Chapter 1: Dave Strider Makes Very Memorable First Impressions
John moaned, grinding down against the leg the other man had between his, knees weak, held up only by the other man's arms and the wall at his back. Teeth dug against his flesh, the other man's breath hot rolling across his skin, another deep suck sending a spike of pleasure on a straight line from his neck to his groin. His hands, wrapped around to the other man's back, dug into thin cotton, twisting in fabric and trying to scratch at the skin underneath. Shuddering gasps littered the air, his head thrown back in ecstasy, and at that moment, John Egbert was completely, blissfully, empty.
The other man withdrew long enough to murmur something against his ear. John whimpered, the sound soft and animal, craving the return of his touch, of their bodies pressed together, of something warm and essential leaving him as hot pleasure raced to fill its place. The man drew away for just a moment before pressing something to John's mouth, hot thick wet making him almost choke before he swallows it down, and
apples, fresh and ripe hanging from the limb
and burnt sugar
melting on his tongue
in his veins
He's grasping, grasping at the wrist that's been handed to him, sucking down what must be blood, mindless and hungry and whole, drained from his neck and filled at his stomach and it's w o n d e r f u l
It's not until the other man draws away, until he removes his wrist and John's mouth is left red and dripping, that John realizes that thump he heard was a car door slamming shut. He tugs at the other man, tries to get him to stay, but he's gone wobbly and weak, and when the other man disappears into the shadows, it's all he can do to whine softly and sink to his knees.
"John. John!" The voices around him are familiar, but he can't be bothered with that right now. He needs…he needs.
"What the dickens, he's hurt!"
"He looks like he's lost a lot of blood, but I'm not seeing any…"
"John! John lad, listen to me! He's not responding, that's not good, is it?"
"I don't know! Shut up, Jake, just, shut up. Rose, when is the ambulance getting here? Rose?"
Her voice came out terse and low. "I'm not calling the hospital."
"Why the hell not??"
From the shadows of the alleyway, mozart's fifth rang out in the tinny beeps of a phone ringtone. Rose glared into the dark, tight-lipped and furious, voice ringing like steel when she said, "David Motherfucking Strider, get out here right now."
The shadows seemed to part, delivering up one man, blonde hair, thin cotton shirt, ragged jeans and aviators perched on his nose. His voice was a low, lazy drawl when he replied, "Hey sis. How's it shakin?"
Then John launched himself at Dave and Dave snarled, a warning growl that turned into a groan when John's lips wrapped around the cut on his wrist, sucking hard, and Dave bent to put his mouth against John's neck, lips drawn back to bare his teeth, sharp and red in the cracks—
Jake ripped him away before he could make contact, throwing the startled man against the wall and taking John by the shoulders, shaking him sharp and rough. "John, listen to me lad, it's okay, we'll—" And then John kissed him.
He went still in shock, John's hands roving over his face, across his shoulders, his back. The taste of apples and burnt sugar on his tongue, and he was kissing back, oblivious to the blonde man hopping around the alleyway, oblivious to Jade yelling at him that she was gonna rip out his eyeballs and feed them to him, oblivious to everything until Rose pulled the two of them apart, slamming John up against the wall and snarling, "Spit it out" at Jake. Jake blinked at her, thoughts muddied and slow. "Spit it out," Rose grated, and Jake obliged, spitting out the blood in his mouth as best he could.
"Jade!" Rose called, trying to flag the girl down, but she was still chasing after her brother, and when Rose turned back to the boys, they were kissing again, moaning like a pair of two-dollar whores against eachother, and Rose had just about had enough.
Everyone dropped. Rose sighed, kneading at her temples. Things had just gotten…complicated.
Chapter 2: Exposition, thy name is Rose Lalonde
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Everything hurt. Before he was fully awake, before he knew where he was or what was going on or who was leaning over him, pushing his hair back from his eyes, John Egbert knew that he hurt.
"John," Rose said, voice soft, hands cool against his skin. "Are you awake?"
"Yeah." His voice felt raw, throat way too dry. "Water?" It was there immediately, a straw between his lips, sucking down cold water that made him cough and shake. Rose was beside him the whole time, helping him sit up, rubbing at his back, seeming to impart a cool balm through her fingertips. "John," she said, "Can you remember what happened?"
He didn't know what she meant, at first. Then it came back to him, the night before, the. The heat. The feel of blood being pulled from his neck, heat sliding down his throat to replace it. The other man.
A bolt of want hits him hard and fast, and he's not sure what to do about it.
"I was walking to IHOP," he says, licking his lips. "To meet you guys. There was, a girl." It was dark, but he still heard the low groan coming from the alley, hesitated, trying to see who'd made the noise. "Looked like she needed help. And the other guy, blonde—where is he?"
Rose frowns, pursing her lips. "Why? Do you want to see him?"
One of John's hands creeps up to his neck unbidden, finding one of those big pad bandages pressed to his wound. "Were you…there?" he asks.
Rose says she was there. She says that, as well as she can piece back together, John interrupted Dave—the blonde man in the alleyway—trying to feed. In his frustration, Dave fed from John too deeply, and tried to balance things out by cycling John's blood back to him, as filtered through Dave's system. This is part of the process of Turning a human.
