?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Outride the Sun, Part Five




PART FIVE: PASSION


After that, they give up on the pretense of—well. Whatever they were pretending to be to each other. For each other. Whatever it is, it’s gone.

Leonard still can’t figure out how to tell his friends about Jim, but that’s another matter.

They respect his distance, such as it is. He still goes on patrol with them most nights, pretends like everything is normal—well, as normal as things get on a Hellmouth, anyway, still goes to class and in general, he goes through the motions.

The only time he feels something resembling—well, something--is when he’s with Jim.

He supposes this means something, but damned if he knows what it is. Or cares, for that matter.

~

“Tomorrow’s Halloween,” Nyota says one day in the library, beaming happily.

Leonard blinks at her, then gives her a ghost of a smirk. “Never thought you’d be one for costume parties,” he says. “Is there a cat costume you’re dying to try out? Please say yes.”

For a moment, he thinks Spock is scowling at him, but he blinks and then the Vulcan is his usual, reserved self.

Nyota laughs. “Hardly,” she says. “I’m thinking a girls’ night. Popcorn, ice cream, and nail polish.”

“Count me in!” Gaila says in delight, hugging her friend and putting her head on Nyota’s shoulder. Nyota presses her head back in solidarity, and they part, grinning.

“Halloween is like Christmas for vampires,” Hikaru explains to Leonard and Spock, who sport similar looks of bemusement. “All ‘good will for your fellow demon’ and stuff.”

“Ve get break,” Pavel sighs happily, collapsing on the library’s couch. “For little vhile.”

Leonard nods. “Cool. Everyone got plans, then?”

“Nae yet,” Scotty says. “Easy tae fix, though. Who’s up for a wee party at me place? A boys’ night, if’n ye like?”

Hikaru and Pavel immediately raise their hands.

Leonard and Spock do not.

“I’m—not up for socializing,” Leonard says. Everyone gives him sympathetic looks. “Don’t look like that. I’m just…tired.”

“Sorry,” Gaila apologizes, and hugs him as well. He puts a companionable arm around her shoulders, squeezing her affectionately. He hates himself a little for lying to her; she’s a good friend and doesn’t deserve it.

“I require—solitude,” Spock says more woodenly than is his wont. “And meditation.” His jaw clenches visibly, and without another word he leaves.

They stare after him. “Okay,” Leonard says after a moment, “was that weirder than usual or not?”

“Wery veird,” Pavel agrees.

Nyota looks in the direction he left, looking—strangely hurt. “Must be a—Vulcan—thing,” she says lamely. Shrugging, she forces herself back into good cheer, beaming at Gaila. “Nail polish, huh?”

“You should see this purple, it’ll be perfect for you,” the Orion says eagerly, and Leonard loses track of the conversation. He has his own plans to set in motion, now.

“You sure about this, Bones?” Jim asks when he tells him what he’s thinking.

“One night to be something like—like normal?” Leonard asks. “Yeah. Yeah, I am.”

Jim twists his mouth a little, eyes flashing gold just for a second. Leonard knows exactly what he’s thinking. We’re not normal. Never will be. He looks at Leonard for a long moment, then shakes his head and gives him a wry smile. “Alright. Just. Y’know. We’ll do this, but we’ll do it my way. Okay?”

Leonard frowns, but it’s clear Jim’s not going to budge on this. “Okay,” he says.

~

This is how Jim meets him just after sunset the next night.

Leonard doesn’t bother going home after school; this time of year sunset comes early enough that he can put in a couple of hours of homework after class and get it done, and then Jim arrives on his bike.

“You ready for this, Bones?” Jim asks with a crooked grin.

“I guess,” Leonard answers. He stares at the helmet that Jim proffers to him. “What’s this?”

“A helmet. Duh.” Jim looks amused, but his eyes are surprisingly serious. “It’s for you. Safety first, and all that.”

“Uh huh.” Leonard puts it on his head, fitting the straps under his chin. He feels more than slightly ridiculous as he straddles the seat of the bike behind Jim: a human boy in a light blue button-down with the sleeves rolled up and khaki pants, and hell, a back-pack, and the vampire in his beaten dark jeans and t-shirt and leather jacket, worn to buttery softness.

“Buckle up, Bones,” Jim says, revving the motor, and almost instinctively Leonard’s arms go around the vampire’s waist. His grip tightens as they speed up, driving through the city.

