Tony looked around at the small clearing, at the tall pine trees ringing the space, and the thick brown layer of dead pine needles carpeting the ground except where it had been swept away to reveal darker brown soil. It would have been an unremarkable clearing in the woods, set slightly off from a well traveled hiking path, if it hadn't been for the dead - and naked - body of a man who, in life, had been well built, heavily tattooed and imposing. Now his pale skin had a shriveled appearance, and was giving off an odor that meant (and Tony hated that he knew this) that he had been dead since Friday, at least.
Tony wrinkled his nose at the smell, "I am so glad you woke me up at 8 am on Sunday morning for this," he told Constable Jack Elson.
Jack shrugged, looking unperturbed, "This one got seven weirdo points. When the weirdo points go over five, I call you."
Tony stared, "Weirdo points?"
"I made a system," Jack explained, "For cases like these."
"Weirdo points?" Tony repeated, slightly offended.
Jack shrugged again, "Geetha said the name was stupid at first, but she's using it now too," he said, cheerfully laying some of the blame at the feet of his partner.
Tony decided to let it go. Geetha Danvers was ok, as far as mounties went, the good cop to Jack's bad, most of the time, but she could be pretty scary when she needed to be. Probably it was a working mother thing. Either way, Tony knew when he was outnumbered.
"So, ok," Tony said, "It looks like a dead guy. Why does that get seven points?"
"One point," Jack said, "Is for the naked thing. Two points are for the bite marks on the neck," he added, pausing for effect, and for another sip of his steaming coffee.
"Bite marks," Tony repeated faintly, feeling a tendril of the late autumn chill skate down the back of his collar.
"And four points," Jack said, talking over him, and sounding almost gleeful, "Because the body has been exsanguinated."
"Exsanguinated only gets four points?" Tony asked, his voice coming out dry and steady, even though his heart was starting to pound. Because really, there was only one way Tony knew of to get yourself exsanguinated in Vancouver, and his name was Henry.
Jack rolled his eyes, "Everyone's a critic," he groused, then suddenly became serious, "Listen, do vampires exist or what?"
"You think I know?" Tony stalled.
"Yeah, I think you know," Jack said, narrowing his eyes, "Or you can look it up on your magic laptop, and then you'd know. Either way, I want an answer. Do vampires exist?"
"Yes," Tony said simply, holding himself back from all the other things he could have added. After years on the street, trusting cops with secrets went against his instincts, but you couldn't fight demon lords next to a guy without him earning some serious trust. He and Jack were comrades in arms, he deserved something. But he wasn't going to tell him everything, obviously. He didn't think Jack would react well to knowing he'd met a vampire, fought beside one, even, and hadn't known it.
"Do they sparkle?' Geetha asked, coming up behind him. She'd been down the path, checking out some tracks, but had obviously finished, and rejoined her partner for the "let's ask Mr. Wizard" part of the investigation.
Tony giggled a little helplessly, suddenly picturing Henry lying chastely in a field, and sparkling in the sunlight.
Jack's lips thinned, "So our perp is a vampire."
"Possibly," Tony said hesitantly.
"We can't put 'vampire,' in our report, Jack," Geetha pointed out.
"I know that," Jack said with a sigh, scrubbing his hand through his short cropped blond hair.
While they were arguing, Tony knelt to get a closer look at the bite marks on the victim's throat, just in case it was possible that they hadn't been caused by a vampire after all.
But Tony's luck had never been that good, and all he saw was two perfect, round punctures on the victim's neck, about an inch apart.
"So, how do I arrest a vampire?" Jack said suddenly from behind him, startling him so that he had to reach out a hand to steady himself. "Hey, don't mess up my crime scene," Jack added.
"You don't," Tony replied shortly.
"You're right I don't," Jack said, crossing his arms, "Do you know how much evidence the labs can get from just dirt now?"
"No, I meant," Tony paused, trying to figure out the best way to phrase it so that Jack wouldn't get his hackles up, "You don't arrest vampires."
"What do I do then, stake 'em? I'm not exactly Buffy," Jack pointed out.
"You don't do that either," Tony said, the weight of Henry's secret - his vulnerability during the day, settling down like a cloak over him, "Vampires police their own."
Jack raised an eyebrow at his cryptic statement, which Tony figured he deserved. He shrugged in response and said, "Hey man, support your local vampire."
"Why?" Jack said, crossing his arms, "Does he support me?"
"You have no idea," Tony muttered.
Geetha came up beside them, and looked from Tony, to Jack, to the body, "So..." she said, "I'm guessing we're going with wild dogs again, huh?"
The problem with being woken up at 8 am on a Sunday morning to look at a naked dead guy was that Tony had to wait nearly ten hours before he could ask Henry about it.
"Hey, did you kill some guy over near the Burnaby Lake hiking trails?"
Henry was staring at him, eyebrows raised, and Tony regretting being blunt, but really, there wasn't anyway this conversation wasn't going to end up awkward, no matter how it started.
Henry finally spoke, "Am I to assume that you have some reason to think I might have?"
Tony shrugged, "It's either that, or you've got another vampire in your territory that you haven't done anything about yet," he admitted, "Which I didn't think was likely."
"It's not likely," Henry said thoughtfully, "But I would not be so stupid as to leave a body anywhere your Mountie would find it."
"He's not my Mountie, for the last time!"
Henry raised an eyebrow and gave him a look that conveyed, pretty eloquently, that Jack was totally Tony's Mountie, and Henry was not going to be convinced otherwise.
Tony would have given it a shot though, if his cell phone hadn't rung.
"Tony, can you talk?" Vicki said brusquely from the other end, sounding like she was channeling a bad spy thriller.
Tony paused, looking at Henry. Henry simply arched an eyebrow, and didn't move.
"I guess?" Tony said, "What's up?"
"Listen, Mike and I are going to need to crash at your place for a few days," Vicki said, and then corrected herself, "Well, Mike is, I'm going to sleep in the van."
"You're... visiting Vancouver? That's great!" Tony tried to conjure up the required enthusiasm, but couldn't quite manage it. For one thing, Vicki coming would up the potential number of vampires in the city to three, and from what he'd learned from Henry, that, where vampires are concerned, if two's company, three's a crowd. Where "company" is like a vicious gang war, and "crowd" is basically a euphemism for an abattoir.
The second problem was that Lee was due back from LA in a few days. He was playing a minor role in the upcoming Star Trek sequel, and had been gone for weeks already. Tony had been really looking forward to him coming back... until Jack had shown him the dead guy. Lee and possible peril didn't mix well. And as much as Lee had been hinting that he wanted to meet Tony's family... Vicki and Mike were... not exactly the family he wanted him to meet.
When he and Lee had chatted about their histories Tony had left out the whole living on the streets, adopted by vampires thing. He would totally be more forthcoming with his boyfriends if his life wasn't so weird, Tony reflected dourly.
"I don't know Vicki, I don't have a lot of room at my place..."
"I'm sure it's fine," Vicki said brusquely, "It's just Mike, and he doesn't take up that much space-"
Which was a lie, actually, Mike Celluci was not a tiny man.
