Like so many times before I stood hidden in the comforting embrace of darkness and shadow and watched him. And he had no idea that he was being watched. Leaning back against the cold stone of the dirty-gray chimney behind me, I took a step to the side, balanced carefully on the slippery roofing tiles to make sure I didn’t accidentally fall down. My foot brushed against the cold metal of the fire exit and I stepped over it, always trying to avoid making treacherous noises.
It wasn’t very likely he discovered me though; he would have to look up and closely eye the rooftop of the third house to the right from his point of view, but I could never be careful enough. There was no need for him to know.
A cold breeze came up, a rather strong one, and I could feel it trying to push me over the edge. I kept my balance though and felt the cold bite through my clothes- I welcomed this cold, but looking down, I saw him shuddering visibly. His face was pale, his lips looked almost blue; I could see it even from this distance. What a fool he was!
Why was he here outside sitting in the cold when he could have been at home, warm and comfortable? It was beyond me. Knowing him, he hadn’t fed at all and was prone to the elements even more. But he was like that, he still loved his misery too much, even after all these years. Not for the first time this night I shook my head; would I ever understand him? I sincerely doubted it.
I sat down on the edge of the precipice, carefully folding the cloak around me; my eyes never leaving his slightly huddled form. He looked so small and somehow lost; oh well, he would never learn to dress himself properly, the cloak he had chosen for tonight was far too big for him to wear. Sitting on a wooden bench under the dim light of a street lantern, he slowly leafed through a book he must have bought only recently- perhaps even tonight- because I couldn’t remember seeing it before. Oh yes, I knew every single book he owned; the titles, how they looked like, what they were about. I have even read the majority of them; he didn’t know it though. Would he care? Or would he only be angry that I dared to touch them? I didn’t know it.
And now he was here, outside, all alone. I raised my head, watched the lightened skyline of my beloved New Orleans for a long moment before I returned my attention to him, my impossible one.
He turned the pages, touched them almost reverently. Despite the distance between us I was able to see his eyes moving over the written words, slowly, like a human would do. Grinning wryly, I shook my head. I the strength he possessed knew too well; his strength and his abilities, although, for some unknown reason, he had decided not to use them. He hid them behind his fragile looking appearance instead, fooling anyone to believe he was a weakling in need of protection. The truth was, he didn’t need anyone to protect him; those who had dared to attack him had learned it the hard way.
My eyes lingered on his face, his eyes, his lips. Such perfection. Now and then I had to force myself to look away; the danger that he felt my close scrutiny was always there. It was part of the thrill, of course, but I didn’t want him to discover me.
I had no idea how much time had passed when a faint shift in the air told me of another’s presence up here on the roof. The impossibly slow heartbeat was reason enough not to worry, because there were only a handful of vampires who would dare to seek me out. The rest kept their distance- thanks to the rumors I have spread about me killing anyone who would dare to cross my territory lines without allowance. Louis was still down there, and I knew only of one other vampire who was roaming this town momentarily.
I didn’t move when I felt the vampire stepping closer. “Why are you doing this to yourself?” A too familiar voice whispered into my ear. Odorless breath ghosted over the sensitive skin of my auricle, moved the hairs on my neck, and I suppressed a shudder but smiled faintly.
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” I whispered and shrugged. A quick look down to the bench showed me Louis who was still not aware of being watched. Good- after all, I had absolutely no wish for Louis to know that I was –again- spying on him.
“You are sitting here all alone,” David said casually and waited for my next move. The old English gentleman. Either I would send him away or allow him to stay with me. Of course, I didn’t tell him to go but invited him to sit down with a careless movement of my hand, and he elegantly sat down beside me. Somehow he reminded me of a big cat, graceful in his movements and deadly, but also very beautiful. The faint light of the countless lamps was mirrored in his eyes and cast an almost pale and unhealthy looking hue on his golden skin.
“And he is down there, all alone,” he finished his small speech and eyed me speculatively. “What are you waiting for?”
“For the sunrise,” I lied promptly. “Besides,” I flashed him my famous smile, “You are here. So I’m not alone.”
He sighed and shook his head. Looking over the rim of my violet glasses, I watched him for a long moment before I returned my attention to the lone figure under the lantern. The wind played with his unbound mass of black hair and I wished I could run my hand through these strands to feel if they were really as soft as they looked. Impatiently I pushed my own hair back when it fell into my eyes.
“Why don’t you?” David whispered beside me and I turned sharply towards him.
“You can’t possibly read my thoughts.”
He chuckled, a deep, throaty sound. “No, I can’t. But I can read faces, and yours is an open book right now. What is keeping you here? Go down and tell him.”
“There’s nothing to tell that hasn’t been said before,” I replied, averting my eyes. “It would end in another argument again, and this is the last thing I want.” I sighed. “It’s too complicated.”
“What is complicated?” Oh, he was persistent tonight.