"I'm going to become a—" he squeaked, unable to complete his sentence.
No, Rose said. Cycling a victim's blood back to them was part of the process, and Dave hadn't performed the other step. What he had done was make John a shadow. "Accidentally," according to Dave. "Which is a crock of bullshit," Rose announced. "Can I have some more water?" John asked.
Rose handed him his glass of water.
The way things work, Rose said, is that vampires release pheromones to attract victims. When they feed on someone, their saliva carries endorphins that carve out and strengthen the receptors of these pheromones. Essentially, the more someone is fed on, the more susceptible they are to vampires, and the more they enjoy being fed on. This is dangerous, this is why a feeding is like a slow death sentence, because the victim will keep getting fed on by whichever vampire stumbles across their path, until, they just, die.
John was somewhat hysterical at this news.
"Not you," Rose reassured him, patting his hand. "You're a shadow, not a snack. Even if it was mostly your blood, it was also Dave's blood that he fed you, full of his enzymes and endorphins. It keyed you in to him, so that only his scent attracts you, so that only him feeding on you feels good." She paused, wetting her lips. "It also, ah, marks you as his territory."
They sit in silence, John gulping down water because it gives him something to do, Rose tracking him with her gaze, cool, calm, the picture of professional. "How do you feel?" she asks, and that clinches it.
"How do you even know about all this?" He asks, no effort to hide the edge of anger to his voice.
"Oh," she says. "My mother is the Lightning Rod for North America." At his look of confusion, she explained, "She's the only sanctioned user of black magic on the continent."
"Of course," John says faintly.
"Dave is my brother, sired after our father was Turned."
Of. Fucking. Course.
"Do you think I could get some time to think about all this?" He said, bitter undertone to his words.
Rose seemed to weigh his words, hesitant. "John, I know that this has been a traumatic experience for you, but, well. You're in something of a delicate position. There's a decision that has to be made, and your head is going to be clearer, making it now, than it may be at any future date."
John blew out a sigh. "Seriously Rose? I got attacked by a fucking vampire! Your mom's a witch, for chrissake. Give me a break, would you?"
She leaned forward, brows pinched and fingers clenching the fabric of her skirt into a fist. "John. Do you want to let Dave keep feeding on you? Or never see him again?"
The answer should have been easy, but it stuck in his throat. He wanted to say fuck that guy. He wanted to say, if I see him again, I'll kill him. But apple trees flower and bloom in his mind, fire races through his veins, and he can't…he just can't.
"Let me think about it," he said, hoping she didn't hear the warble in his voice.
"You really—" John shot to his feet, stumbling a bit. "Think I could get something to eat?" He said, a bit too bright. "I'm starving."
In case it wasn't completely obvious, I have no idea how human bodies actually operate. Go me!
Chapter 3: John is the King of Clear-Headed Decision-Making
Dave shifts, eyeing the pair of dark-haired siblings sitting on the couch across the room. The girl's glaring at him, his offered "Yo lil mama," having done nothing to endear him to her. The guy is gnawing at his lip, and, if Dave's reading on his pulse is anything to go by, thinking some x-rated thoughts he really doesn't want anyone else to know about.
The sound of a door opening reaches him from upstairs, and he stands, doing his best to look relaxed and nonthreatening, but everything about him oozes threat, it's what he is. The girl seems to sense this, baring her teeth at him with a low growl that makes the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. But it doesn't matter. He can feel John coming closer, making his way down the stairs, the same way he can sense the heartbeats of every person in this house.
He comes into view, then, John, the one he fed on, and Dave takes a deep breath through his nose, scenting sweat, blood, fear, and under it, something fresh, like a gust of snow-laden wind. John looks at him, and even through his sunglasses, it's like something electric clicking inside his brain when their eyes meet.
"I've decided," John says, and Dave has no idea what it means and no time to figure it out, because John literally leaps over the railing, forcing Dave to catch him, lips meeting in a violent kiss. John bites at his lip, but his nubby human teeth aren't any good here, and besides, that isn't what he really wants. Dave pulls John's lip between his, teeth slicing into skin, blood spilling hot and thick into his mouth, and John groans, knees going weak once more.
Jade and Jake are up out of their seats the second John launches himself over the railing, only Rose's raised hand making them hesitate long enough for John and Dave to twine around eachother. But it isn't enough to keep Jake away, striding forward with long steps, hand falling heavy on John's shoulder to pull him around and—kiss him.
Jake presses himself to the pair, sandwiching John between himself and Dave, mouth coming away dripping red, visible only for the moment it takes to start kissing Dave instead.
Rose executes the very rare and reserved-for-serious-occasions 2x facepalm combo.
Jade is ready to wade into the fray, letting all three of them know just how big of idiots they are at high volume, when again Rose raises her hand in a fist, opening it and shouting "Sndomyjr!" as she let her arm fall, festertongues burning a path up her throat and spilling into open air with an unearthly hiss. They crumple to the ground, and Rose seriously considers whether or not these boys will be the death of her.