"-and I'll be sleeping in the van, like I said."
"Why don't you both just stay with Henry?"
The silence on the other end of the line was expressive, and Tony reminded himself again of how antagonistic Vicki and Henry could get when sharing a space. For most of the time he had been with Henry, it had been exactly the opposite. They'd been like magnets, drawn together, oblivious to everyone else. And when Vicki had been turned, that first year, the feeling had been even more intense, as though there was no room for anything else between them, no matter how far apart they might be physically at any given moment. Once, he remembered, they'd been all sitting together, calmly watching Law and Order, when Henry and Vicki had started making out, leaning across him to get to each other. He'd had to slide up out from underneath them and escape over the back of the couch just to avoid accidentally becoming part of a threesome... without them even noticing.
But then, suddenly, it was if one of the magnets had its poles reverse, and there was nothing but primal, physical repulsion between them. And Vicki had left, without warning, and had gone back to Toronto and her old life, and Mike Celluci.
Tony had been left with Henry. For a while things had been good. He'd had school, which was one of those necessary evils, but still novel enough in it's normalcy to be kind of amusing. And he'd had his job at the video store, which could have been a crap job if his co-workers hadn't been pretty cool guys, and if he hadn't been able to watch the movies as they played, muted, on a large display monitor. But it hadn't really been enough, not after he'd seen, up close and personal, what Henry and Vicki had together.
That was the part Henry never got. Love was love, and Henry had - did - love Tony. But not like he loved Vicki. And knowing that Henry could love like that meant that Tony hadn't just been satisfied with whatever Henry could spare him. Tony wanted what Vicki and Henry had.
Well, not the part where they couldn't be in the same room together without snarling like wild dogs.
"Ok, so, no staying with Henry," Tony said. Henry stared across the room at him, arms crossed, face unimpressed.
"I don't want Henry knowing I'm in town," Vicki said.
Oops, too late.
Tony had gotten Henry to promise that he'd act like he'd never heard anything. Henry had been calm and mature about the whole thing... vowing that he'd give Vicki space to come to him in her own time, or to simply visit Tony without the complications of her relationship with Henry interfering, if she chose.
So Tony was not really surprised that Henry showed up not ten minutes after Celluci had dumped his luggage in Tony's living room, and interrupted his hopeful - and ultimately hopeless - search for a guest bedroom, with a badly feigned pretense of "having just been in the neighborhood."
Vicki had not seemed altogether surprised either, though she'd thrown a reproachful look at Tony, which had managed to hurt, actually, even if Tony had been morbidly anticipating worse for days.
"What are you doing here, Henry?" Vicki asked in weary defeat.
"Where's your sofa, Foster?" Celluci said, now casting around for a place to sit, and having apparently dismissed the cheap folding chairs, was eyeing the bed that took up most of Tony's one room apartment dubiously.
"I visit Tony quite often, Vicki," Henry replied innocently, "What are you doing here? Bit out of the way for you, isn't it?"
"You're looking at it," Tony told Mike apologetically, "Sofa bed. I almost never fold it up though."
"What's a bit of a drive to visit an old friend?" Vicki said.
"Where am I supposed to sleep?" Mike asked peevishly.
"Of course," Henry said, "I've been meaning to pop over to Toronto myself."
"I figured we'd share. Unless you're worried about your virtue?" Tony suggested impishly.
Vicki suddenly cut him a look with eyes that flashed silver, and Tony instantly toned down the innuendo.
Mike just shrugged, "I'm too fucking old for the floor," and sank wearily down on the mattress, "Vicki, just tell Fitzroy why we're here already so I can get some sleep," he said with the unmistakable tones of a man who'd spent the last four days driving cross continent and was only just now feeling it.
Vicki didn't look nearly as worn out as Mike - being an immortal vampire had it's perks, after all - but there was a tightness around her eyes that was the only thing that Tony could see in her expression that explained why she suddenly, uncharacteristically, gave in.
"Last month or so," she began, "I noticed another vampire skulking around my... around Toronto. Not a nice one, either, he'd kill as often as not, and was starting to attract some attention-"
"Which was fun for me," Mike added, suppressing a yawn, and behind his nonchalance, Tony could see the hints of a story there, of questions that had needed to be asked, and answers that had needed to be believed.
"- finally," Vicki paused carefully, "I was able to confront him. Fight him," she amended.
"Did you win?" Tony asked, panicked, suddenly horrified that she had maybe lost, and was coming to Vancouver to -
"No!" Vicki cried, clearly insulted, "I wiped the floor with him, obviously," she added pointedly, "And I thought that was the end of it-"
"Did you?" Henry murmured, and there was something unreadable in his eyes that Vicki clearly caught, because she nodded briefly in silent understanding, before continuing.
"I thought that was the end of it, but then he sent me a ... message, a few days later, something about how he was going west to pay some of my friends a visit."
"Which we assumed meant you," Mike told Henry, "Only she didn't want to tell you, because of some macho vampire crap."
"Hey!" Vicki said, swatting him.
"I see," Henry said, arching a brow, "So you knew there was a vampire in my territory, and you did not tell me?"
"It's my mess," Vicki said firmly, and wow, any second now, they were going to start pissing in the corners.
"Actually," Tony said, because it was his apartment, damn it, and no one pissed in the corners but him, "It's my mess now too, since I was the one who the Mounties dragged in to look at one of the victims."
"You're working with the police again?" Vicki asked him, suddenly switching off her queen of the damned thing to smile with pleasure, "Good for you. I always said you were my best informant."
The evident pride in her voice made Tony flush a little, "So, uh, maybe I can help out on this one?" He offered, knowing he was being manipulate just a little, but pleased nonetheless.
Vicki nodded, still smiling.
"I think you are all forgetting that it's my city," Henry interjected coldly, for all his princely hauteur, sounding like a sulky child more than anything.
"Of course it is," Vicki soothed, "And I will definitely keep you informed about what's going on."
"And you'll let me handle him when we find him," Henry said, not asking.
"If it's at all possible," Vicki said - clearly telegraphing to everyone that she didn't think it would be, "I will let you handle him."
Henry narrowed his eyes, but let it drop in that way that probably meant he was totally just going to go behind her back now. "Hello, Michael," he said, suddenly, smiling at Mike with all of his teeth, and not a small portion of his not inconsiderable charm, "Did you have a good trip?" He asked, dropping down next to Mike on the bed.
"It was fine," Mike said, clearly bemused, but a red flush was starting to rise up his neck. Henry "hmm-ed" softly, and reached an arm around Mike and began rubbing at his shoulder, "You must be tense," he said, and Mike inexplicably relaxed into touch.
Tony had thought, at first, that this was a typical Henry reversal, targeted at Vicki - a sort of, if you get Tony, I get Mike kind of thing. But there was an uncharacteristic sincerity in his eyes as he looked at Mike, that told Tony this was, if a loaded gesture, not entirely a pretense. And Mike was, exhausted or not, allowing the unusual intimacy. Which was weird because last time Tony had checked, he'd been pretty sure Mike hated Henry. There was nearly as much tension between those two as there was between Henry and Vicki, and...