Leonard’s never seen it at night, not like this. They cross the Bay Bridge, lights glowing on the water and the air brisk around them as they speed, two of hundreds of people crossing at this time of night.

And then they are in Berkeley, and Jim drops the bike to a more sedate speed as they turn into a residential neighborhood, all neat and colorful rowhouses. He parks on a side street and turns the motor off; it depowers with a faint whistle. Jim dismounts with his accustomed leonine grace and Leonard follows awkwardly, limbs heavy and cramped from the long ride. When he stands, he’s aware of the cool dampness of sweat under his shirt beneath his bag, and he removes the helmet with feigned nonchalance.

Which, of course, Jim sees straight through. The vampire grins at him widely with simple affection, his expression open and eager as a puppy. “You okay, Bones?” he wants to know.

“Yeah. M’fine,” Leonard says. Jim leads him to the third rowhouse from the end; it’s brick, painted a light cheerful blue.

“I rent,” Jim explains as he unlocks, turning the lights on. “It’s not much—I don’t keep stuff, really.” He sounds almost apologetic as Leonard steps inside.

He’s not sure what he was expecting of a vampire’s lair, but this—isn’t it. There’s a pair of bookcases filled with real paper books, and a beaten-looking couch that looks like it was rescued from abandonment at some point in its long life. There’s a vidscreen and a ‘player, and a box of vid-chips in a messy pile. There’s a small kitchen with a refrigerator and a replicator and no dishes or cooking equipment, and—

“The bedroom’s up here,” Jim says, nodding towards the stairs, and Leonard follows him, swallowing with what he fears is an audible noise. If Jim hears it—and surely he does with his inhuman hearing—he acts like he doesn’t.

The second floor holds a bedroom with a pair of mattresses stacked on the floor, sheets and blankets messily made up, and a chest of drawers. There’s a closet with its door open, displaying a half dozen shirts on hangars. Discarded clothing litters the floor, and Jim kicks them to the side with embarrassment. “I, er, forgot to clean earlier. Sorry. Oh,” he continues hurriedly, “the bathroom’s back here, and uh, this room really isn’t anything.” This last is a small room probably meant to function as a storage room or possibly a child’s bedroom; right now it holds a rug and a computer on the floor and that’s it.

“And that’s the grand tour,” Jim concludes, rubbing the back of his neck. “So. Ah. What do you think?”

Leonard resists the urge to laugh, and fails miserably.

“What?” Jim looks confused, but his lips curve upwards in response to Leonard’s amusement.

“Nothing. It’s just—I guess—it’s just so normal!” Leonard says, still laughing.

“Yeah, well. I don’t do crypts.” Blue eyes dark with affection and amusement, and somehow they are very close together, faces inches apart. “Bones?”

Leonard closes his eyes, opening his lips slightly, and there’s the cool feel of Jim’s mouth on his, tongue darting within his mouth to caress and tease. Leonard inhales deeply, because for a moment it seems like his stomach is dropping out from under him as Jim deepens the kiss, holding him close.

“Bones,” Jim murmurs against his lips as Leonard snakes his hands under the vampire’s shirt, trailing over firm muscle and cool skin. “Ah!” His hips nudge forward almost involuntarily, and Leonard is aware of his growing erection against Jim’s hard, jean-clad thigh.

He’s hyper-aware of the bulge inches away, too, and he swears the air is buzzing around them.

“Jim?” he asks, only he’s not sure what he’s asking. The vampire answers by walking him backwards to the bedroom, then guiding him gently down to the mattress and the nest of bedclothes. Their lips meet again, and Jim’s cool hands are roaming over him expertly, as if he somehow knows exactly where Bones wants to be touched, and when. The vampire tugs at the hem of his shirt, and Leonard assists in pulling it up and over his head, tossing it aside.

Jim looks at him for a long moment—long enough that Leonard starts to feel self-conscious. He thinks ruefully of Hikaru’s defined muscles, of the neat density of Spock’s compact build, and once again regrets his own lankiness.

“God, Bones,” the vampire murmurs, and then he’s kissing Leonard again, hands roaming over him with an intense possession that’s enough to make him whimper with relief and hunger all at once.

Leonard is so hard he wonders if it’s possible to die.

Jim pulls back, gazing at him curiously. “Have you ever done this before?”

“No.” The single word comes out as barely more than a croak. “No,” he says again, more clearly this time.

