what felt like hours of silence, he began to speak, still unsure of what to do and what to say.
Protect him. Protect Tony, the voice in his head kept repeating.
"Dears friends, Samuel told you the truth : a few weeks ago, I did encounter him and his two sons trying to make a human talk about the stone, as I did remain with said human for about half an hour. I, too, tried to make him talk. And now that I stand here, facing you all, now that I must gaze into your hopeful faces, I wish I could give you extraordinary news, tell you that he confessed everything and that I know the exact location of the stone. I wish I could tell you that this curse is coming to its demise and that soon we will be humans walking under the blazing sun. But that would be a lie."
Frederick stopped for a second. It would be a lie, indeed. The stone no longer existed. The stone was no longer an option to behold. They were definitely doomed and they had to deal with it. In front of him, hopeful faces turned gradually into broken expressions.
He continued :
"What happened during those thirty minutes was this : I tried to make him talk, he remained stubbornly silent. I shook him, he stood perfectly still. Samuel is right, those humans will not betray their own clan, they reek of loyalty. Besides, those "Shasints" are dangerous. Hardly had I turned my back on the man that he threw himself at me and tried to use a pointy stone as a stake. A fight started. In the end, I had no other choice than killing him or it would have been me."
He lowered his face in shame. Outraged voices rose through the silent room.
"I know that by doing so I broke one of our rules concerning the non killing of human beings. I merely defended my own safety. This would be my sole justification."
Silence filled gradually the room once again. When it reached its mute peak, Samuel talked again :
"Then, we need to find another one of those humans."
Frederick shook his head. They were so stubborn, so determined. He would have to find a way to keep them away from any information and thus away from Tony.
"Those men are probably kilometers away from here now." he tried
Samuel stood up, his facial expression hardening.
"A long journey awaits us. We must not waste any more time."
"Samuel..." Frederick began before being cut off
"I will not give up ! The stone is somewhere, Frederick, maybe nearer than we might even think ! And I cannot fathom to not chase those humans down while we are so close !"
Frederick lowered his head. Guilt gripped his heart as he remembered for the billionth time what it meant for the clan and what Frederick was taking out of their reach. A disturbing conversation between him and his conscious started, covering the voices of the other vampires in the room.
"You are an egoistic prick" his conscience said.
"I cannot let him die."
"One life for millions of new chances. It's a fair trade."
"He is innocent."
"Those persons were innocent too when they were snatched from their lives. You too were innocent before those monsters took your life away from you as they did with your wife and children."
"Tony is family."
"But he is not your flesh and blood. He is nothing but a shell, a pass to your freedom. When he dies he will disappear from the surface of the Earth as well as your memories. No one will remember him. There will be no trace of him left whatsoever. Those persons trust you, they have hope ; hope to be able to embrace life in its whole once again, hope to start anew, and you could grant it to them, grant it to you. Just a few words and all this bloodsucking nightmare would be history. Your children would be able to grow up and have the life they deserve. They would be able to find love and start a family of their own. You to be the doctor you always wanted to be. Everything will become possible. Just a few words. Just a few words and it's over. Over."
A few words. He could say "I know where the stone is" and everything would be over. It sounded so simple. Almost too simple. And then what ? He confessed and all would rush toward the Thompson's ? Drag Tony away from his restful sleep to throw him into the flames ? He swallowed.
As he lifted up his head again, he realized the crowd was gathering toward the exit.
Freda answered his questioning gaze : "We are going to try and figure where they could have fled and get more information about the stone. Frederick, this is it. It has finally arrived. Our chance to be mortal again. We are so close, darling. In our long hundred years of wandering, we had never been so close to be successful."
There suddenly was a lump in the male's throat. His wife's ecstatic smile annoyed him to no end. She was just making this harder for him. Yes, he was a traitor. Yes, Gregory would probably serve his head up on a plate for his horrendous actions toward his own family and clan. Yes Anna would cry a river, Rudolph turn his back on him and Freda ask for divorce papers. He was in no need to be reminded of those facts.