Tony risked a glance over at Vicki, and found her frowning thoughtfully, but not as angry at Henry's interaction with Mike as he might have expected.
"You do look tired, Mike," she said finally, giving Henry an inscrutable look when he glanced over. Henry dropped his arm and rose, shrugging a little.
"I will leave you to your rest," Henry said, "But I will return tomorrow night to hear about your progress, Vicki," and his tone was a warning.
Vicki nodded, apparently agreeing, but her eyes flashed silver when she raised her head, and Tony realized that the next couple of days were, at least, not going to be boring.
Despite the length of the nights, now that it was approaching winter, Vicki and Mike had arrived late enough - and were more importantly tired enough - that they had agreed that the vampire hunting could wait till tomorrow.
Tony theoretically approved, except that it left him squeezing into a bed with Celluci earlier than he had expected, while Vicki prowled around his dimly lit apartment and tried to borrow his laptop.
"Tony, I think your computer's crashed," she called, just as he was, improbably dropping off to sleep, despite the fact that Mike had stolen the blankets, "It's stuck on spider solitaire."
"It only does magic, Vicki, it doesn't get internet."
"But you have wireless, right?"
"Neighbor does," Tony yawned, and fell asleep before he heard Vicki's reply.
The next morning Tony woke up on the floor, only vaguely remembering that he'd decided to just grab a pillow and go with it, after Celluci had pushed him out of the bed for the second time.
Tony still had to go into work. Even though they weren't filming again yet, there were some things that the crew needed to do to get ready, so he put in his hours, a little glad that he would have some normalcy in his day. He had called Jack during his lunch break, though, and tried to learn if there had been any new developments over the last few days, but ended up having to dodge more questions than he'd been able to have answered.
He'd considered calling Kevin Groves, but then figured they probably weren't that desperate yet. He did stop by a newsstand on the way home to check the tabloids for any reports of vampires though, just in case.
It was full dark by the time he got back to the apartment, and he was half surprised to see that Henry hadn't shown up yet.
Vicki was in the middle of grilling Mike, who stopped telling her about something he'd found in the park to wave Tony towards a steaming hot pizza he must have only just ordered, before continuing, "So, probably, your best bet is going to be to start along one of the more popular hiking trails, where people go jogging after work, that sort of thing."
"Burnaby Park," Tony suggested, grabbing a slice of pizza and easing it onto a plate.
"That's near one of Henry's hunting grounds," Vicki said speculatively.
"Coincidence?" Tony asked around a mouthful of extra pepperoni.
"Probably not," Vicki snorted, and stood up, grabbing her jacket from the back of the chair, "Listen guys, finish your pizza, I'll be back in a bit."
"Where are you going?"
"She's going to check out the park," Mike rolled his eyes, answering for her.
"Hey," Vicki protested mildly, "A girl's gotta eat. Nothing wrong with that. So what if I'd heard it's a popular dining spot?"
"What do I tell Henry?"
"Tell him I got hungry," she said with a sharp toothed grin, and left.
Henry arrived just as Tony's phone had started to ring, so he'd left Mike to let Henry in, while he'd fished his phone out of his pocket.
"Hey, Lee, how's LA?" he greeted, having seen the actor's name on the caller id.
When Mike had opened the door, Tony saw Henry's nostrils flare - no doubt he'd known in that instant that Vicki wasn't anywhere nearby, but he made a show of looking around the apartment, as though there was perhaps some secret space she was lurking in. He didn't actually check under the bed or in the closet, though, which was probably for the best, as he'd have only found disappointment and dirty laundry. Tony turned his back on Henry, and pressed the phone closer to his ear, endeavoring to ignore Henry and Mike.
"It was 70 and partly sunny when I left," Lee said, sounding amused, "Which I'll miss. I'm at the airport."
The airport. Crap. "Do you need a ride?" Tony asked hesitantly.
"So what did you find out?" Henry was demanding. Mike replied something that Tony didn't catch. He covered his free ear.
"I thought I'd catch a cab," Lee said, sounding carefully neutral, and Tony remembered that picking Lee up at the airport when he was surrounded by paparazzi was probably not the most practical suggestion.
"Right," Tony said.
"Do you have people over?" Lee asked suddenly, "I hear arguing."
Tony lifted his hand from his ear and realized he heard arguing too, Mike and Henry were right up in each others' faces.
"Where is she?" Henry was demanding.
"Hunting," Mike told him flatly.
"Uh, it's just the TV," Tony lied to Lee hurriedly, "I should - I need to, um, turn the volume down before the neighbors complain."
"Gotta go, bye!" he finished brightly, and clicked the off button.
"She needed to eat, Henry! I didn't think you wanted to share a table," Mike was saying.
Henry grimaced, but didn't argue, taking Mike's explanation at face value, Tony guessed. "What's the plan?" Henry demanded finally.
"We're waiting for Vicki," Tony told him, hoping she wouldn't be much longer, and that he could just leave it at that. Well, if she'd found something, she'd probably be gone for a while, but Tony had gotten the sense that this was more of a preliminary scouting thing.
Celluci had, companionably enough, handed his notes from that day over to Henry, and then started to wander around the small space while Henry perused them. There wasn't a lot of space to wander in, however, which Tony could have told him, and eventually he ended up over at Tony's bookshelf. Instead of looking at any of the shelves, which were packed with DVDs, he seemed to be drawn to Tony's sole houseplant. Tony had salvaged it from a demon-summoning botanist who Tony had dealt with a few weeks ago. Luckily for Tony he'd been better at botany than demon summoning, but Tony had thought the plant might be legitimately magical.
"Tony," Celluci said breaking the silence with forced casualness, "What kind of plant is this? It's weird."
"It's magic," Tony replied swiftly, because he was happy enough to have the subject changed too, "The pollen can be used in love potions-"
"Wait, why would Vicki not feed from you?" Henry tried to interrupt.
"-it lowers your inhibitions, and-" Tony said, ignoring him.
"You can make love potions?" Celluci asked.
"Well, no. Theoretically, I can, but-"
"Or from Tony?" Henry interjected.
Tony threw him an apologetic glance, but there was no way he was going to tell Henry what Vicki's logic must have been, that she would have wanted to check out one of Henry's hunting grounds for clues, without risking his territorial imperative getting in the way of her investigative skills. For one thing, he didn't think it would prevent Henry from being annoyed, and for another, Henry's territorial imperative was nothing to joke about.
"She'll be back soon," Mike said absently, running one large finger under the swollen curve of one of the large, flesh pink petals of Tony's plant. The gesture was a little sexual, and Tony would have mocked him for it, except that the plant seemed to agree, and shuddered slightly, and then the single flower fell open, misting Mike's hand, and a good portion of Tony's bookshelf with thick, blood red pollen.
"Damn," Mike said, staring at his stained hand. He made a move to wipe it off on his jeans, and then thought better of it, and instead shook it sharply, so that pollen began to fall free.