“Huh.” Jim is frowning, looking thoughtful. “We don’t have to—“

“The hell you say!” The words are out before Leonard can stop them, and he feels his face burning as Jim grins at him.

“It’s okay, Bones,” he says. “I just wanted to—y’know. Check.” He licks his lips thoughtfully, and somehow that simple gesture is painfully erotic. “I mean—I haven’t—it’s been a long time—You’re so young.” Jim looks ridiculously fond then, and Leonard would be irked if it weren’t so transparent that the vampire wants to be careful with him.

A Master vampire. Careful. With a teenage boy who just so happened to be friends with a Slayer.

A nervous laugh escapes him then, and Jim frowns. “Right,” the vampire says, drawing the word out long and low. “This isn’t happening.” To Leonard’s disappointment, he rolls over, staring at the ceiling. “Thirty-four, fifty-five, eighty-nine, one hundred and forty-four, two hundred and thirty three,” he recites.

“What are you doing?” Leonard is exasperated, disappointed and relieved all at once. “Are those lottery numbers or something?”

“I’m reciting a Fibonacci sequence to calm down,” Jim answers. “Three hundred and seventy-seven, six hundred and ten, nine hundred and eighty-seven…”

“You’re worse than Spock,” Leonard says, and smacks him with a pillow.

“The Vulcan?” Jim laughs. “Does he recite numbers when you’re making out?”

“I’ve never—” Leonard starts in irritation, but then he’s distracted by Jim grinning up at him. He has tiny lines at the corners of his eyes that crinkle up when he smiles, and Leonard wonders why he’s never noticed that before. “Well. Anyway.”

“Oh, Bones.” The vampire’s tone is tender and amused. “You’re so easy.”

“And you’re so—so—“ Leonard breaks off, nearly mutinous. “I don’t think the word has been invented yet. In which case it’s probably going to be ‘Kirk-like.’”

Jim snorts, and pulls Leonard down against him. They’re of like height standing; in bed, facing each other, their bodies line up almost perfectly. Toe to toe, thigh to thigh, chest to chest. Lips to lips.

Jim kisses him again.

Leonard’s erection had started to soften with their ridiculousness, but his cock throbs to life once more as Jim’s tongue flutters against his own. He groans into the vampire’s mouth, unconsciously sliding his bulge against Jim’s thigh, desperate for friction.

The vampire’s hands are on his arms, fingers clenching just above his elbows, keeping him still. He feels like a bird whose wings are being held by a cat, his heart beating so fast it feels like it might leap out of his chest. He sucks on Jim’s bottom lip, feeling almost lightheaded as the vampire rolls them over, pressing him into the mattress with the force of his weight. In a distant, still functioning and rational part of his mind, Leonard notes that the vampire is much heavier than a human of comparable build would be. Dead weight, he thinks, and swallows the ridiculous urge to laugh.

Instead, his stomach growls loudly, and Jim pulls back to look at him.

“We should get you fed and home,” he says.

“That wasn’t parochial at all,” is Leonard’s only response, but he can’t really argue as much as he’d like to. It’s a week night, and Mom will get home later than usual, but—still.

Jim waggles his eyebrows and grins, but says nothing. Leonard retrieves his shirt and pulls it back on, and adjusts his pants so that his obvious response to Jim is, well, less obvious.

They are quiet as they leave the apartment, Leonard following the vampire uncertainly.

“You like Chinese?” Jim asks unexpectedly. When Leonard nods, he says, “I know a place around the corner. C’mon.”

They walk a couple blocks to a street lined with restaurants, cafes, and a couple of coffee shops that have closed for the day. It’s chilly outside, but many places still have tables and chairs set out on the sidewalk, with people outside eating and chatting companionably. Jim walks nonchalantly through the crowd, and Leonard is amused and horrified at once how—how at ease everyone is.

In fairness, he supposes that he’s the only one who knows they are all in the presence of a vampire. There’s nothing about Jim that really screams “demon” or “living dead” or anything like that. On the contrary, he supposes ruefully, Jim blends almost perfectly. In the low light, his pallor is unnoticeable, and his dark jeans, white shirt, and old-fashioned leather jacket give him the faintest air of disreputable cool. When gazes flick to him, it’s only with frank appraisal and curiosity. Only now and then does someone look away quickly, with the surreptitious, uncertain air of antelope shying away from an unseen lion on the prairie: prey abruptly aware of the presence of their predators of old.