His throat was too sore to allow him to speak so he just smiled weakly and kissed Freda's forehead. The less he would show, the better.
A noise of metal broke the disturbing silence of the bedroom. Still spread on the bed, Gregory lifted up his gaze to see Tony taking a bottle of vodka out of his dresser. When the human opened it and brought it to his lips, the vampire sighed, desperate.
"Really, Tony ? Vodka ? At this hour of the night ?"
No answer came – too busy as he was swallowing the content of the bottle like he would have done with water – and the vampire sighed some more.
"You know I hate that."
"Don't give a shit !" answered casually the human before taking another sip of the transparent liquid.
"You poison yourself ! First you destroy your sweet smell with that disgusting brown thing and now this !"
Tony met Gregory's eyes, a flash of anger in his : "I am not a flower, thank you for the "sweet smell" ! If you want a "sweet smell" go get yourself a girl !"
Gregory shrugged : "Yours do me just fine !"
Silence filled up the room for a few more minutes during which Tony drank several gulps of vodka. The vampire watched the movement the Adam apple made as the transparent liquid passed beneath it. The regular movement of waves as well as the sounds Tony's throat emitted whenever the liquid entered it were fascinating. And disturbing.
He cleared his throat.
"You gonna get drunk !" Gregory warned with a scowl
"You gonna get a chance to fuck me at your will !"
"No thank you !"
Tony turned to face the vampire, surprise lightening his features : "I thought that's what you wanted ?!"
"With this thing running down your veins ?" Gregory began disdainfully, "No thank you. Your sweet blood gets polluted and you're no longer comestible. A pity, really."
Tony raised his eyebrows, a small smile gracing his lips. He walked toward the bed with a predatory determination in his eyes. He sat on the vampire's lap, a leg at each side of his hips. Gregory checked him up and down with annoyance.
"Don't wanna get high with me ?" whispered the human in his ear, the warm breath making him shiver.
Gregory pulled a bit away to look at him in the eye. He was so beautiful. Such beauty ought not to even be legal. For a split second, he thought to have seen the blue of Tony's eyes being replaced with ruby red diamond. He shook his head. Tony's alcoholic state was affecting him more than he gave it credit for.
"What ?" asked Tony with an amused smile, "did I take your breath away ?"
Gregory frowned at the poor pun : "No, babe, that happened a few centuries ago."
Tony did not hear the hurt in the vampire's voice. He took another gulp of vodka and put his free hand on the other's chest.
"You are so cold" he found it smart to announce
"And you rather clever tonight" he answered before snatching the bottle from Tony's hands who protested. "Enough, boy. I'm not particularly keen on having you getting sick on me."
Tony pouted : "You're such a spoilsport."
Gregory's eyebrows shot to the middle of his forehead. Tony looked adorable when he pouted. And when he was drunk (or in any weakened state), his American accent slipped over his Scottish one, making the sounds of his mouth a perfect match to his looks. He pinched his cheek for good measure.
"Hey !" Tony said before rubbing his now red cheek, still pouting.
He let his head fall on the vampire' shoulder and began to doze against his cold neck.
Gregory looked at the opened window. The night was bright and thousands of stars enlightened the marine sky. It conveyed a very peaceful atmosphere. With Tony in his arms, he saw the nighttime differently; it felt like Time had stopped to envelope both of them in a comforting bubble, warm and caring. It was as if Night opened a portal just for them, and for a few hours they were in another interval, deprived of any living (or unliving) creatures but them.
The world was theirs.
