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A Deeper Hue

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Eric already feels older than the heaviest, tallest trees he's ever seen by the time his maker takes him to Jerusalem. Godric is a constant traveler - Eric has seen him embrace old friends in every corner of the world he's ever heard of and most of the ones he hadn't; but the city in the mountains is something different.

Godric is welcomed by the local vampires as a distinguished guest; the first night they all hunt together in the Templar camps. The men are drunk with ale and Eric takes pleasure in his victims' terror; he likes the pulse of lightening through their dulled expressions, when he lets them see his fangs before he drinks.

He's not sure who Khadijah is, but he knows she's powerful. He knows she's old, too, from the way she and Godric look at each other; like they've known each other since before the world began. When Godric introduces him – Eric doesn't understand a word they're saying but he knows the sound of his own name – she appraises him with a look and seems to come away pleased.

The language still sounds mostly like exaggerated coughs and whistles to him. During conversations he sits a few feet behind Godric, as local custom dictates. The only thing keeping him from growing restless is her gaze – raw and possessive. It's thrilling, like the way his skin tingles before a good kill. The other vampires in the nest, sitting behind their queen, eye him with a mix of hostility and curiosity.

Later, she takes them out into the desert, the city barely visible to human eyes, in the distance. The moon illuminates a pale, bluish wasteland. Dust and sharp angles and a few scattered plants; nothing like the desert Eric had imagined.

She's not the most beautiful vampire he's ever seen, but Godric treats her as though she were his sovereign. He orders Eric to obey with a look and then her hands are on Eric, touching his lips and gently parting them to run her fingers over his fangs. It seems like the three of them are alone under the stars but Eric has a feeling the other vampires, the ones who looked like they wouldn't mind tearing Eric's skin open, are never very far.

She kisses him only in the height of passion, when she's on top of him on the hard stone, clawing at his skin and laughing in that strange way her people have of doing everything. The feeling of her tight against him makes Eric close his eyes and that's when she sinks her teeth into his bottom lip. She licks at the blood gently and then takes his lip in her mouth and sucks everything in him through the wound, refusing to let it close. It's a feeling of sudden terror mixed with bolts of pleasure so intense Eric forgets about Godric watching, forgets about his approval or guidance and grabs at her, struggles in her grasp, only to find the effort futile.

She holds him down with an amused smirk and continues to ride him for as long as he lasts. He lays spent and exhausted when she and Godric struggle playfully for dominance on the sand, and finally, gratefully, recovers his strength later when Godric licks over the phantom wound on his lip and guides him back to her, sitting back on her knees elegantly under the tree branches.

There's a new spark in Godric's eyes, a new twist to the curve of his lips and Eric doesn't ask if it was a ritual, or an initiation, or just another stop along his maker's neverending journey around the world. It doesn't matter.

*

Eric wanders the camp every night, picking off guards straying from their perimeter, soldiers who wander too far in their drunken search for a place to piss. It's not a good hunting ground; not many soldiers can disappear from the camp unnoticed with the Muscovite army laying siege to Kazan for weeks now, without progress. The men spend their days being bored, fantasizing about the gold and women and slaves they'll get when the city finally falls.

Eric doesn't mind. He sticks around for the waiting. Despite himself, as the centuries pass, every once in a while he finds himself drawn to this; the possibility of dirt and blood and the rush of battle. He knows he won't be able to leave until he's had his fill.

A mix of artillery fire and poisoning the water supply finally brings the walls crashing down, right after sunset. Eric's right in the thick of it, cutting his way through body after body. Limbs strewn everywhere, the blood is dripping from his armor, his chin; it's turning into a massacre and he's not even past the inner fortifications of the city.

Hours later, the city's last remaining protectors are locked in their own citadel and Eric observes his temporary brothers in arms begin their looting in earnest. The screams are everywhere and the fire is already beginning to spread.

Eric starts off with a few women hiding in a cellar in one of the houses and finishes with one of the conquering soldiers, for good measure. It's been ages since he's drunk so much in one night, but sometimes the lust for it overwhelms him. It happens on rarer and rarer occasions. He stalks through the streets, taking in the sights of carnage and pillaging, until he comes to the ruins of the city wall. On what used to be the western side, he can see the unmistakable shape of his maker, obscuring the moon entirely from Eric's view.

"Have you had enough?" Godric asks calmly.

It's an honest question. Eric considers the answer. "Yes."

Godric nods and gives his usual enigmatic smile. Eric is beginning to realize he will never truly understand what's behind it. "Come," Godric says.

Eric remains standing. Something is anchoring him to the ground, refusing to let him move with his usual supernatural speed and stand by Godric's side. His feet seem to have grown roots, his hands are too heavy to move. He can't really feel the earth trough his boots but for a second he thinks he might be able to.

Godric is next to him, looking up at him with serene eyes. Eric has seen them remain calm while Godric ripped several humans, one after another, limb from limb. He's seen them calm when the king of Gaul ordered they be paralyzed and put in coffins for fifty years. He's seen them smile down at him two hundred years ago when, like now, he stood before Godric, towering over him yet feeling ridiculously small, covered in blood and guts and mud somewhere outside Constantinople.

Eric sinks to his knees. Eric's legs are made of butter, fluid and weightless. He doesn't dare touch his face to Godric's clean tunic.