He’s a killer. You know that. Leonard flinches away from the thought as Jim leads him into a small hole in the wall, smiling at their waitress as she leads them to a booth. He says he doesn’t kill. Why should you believe him?

The waitress hands them menus and disappears, and when Leonard looks up into Jim’s blue gaze, he’s almost able to forget, himself, who and what he’s with.

“The kung pao chicken is awesome,” the vampire says unexpectedly. “They’ve got some Thai stuff, too.”

“Um,” Leonard says brilliantly, and the waitress reappears with two giant glasses of water.

“Your usual?” she asks Jim.

“Yes, please,” the vampire says with a smile, and the girl flushes as she turns to Leonard. “Know what you’d like?”

“Er.” Leonard hastily scans the menu again. “Uh, I guess I’ll have the kung pao chicken.”

The waitress nods, scribbling their orders down. “Coming right up.”

“You have a usual?” he asks when she’s gone.

“Yeah, why not?” A slow smile spreads across Jim’s features. “I can eat normal food, you know. It doesn’t give me any nutritional value, and—well, to be honest, I can’t taste a lot of things, but I like the texture of it.” He looks past Leonard, and the boy follows his gaze: the red lanterns strung across the room, the framed calligraphy prints on the walls. “The spices, too—I can feel them. Kinda tingly.”

“Tingly,” Leonard echoes, because—well. How much more surreal can this get?

“Yep.”

Their waitress arrives with two huge platters of food which she sets down before them, plus another dish of fluffy, steaming white rice that she places in the middle. She sets an empty plate before each of them, plus chopsticks. “Enjoy.” She bows, and is gone.

Leonard blinks. “That was quick. Do they use replicators here?”

“Nope.” Jim scoops some rice onto his plate, then spoons a generous amount of noodles from one of the platters on top of it. He breaks out the chopsticks from their paper packaging as he talks. “They just like me. I’m a good tipper,” he explains, and when Leonard looks dubious, he rolls his eyes. “And, okay, I may have once jumped on some nutjob who thought he’d try to rob the place one night. Scared the shit out of him, too. Literally,” he concludes smugly, and takes a healthy mouthful of noodle.

“Any more thrilling heroics I should know about?” Leonard asks dryly as he mixes his chicken and rice.

“Not really.” Jim shrugs, scoffing. “It wasn’t heroism, it was enlightened self-interest. If that asshole had shot anybody, this place would have closed for a while, and I wouldn’t be able to have my pud-kee-mao.” He closes his eyes, savoring his food before swallowing. Opening them again, he asks, “What’s the point of being a Master if I can’t have my noodles when I want them?”

Leonard stares at him. “You. Are. Psychotic.”

“Uh uh.” Jim shakes his head emphatically, answering around another mouthful. “Word you’re looking for is ‘soulless.’ Very different thing. It’s all about, like, intent, and brain architecture, and—stuff.” He shrugs, continuing to eat steadily. “The real difference between humans and vampires isn’t morality, it’s honesty, Bones. If I want something, I’ll do what I have to do to get it.”

He pauses, looking at Leonard with such—such naked intent that it makes him hot and cold all over again. When his eyes shift back to his food, Leonard feels like he can breathe again, but it’s a strangely languorous breathing, and he doesn’t feel hungry anymore.

“On the other hand,” Jim continues, oblivious, “anyone else in here could want the same things I want, do the same things I do, but they’d lie about it. To you, or themselves. Others. There’s, like, all this in-built stuff in how people deal with each other. Social pleasantries and rituals. My kind just tend to skip all the bullshit.”

“Bullshit,” Leonard echoes. “You mean laws, and ethics, and—”

“—And platitudes and social lies.” Jim’s expression is frank. “I’d never lie to you, Bones. It’s not in my nature. Hell, it’s not in a demon’s nature. A demon will always say ‘I’m going to stab you in the back.’ Humans usually don’t. Look, you know the popular mythology—the Watcher told you, I’m sure.”

“Bible school helped.” Leonard snorts derisively. “‘Popular mythology.’ Jesus Christ!”