"Oh, here, let me," Henry sneered, and snatched a few napkins off the table before he stalked over to Mike. He grabbed Mike's wrist tightly when he tried to jerk away and then began wiping the pollen from Mike's hand, uncharacteristically gentle.
All of a sudden, the room seemed to go very still and quiet. Mike's breathing was loud, though, the only thing Tony could hear. He was breathing like he'd run a marathon. Like he'd run a marathon and won, actually, because there was a euphoric note to his heavy pants that Tony found a bit suspicious.
Henry stopped wiping Mike's hand, though he didn't let go, just stood there, standing a bit too close, and staring up at Mike, his eyes wide.
And then Mike stepped closer, crowding into Henry's personal space and looming over Henry in a way Tony had never seen him manage, even though Henry was nearly a foot shorter. The electric, skin prickling feeling that Tony got in the presence of Henry's hunger was strong, and it must have been pouring off of him in waves, but Henry wasn't using it to dominate Celluci. It was more like he was trying to lure him in, seduce him... oh, hell.
And then it was too late, and they were kissing. Really kissing, open mouthed, and going for it, practically devouring each other.
Tony just stared for a moment, dumbstruck. Was this... because of the plant? He eyed it dubiously, but it just sat there innocently, the open flower trailing a thin wisp of red pollen onto the shelf.
A shirt flew past his head.
"Seriously, are you guys messing with me?" Tony asked, his voice going a little shrill.
They didn't answer. Mike was dominating the kiss and had Henry bent back till his back was bowed, until Henry ripped his mouth away, and growled, flipping Mike onto the bed, which squealed in protest, and then pounced on him, which the springs also did not enjoy. Then they were kissing again.
"I guess not," Tony said. Should he throw some water on them? Only it was never really a good idea to interrupt Henry, and even when Leah's sex mojo had been involved, Henry hadn't been quite like this. This was... intense.
Also, getting progressively more naked, Tony noted, dodging Mike's boxers, which Henry had flung enthusiastically over his shoulder. Mike's cock, Tony had time to observe appreciably, was very big and very red. And then it disappeared into Henry's mouth.
Tony gulped and ripped his eyes away. If he kept looking, he might start wishing he had the balls to join in, but he knew that it would only end in tears. Namely his tears, when Vicki eviscerated him for it later.
He grabbed his laptop and keys, and darted out of the apartment, shutting the door behind him, and collapsing onto the cheap carpet outside. He wanted pretty badly to just – go somewhere else, especially because he could still hear the bed going inside, and damn – did that mean his neighbors could totally hear him when he...?
Tony refused to think about it, and booted up the laptop, hoping desperately to find a reverse love spell or something.
A half hour later, all Tony knew was that Arra considered love and lust spells immoral, and that Celluci had a really impressively short recovery time for a man in his forties. There had been a short cantrip for unfogging the mind, but when Tony had cracked the door and tried it on the two oblivious men, nothing had happened. Well, Tony had gotten an eyeful, actually, and he'd had to have a stern talk with himself before his inconvenient erection had subsided, but nothing useful had happened.
Then the elevator chimed from the end of the hall, and Tony knew he was doomed.
The metal doors peeled open, and Vicki stepped out, looking flushed and content, and Tony had a moment to be grateful that she must have had time to feed before she caught sight of him sitting guiltily outside his apartment and frowned.
"Hey, Vicki," he said weakly.
"Why are you-"
The springs of his bed chose that moment to give a particularly loud squeal. A throaty moan followed it, floating out into the hall.
Vicki stared. Tony stood up, scooting his laptop safely out of the way, and moved to stand in front of the door, holding out his hands. "Victory, it's not..."
"The fuck it isn't," she snarled, going full on vampire mode in an instant, eyes silver, teeth bright and sharp. Then she was shoving him out of the way, and wrenching the door open.
There was a red flash, a loud pop, and suddenly cherries were raining down around her, bouncing off her shoulders and hair as Tony's wards gave way, set off, Tony was distressed to realize, because of the threat she now presented to those inside.
She paused for a moment, looking incredulously at the cherries, and then shrugged them off, and bounded inside. Tony peered warily past her, and saw Henry shudder in the unmistakable grip of orgasm, coming against the pale length of Celluci's strong thigh. A second later, Vicki had grabbed him by the back of his neck, and pulled him off of Celluci, who was blinking up at her a little blankly, still clearly wrapped in the warm oblivion of his afterglow, and flung Henry across Tony's apartment. It would have been more impressive if Tony's apartment hadn't been the size of a shoe box, but the force was still enough to send several DVDs toppling off his shelve. A poster fluttered down, almost belatedly, from the opposite wall.
Henry sprang up, snarling, and Vicki growled back menacingly, fangs bared and gleaming. It looked a lot like a Discovery Channel special on angry lions, except without the reassuringly safe framework of the TV.
"Don't!" Mike cried, sitting up and vainly clutching a sheet – torn, and stained, Tony noticed, in petty irritation – over his groin.
Neither Vicki nor Henry looked at him, but they went still, white lips closing down over their teeth, their eyes still glowing brightly in the dim light of Tony's 30 watt overhead light.
Tony's phone rang, the theme song of the Darkest Night cutting suddenly into the too tense silence. Tony answered it hurriedly, even though he didn't recognize the number on the display – usually a sign that someone wanted money from him – because anything had to be better than ringside seats to a vampire love triangle implosion.
"Hello?" Tony said, ducking into the bathroom, but leaving the door open so he could sort of keep an eye on things. A lot could happen in a standoff in just a few minutes.
"Mr. Foster?" He almost recognized the cool, professional voice, but couldn't quite place it.
"This is Ms. Wong from the Vancouver Public Library. I got your number from the receptionist at the studio where you work."
Typical Amy, giving out his number to random librarians, just because they asked, "Uh, can I help you? I don't think I have any overdue books." Mike was looking at him oddly now, as though he appreciated, but did not quite believe, that the universe would interrupt his soap opera moment for overdue books.
"Yes, I believe you can. You are the one who closed a demon gate in my library a few months ago, correct?"
Technically the choking noise Tony made wasn't meant as a confirmation, but she seemed to take it as such and continued on, "There is a vampire making a nuisance of himself in the local history room, and threatening my staff. Normally, I would say that a vampire has as much right to the library as anyone, but-"
Tony cut her off, seeing that his audience, or at least, the members with superhuman hearing, had caught the gist of things and were beginning to look impatient. Well, at least they weren't in Mexican standoff mode anymore.
"Right, got it, vamp in the library. I'm on my way." Tony assured her.
"We close in 30 minutes, Mr. Foster, I hope you have learned the value of punctuality since the last time we spoke," she said, and the click of the connection closing was the only sign off he got.
"This has to be our guy," Vicki said shortly, moving to the door, "Let's go, Tony."
"I'm going with you," Mike said, reaching for his jacket.
"Not smelling like him, you're not," Vicki snarled back.
Mike flinched, his hand clenching in the fabric of his jacket.
