We got to the stairwell and started climbing up to my apartment. It wasn’t too many floors. Alex didn’t say anything when I started up. So I kept going. We were alone and he asked, “So you really are going to adopt him? How long do you think that will take?”
“Officially, as soon as she signs the paperwork I could take him by Venatori law. By human law it’ll take a little while to file the paperwork as the parents are both still living and have to sign some forfeiture of rights or something. They’ll then disappear in the system and no one will be the wiser unless you dig deep.”
“You have hackers to do that?”
I shook my head. “No. It’s all on the up and up. We have people to do the job. It’s illegal in terms of we shouldn’t be doing it, but we aren’t hacking into systems or doing things the wrong way.”
Alex laughed, “You’re entire race is a hypocrite! Breaking human laws.”
I grinned. “The difference is, we don’t get caught doing it.” I sighed, “The only time the supernatural pose a problem is when they start revealing our nature to the humans. When that happens things need to stop. Murdering people because you were hungry isn’t an excuse. But the fledgling can also be trained and taught to behave. They shouldn’t be destroyed because they made a few bad mistakes.”
“You really believe that?”
“I do. We all make mistakes. Il Cane straight out of her training slaughtered an entire village of people because she was hungry. Her sires didn’t feed her properly. Expected she knew how to feed. But she didn’t. She’s clinical in her own right, much like I have my issues she has an entirely different set of them. The biggest being lack of empathy. You’d call it a sociopath. Cari Giovanni was an assassin, a prostitute and a thief before she became a vampire. She was raised by a psychopath who put her into that state of mind. And the blood lust she had as an assassin only grew worse with her embrace. She was hungry didn’t know better. She’s still a sociopath but hasn’t killed any humans since then except one, but she turned him, so not really a bad thing since it was to save his life. But that’s another story.”
I opened the door to the landing and we walked down the hall. “So yeah, if the biggest, baddest of the supernatural world can get a reprieve, however unintended it may have been and come back a better person for it, everyone deserves that chance.”
“I don’t know what to say about all that. Holy fuck, comes to mind the most.” Alex said as I pushed open my door.
I shrugged and ushered Alex into my apartment. Talking about Il Cane had reduced some of my anxiety about letting Alex back into my safety zone. But I had promised him food and the truth. I headed for the kitchen area first, “Something to drink?” I asked.
“Am I going to need something stiff or will coffee or water be fine?” He asked with a smirk on his face.
I couldn’t help but smile at his innuendo and I bit my bottom lip. “Maybe a little of both.” I said as I started making two Irish coffees. It was one of my easy go to cocktails I actually drank with my father. Though I rarely kept the booze in my apartment, but Alex had remedied that the last time he had gone shopping with me.
Alex sat down on the couch and flipped through the magazine on the table. “You read any of these?”
I shook my head as I sat down next to him bearing his cup and mine. “No. I think Dorian or Sage bought them.” Alex was flipping through one, he held up the cover to me – Glamour. “That would be Mia. The whole gay best friend thing.”
“You didn’t read it though?”
I shook my head. “They are for my guests who find my lack of a TV annoying.”
Alex looked at me and put the magazine down. “It’s not annoying, it’s unusual.”
I shrugged. “I don’t watch it, no point in it when it would just hang on the wall unused.” I took a sip of my coffee and wrapped both hands around the warm comforting cup. “So… everything.”
“I have a question first.” Alex interrupted. “What’s that packet on your bar? Looks like the packet Dorian gave you for Drake? Your copy? Already?”
I glanced back to see what he was referencing and I shook my head. “No that’s housing papers. There are a lot more people moving back into the building we are running out of space. They are offering double stipends on those who would move off campus into the human world.”
“And Dorian thinks you should?” Alex asked as he got up and grabbed the packet of information and sat down and pulled all the information out of the envelope. I saw a few documents, I actually saw more than I expected, the monetary value of my pay had gone up substantially and the place they were suggesting was far bigger than what I had.
Alex whistled. “That’s a nice place, three bedrooms, a balcony, away from the AU building. I’m betting that’s a hint.”
“So you think I should do it?”
Alex smirked. “Pretty boy, this place is fucked up, so yeah. If you can get the hell outta Dodge, then do it.” He shoved a piece of paper over to me, “It looks like all you have to do is sign it.”
“Everyone thinks it’s a good idea.” I sighed.
I laughed. “Sure, it’s a great idea. I don’t have to follow Venatori rules, my friends would be more comfortable.” I looked pointedly at him to make my point, “It’s a great idea in theory. But I know me. I don’t cope well with change. The move will upset the balance I have, it’s not just my living arrangements changing, it’s the schedule change that will come with it, the extra space I have to manage.”
Alex rolled his eyes and I knew it sounded like I was making excuses. But I never backed down from a challenge and I quickly wove a writing implement into my hand. It was just a basic ink pen with ink like an old quill. It would do the job as I signed my name neatly on the application. “I’m going to be a mess for weeks.”
Alex grinned, “You’re already a mess, what’s the difference.”
“Thanks.” I said sarcastically.
“No problem.” He smirked back at me. “Alright, pretty boy, lay it on me.”
I took a deep breath and stood up so I could walk over to my bed and grab the notebook lying underneath my pillow. I dropped it on the top of the magazine Alex and been flipping through. “Every night since I was six years old I’ve had one singular dream that I remember. I have notebooks full of drawings like that. Every dream is always the same. Everynight the darkness forms, the fog rolls in, and a pair of eyes stalks me. When I was younger, before I knew the rules, the demon, my demon would make me spread my legs, put my hands on an invisible wall. And every night it would lay into my flesh with whips made of elements – fire, water, earth and air. Each one sharp and meant to do more than flay the skin off my back. Sometimes the dreams manifest with my own power. That’s why the scars on my back. I do it to myself.”
While I spoke of the dream I made my way back to the bed and sat down on the edge and reached underneath and pulled out a plain box. I hadn’t opened it in a while. And I didn’t really want to give Alex time to comment so I kept talking.
“But after I graduated from the Academy, and on my first hunt I woke one night to the realization that I’d been having other dreams. Ones that were eclipsed by the nightmare. A trama so large that I didn’t remember anything before it. He said I had been having them for the same time. But how could a figment of my dreams be real? I don’t know if he was, or if it was my mind playing tricks on me. But I believed he was real then. I found this where he told me to. Everything in there was his except the matchbook I threw in there. I was in love with him. I didn’t know his name. Fuck I didn’t even know what he looked like. The two of you share the same eye color and I’m terrified that I’m projecting my feelings of him on to you and that in doing so you are going to get scared and run away.”
“But we said we’d met, he never showed up. And every night for two weeks when I tried to get to him in the dream, I got a nightmare. Instead of the red eyes, they were blue. When the blue eyes come it’s worse, because it happens twice. So for years I did my best not to think about it. But no matter how many times I push this box to the back, it always winds up back in the front and I stumble over it on Sunday morning. Which is why Ant started coming by Sunday evenings to pull me out of my self sabotaging funk.”
I pointed up to the camera plate that was the only thing left of the camera I’d destroyed the last time Alex was here. “I installed the camera, to see if I could figure out why my power kept being used against me. But it was a pointless endeavor, you can’t catch the invisible weaves, all we ever saw was my skin breaking open. And Sage did use it for other purposes, we had an agreement. He can’t stand to be touched, so his kink is watching others.”
“You let him watch you?”
I nodded and tried not to break eye contact, but I failed and was looking at the floor between us. “So you’ve never had sex with your friend?”
“I didn’t say that.” I sighed and looked up. “I had sex with Sage once. I was his first, his wife is the only other person he’s ever allowed to touch him like that. He wanted me to show him how to touch her. What it would be like because he was terrified of it. I was safe. But I’ve slept with Mia and Jace countless times. But I haven’t done that since well before I left the Academy. Mia was a sexual deviant and she lead Sage and I down some pretty weird rabbit holes. But I don’t hang out with them much anymore. My friends now are more productive and it’s not about sex.”
“So you’ve never slept with the vampire?”
I shook my head. “We came close once, when we first met. I remember he stopped me from finding his mother, and he bought me a drink and after Ryan left, he got too close to me. My power called to him, and his pheromones overpowered me. I made him bite me and I wanted nothing more than to be fucked by him. But that’s the call of the vampire, it’s the reason vampires can feed off of humans willingly, because they can make it feel unfucking believable. Unlike most vampires like Ant, he can’t control the lust he sheds when bites you. That part of his venom he’s incapable of changing. He’s cursed with it because he’s not quite born vampire and he’s no where close to an embraced vampire. He sits in the middle unable to tip to one side or the other.”
“It was out of your control?” Alex asked.
“It was. We stopped to go back to my room. And when we got there thoughts of my dream guy made me backup. We didn’t have sex. But it started a fucking great friendship. Without Ant I’d never have survived the loss of the idea that I was worth loving. That somewhere out there someone loved me. And then when he never showed up, I was close to doing stupid things. But Ant saved me.”
“If he hurt you so bad, why did you keep these things?” He asked, it sounded like he was almost sad. Or was it pity he felt?
I sighed. “I loved him. I still do sorta. But I don’t, if he walked into my dreams again and said I’m sorry I made a mistake, before, I might have said okay. I forgive you. But now, now I’ve met you. And I know you don’t love me, and you might never get there, but it’s real here. You’re real. I can touch you. I can remember you. You’re real.”
“This is me. The darkest parts. My life is filled with danger and threats and I’m a broken mess. But it’s what I am, it doesn’t define me, or stop me from doing what I should. I don’t have any secrets from you. Not now.” I sighed and sat back down on the couch and grabbed my cooled cup of coffee. I sent a little heat towards it while i wrapped my hands around it again and sipped from the hot cup. I needed some comfort after bearing my soul.
Alex shoved all the papers in the envelope and stood up. My heart sank as he headed for the door. He stopped and turned towards me, but I didn’t turn to look at him. “Come on. We’re getting out of here. We’ll drop this off and I’ll give you a taste of who I am.”