“Exactly!” Jim pushes away his largely empty plate with a contented sigh. “You know the drill. Humans were always the ones with free will. Good or evil, knowledge or ignorance. You can choose. We can’t. We are what we are.” He sits back, crossing his arms. “It’s like predestination minus the circuitous logic, right? I have no soul, therefore I am a creature of Hell. I could decide tomorrow to, like, take a redemptive path or whatever, fight all the good fights I want, but when a Slayer gets lucky, I’m still going you-know-where. I could save this planet a thousand times and it’ll play out the same. So I don’t wonder about it. I do what I want to do, and that’s that.”

“And what is it you want to do?” Leonard asks. He makes himself look at Jim, really look at him. He’s always wanted the vampire for all the wrong reasons, and, well, it’s hard to remember that Jim is the same breed that Nyota and his friends hunt every night.

But he is.

He’s a soulless, blood-drinking vampire. And he also loves kung fu movies, comic books, and Chinese food.

It makes no sense.

Jim is silent so long that when he answers, Leonard has almost forgotten what he’d asked. “I’ve always wanted to do what no one else has,” he answers. “I’ve killed Slayers, but there’ve been other vamps who have done that, too. The longer I live, the more it seems like everything has been done. Lately I’ve just been doing what I want. And right now what I want is you.” His gaze is unflinching and then he breaks into a laugh. “It’s too bad it’s the twenty-third century instead of the twenty-first.”

Leonard doesn’t ask what that means. He suspects he wouldn’t get the joke anyway. “And what’s so special about me?” he asks instead.

Jim shakes his head. “Dude, seriously? Look at you. You’re the most amazing guy I’ve ever met.”

Leonard can feel his skin burning with embarrassment, and he looks down. “Horseshit.”

“No, Bones. Seriously.” Jim’s words are low and surprisingly gentle. “You hate fighting, but you do it every night anyway. You’re a seventeen year old kid, you don’t have a drop of magic in you, but you’re out there every night with the Slayer anyway.”

“So are the others,” Leonard protests.

“Yeah, and they were friends with your Slayer before she was called. You have no reason to be in this fight except for the fact that you want to be.” Jim’s voice is careful now. “You—like—her.”

And it may be his imagination, but—Jim sounds envious.

“She’s my friend,” Leonard mutters. “And she’s supposed to save the world, every night. How could I not help?!”

“How could you not,” Jim echoes. “Because you’re you, and it wouldn’t ever even occur to you. You’re the bravest, dumbest man I’ve ever met, Leonard McCoy. And that’s why I—” He breaks off, looks away. “We should go.”

“Yeah,” Leonard says, mouth dry. “Yeah. We should.”

~

Mom’s home when Leonard walks through the door. “Hey, hon,” she greets him from the living room, where she’s watching a vid.

“Hey, Mom.” He pauses in the doorway. She looks tired, dark rings under her eyes. She’s still not sleeping well herself. “How are you doing?”

“Good,” she says. “Did you have a nice time with your friend?”

Leonard starts guiltily. “Yeah,” he says slowly. “How did—?”

Mom gives him a small smile as she turns off the vid-player. “You may be able to fool your friends,” she says. “You might even be able to fool yourself. But you can’t fool me.”

Leonard freezes. “Mom?”

She pats his cheek affectionately. “I’m glad you have Jim. I’m sure he’s glad he has you. You two just be careful. The Academy does have strict rules, you know.”

It takes him a minute to remember Jim’s cover story about being a student from the Academy. “Right,” he says, flushing. “Yeah. Well. Yeah.”

Mom laughs. “Good night, Leonard,” she says.

He shakes his head and goes to his room. Jim is already waiting for him.

This much has become their habit in recent weeks. They’ve managed to figure out the ideal arrangement of limbs for his small bed, though now Leonard ruefully thinks of Jim’s larger one. He puts his head in the familiar crook of Jim’s shoulder, tilting his head up for a kiss before sleep, only—well.

Their kiss isn’t that sleepy. Far from it, really. Heart hammering, Leonard skims his fingers across Jim’s fabric-covered chest, plucks at the hem of his shirt. When the vampire doesn’t complain, he sits up, as does Jim, who pulls it off in a swift, clean motion.

In the dark, Leonard’s senses are reduced to touch, to taste and sound. He can feel Jim’s abdomen muscles neatly defined; the light covering of chest hair; nipples that are small and hard. Then he feels something else on Jim’s cool skin, something metallic. It’s the chain—well, pendant, sort of, really—on Jim’s chest. “What’s that?” he asks curiously.