Henry looked between the two of them slowly, "I suppose you would also prefer that I not accompany you?"
"Got that right," Vicki said, eyes narrowed.
"Then I will wait here, and we can discuss... this... when you return."
"You think I'm leaving you alone with Mike again?" Vicki growled, "Don't even think about it."
Tony could see that she was close to losing it again, but he forced a casual tone and said, "C'mon, Victory, we don't want to let the nice librarians get eaten."
Vicki snorted, but turned to follow him. And if she slammed the door so hard behind her that it shook in the frame and little bits of plaster rained down from the hallway ceiling, Tony really couldn't blame her.
The ride to the library, Vicki riding shotgun in Tony's car, was tense and silent.
Finally Tony broke down, "Listen Vicki, this whole thing is my fault-" he began.
"Oh? How so?" Vicki said, her voice dangerously calm. From his peripheral vision, Tony could see her eyes begin to glow silver.
"It's this plant I have," he continued, knowing that it sounded ridiculous, but needing to explain, "It's supposed to be for love potions... anyway, Mike got some pollen on him, and then Henry tried to help him clean it off and then he got some on him, and then-"
"And then, overcome by the power of your magical pollen, they fell into bed together?" Vicki said dryly, "I see. That makes perfect sense. I don't even know why I was upset."
"Let me ask you something, Tony," Vicki said, her tone brisk, "Do you really think Mike and Henry had sex because of some fucking pollen?"
Tony couldn't even breath, the tension around her was so thick.
"You see things, Tony. You always have. You see things and you know. So now I want to know if you think this is just a bad case of sex pollen."
Tony stared ahead, not quite daring to glance over at her, and finally, drifting slowly to a stop at a traffic light, couldn't avoid answering her, "No, the pollen isn't really magic."
Vicki was right. It was a cool looking plant, but it wasn't magic, not really. It hadn't worked in the potion he tried, and while that botanist may have had a unique talent for hybridization, he really, really had not known what he was doing with the whole demon summoning magic thing. So the only power the pollen had, really, was the power of suggestion.
Amazingly, Vicki relaxed, sagging suddenly back into her seat and sighing, as the light turned green and Tony continued down the street.
"Mike had a sex dream about you once," she said out of nowhere, and Tony narrowly avoiding sideswiping some parked cars as he struggled to regain his grip on the wheel and his sanity.
"I'm just saying, he's not as straight as he likes to pretend," Vicki said, "He's thought about it. He's even thought about Henry. So it was kind of inevitable," she said, her voice going soft, "I just thought – that he would talk to me first. Or that I would be there-"
"I don't even really have the right to be jealous, you know?" She said, "I wanted both of them. I had both of them."
"You still have them," Tony said.
"I know. Ugh, God, can we stop talking about this? Fucking feelings," she growled, savagely twisting the radio dial for the volume until the music filled the car, precluding any further conversation.
"Mr. Foster, I called you because I wanted less vampires in my library, not more," Ms Wong said, assessing Vicki with a quick glance, then looking coolly back at Tony.
"Right," Tony said, a little thrown that she had instantly known what Vicki was. He'd been weirded out enough when she'd pointed him straight at the demon gate in the reading room during the Demonic Convergence, even though most people couldn't see them - and now she could tell vampires at a glance? Tony hated it when there was extra weirdness, "Well, you know what they say, it takes a vampire to catch a vampire."
She shrugged a slender shoulder dismissively, "Follow me," she said, and then wound her way through the tall shelves of books.
Just past the mystery section was a large set of arched doors with frosted glass inset panels. Through the glass, Tony could see the outline of two figures. It looked as though the taller of the two figures was bending over the shorter one threateningly. Tony threw the door open.
" - know better than to sit on top of the table," the shorter figure - who turned out to be a young woman in funky boots and a brightly green dress - was saying, "And really, if you're not going to use the local history materials, I am going to have to ask you to go out to the main area," she finished, crossing her arms and glaring impressively over her glasses.
The vampire, who was not so much looming over her threateningly as lifting himself down off of one of the long reading tables, looked up as the door banged against the wall.
"Ah," he said, eyes glittering, "Victoria Nelson. What a surprise to see you here in Vancouver," and began to walk towards them slowly, hips swaying provocatively.
"Thank you, Enid, you can go back to the desk now," Ms. Wong was saying to the young woman.
"Finally!" Enid said, "Also, the one of the printers stopped working, and that angry lady was accusing Mr. Fowler of looking at hardcore porn again on the public PCs," she added over her shoulder, already half out the door.
"Steven. You should have known I'd follow you," Vicki snarled.
"On the contrary, the last time we spoke, you were very insistent on your desire to remain in Toronto, and thus, your requirement that I leave," he said, tilting his head to look at her quizzically.
"You can't threaten my friends and live," Vicki said.
"Excuse me," Ms. Wong said to Tony, "But I trust you have everything under control here?"
At Tony's noncommittal nod, she sighed, "Then I need to go look at that damn printer," she said, looking more harried about that than the vampire, and then left, darting quietly out the door and pulling the doors gently shut behind her.
Tony didn't even think Vicki or Steven noticed.
"But Henry was my friend long before he was yours, Victoria," Steven said, "I'm simply... paying him a visit."
"Wait, you know Henry?" Tony asked, regretting it when Steven turned towards him, his eyes glinting dangerously.
"Oh yes," he said, padding softly over towards Tony, stopping just a pace from the boundary of Tony's personal space, yet still managing to set all the short hairs on Tony's body on end, "Far longer than you have. Longer than either of you. Yet you still," he said, darting a look at Vicki, "thought to usurp me."
"Usurp?" Tony asked carefully, half his mind busy calculating whether or not he's have time to get off a powershot if things started to get ugly.
"She knows what I mean."
Vicki was watching, tense and rigid. Tony could tell she was keeping the urge to attack held in by only the slimmest of thread of control by the way she nearly trembled with suppressed anger.
"Fine," Tony said, right now not really caring if Steven and Vicki had butted heads over territory or over Henry. "If you don't want to tell me, don't. But just so you know, you didn't come out looking so good in Vicki's version of the story."
"And I care what you think?" Steven asked, eyes narrowing, "A puny human that Henry did not even care to grant his powers to?"
"Henry's not the only power in this city," Tony said, starting to get angry himself, "And I don't like it when dead bodies start showing up in my city."
"You mean my little calling card for Henry?" Steven smirked, "I rather enjoyed that. I'll enjoy it even more when I'm taking the lives of those closest to him," he added, "like you. Or the television producer, perhaps?"
Tony would have laughed at the thought of Steven threatening CB, who was probably more than twice his size, if he didn't know just how much stronger than humans vampires were.
"Or maybe the detective," Steven mused, "That would do fairly nicely, I think."
"That's it," Vicki said, and went for him.
Steven, unfortunately, wasn't an idiot, because he didn't wait for her attack. Clearly knowing he was going to cross a line, he had thrown Tony aside the moment he had finished his threat, and made for the door. Vicki followed him out, a blur of jacket, denim and sneaker that Tony would have barely been able to make out even if he hadn't been dazed from being thrown into the wall.
