Henry crouched over Vicki's prone form and silently snarled up at the door the Bruja had disappeared from. Even his senses couldn't tell him how the witch had done her trick; there was only the lingering scent of gravemoss in the air to tell she'd ever been in here. Vicki recoiled from his touch, biting off a moan with determination, even as her face showed all the pain she was in. Again, he felt that swell of admiration; boys in his fencing lessons hadn't taken a small cut with the strength she was showing. Nobility, the whole lot of them, ready for courtly intrigue and decadent meals, not hard boiled police work.
Coreen gave a quick scream, and the noise seemed to ratchet through Vicki, her short nails scrabbling on the wood floor as she struggled to find something to grip and bear down on. A harsh gasp and the pain seemed to pass on, and he helped her to her feet, watching her cradle her side.
“Oh my god, she stole my mouth.” Coreen spouted, suddenly, earning a laugh from Vicki, a laugh that had her grabbing at her ribs only seconds later. He eased her into the hard looking wooden chair, watching her draw her legs up.
“There are times I wish,” Vicki gasped, and pulled her knees in, making Henry feel extremely helpless. Zombies he could fight, although he didn't want to tangle with another one any time soon as well as all the bad memories they called up. Muggers, knights, whatever Vicki wanted, but there was nothing he could do about the pain wracking though her this very moment. “I could do the same spell, Coreen.”
The young girl bit her lip glaring, and leaned in trying to comfort her employer. “We've got to take you to a hospital.” She watched pain reel through Vicki, the strawberry blond rolling her head against the chair back, silent. “Henry?”
He ran his hands through his hair, watching Vicki suffer and hating it. “We can't take her to the hospital. What are we going to say?” Coreen blinked at him, and Vicki nodded, looking shaky. There might be another day to raise a dead man, but as he watched Vicki go pale he wondered if the Bruja had any intention of letting Vicki even deliver the witch's brother's soul. “She's needs... There just aren't doctors for this. You'll have to stay with her today-”
And suddenly he recalled the time, and his watch, and he looked... There wasn't much time. Time enough for him to get home, surely. He hadn't made it this many years to die of a sunrise.
“You stay with her today, sit on her if you have to. But you keep her here. I have to-”
Vicki hissed again, and this time the chair hissed with her, where she had hold of the back of it and the white knuckled grip of her hand was tempting the thin wood slats to break. One of her legs kicked out, slipping from where she had it cocked in the seat with her, and when she could breath in, the breath ended with a sob. A harshly bitten back sob, one that cost her dearly to let out.
“Vicki? Vicki? Come on.” Coreen leaned over her, hand on one shoulder, and Vicki's eyes were fluttering. There was sweat at her temples, too, and just above her lip.
Perhaps a day was being far too generous. He cursed, fluently, and knelt next to Vicki's chair. Her hand was cool, clammy, and it tightened on his hard, as some other pain made itself known. “Vicki?”
“I'm fine.” She bit out. “You've got to go. Coreen will-” And then she coughed, and ever so faintly, tasted blood.
Henry swore again, and picked her up, something she fought, almost. Whatever the pain was, it cooled for a second, and she let her head fall against his shoulder, breathing hard. Blood was no good, no good at all. She'd been kicked before, been on the end of a few police arrests that went awry and knew the feeling. This was worse, a sharp, bright pain. She imagined a knife for a second, and then blinked the image away. No knives, no picturing knives.
“What should I do?” Coreen was asking him, and he blinked down at her. She didn't know about the blood.
“I'm taking her to the hospital.” He said, feeling Vicki tense once more. Coreen bobbed her head once, then blinked, and didn't bother to ask which hospital. He had the sneaking suspicion that she knew they weren't going to one. But he said nothing, and merely walked out the open door, Vicki cradled close.
The car ride was a nightmare. Too many traffic lights, in his opinion, and too many people determined to drive the speed limit. Getting close to sunrise too, though he was more worried about his passenger. If anything the sharp pains of earlier, the toe-curlingly harsh ones had tapered off, either that or Vicki had grown used to them, since now she only bit her lip and turned her head against the seat back.
Two blocks from his apartment she coughed again, as quietly as she could, like she was in a movie theater.