Jim picks up the medal part and shows it to Leonard. It’s round, worn and smooth over the years. Dim light through the window shows it to be embossed in red, blue, and white; it displays a red cross and declares in bold lettering MEDICAL ALERT! PENICILLIN ALLERGY. “From when I was human,” the vampire explains.

“Why did you keep it?” Leonard eyes the small thing curiously. The part of him that wants to be a doctor is fascinated by its antiquity.

Jim shrugs. “Do you know what an epi-pen is?” he asks, looking away and choosing to stare at the ceiling.

Leonard thinks for a moment. “Epinephrine,” he says after a moment. “They made auto-injectors in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Kinda like the hypos we use now.”

“Right,” Jim says. “I had to carry them with me all the time, just in case. I was allergic to so much shit, Bones. Even the things that could save other people could kill me.” He toys with the small badge, flipping it over in his fingers. “The best thing about becoming a vampire was that I wasn’t weak anymore.” He looks up into Leonard’s face, expression unusually open and serious, here in the warm dark. “Can you imagine what that’s like, man?”

“A bit,” Leonard says hesitantly. “It must’ve been—freeing.”

“Yeah, well, when you become a vampire, it is freedom. Bones, mortal laws don’t apply anymore. Hell, some of physics doesn’t apply anymore! It’s like complete liberation, and you’re a—a—god onto yourself.” Jim’s eyes are dark, his words exultant, but he calms down when he senses Leonard’s dismay. “It’s awesome, Bones,” he continues earnestly, “and then it—it kinda gets boring.”

“…Boring,” Leonard echoes.

“Boring,” Jim repeats. He looks down at the little badge, then lets it go to lie back on his skin. “When you’re human, you can—you can feel things. Right? Love, fear, hatred, affection. You can taste food. When you touch someone—” He swallows thickly, and his voice becomes very soft. “When you touch someone, you can feel more than just their hand on you.”

Leonard looks down where his hand has been splayed on Jim’s stomach. He starts to pull it back, but Jim places his cool fingers over Leonard’s warm ones.

“I miss being able to feel everything, Bones,” the vampire says. “You make me remember—remember what it was like, before.”

Leonard’s breath hitches, and he has no idea what to say.

Jim chuckles, but it’s not a happy sound. He slaps Leonard on the back lightly. “Yeah. See, this is why I don’t like talking about—some things.”

Leonard snorts, but gently. “Who are you kidding, Jim? You talk about things with me all the time!”

The vampire chuffs under him, arms going around him like a hug. “You know what I mean.”

They are quiet for a while. “Do you ever wish you were human again?” Leonard asks when he’s on the verge of falling asleep.

He wonders if maybe Jim didn’t hear him, but finally the vampire answers. “I don’t think so. I like what I am, Bones. Who I am.”

Leonard doesn’t answer; he doesn’t have the words to say that he’s—disappointed.

~

The next night is business as usual. They are in the library, retrieving their weapons for a standard patrol.

“Okay, admit it,” Gaila announces in the midst of their preparations. “Applications for the Academy are due at the end of the week. Who’s already sent theirs in?”

To Leonard’s surprise, everyone raises their hand but for himself and Nyota. The Slayer glares at him.

“I already have my lifetime employment,” she says with casual carelessness. “What’s your excuse?”

“I hate flying,” he says. That’s not the whole truth, not by a long shot; frankly, Leonard can’t remember when he’s thought of normal things like college applications and whatnot, and Mom hasn’t asked, either. “And what’re you talking about, anyway? All you ever talk about is the Xenolinguistics program they have down there.”

Pike comes out of his office just then, and he stares at Nyota, lips pursed. Nyota gazes at her Watcher evenly when she answers. “I’m the Slayer. That’s all there is to it.” She takes a deep breath before turning to the rest of them. “Ready? Let’s go.”

She turns and leaves, Spock taking quick strides to walk at her side, Pavel and Hikaru just behind. Scotty turns to follow, but slows his steps when he notices Gaila lingering. Leonard pauses, waiting too.

The Orion is glaring at the Watcher. “What did you say to her?”

Pike has to look down at the girl, given the disparity of their heights. He looks angry, though not at her. “Only what every Watcher has had to say to his Slayer since the beginning. Look, do you think I want this for her, either?”

“I think you could maybe show her some more alternatives,” Gaila fires back. “You know what she’s like! She’ll kill herself doing what’s right, and I don’t mean just physically, either. Have you even looked at her, recently?”