Tony picked himself up and sprinted after them, under no delusion that he'd be able to catch up. He still managed to track their progress by following a trail of books knocked off their shelves. Ms. Wong wasn't going to be happy about that, he thought with a wince.
When he finally flung open the main door to the library, he nearly skidded right into Vicki, who was standing on the stone steps and peering out into the night.
"Asshole threw a kid at me," Vicki said, clearly pissed, "Got away while I was trying figure out what to do with her."
Tony's panting breath made puffs of steam in the cold air. He couldn't help by notice, meaninglessly, that Vicki's breath made none.
"What do we do now?" He asked.
"We look for him," Vicki shrugged, "Get the car."
Ten minutes later, it was clear that they'd lost him. They were still driving, but it was aimless now, even though neither of them wanted to admit it. Tony was concentrating so hard on peering into the shadows and not crashing the car that when his phone rang, he jumped, and it was a few seconds before he could collect himself enough to take one hand off the wheel to fish his cell out of his pocket.
"So, there's cherries on your floor, a strange guy in your shower who yelled at me, and your whole apartment smells like sex, Tony, what the fuck!"
"Lee?" Tony asked, hoping the dismay wasn't evident in his voice. Usually, hearing that Lee had unexpectedly dropped by his place made him happy, but today was... not usual.
"And before you ask, no, I didn't set off the wards again," Lee said. He had set off the wards one memorable time when he'd been possessed by the ghost of a particularly ardent teenage fan, and was a little paranoid about it now. Hell, Tony was paranoid about it too, Lee got possessed way more than was normal. If there was a normal for that sort of thing.
"And the guy in the shower was all 'who the fuck are you? Don't tell me Tony's hustling again'," Lee paused, making the statement a question, and Tony cursed Mike silently, and didn't say anything.
"Seriously, Tony, what's going on?" Lee said, sounding like he was torn between being worried and seriously pissed off.
"Uh, it's a long story-" Tony began, hesitantly, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Vicki was beginning to smirk a little bit, no doubt using her fucking vampire super hearing to eavesdrop shamelessly.
"Yeah, I guessed that," Lee said dryly, and then, in a different tone, "Tony, there's blood on your sheets!"
Fuck. Vicki tensed, "That asshole fed on Mike?" she growled.
Tony ignored her, now cursing Henry's suddenly sloppy eating habits. Usually, he only acted like that when he was particularly excited, and – wow, not the time to go there.
"It's fine," Tony said finally, "There was a small accident, but-"
"You're a terrible liar, have I ever told you that?" Lee said, and it might have been teasing, except his voice was totally flat, "Someone was having sex in here."
"And," Lee said, talking over him, "As I may have mentioned, there is a strange man in your shower. If you cheated on me, I swear I will fly back to LA and take Zach Quinto up on his very, very generous offer."
Vicki's quick reflexes, and hand on the wheel, were all that kept him from plowing the car into a dumpster. Tony was too distracted to care, "I fucking knew it! Did he hit on you?"
"Tony! Can we focus on the guy in your shower?"
"For Christ's sake, Tony, just tell him about Celluci before you crash the car," Vicki added.
"Right, sorry," Tony said, "It's just a friend, he's staying over for a while-"
"Yeah?" Lee asked skeptically, though his voice was a little warmer now, where warmer was a shade up from arctic, "Where's he sleeping? Because I don't know if you noticed, Tony, but you don't actually have a couch."
About to protest that Mike was straight, Tony realized he couldn't actually do that anymore. "Nothing happened, Lee, I promise."
"So who had sex then?" Lee protested, sounding almost plaintive.
"Um," Tony said, risking a glance at Vicki. She rolled her eyes at him. "He kind of hooked up with Henry."
There was a long, ominous pause before Lee spoke again, "So, your house guest had violent sex with your romance-writing ex-boyfriend on your bed?"
"Yes," Tony said, trying to make his voice sound as earnest as possible.
"You expect me to believe that?"
"Not really," Tony sighed, "But it's the truth, for what that's worth."
There was a long pause, then, "You didn't explain the cherries."
"The cherries are hard to explain," Tony offered.
"Whatever," Lee sighed, his breath gusting heavily into the phone, "Just meet me back at my place whenever you're done... whatever it is you're doing, ok? Your place is a little crowded."
Tony heard a sharp staccato noise in the background, "Lee, are you still at my apartment?"
"Yeah, well, I wasn't going to leave in case you'd been shoved in a closet by the crazy man in your shower or something. Anyway, hold on,someone's knocking on your door," Lee said, "I'm guessing Henry?" He said wryly.
Vicki was shaking her head next to him in the car, "He wouldn't go back so soon," she said, "He knows I'd kill him."
Tony looked at her for a long moment, eyes wide in understand, "Lee," he said urgently, "Don't answer the door."
There was no answer. Tony knew how small his apartment was, it would take Lee barely three steps to make it to the door. He hadn't spoken nearly quickly enough to stop him.
Tony held his breath, straining his hearing for some sound, but there wasn't anything. There was still the soft, almost imperceptible hush of static that told him the call was still connected, but - He handed the phone to Vicki.
Understanding at once what he wanted, she pressed the phone to her ear, lips set.
"Nothing," she said softly after a minute, "The call ended." Neither of them thought that Lee had just hung up the phone.
Tony turned his eyes back on the road, and turned made a left turn that would take him home.
They were two blocks away from Tony's place when his cell rang again. Vicki scooped it up from where she'd been cradling it in her lap and handed it to him, after glancing at the screen.
"It's Henry," she said shortly.
Tony was relieved. He'd wanted to call Henry, but he wasn't sure, given how things stood between Vicki and Henry, that it would be a good idea.
"Hey, Henry listen-"
"Celluci and Lee have been kidnapped."
"Someone's in the loop," Vicki muttered, "How'd he know?"
"How do you-"
"I was parked across from your apartment," Henry said tersely, "Celluci came out carrying Lee, and there was another man following them," He paused, "A vampire. They got into the van and drove off. I'm following them, they just turned west onto the highway."
"Why didn't he stop them?" Vicki snarled, as Tony risked life and limb to make a quick U-turn that would taken them onto the highway.
"Why didn't you stop them?" Tony repeated, more than a little annoyed that Henry had just left Lee to get abducted.
"I tried, but he saw me coming for them," Henry said thickly, "and shot me."
"He has a gun?"
"How else did you think he convinced Celluci to help him cart Lee around? He didn't ask nicely." Henry replied to Vicki's question, "I'm fine, by the way," not waiting for Tony to referee the conversation, "The good news is I don't think he knows I'm following him."
"How does he know that?" Vicki protested.
"Did I mention the part where he shot me?" Henry replied, "Anyway, at least now he can't do anything to either of them until he stops."
"I'm on my way," Tony said, "Tell me where he's going."
"That was the plan," Henry replied, his steady voice calming Tony a little, even through the phone, "We're just past exit 6."