Thirty minutes later, Tony was snorting like a baby, spread all over Gregory's body. The vampire had his eyes locked on the ceiling ; the bedside lamp being the only source of light in the room. He put his hand on the boy's back and began to rub circles with his index finger. He remembered their first year, when everything was still so blurred and frightening. At the beginning, he had only wanted the boy's blood and it was – at the beginning – thoughtfully satisfactory. Months passed and his needs changed. He began to feel cravings he was unable to understand. Of course, he had always noticed how beautiful the human was, but that was not a reason to feel the way he was beginning to feel. He came, after all, from a time where physical attraction between two boys was seen as a high case of Devil possession and faced death sentences. Besides he was not even aware of the possibility to feel this kind of things - aka desire for a boy - before. He remembered blaming Tony. He remembered the fear and his total ignorance on the matter ; to want to do something but to ignore how. Tony was a 21st century kid, he knew better. But Tony was as terrified as he was, maybe even more since he knew for a fact that he would be the guinea pig in the end. And he had been. The first time he had felt Tony's lips on his own was pure bliss. He still remembered the tingle of warmth and softness that followed, the silk hair running through his fingers, the rapid breath of the boy. He had felt alive for the first time in three hundred and sixty four years. His desire for Tony had brought him back to life, awoken his numb spirit from its cold grave. He remembered the first time he had touched him ; this strange, unknown yet so addictive connection. There were things they would not do, mostly because they never talked about it. Gregory brought the subject once but the scandalized expression on Tony's face dissuaded him from reiterating the request ever again.
"Not gone, yet ?" articulated a sleepy mouth against his tee shirt.
Gregory lowered a bit his head, Tony was looking at him, still dazed from sleep.
"I thought you were sleeping !"
"I was. And then my brain somehow remembered you were supposed to be home before your father noticed your absence."
Gregory winced : "I think it's too late for that."
"So, does that mean you're staying ?" Tony's eyes were full of hope as he locked them into the vampire's.
"Ow ! Bloodbag !" he purred tenderly, "That is so cute ! Really, you should stop pretending you're not madly in love with my wonderful being !"
Tony gawked, utterly outraged.
"I am not madly in love with you." he interjected
"Okay, you are just filled with admiration for my irresistible body !
Tony looked on the verge of crying out of despair : "Sure you still fit your boots ?"
Gregory ignored his remark as he exclaimed : "Look ! You drooled on my shirt !"
"I was dreaming !" Tony tried to defend himself
"Of me !" he replied with his best charming smile
Tony turned red.
"No ! If I were supposed to dream of all the persons I drooled on..."
"Tony" Gregory cut," it's very important for your future that you never finish that sentence."
The human smiled : "Jealous ?"
"You're mine." Gregory answered with a seriousness in his voice that made Tony shiver
"You wish..." he whispered
"Why won't you just admit it ?!"
"Admit what ?"
"That you're crazy on me !"
"Because it's not true !" Tony complained, his face still wearing a very pretty shade of red
"Like Hell it's not !"
Tony did not answer. Instead, he turned over to lay on his back on Gregory.
"I'm your mattress, now ?!" asked the vampire with a cocky eye
"Nope. You are too cold for that and as hard as a rock. That ain't comfortable." Tony replied.
"Should I remind you that in certain situations you can be as hard as a rock as I am ?" Gregory purred
"And sexually obsessed" Tony finished
Gregory smiled and patted his head : "Only with you !"
"Is that supposed to make me feel better ?"
"By the way," he said, joining his hands with Tony's who did not protest. "I read this book about the chakras you lent me. Did you know you had one near your anus ?"
Tony closed his eyes in pure agony.
"I hate you."
"You sound tense" the vampire began, "your energy must be running bad. Do you want me to help you relax with that chakra of yours ?"
"Zip it or I kill you !" Tony said between clenched teeth
"You wouldn't dare !"
"Say the word once more, and you'll become Mr Heap of Ashes!"
"Such innocence !" the vampire said, shaking his head disapprovingly
"You're a nightmare..." Tony whined
"My bloodbag", Gregory whispered fondly.
Thousands of miles away from town, in a remote part of the Irish countryside, a cloaked silhouette walked towards a small caravan. The door turned on its hinges and he disappeared inside.
The interior was scarcely furnished. There were only a few cushions down the wall, a table with a candle and yellowed papers, a stool and patched up sofa. An old woman sat on the stool. She had a quill in her wrinkled hand with which she was scrambling strange words on one of the papers. The man cleared his throat to announce his presence.