Pike glares at her but doesn’t answer; Leonard can see the man knows she’s right.

“It’s true,” Leonard agrees, and they turn to stare at him, as if they hadn’t known he was there. He stands up awkwardly, ready to take his leave. “She’s not—not herself. None of us are,” he adds to himself, and hurries to catch up with the others.

“What was tha’ all aboot?” Scotty asks quietly.

“Same shit, different day,” Leonard answers shortly.

Gaila runs to catch up with them. “Thanks for jumping in there,” she says. “I think Pike—forgets—sometimes.”

“I don’t think he forgets, I think he just doesn’t like to think about it. If he thinks about it he’ll realize he’s killing a teenage girl,” Leonard explains. They stare at him. He feels dumbfounded himself, not having meant to say something like that at all, but—Well. He supposes it’s true, in its way.

The real difference between humans and vampires isn’t morality, it’s honesty.

Leonard burns with guilt at the thought. If he’s starting to—sympathize—with a vamp, then what does that make him?

~

The fight that night doesn’t go well.

Like, really doesn’t.

Leonard wakes up in a cell, his head throbbing. “Ugh.” He sits up, and promptly vomits on the floor.

Concussion, he thinks muzzily. Dizziness. Ringing in the ears. Fatigue. He winces, blinking at the stars that cross his vision.

“Okay,” he mutters to himself. “Gotta stay ‘wake. Can do this.”

He vomits again.

“Why does this always happen to me?” he asks no one plaintively.

~

The vamps come later. They ask questions. He doesn’t think he answers—or not the answers they want, judging from their responses. It’s all a bit fuzzy after a while.

When they finally leave him alone, bound and gagged, it’s comparatively restful. He loses himself in cold stillness, weaving in and out of full awareness.

He stays in that realm until Jim comes.

A part of him worries about what it means if the Slayer hasn’t come for him. The rest of him has never been so happy to see anyone, ever.

~

“How’d you get here so fast?” Leonard asks once Jim has pulled the gag out of his mouth; he spits, trying to get the taste of dirty cloth out.

Jim doesn’t blink. “I outrode the sun, Bones. Simple as that.”

Leonard almost chokes at that. He glances at his watch, and sure enough, it’s going on six fifteen: the first early morning rays of light were stretching out to day, somewhere past the confines of the demon’s lair.

“C’mon, Bones,” Jim says. “You’re in shock, but we’ve got to get you out of here.” He’s already moving, peering outside the broken door. “I’ve bought us some time, but we need to get into the tunnels.”

“What tunnels?” Leonard feels like he can barely keep up, first with college applications and then the fight between Nyota and Pike and then the attack and now this— Abruptly the nausea returns. “Why are there tunnels?”

“There’s always tunnels where there’s any significant population of vampires. It’s kind of a necessity.” Jim’s expression softens ever so slightly. “Bones, you’re hurt. We have to get you out of here as soon as possible.”

Leonard still feels like he can’t keep up, and his head hurts worse than ever. “I still don’t even understand. How did you even know I was here, Jim?”

The vampire’s eyes flash gold for just a second, then return to their customary light blue. “I heard some fledges bragging about grabbing one of the Slayer’s friends. From the description…” He shrugs, then smirks. “Simple enough. I got here quick as I could. Cut it close, too,” he adds ruefully. “I’m going to have to leave my bike. Oh well.”

“You outrode the sun.” Leonard repeats the words, trying to make sense of them, and then he catches the faint whiff of smoke, sees the red patches of skin on the back of Jim’s neck. The damn fool had cut it close, alright—enough to burn. “Jim, you—“

“I’ll always do what I have to where you’re concerned, Bones.” The vampire’s grim expression softens minutely as his fingers brush the aching knot above Leonard’s ear. He frowns as his fingers come away with little flakes of dried blood, and he looks—dangerous, is the only word Leonard can think, and God, that’s such a stupid way to describe it, isn’t it? Because he’s a Master vampire, of course he’s dangerous—

“I finished them too fast,” Jim mutters, staring at his fingers, then at Leonard’s face. Jaw clenched, he says, “Never underestimate what I’d do for you, Bones. Outriding the sun? That’s the least of it.” He stops, as if listening to something only he can hear. “Okay, we’ve really gotta go now, man. C’mon!” And the vampire grabs Leonard’s hand and pulls him through the broken door of the cell.