Godric's hand runs over his hair, matted and tangled with sweat and dirt. "This happens to us all," he says in the language Eric's spoken since he was a child.

Eric can't decide if Godric's tenderness is a leftover from being turned so young or something he acquired through centuries of living. His cheek touches Godric's stomach. The hand in his hair presses him closer and holds him there.

*

Out of nowhere, Godric stumbles, grabs for the nearest wall and misses, and Eric spends several minutes paralyzed with panic.

He grabs Godric, helps him to get to the other side of Vienna; an isolated, wealthy neighborhood, mostly deserted during the summer. It only takes a minute but Eric can feel Godric growing weaker by the time they get to the door. Eric carries him up to the empty master bedroom before turning to dispose of the servants.

Godric stops him by grabbing his hand. "Don't," he struggles to say. "It's the blood. Don't drink."

Eric doesn't have time to decipher Godric's words; he has to take care of the servants before they raise a racket. He returns after everyone in the house is dead to see Godric practically tearing at the sheets.

"The disease." Godric whispers through dry lips. "It's in the blood. Don't drink."

The last person Godric had fed on was a music teacher, a pianist. Something must have been wrong with his blood. Eric doesn't have time to investigate; Godric is already slipping into delirium. He hurries back to the city and finds the first easy victim – a couple walking along the back streets. He breaks the man's neck, careless with anger; he's more careful with the woman. He doesn't have time to glamour her; instead he holds his hand over her mouth and bites, without a second's hesitation. He'd rather risk infection instead of going back to where they last fed safely. He has no idea how long Godric has left.

The blood doesn't make him sick so he rushes back to the house. Godric looks worse than when Eric left him. It takes three humans to make him coherent again. With only an hour until dawn Godric lies exhausted and weak on the bed, and Eric's face must show every bit of worry on his mind because Godric makes himself sit up to talk to him.

"It's just a disease. It won't kill me. It makes us weak for a while; feeding more often helps."

Eric can feel something in his stomach untangling. "You've never told me about this."

Godric's smile is apologetic. "You're right. I should have. It happened to me once, when I was very young. I was sure it would never happen again."

Eric nods. Godric lies back, breathing heavily. Eric can't remember the last time he's seen his maker breathe. "I'll go out and bring another human," he says.

Godric shakes his head. "No. It's enough for tonight. Come."

After a second's hesitation – Godric's never been one to lie about his own wellbeing – Eric climbs into the bed and lays a hand on Godric's still chest. The last of sounds of alarm in his head go quiet as Godric peacefully closes his eyes.

He'll fetch their coffins in a little while.

*

Eric has killed and fed on and fucked more humans than he can remember and quite a few vampires he's sure will remember his name for the rest of their nocturnal lives. He's seen revolutions, liberations, and massacres; hope and change and despair, and he's barely able to tell them all apart anymore. Godric laughs at him with his easy, honest smile, the one that makes humans trust him more than his frozen boyish looks, when Eric shares the observation.

Sometimes they're brothers for a night or a month or a decade, sometimes father and son. Occasionally they play the role of lovers. In truth they are all and none of these; there are no human words Eric's ever heard of that can sum up Godric and the hundreds of years of life they've shared.

Eric likes fucking on beds and tables and moonlit sandy beaches and up against solid walls. Godric bends him over and spreads his legs and makes him hurt for it and beg for it and bite at his own lips until he's covered in blood. He sinks to his knees in front Eric; bends over him, holds him still; makes Eric sigh and yell and call on the old gods no one but Eric knows the true names of anymore.

Godric only fucks him rough on the ground on very special, rare occasions. It's an echo of the time and place of Eric's making. It usually happens after they have a fight, or when Godric's in one of his moods, when killing a dozen humans a night doesn't sate his bloodlust. Or when Eric's chest suddenly feels like it's being squeezed shut from all the closed spaces and clean sheets and humans looking at him by candlelight and taking him for one of their own. Godric sees it in his eyes, somehow, and puts his arm around Eric's waist, like a promise, and Eric knows Godric will make him breathe deep again.

Godric's always been content with letting Eric belong only to himself, unlike some makers. In the back of his mind, Eric realizes how easily Godric could have bent him to his will, especially in the beginning. It weighs on his mind, gratitude coupled with respect. Over the centuries loyalty seeps in and settles in his veins; each night fresh blood seems to fortify it, blend it into Eric's body until it's more a part of him than his skin.

The night before Eric leaves for the colonies is not very different from any other. They've been apart before; there's no question they'll meet again, when the time is right. They start by feeding on a family of four, to mark the occasion; Godric toys with their youngest son for over an hour, for Eric's amusement. They race each other to the forest outside the city; Eric will always be slower, but it's a kind of tradition, a comfortable ritual.

Beneath the trees, Godric's expression is genuinely soft, as it rarely is with anyone but Eric. They toss each other on the ground, tearing and biting and licking until Godric's on top of him, offering him his throat. The rush of his maker's blood feels like more pleasure than he's known in centuries; later Godric fucks him raw, until Eric can swear his throat is sore from screaming.

Godric lies next to him, covered in dirt. Eric takes a minute to appreciate the sliver of moon in the sky before he holds Godric down on his back, with his eyes more than his hands, and slides down to take him in his mouth.

The sound of Godric's easy laughter stays with him until he reaches the other side of the Atlantic.