"Got it," Tony said, and then flipped the phone to Vicki.
She didn't pick it up, glaring at him out of silver lit eyes.
"I can't do a high speed chase and talk on the phone, Victory!"
"Fine," she said tensely, "Pull over, I'll drive."
"Just pick up the phone, Vicki, please?"
Henry said something, his smooth baritone audible from the phone's speakers, though Tony couldn't make out what he was saying. Vicki could though, because she listened for a moment, then blew out a breath, and put the phone to her ear.
"Tony, he's turning off at the mall exit." She said after a moment.
Tony pressed down harder on the gas pedal.
Twenty minutes later, Tony was driving on a what could charitably be called a road, but was really little more than a dirt track.
"Henry says pull over when you see his car," Vicki told him.
Henry's car wasn't far, and Henry himself was standing next to it, phone held to his ear. He lowered it, and shut it off when he saw them.
"Where are they?" Tony asked, opening his door to get out.
"Just up ahead," Henry assured him, "Don't worry, I can hear their hearts from here, they're still fine. But I didn't want to get too close and tip him off before you got here." He was staring at Vicki as he said the last sentence, and Tony got that 'you' pretty much meant Vicki. Apparently the wizard was back to not counting when it came to the action-adventure part of the day. Or maybe it was a vampire thing, who knew?
There was a torn looking strip of white material strapped around Henry's upper arm that was spotted red. Vicki stared at it for a moment, her nostril flaring, and then she looked up into Henry's eyes. They continued to stare at each other for a wordless moment, until finally Tony began to wonder if he should say something, but finally Vicki nodded and set off down the path, "What are you guys waiting for?" She snapped, and Henry and Tony fell in line behind her.
The vampire's hide-out was little more than a shack, a little one story house that couldn't have had more than two rooms. They crept around the back, keeping low until they were under one of the windows.
The windows were covered in blackout curtains, but Tony could still hear voices, faintly. Tony strained to hear what was happening.
"I hate being held hostage," Lee was saying, "Why does this always happen?"
"Sounds like a personal problem to me," Celluci grunted in reply.
"Oh, bite me," Lee said, "At least I'm wearing pants."
"Oh, right, I forgot to mention," Henry whispered, "Celluci was in his underwear when he left your apartment."
"Guy didn't let him put his pants on?" Tony whispered back, "That's cold."
"Literally," Vicki murmured, every evidence of delight in her voice, "It has to be nearly below zero."
Hell hath no fury, Tony thought, his balls shrinking a little in sympathy.
"It won't be a problem for you much longer," a third voice said, cold and dangerous, "Your friends are here."
"Shit," Vicki cursed.
"And if they want you to survive, in some form or another," Steven added, projecting his voice so that even Tony could hear it easily, "They will come in the front door and say hello like civilized people."
The front door was unlocked, and a single lit path led them through the house to the room where Steven was keeping Mike and Lee. Their hands were bound, and they were kneeling on the floor to either side of Steven, and it would have looked laughingly like they were in some bad dungeon porno, especially with Celluci in his boxers, except that Steven had a gun in each hand, carefully aimed at both of his captives.
"There are two of us, and only one of you," Vicki said.
Tony counted three, but he kept this to himself.
"But I have two guns," Steven replied calmly, "Inelegant, but more than effective enough. And Henry doesn't want to hurt me. Do you Henry?"
"I don't," Henry said flatly, "But I will if the occasion calls for it. And by the way, hello Steven, it's been a while. I didn't recognize you before when you were shooting me."
Steven smiled at him, for all the world like he was just exchanging pleasantries with Henry, "Did that hurt? I didn't want to shoot you, you understand, but I didn't want to fight you either."
"Forgive me," Henry said, his voice a low growl, "for not believing that you don't want to fight me when you have my friends at gunpoint."
"But I'm you're friend too, Henry. We're all yours," Steven continued, "Every one of us. When it comes down to it, you don't want to pick sides, do you? So don't. You can just... walk away."
"You're the one who invaded my territory, Steven," Henry said, sounding for all the world like he was simply scolding a recalcitrant child.
It worried Tony almost more than the gun on Lee. He had always been able to count on Henry to back him up, to support him, boss him around, or save him from pretty much anything. It was part of who he was - a guy who had been born before chivalry went out of style, who thought being a prince meant protecting those under his power. And as much as Tony might have chafed at the "under his power" part, he knew what the benefits were. But if Steven was the same to Henry as Tony... as Vicki...
In the long year when Vicki had lived with them in Vancouver, learning the extent of her fledgling vampiric abilities, and the corresponding limitations, Tony had been very, very careful to stay on her good side. Which wasn't hard - he'd wanted to please her, he had this whole hero worship thing going. But that year, even when it was a simple matter of squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom, he did what she wanted, and didn't call her out for leaving a metaphorical wet towel on the bathroom floor. Partly it was because, in the early days, her temper had been on a knife edge. But ultimately, he had walked on eggshells for one simple reason. If it came down to him versus Vicki, he knew exactly who Henry would back.
And if Henry had felt anything for Steven like he did for Vicki...
"This isn't your territory," Steven shouted, "Toronto is yours! I was born there, and you made me give it up so you could keep it yours! You made me leave - you exiled me from my home after making me immortal! And then you just gave it to her? Just pick up and move and give her your territory like it's nothing?" He said, waving a gun at Vicki, and then pointing it quickly back at Lee before any of them could take advantage of it.
"I heard rumors you had left Toronto," Steven continued, "So I went back. I went back to my home, Henry, only to have your little bitch run me out like a dog, saying it was her city."
"Steven," Henry said, and his tone was heartbroken, Tony couldn't help but note, "I am so sorry-"
"I don't want an apology," Steven practically shrieked.
"Oh God, shut up!" Vicki cut in, eyes narrowed, "Enough whining. You have guns pointed at the heads of our friends - fine, we're listening. What the fuck do you want already?"
"I want my life back!"
"Your life ended almost a hundred years ago," Henry said softly, going for logic, Tony noticed instead of going for the throat, like he usually would.
Oh yeah, Henry was slipping. He'd gone from MVP to the weakest link. They needed to end this fast, before Henry's loyalties became divided any further. Mike was looking increasingly pissed, and Tony knew that he was a heartbeat away from trying something, anything, as long as he had an opening. Lee looked like he was waiting too. Of all of them, Lee had the most first hand experience of what Tony could do.
"I'm going to assume," Tony said, slowing raising his hands up, palms forward, in that universal gesture of nonviolent surrender, "That there is something you want that we can actually give you."
"Don't be a smart-ass with me-"
"He can't help it," Vicki said wearily, "It's his default mode."
"-and stop moving," Steven cocking both guns in his hands, so that they were mere inches from Mike and Lee's heads.
It didn't matter though, Tony didn't have to move any more. And those inches were all the room he needed.
Tony concentrated for a moment and reached, and both guns came swinging around toward him. Steven still clinging on, thoughtlessly fired, before losing his grip completely so that they flew, now harmless, into Tony's upturned palms.