“More blood?” He asked, watching her hands ball into fists. Reaching over the console her worked his hand into one of hers, her grip was still strong as anything. That was a good sign. “We're almost there, you'll be fine. Just keep breathing through the pain.” Vicki nodded, and buried her face in her shoulder, the fall of her hair obscuring her face. He pretended he couldn't taste the salt of her tears, and gratefully pulled around a slow moving van right into the valet spot at his apartment. He let go of her hand only long enough to get out of the car and go around it's side, and then she was back in his arms, mortally warm.
The doorman looked at him twice; he'd never brought women home, preferring to go to their places for sex and blood, much less carried one in. But he silently held the door open, and it was only a quick few steps to the elevator. Vicki hissed again, a noise he was becoming used to, and hating even more every time he heard it.
“Shhhh. You'll be fine.”
She nodded, panting, and then cried out sharply, one hand scrabbling across her stomach. “I feel like a sack of potatoes.” She whispered.
“Do you have to crack jokes, even when you're dying?” He sighed, smiling despite himself. “Besides, potatoes are heavier. And move less.”
She laughed, quickly, and the door opened on his floor. He stepped around his neighbor with the dog, and this time Owen at least had the decency not to bark or growl at him.
By the time he made it to his door she was relaxed in his arms, not asleep, but calm. He knew it for a bad sign, somehow, and then she coughed hard, something deeply bronchial, and when she breathed in there was a wet sucking noise. Vicki didn't even whimper, and he could smell the hot metal of her blood, thick and wet, and he cursed again, his keys scrabbling in the lock. Finally they were in, and he passed all the furniture in darkness, ducking into his own room to lay her on the bed.
Determinedly she stayed upright, glaring at him when he tried to get her to lie down. Blood painted her lips a heavy red gloss. A quick trip into the bathroom located a washcloth, and he ran that under the water quickly, then filled a glass and took it back to her.
“What did you have in mind?” She asked, once her teeth weren't crimson, though her breath still smelled of it to him. He turned to the window, glancing for the daylight, and the cough returned quick as that. This time it curled her over onto her side on his sheets, punishing her, and she held the red stained washcloth to her lips like a tuberculosis patient, going pale again.
There was only one thing Henry could thing of, and he went to the kitchen for a knife.
When he came back, she was hardly breathing, and even that was asthmatically. Her teeth were red again, and she looked as weak as a rag doll. He tapped at the keypad by the door, locking it, locking them in and then lowered the metal shades that kept him from the sunrise.
In the low light, Vicki could hardly see him, and the knife was merely a glint in his hand. When he toed his shoes off, and pulled at his shirt however, she knew the noises well enough not to need to see. “What are you...” And then the coughing kicked in again, just about the same time Henry started undoing her left shoe. She pulled away from him, and felt something inside her pull as well, something that pulled so wrong she lost her breath, and her other shoe was off before she got it back.
Henry moved up the bed, this time pulling at her coat. He got it down her arms, undressing her like a child, and when her hands went for her baton his fingers got there first, plucking it from her grip like candy from a child.
“Shhh, you won't need it.” He put the baton on the bedside table, next to the knife.
“What are you-”
“I'm just trying to get you comfortable.” She lay still after that, feeling that awful roaming feeling, somewhere inside her, and couldn't help but think of the worm in the Bruja's hands. The taste of blood filled her mouth, and she felt dizzy. At least it didn't hurt anymore...
“Stay conscious.” Henry snapped, shaking her. She sputtered, and he reached for the knife.
“What are you going to do?” She asked, blinking up at him. At this range, she couldn't miss the knife, and now that feeling was burning, like a little star in her abdomen, bright and blinding. She found her hands were curling around his biceps, and he held her close, letting her ride out the pain.
“Not much. You're going to drink my blood.”
Muzzily, she recoiled from that idea. “No.” Blood was dirty, you had to be careful at crime scenes, and this was Henry, who was a vampire. Wanting her to drink his blood. She wasn't even sure she could do it.
His fingers found her chin, and tipped her head up. “Yes.” He said, certain. “You will.” He leaned back and pressed the knife just above his collar bone, close to the base of his throat using his other hand to guide the blade. Vicki hardly had time to feel shocked, to stop him, and then he flung the knife aside, and in the near dark of his bedroom the blood was almost the color of chocolate syrup.
A hand slid into her hair, cradling her skull and Vicki didn't have the strength to fight back as Henry tucked her head into the side of his neck, her lips against the throb of his blood. She fought how she could, though, refusing to drink, and he cursed. “Do it, or you're not going to make it to nightfall.”