They run quickly, changing their path whenever they hear voices or sounds. They get to a bottom level that has a door with an old, rusted sign declaring it has something to do with “Maintenance” and Jim knocks it open with a swift, loud kick. And then they are running again, through dark and dimly lit tunnels that are thick with the scents of steam and sewers.

After a while they slow down a bit, Jim frowning as if he’s listening for something again. “Here,” he says suddenly, and arm around him, guides Leonard through another door into a stairwell that leads to some kind of area like a parking garage, only it’s all ambulances, and then through sliding doors into what he recognizes as an ER.

“We need some help over here!” he calls out, and then there’s a white-clad nurse and two men in dark blue EMT uniforms surrounding them.

“What happened?” the woman demands, glaring at Jim suspiciously. In his beaten jacket and tight jeans, he does look like trouble all over, so Leonard can’t quite blame her.

“Not his fault,” he mumbles as they push him down onto an examination table, just as Jim says, “It was an accident.”

“You can’t stay here, I’m sorry,” a doctor says apologetically to Jim, and he starts pushing the vampire out of the room.

“I’ll just be out here, Bones,” Jim says, and a nurse pulls a curtain around them, and Leonard finally lets himself go a little.

~

When he wakes up, Jim is gone, but Nyota is there.

“Welcome back,” the Slayer says softly.

“Hey,” he answers, his mouth feeling like it’s full of cotton. “What did I miss?”

“Oh. You know.” She looks like she’s about to cry, and—and it hurts him. “Just another day in the life.” Tears start to spill over her cheeks. “Oh, Leonard! I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry!”

Leonard’s alarmed. “Why? What’s happened? Who’s hurt?” He strains in his mind, trying to remember the fight. He has a sudden image of Gaila being thrown to the ground by one vamp. “Oh, God, is Gaila okay?”

To his surprise, Nyota’s tears dissolve into laughing. “Idiot!” she says fondly, “I’m talking about you!”

“What?!” Leonard is really confused now. He looks himself over: he’s still in yesterday’s clothes, and he’s sore, but clearly someone with training and a lab-grade dermal regenerator has been here because he seems to have healed pretty nicely. “I’m fine!”

“Leonard, you are so not fine,” Nyota says. “You are in a hospital! They don’t put people who are fine in hospitals!”

He relaxes, because he starts to see what this is about. “Ten fingers, ten toes, two arms, two legs, and a head.” He waggles his fingers at her. “I think I’m good to go.” He looks over his shoulder at a nearby window; late morning sunlight is streaming through. He turns back to the Slayer. “Tell me you didn’t cut cla—mmph!”

That’s when she kisses him.

He freezes. He stares at her closed eyelids, the wet tracks on her cheeks. When she stops and pulls back, he keeps staring, because, really, she kissed him? Now?

She stares at him, then runs out of the room. A second later, Gaila peeks her head in, looking relieved. “Good, you’re awake! Ready to go?”

“Um. Yeah,” Leonard says blankly. “If I can go. Can I go?”

Moments later the three of them are out on the street, waiting for a bus to take them back to campus. Gaila holds onto his arm, chatting lively. Nyota is virtually silent, hands tucked into the pockets of her coat.

“—so it took me forever to hack into the GPS again,” Gaila is saying. “It was almost like there was interference, like someone knew I was trying to find you.”

Leonard struggles with half-forgotten memories. “They were hiding,” he says. “The vamps. They brought me some place—” He breaks off, frowning. It’s like it’s all just hovering on the edge of—something, he just can’t get there. “It was big,” he concludes lamely.

“It was Kirk,” Nyota says darkly. Leonard stiffens. “I saw him. Don’t worry, he left pretty quickly when he saw me coming.”

He takes a deep breath. “Nyota, I—”

That is, of course, when the bus comes.

It’s doors squeak in the chilly air, and they throw they scan their pass chits, grabbing seats together in the back.

“What were you saying?” Nyota says when the bus is moving again.

“I—I—” Leonard tries, he really, really does. He looks out the window. “I think we should apply to the Academy.”

Next

Comments

( 1 comment — Add your .02 )
karmic_fic
May. 26th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
G*DAMMIT!!!!!!!

*loves this fic so hard*
( 1 comment — Add your .02 )

Latest Month

December 2017
S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      

Tags

Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow