Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
It was a clear night. The stars were shining in the sky like crystals on a cobalt blue shroud. The summer nights were the nights when vampires felt just that little more… dead.Separate. Like the line between human and vampire had split into a huge chasm. The air stood still and with vampires unable to experience changes in temperature, the soft caress of a breeze was the only thing that stopped them feeling like an awake corpse.
Caius didn’t like the summer for that reason. Although the winter wasn’t much better, having to slap his own cheeks to bring out a hint of colour whenever he went out in public really irked him. To be honest, Caius’ default setting was mild displeasure.
But as he leaned back on the wall he had perched himself on and gazed up at the cloudless sky, he did feel an easiness and comfort with his company that he had long ago forced himself to stamp out.
“You know, Guardian still wants you. Every time I go gallivanting off to see you, he tells me to do everything in my power to sway you.”
“I’ve told you time and time again, Milah. I am not joining the Court,” said Caius in an exasperated exhale. His long hair swished over his shoulders as he rocked back ever so slightly, just to create some sort of draft.
Milah sighed, squeezing the blood bag in her hand so the red contents funnelled up the unscrewed cap. She sucked eagerly, swinging her legs beneath her like an innocent child enjoying an ice-cream. They were both sat on the wall of the hospital car park. Milah had hunted Caius down as he had nipped into the hospital to grab his monthly assigned blood bags. The supply at the farm house was running low.
“You’re basically doing our job anyway. Might as well make it official,” said Milah, her blue eyes wide and on him. “And then you won’t have to call for me every time you get into trouble. Not that I mind at all, obviously.” She winked.
She was wearing a short summer dress that fell just below her knees. White, of course, with a lace frill. Her long raven hair tumbled down her chest in curls and her lips were stained from her blood bag. Not a night went by that Caius had the slightest doubt that things could have happened differently that night in the cottage when he had been Turned. Right from the moment he had laid eyes on her, he was hers.
“What do you mean? I’m not doing your job.”
She screwed the cap back on the blood bag and rested it on her lap. “You’re taking care of the Cured guy, right? Checking up on him. Making sure he doesn’t go wandering off and you know, commit genocide or whatever.”
Caius’ eyebrows furrowed. “You mean Alexander?”
“The handsome blonde, yes. It’s a pity he was cured and has that deadly virus swimming through his veins. He looks positively delicious.” The tip of her tongue flicked out and swiped up a remaining droplet of blood on her plump lips. “But looks can be deceiving. The thrill of sinking my fangs into that beauty is not worth the consequence.”
And the consequence was a one way ticket to puddlesville. Because there was no cure now. Those thirteen unfortunate, haunted souls were the first and the last. Nico’s incredibly flawed ‘cure’ had died with him.
His death was publicised none stop for several weeks afterwards. Nico’s seemingly innocent face was plastered on every front page and on every screen. But no one really cared. It wasn’t exactly unexpected. He had a lot of powerful enemies. The cause of his death had been by vampire which was also no surprise.
Doctor Bergan hadn’t been sent to prison for his crimes because they were against vampires and not humans so they weren’t considered crimes at all. Experimenting and torturing vampires was not illegal. Varsee had thrown her shoe at the TV screen when one news reporter actually compared what had transpired in the basement of Nico’s mansion to animal testing.
But Guardian certainly got the last laugh when his patience paid off and he was able to rip the pompous visionary’s beating heart from his chest. It seemed that the doctor had been stowed in a not-so safe house after all. Unfortunately for Guardian, the doctor’s blood was also riddled with his very own specially made virus and so the heart was burned along with the body when Guardian had longed to have it for dinner. The members of the Court in the vicinity were invited to watch the burning of the body as if it were some sort of ceremony. It was incredibly fitting that it all took place on bonfire night. And Nice Bergan was their very own Guy Fawkes.
“I’m not taking care of Alexander. He doesn’t even remember me. I just observe from afar… on occasion. But most of the time I don’t even go.”
“Because you busy yourself by doing the blood run instead.” Milah arched an eyebrow down at the full plastic bag at Caius’ feet.
Caius bent his head down, feeling a swelling of guilt press behind his breastbone. “It’s just weird... him being there but… it not being him.”