"We found Irvan. He is dead."
The woman did not meet his eyes : "Then the vampire must know."
"What are we going to do ?"
The old woman opened her eyes. They were entirely white. She looked into his without seeing him and yet it seemed she was reading into his soul.
He missed him. He really did. Last night he had wanted to appear strong and detached by refusing the vampire's advances but now he starved of his touch. Maybe he should have let Gregory help him with his problems of spiritual energy...
His arrogant, conceited, irresistible bloodsucker of a boyfriend.
"Mr Thompson ? Mr Thompson ?"
Tony raised his head to meet his teacher's worried expression.
"I personally think your pipette is sufficiently filled with acid solution unless you disapprove of the school choice of table material and wish to change it."
Tony checked said table : the pipette that was supposed to be filled with chloroauric acid was on the dangerous verge to overflow on his gloved hands and glass table. He swallowed and put the now empty beaker on the table. That was one of the reasons why he hated chemical classes, he could not allow himself to get lost in his mind like he did in literature or history.
"Tony ? Can you give me the sample ?" asked Emma, his chemical partner
"The sample ?" she tried again
"Oh ! Sure !" he answered, feeling like an idiot
"Thank you !"
He distractedly watched Emma as she poured the content of the pipette into another one. She had chestnut and curly hair and green eyes. She was rather small and thin. She smiled at him and her green eyes lit up. Her eyes were nice, but Gregory's were nicer.
They are beautiful.
He shook his head. He really was turning into a prepubescent female.
Why did I reject him last night ?
His silent question was answered one hour later, in gym class – martial art class to be precised. He had never been the athletic type and his disastrous exploits on the subject put him at the top of the list of all the potential dangers of the school, just under the slippery floor of the male bathroom and the broken stair of the second floor. As very few students wanted to die painfully – or just die – very few teamed with him, at least willingly.
Today, they were supposed to learn how to properly kick.
And today, just for Tony's luck, he was teamed with Elton.
When I say my life could not get any worse, this is not a challenge.
Practicing Martial Art with a guy who dreamed to send him to the morgue everyday was probably the worst that could have happened to him. Because Elton had now a legal reason to murder him. Settled on the tatami, the older boy looked at him with a carnivorous glare – and not the same carnivorous glare Gregory would give him in certain situations. Tony swallowed nervously. At the other side of the room, Nigel sent him a look that he translated by : "I loved you, mate. RIP".
He swallowed some more. He was in danger.
In real danger.
"In position everyone" called the teacher, "bow before your partner."
Tony bowed very stiffly. Elton imitated him with a dirty smirk. The teacher blew her whistle and his last journey to death began. Elton wasted no time ; he attacked him right away, kicking him in the stomach. Tony flew to the floor, respiration cut. His stomach burned and it was just the beginning. He slowly stood up and tried to kick him like the teacher had shown them but he just succeeded in kicking the air. Which did not the other boy when he hit his jaw with his feet. Tony fell again, tears in his eyes. His jaw was probably broken and it hurt like hell. He lifted his head up to see the other boy grinning at him.
"Oops !" he said with a smile, "didn't hurt too much, did it ? You're such a fragile little flower ! How d'ya do it with that boyfriend of yours ? Must be afraid to break you when he buggers you !"
Elton laughed. Tony saw red. What was wrong with them to always be comparing him to something springlike ? The pain in his jaw and stomach disappeared instantly. His eyebrows touched and he stood up again. The other kept laughing and laughing. The room seemed to have faded, only the two of them remained. His laughter echoed in Tony's head until nothing left was heard by his ears. A strange torrent of energy ran through him. He felt in danger, but he felt deadly. A force he was unable to comprehend was taking over his all being. Elton noticed it and stopped laughing.
"So what ? Ready for round 2 already ?"
Tony stayed silent.