I was at a loss what to say and stared out at the skyline again without really seeing it. The sound of a few cars disturbed the peaceful silence of the night; I sighed and shook my head when the wind carried a few rain drops into my face.
“It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, about us,” I murmured almost inaudibly, but I knew that he heard me well enough. “I just don’t know what to say. The words won’t come.”
Again I was watching Louis’ unmoving figure down there; then I felt David’s hand on my shoulder. “ I have seen and learned many things in my mortal life, Lestat,” he said softly. “And I dare to say that I know things you have absolutely no idea of, despite your long life. Trust me in this, everything will be resolved if you just go down there.”
“To do what?” I asked almost sharply. Then I leant against him and felt his arm coming around me, pulling me against his strong body. I needed this right now. “I wouldn’t know what to say to him,” I heard myself speaking. “You make it sound so easy. It can’t be so easy.”
“Why are you making it so difficult?” He sighed and I felt his lips placing a chaste kiss on my forehead. “Trust me just this once, Lestat. If it doesn’t work, you may chase me through the streets of New Orleans and I won’t even try to defend myself.”
This suggestion made me smile and I felt better, if only marginally. But I hesitated; what if David was wrong? What if I went down and made a fool of myself?
“Lestat,” David sighed. “There are times you act when you should use your head instead. Now, when you should act you brood overmuch. Just move your nice looking ass down there.”
Bewildered I looked at him; this choice of words was rather unusual for him. But he only gave me a charming smile. I couldn’t read him at all and gave in. “All right. I will listen to you, old man. A long mortal life must be good for something.”
“Oh hush, who is the older one here?” He stood up and pulled me to my feet, before enfolding me in his arms. “Don’t worry so much.”
Then he released his hold on me and gave me a gentle push. “Go now. You will see, he will not bite you.”
“Oh, well,” I smiled faintly. “Wouldn’t be too bad if he did.”
David snorted with amusement and I hugged my young fledgling a last time. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure. Now stop stalling.” He gave me another gentle push and took a step back from me while I walked to the other side of the roof, checked if the coast was clear and jumped down, landing soundlessly on my feet in the middle of the street. I really loved doing things like this!
While I straightened my cloak I considered my possibilities; I could still go away from here, evade a possible confrontation, but no. Not only because David was right; this game, this dancing around each other, it had to stop. And I didn’t want to be a coward. How would it look like if I just ran away!
I glanced back up to the roof, but David was no longer there. He had never liked to spy on someone; contrary to me, he respected the privacy of others.
While I walked around the house and made my way towards Louis, I passed a lightened window. I couldn’t help myself but looked inside a living room. Yeah, we vampires were voyeurs by nature- most of us. An old couple was sitting on the worn out sofa, watching TV- nothing spectacular, I know.
But then I forgot the room and its inhabitants- my reflection was clearly visible in the glass and I leant nearer to look at myself. What did people see when they beheld me? A pretty, youthful looking man in stylish clothes who was crazy enough to wear colored glasses while it was the death of the night?
I only saw a lonely perhaps slightly insecure someone looking for something I was afraid to put in words. I shook my head; this was not helpful! Straightening my posture I schooled my features and resumed my way.
Louis hadn’t moved; he was still sitting there like before, the book in his hands, his hair framing his delicate features, slightly trembling from the cold. He really needed new shoes, by the way! I approached him, slowly, casually, but I didn’t try to be quiet. I wanted him to hear my steps. I kept my hands inside my pockets so that he couldn’t see the clenched fists. How would he react seeing me here? Would he be angry?
He raised his head, his eyes looked almost like deep black pools in this dim light, a stark contrast to his white and flawless skin. Without really thinking I raised my hand and pushed the glasses up into my hair. I didn’t want to hide behind them.
I came to a halt beside the bench and looked down on him, unsure how to break the silence between us. I didn’t know what he saw in my eyes; closing the book and putting it down onto the bench, he stood up and offered me his hand, smiling softly.
Hesitantly, I reached out and accepted his hand, and then he surprised me by placing a single tiny kiss onto my palm. The skin tingled and I frowned for a moment. Why was he doing this? Then he simply intertwined our fingers
“It took you quite long to make up your mind.”
It took a long moment before I understood his softly spoken words; there was still a hint of a French accent and I clearly hoped that he would never lose it.
Had he been aware of my presence all along? His face didn’t reveal anything, but there was a small mischievous sparkle in his eyes that told me enough. I felt like a fool, and yet, somehow this feeling was right.
“I think I know now what I really want,” I murmured.
He tilted his head, his eyes never leaving mine. “And what is it that you want?”
The words were there, but I couldn’t say them, it was too early. Instead of a verbal answer I merely raised his hand to my lips and hoped he understood.
I think he did understand, because he pulled me close and gave me a kiss on the lips, sweet and promising. “You are cold,” I whispered to him and he raised shining eyes.
“Then bring me home and make me feel warm again.”
We left this place, our hands still linked together. We didn’t speak, but I think it wasn’t really necessary anymore.