The pain forced her hand, making her gasp, and then his blood was in her mouth, heavy and metallic and she had no choice but to swallow when she wanted to breath. It went down smooth as ice cream, and almost as cool, smoothing out the hurts and pains, calming them. The thing that seemed to be burrowing about stopped, and instead of pushing him away she pulled herself closer. Henry made a positive noise, encouraging her and tipped his head back onto the pillows, rolling onto his back and pulling her with him, so she was curled against his side. Another swallow of his blood, and the pains melted away, and when she breathed in through her nose this time, there was no rasp of air going wrong into her lungs.
A hand ran down her back, petting her, tracing designs around the knobs of her spine and the one in her hair slid down to her neck, caressing the muscles there. Henry kicked up the comforter, and tucked it over them, and Vicki swallowed again.
She woke late in the afternoon, looking at the unfamiliar clock on his bedside table and thinking the five meant five in the morning. Strange bed, strange room, strange arm curled protectively around her. Mike wasn't one for basking in the afterglow, nor holding a woman close, mostly because by the time things were over one of them was ready to fight again.
Henry murmured softly, sleepily, and the arm tightened, pulling her back against him as he burrowed his face in her hair, breath huffing out softly against her neck and behind her ear.
The tender embrace almost warmed her as much as the stomach full of blood, and if there was ever a thought to wake you up immediately, it was that. She shrugged in his arms, and he shifted around, grumbling all the while until she was facing him, their knees intertwined. At least they both still had their pants on.
And as if she'd thought Henry couldn't get any cuddlier looking, she was lucky she'd never seen him with bed head. It was quite a look, somehow both adorable and debauched. He watched her, muzzily pleased with himself and warm from sleep. Whatever she was going to snap at him was lost when he spoke, a curiously toe-curling husk of, “You're alive.”.
Mollified, her eyes fell to the cut on his throat, the straight line of it, and she found her hands petting the skin around it. Tracing it. It already looked weeks old.
“Are you...” She struggled for the word and he watched her. “Hurt? Did it hurt?”
He smiled, faintly, one side of his mouth quirking up. “No. And you seem to be pain free.” One of his hands rose, fingers brushing back a wisp of hair that had fallen in her eyes. He watched his fingers, tucking the hair behind her ear, then tracing the curve of her cheekbone with his thumb. Absently his fingers traced down to the side of her throat, and petted there, tipping her chin up as his came down. Their lips did not meet, and Henry's eyes fell shut as he pressed a mostly chaste kiss to the skin over her artery.
For a long moment they rested like that, warm and still sleepy. They might have dozed, for a while. And while they dozed, Henry's hunger made itself known. He came to, with his mouth a bit more intimately acquainted with Vicki's neck, a bruise forming in the hollow at the base of her throat, almost the mirror of where he'd cut himself. He pulled away with a gasp, watching her eyes flutter open.
He looked away, considered getting up and finding his shirt. They did have a Bruja to stop, and evidently he needed blood. But when he looked back, Vicki was so luxuriously laying in his bed, so content looking, she could have beaten out the seductive looks of some of the courtesans of his day. He pressed the fingers of one hand to the bruise and watched her eyes darken.
Her hand came up and twined with his, fingers interlacing, and he watched them rather than stare at her neck. “Am I going to become a vampire?” Vicki asked, and that pulled his attention from both her throat and their hands.
“Hardly.” Henry leaned up on one shoulder, feeling his necklace and it's charms brush and catch over the cut. Vicki followed the necklace with her eyes, something she might not have done yesterday. He tried not to preen.”Its a bit more involved than that.” He let himself touch her face again, the curve of her cheek, the edge of her eye. His eyes flickered to the clock; they had slept a bit longer. Even now the Bruja might be wondering what had happened to Vicki, and preparing some further spell. “There shouldn't be any lasting effects, but don't be surprised if you go for the rare steak.” Henry smirked at her frown. “We should be joining the battle soon.” He jested.
He was in the bathroom, pulling on a new shirt, and happened to glance back in, seeing Vicki done putting her hair back up in a tail, when she reached right for her baton, and it suddenly struck him it was pitch black in the room. No lasting effects indeed, he thought, and petted the scar under his collar.
Not from one dose, anyway. And he started to plot for next time, a handsome devil-may-care look on his face.