“It is him. Just human.”
Caius shook his head. “I don’t mean that. I mean him not remembering. I guess the whole wiping memories thing… brings up a part of the past that I’d rather not think about.”
He was referring to Evie’s William. He had changed that man’s who perception of Evie that night without a second thought.
Milah nodded, understanding. “If only you could have your memories wiped, huh?” She nudged him playfully.
He smiled at the ground but then shook his head. “I’d never want that.”
“Never want what?”
“To forget.” He looked at her straight in the eyes. The connection between them was visceral and intense. It always was - even if they were a million miles away from each other. But in times like this, when their eyes locked at such a close proximity, the fixation between one another was like a thunderclap. Everything just snapped into place. The opposite poles of two magnets smacking together.
Milah gulped, her eyes vibrating in their sockets as the silence grew. Caius inspected her. The face of his mother who had birthed him into this new life. “Anything. I want to remember it all.”
She smiled, a delicate smile that broke her lips just enough for the tips of her fangs to poke through. “Really? Even after everything I did? We did. What I made you do.”
“It’s all part of who I am. And it’s all led me to who I am today.”
“You mean a melodramatic martyr in dire need of a haircut?”
Caius laughed and rolled his eyes to the moon that gazed at them from above, bathing them both in its serene glow.
“I have another question.” She tapped his calf with the tip of her dainty plimsoll. Caius turned and blinked at her. “If the cure was still around and it was perfectly safe and you were promised a wonderfully happy life, would you take it?”
“Are you asking me if I would choose to be human again?”
She nodded. “And don’t worry about hurting my feelings. I just want the truth.”
Caius hesitated, his eyes swimming absently over her porcelain face as he tasted the question. “Yes. Yes, I would take it.”
Milah’s eyes glazed over, fogging with disapproval. Her body wilted. “Forget about Evie. Evie doesn’t exist. Would you take it?”
It was no surprise to him that Milah was able to read his mind. He knew she could read him like an open book. And she knew just how deep Caius’ love for Evie was. It wasn’t even an emotion, a separate entity. It was a part of him, woven into his very being.
“Without Evie?” Caius’ voice was hoarse. “I would… I would still take it.”
Milah guffawed. “Liar.”
“What? That’s not a lie.”
Milah just rolled her eyes as if she didn’t even need to back herself up. This angered Caius. His back straightened.
“It’s not. Vampirism is a curse. We are beasts that drink the life essence of what we once were. We have to hide out in the shadows like phantoms.”
Milah was chuckling to herself, shaking away the words.
Rage boiled up in Caius’ gut. He twisted his body towards her, renowned vigour making his voice louder and stronger. “I’ve lived for ten centuries. And I have done nothing with my life. I have just… persisted to be. And it gets tiring. Immortality is tiring. So yes, I would like to be human again so that I could grow old gracefully, achieve things in my time, and die. Why are you laughing?!”
Milah waved her hand at him, her other hand pressed against her stomach as if calming laughter-induced cramps. “Oh, Caius.” She wiped away a bloody tear and locked eyes with him. “You really think you believe that, don’t you?”
“It’s because I do.”
Milah smiled at him pityingly. “Sweetheart, you lived through the Rage.”
Caius’ brows creased. “So?”
Her cerulean eyes shone at him. “Only the vampires that were determined to live survived the Rage.”
Her eyebrows quirked up as self-satisfaction radiated from her. She swung her legs happily. “When I Turned you, Caius, I took you from nothing. From a human life, yes. But a bloody boring one. You had no wife, no girlfriend, no kids. You weren’t close to your family. No aspirations. I saved you from dying alone and being eaten by your own cats.”
“I didn’t have cats.”
“Oh yeah, those came after. See-” She slapped his upper arm. “If I hadn’t Turned you, you wouldn’t have met Catherine.”
Caius’ heart sank. “And she wouldn’t have been killed by the Court.”
Milah’s smile turned upside down. But then her eyes sparkled and she slapped him again. “You would have never met Evie.”
“And she would have married William and had a normal human life.”
“Which would have been all well and good for her, but what about you, Caius? What about your happiness? Are you saying you would have been happy living and dying having never met the two loves of your life?”
Caius’ gaze drifted to the ground. He had never thought about it that way before. He found himself rubbing his chest absently as a chill seeped into his bones. There would have been a hole, a gigantic open abyss inside him had he never met Catherine and Evie. And that was the truth. The real truth. The realisation left him speechless.
Milah patted him on the back and Caius felt like she was waking him up from a dream, no, a nightmare. A nightmare of his own creation. All the hate, the anger, the hurt, the pain, it all felt so small now. Like an ugly blot he could easily wash out. And he was finally able to do it.
He was seeing the world through brand new eyes.
Being Turned had been the best thing that had ever happened to him.
Evie’s eyes were trained on the window of the terrace house just down the road. She couldn’t bear to look to her immediate left because she knew what she’d see if she did. Her Maker trying desperately to hold herself together.
Robin was sitting on the sofa in the cosy looking living room of the house. He was opposite Alexander and Daisy. The two humans had cups of tea while Robin sat empty handed, his young face rapt and posture relaxed.
“He looks so different. He doesn’t even look like my brother anymore,” said Varsee, her voice holding a frail quality.
They were both stood on a grassy verge at the end of the street but they could see what was transpiring within Alexander’s house easily.
Evie furrowed her brows, inspecting Alexander. He didn’t look that different to her. His hair was a little shorter, styled so that it was short at the back and sides but he still had his signature blonde locks on top. It was possible that he may have grown facial hair but that could have just been shadow, and slight creases had formed at the edges of his eyes. But that was bound to happen. He was human now, he was going to age. And it had been three years since he’d been cured.
But he was still Alexander, without a shadow of a doubt. He even wore the same outlandish outfits. His leopard print silk shirt and tight leather pants matched perfectly with Daisy’s corset-style black dress and fishnet tights.
Alexander and Daisy were laughing at whatever Robin was saying, an easy, free-flowing laugh that made them curl up into each other.
“He looks so happy,” Varsee gushed with nostalgia. “Really, truly happy. He could never fool me. I always knew he was hiding his pain. He knew it, too. He was hiding it from himself. But now… that’s not an act down there. That’s real.” She suddenly gasped and choked on a sob. Evie’s heart squeezed in her chest as the sound forced her to look. A single red track ran down Varsee’s cheek and she was in no hurry to wipe it away.
“Am I selfish to want him back the way he was? Back when he needed me? I miss that. I miss that so much. Being needed,” she spluttered.
Evie grasped her Maker’s hand so tight it locked her bones. “I need you.”
Varsee sent her a sad smile and squeezed her fingers. It was a smile that said thank you for the offer but that’s not good enough. Evie didn’t take it to heart, she knew it wasn’t personal. Evie would never fill the crater Alexander had left. And she didn’t want to.
“I wish I could tell him how proud I am of him,” said Varsee, looking back into the window. “He’s made a good life for himself.”
Evie smiled. “Who’d have thought he’d settle down?”
“Oh, he always wanted to. But Elizabeth had a strong hold on his heart. I’m glad he’s finally let her go and moved on.”
Evie thought back to when Alexander had proposed Varsee to wipe his memory, and how he had also wanted to forget his feelings for a man called Seb. It sounded to Evie that Daisy hadn’t been the first person to win him over since his wife. But Seb had tragically took his own life. Evie had all her fingers crossed that Alexander’s relationship with Daisy was going to be one that lasted. Alexander deserved that. A happy ending.
“Are you doing any better?” asked Evie. It may have been three years since Varsee had rooted around in her brother’s head and erased most of the bad and had led him out of the farm house, but that wasn’t very long for a vampire. Sometimes it felt like a week could be missed in a blink of an eye.
Varsee nodded, her lips pulled tightly into a line. “I’m fine.” Her voice wobbled with emotion. “I’m a survivor, Evie. I’m fine.”
And by the tone of her voice, Evie knew exactly what she meant.
I’m fine. Never great, not even good. But fine.
Varsee suddenly jerked to attention, her back straightening and her shimmering eyes widening. Evie looked to the house and saw the empty living room. The handle of the front door then pushed downwards. Robin was leaving.