And then Tony dropped them, because, ow. One of the fired guns had found a target, somewhere that motherfucking hurt, probably where Tony kept all of his soft squishy parts that he needed for living, ow.
He'd known it could happen - would happen, really, it was something he'd factored into his half-assed non-plan. Because, it hurt. It really hurt. But it didn't hurt as much as it would have if one of the bullets had found Lee. Even dead wouldn't hurt that much.
Although the burning hole in his side was giving it the good old college try.
As he slumped to the ground, trying to keep his hand pressed to his wound, he saw his plan take shape around him. Mike had used the opening Tony had given him, and had tackled Lee armlessly, throwing himself at the actor and rolling them both out of Steven's range. Henry, infuriated by the scent of Tony's blood, had jumped onto Steven, closely followed by Vicki, who, from what Tony could tell, had held back for the merest instant to check that Mike was ok.
There... wasn't going to be much left of Steven though. After.
"Tony? Tony!" A voice was yelling beside his ear. Tony tried to see who, but his head didn't want to turn. Also his eyes were going blurry.
"Tony!" Then, suddenly, there were arms around his shoulders, holding him up, "God, I hate it when you do this!" Lee said, cursing.
"Save your ass, you mean?" Tony stumbled over the words a bit, but he thought they still sounded kind of cool.
Lee chuckled a little, but Tony couldn't tell if really thought it was funny, or was just acting to make Tony feel better.
Which reminded him...
"Ow, fuck!" Tony said, later, when he could breath again, and his world wasn't made of pain.
"What did you just do?" Lee asked, looking a little desperate. On the plus side, Tony could see him very clearly now.
"Healed myself," Tony grunted, "Do not try this at home."
"It looked more like you were killing yourself," Lee said skeptically, pulling Tony's shirt out of his pants, and lifting it up to check the wound. The resultant tenting in his pants, a Pavlovian reaction to Lee undressing him, probably went as far as the now unblemished skin on his side toward convincing Lee he was really ok.
"It felt like I was killing myself," Tony shrugged apologetically, "Where is..."
His gaze landed on Mike, answering his half-spoken question.
Mike was standing in the middle of the room, completely still, his face unreadable, except for his eyes. He looked like his heart had just been stomped on, and maybe kicked for good measure, by whatever it was he was looking, and Tony turned to follow his gaze, wondering if he'd maybe had time for some severe sort of Stockholm syndrome to kick in, because he couldn't' think of what could cause -
And then he realized that Vicki and Henry were no longer fighting Steven, who lay, torn and bloodied, and clearly dead, on the floor a few feet away from them. Tony thought at first they were fighting each other, overcome by blood-lust, maybe, but that wouldn't explain the look in Celluci's eyes... so he looked closer.
"Wait, are they having sex?" Lee asked incredulously, having also turned to look.
They hadn't even taken their clothes off, and were sort of just... going for it. They should have looked ridiculous, writhing against each other, fully clothed, slipping against the floorboards, but instead it was pretty hot.
"I thought Henry was with Mike," Lee asked Tony. Tony winced, hoping Mike hadn't heard. "Also, since when is Henry a vampire?" Lee added, when he didn't get an answer, "did you know?" Then he glared, "Of course you knew, you dated him! Seriously, Tony, you didn't think you could bring that up?"
"What was I going to say?" Tony asked, "My ex is a vampire?"
"Yeah," Lee said slowly, "That probably would have worked."
"And you would have just believed me?"
"Tony, I'm dating a wizard. I don't exactly have room to be throwing stones. And by now, I have pretty much lost my capacity to be weirded out by... well," Lee said, gesturing at Vicki and Henry's entwined bodies.
They continued to watch Vicki and Henry for a moment in silence, and then Lee said, "Is it wrong that I find that kind of hot?"
Tony shrugged. Then adjusted himself discretely.
Mike was having a totally different reaction though. Well, not that different, Tony realized, after risking a careful glance downwards. But he looked a little haunted, and Tony suddenly remembered the way he had looked that day in Toronto just before he, Vicki and Henry had left for Vancouver, when he had given Mike Henry's message. The message that neither of them had understood, that had left Mike looking like he didn't want to move for fear of breaking.
A few moments later, Vicki was scrambling to her feet, Henry a heartbeat behind, and coming towards them - towards Mike, really, he was the only person in the room she had eyes for. She stood before him, as still as he was, fully clothed in contrast to his relative nudity, and dropped her eyes, shamefaced and blood spattered, looking like, even if she'd needed to, she wouldn't have been able to breathe.
Mike looked at her, then at Henry, then back at Vicki, and then suddenly he was laughing - practically howling with mirth.
Vicki's eyes widened, and then narrowed again, her fists clenching at her sides, "Shut the fuck up, Celluci!"
"Oh man," Mike said, "You have totally just lost the high ground, you know that, right?"
"Thank you," Henry told Tony solemnly, drawing his attention away from Mike and Vicki, "I realize why you acted when you did, and," he paused, "I am sorry that I made you think that Steven might have swayed me, but you should know that I never would have turned on... you," Henry said, and snuck a glance at Vicki, who was kissing Mike now, warm and happy, and pressed up rather intimately against his tanned skin, and Henry's gaze was - well, sappy enough that Tony believed him. Not when he felt like that.
"Right," Tony said, nodding, "Well, also, I was getting tired of him talking. You know, villains speechifying gets kind of tedious."
"He always was kind of an idiot," Henry agreed with a shrug, "And you made my decision... easier. So. Thank you."
"Hey, Henry?" Lee called.
"Yes?" Henry replied, looking for a brief instant as though he had been caught off guard, probably because he'd just realized that Lee knew his secret, and had also just watched him have sex on the floor.
"I think they want you," Lee told him, grinning a little, his eyes dancing.
"Not everything is that simple," Henry told him, shaking his head.
Tony knew that Lee knew wanting wasn't simple - that it wasn't the same as going for what you wanted - so he looked past Lee's shoulder to Mike and Vicki and saw that they'd stopped kissing, that they had turned to look at Henry. Mike's expression was one of fond irritation. Vicki looked... impatient.
Tony smirked at Henry, "I think you should listen to the man, Henry."
"There's a bed down the hall. Saw it on the way in," Lee told him, "In case you want to try something other than the floor this time, or," he added, eyes narrowing, "Tony's bed."
"Lee!" Tony said.
"What?" Lee asked, looking at him, still clearly amused, "I'm declaring it off limits." He reached out and grabbed Tony's wrist, and began pulling him gently back towards the hall, "Anyway, we'll be using it."
"Right," Tony said, getting the gist of things finally, "Um, see you guys later."
Behind him, he heard Mike say, "Come on already Fitzroy, what the hell are you waiting for?"
"I am not having sex with a dead vampire in the other room," Tony heard Henry protest.
"Didn't stop you before," Vicki cracked.
"We won't need to give them a ride, will we?" Lee said, breathing the question into Tony's ear.
"No, walk fast," Tony replied, happy for now to leave Henry, Vicki and Mike behind.
Somehow he didn't think they'd mind.