"Let's see if you learned yo previous lessons !" Elton muttered with his usual smirk
He raised his fist in the air. But when he prepared for the collision with Tony's face, the latter blocked his fist in his hand and twisted it. Elton gasped out of pain. Shocked eyes settled on Tony. There was something about him. Something that told him to run away from the boy as soon as he could.
"Little slut" spat Elton to put on a brave face
He tried again to punch him but Tony avoided him with ease. Too fast for Elton to be able to anticipate anything, the blond boy proceeded to spin and kicked him in the face making him fly over the room to land at the other side under the stunned gazes of the teacher and the students.
A heavy silence filled up the room. Everyone had stopped their practice to stare at Tony who was panting on the tatami and Elton, crashed on the floor like a common rag-doll.
Tony tried to understand what had just happened. For a moment he had almost lost control of his body. No, better : he had found a new way to control his body. All those sophisticated moves he saw on TV but always failed to copy had become, for a small amount of time, natural to him. He looked around. Everyone was staring at him apart from the teacher who was helping Asshole number one back to his feet. He had a bleeding nose and a huge bruise on the cheek.
I did that ! I did that !
"Whao ! That was amazing, mate !" congratulated Flint who had just arrived by his side with his twin.
"Yeah ! Where did you learn to do that ?"
I don't have a clue.
The twins were obviously expecting an answer.
Find something. Anything.
"Umh... I don't know ! I was afraid I guess !"
Ok, that was lame.
Judging by the skeptical look in the twins' eyes they were thinking the exact same thing.
"And so fear turned you into Bruce Lee ? My ! I should watch horror movies more often !" Flint laughed
They all laughed together. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Elton pretending to cut his throat with his thumb, looking straight into his eyes. On his lips he could read : "You're a dead man, Thompson !"
He swallowed. Maybe he should have let Asshole kill him.
"Mr Thompson ?" called the teacher "what you did today was very impressive !"
"Oh, erm... Thank you, professor !"
"Did you take sport classes during the holidays ?"
Not a single one.
"Yes, Madam !"
"That's really good. I see you on Friday, then Mr Thompson !"
Tony nodded and made his way out. Just before he existed the room, he remembered how badly he had bashed Asshole.
"Uhm, Professor Berkeley ?"
"Yes, dear ?"
"Is Mr Cunningham going to be alright ?"
"You broke his nose and he has a bad ecchymosis on the face but he will survive !"
Oh my God ! I did that ?!
"It's a wonder really you don't have a single scratch ! Usually you're the one heading up to the Nurse !"
Yeah, I know... Wait, what ?
The teacher had left the room. At this precise moment he realized he was not feeling any pain, either in his stomach or his jaw. He approached one of the wall mirrors to check himself. To his biggest astonishment, there was no trace of a bruise on his face. Yet he was certain to have felt his bone break. He frowned then shrugged.
He must have imagined it.
"But we cannot wait !" the man argued, "We do not have time ! Soon the Stone will be stirring from its long sleep. It is just a matter of days before its full power is revealed to the enemy."
"It is too late" the old woman calmly said, "The Stone has already awoken."
"The Guardian could not prevent it ! The duty of the Guardian is to protect the Stone, not to control it."
"Then the Guardian failed."
"The Stone has not been destroyed. Therefore the Guardian did not fail."
"There must be something we could do to avoid a massacre. If the enemy knows of the Shell, we are doomed."
"The Shell is no longer the only one."
The man frowned : "What do you mean ?"
"The Power has been transferred to the most uncommon recipient."
"Are you implying that the Stone has shared its Power ?"
"It has. Without knowing, of course. Just a small portion of its limitless capacity, but enough to change everything, I am afraid."
The man sighed : "We should never have intervened and let this Energy the way it was."
The woman nodded slightly : "Maybe" she whispered
Meanwhile, at the Edinburgh Airport, a young woman was waiting at the Customs service.
"Enjoy your stay, Miss !" said the agent who had checked her passport.
"Thank you", she replied with a smile as she passed the door of the newly accepted guests in the country.
TO BE CONTINUED