Evie had almost forgotten she was still holding hands with Varsee, their cool palms had formed together like two stone statues. But then the sudden tension in Varsee’s grasp sent an echo of pain up Evie’s arm.
Robin stepped outside, his head still turned to the happy couple in the hallway.
“It was great to see you again, Robin,” said Alexander, leaning out to give him a one-armed hug. Robin noticeably stiffened in the embrace, still not completely comfortable with physical shows of affection.
“Yes it was. Drop by any time. You’re always welcome,” said Daisy, smoothing her hand down Robin’s arm. Her white-blonde pixie cut shone in the moonlight like snow. Her eyes were heavily made up with black eyeliner in the same way they had been when Evie had first seen her imprisoned in Nico’s basement. But her face was clear of bloody tear stains and instead held the inner light of a young human.
“Thanks,” replied Robin, easing out of the hug. Alexander grinned and ruffled his messy hair in a way that hit Evie right in the gut. To her, he didn’t look any different to the Alexander that she knew and that was what spooked her.
Alexander and Daisy watched from the front door as Robin plodded down their path, head bent and hands plunged in his pockets. He turned and gave a final – slightly awkward – wave before they shut the door.
Varsee let go of Evie and veered out of sight. Evie followed, hearing Robin’s soft footfalls behind her as he crossed the road.
“So, how is he?” asked Varsee eagerly when they were hidden.
Robin shrugged. “He’s alright.”
Varsee’s face fell. “He’s alright? That’s all you’re going to give me? I send you over to check up on him every couple of weeks and all you have for me is he’s alright?”
Robin spluttered, cowering a little at her sharpened tone. “Okay ermm, his job at the shop is doing well.”
When Alexander had returned to the Crimson Moon to pick up where he had left off, they had refused him. They had no use for a human dancer who couldn’t even get bitten by the punters. He was a serious health hazard. And so after several weeks of searching, he had landed a job in a retail shop that specifically catered for regulars at vampire bars. He said he felt right at home amongst all the leather and chains.
Robin scratched his head as Varsee continued to stare down at him expectantly. “Oh! There was one other thing.”
“What?” asked Varsee, eyes bright.
Robin grinned, a mischievous grin not unlike Alexander’s. “Daisy’s pregnant.”
A rush of air suddenly whooshed out of Varsee before being quickly sucked back in. She threw her hand over her mouth, her body convulsing. Red brimmed her eyes and ran down her cheeks. She just stared. Stared down at Robin in awe.
“Are you serious?” she muffled through her palm. Her voice wet and shaking.
Robin nodded vehemently.
“He’s going to be a dad. He’s going to be a dad!” she exclaimed. Then Robin was forced into another hug. His face was lost in a mass of blonde hair as Varsee threw her arms around him. “I can’t believe it!”
A sound behind her made Evie spin around. Caius was approaching from a shadowed alleyway, a white plastic bag swinging by his side. His eyebrow quirked up in question at Varsee.
Evie smiled. “Daisy’s pregnant. Alexander’s going to be a dad.”
Caius blinked, slightly baffled, and then when Varsee finally unravelled herself from Robin and turned in his direction, he smiled and opened his bag.
“Well then, I guess that’s a cause for celebration.”
Evie helped him distribute the blood bags between the four of them. They all held them aloft like glasses, the red liquid inside gleaming like rubies.
“To Alexander,” cheered Caius.
“To Alexander,” echoed Evie and Robin joyfully. Varsee was too overcome with emotion to speak but smiled widely, releasing another flood of tears. They all tapped the caps of their bags together before unscrewing them and drinking.
Evie looked silently from one person to the other, feeling a swell of warmth inside her. She may have enjoyed her century alone with Caius, but she had always felt deprived of having that feeling of belonging to a family. She didn’t feel like that anymore.
The cure may have opened up opportunities for her to have had a normal, happy human life. But she didn’t want that anymore. Now it felt like just a silly little phase in her life. Like when, once upon a time, she had despised her red hair and had wanted to be blonde.
Evie had a family now. Her own vampire family. And she loved each and every one of them. Eternity with them wasn’t long enough.