Michael wakes up first, curled up in the trunk of a stolen car with a tarp over his head and David’s arm tight across his chest, and it would be stifling if he needed to breathe. He’s hungry, but it’s not urgent. And in that moment before David wakes up, he looks softer. Pale lashes fanned against pale cheeks. He’d gone to sleep with ridges around his eyes, but right now he could be human.
The cure was just a story, like garlic and bats and coffins. But the first kill and how it changes everything, that much was true, and Max is dead and Michael is what he is, and looking at David now, he thinks maybe that was what David wanted from the start.
And then David opens his eyes and ruins the illusion of being human, and pounds on the roof of the trunk until Star lets them out.
David drives until they run out of gas and then leaves the car sitting on the sand, doors open. And Michael hears Star gasp, watches David rise into the air with an arm around her waist until she starts to float on her own. She’s got the same delighted smile she wore when David raced his bike over the beach, and he can’t figure out how it works between those two. Can’t even figure out what he’s doing here himself.
David’s voice comes back to him, on the wind or in his head. Come on, Michael.
Stretched out on her back on the bench of a picnic table, she talks about telling time by the stars, traces the bowl of the Big Dipper and draws a line with her finger, showing how it points the way to the North Star. Makes him feel like he’s on a camping trip and not at a crowded rest stop off the interstate.
He turns his head away from the night sky and seeks out David, watches him move through the parking lot, picking out their next ride.
"...You could just wear a watch," he says, and Star slaps him on the arm.
"Pay attention. This is important."
He’s got blood on his mouth when he kisses her, riding high on it, pinning her against the side of the car, and her fingers tighten in his hair, holding him in place, hungry for more than sex. She hunts down the blood at the corners of his lips, over his jaw. Maybe it’s helping her or maybe it’s just enough to tease her; he’s not sure which he wants to do more. Both.
There’s the touch of a hand that’s not Star’s on his hip, and he startles, draws back; and then David’s beside him, warm with stolen body heat, and Michael watches Star’s eyes fall closed as David kisses her, watches her tug at David’s lip with her teeth, watches David smile against her mouth. Can’t look away.
They tilt their heads together, white-blond hair against dark. And there’s a prickle of jealousy, but it’s drowned out beneath the pulse of fresh blood in his veins and he wants.
David turns to him, reaches for him, a graze of a gloved hand against his jaw, thumb sliding up along his cheekbone, tracing the faint ridges. Rests there. Just looking at him.
And then he lets go. Tosses a set of bloodstained keys to Michael, pulls open the backseat door of the car.
“Drive,” David tells him, slouching down and planting one foot squarely on the back of the driver’s seat.
They let him pick the route. Maybe he could turn around and drive right back to Santa Carla. Or crash the car. David would probably enjoy that.
He doesn’t crash the car. He drifts south, east, across the desert, not heading anywhere in particular, until the radio is filled with static, static, more static, and a single station carrying the voice of a preacher. The traffic falls off until it’s just them and the occasional big rig, and then just them, like they could be the last people on earth, just them and a pre-recorded sermon on the airwaves.
“Phoenix?” Star says as they pass a sign. “I’ve never been to Phoenix.”
He starts paying more attention to where he’s going.
David discovers a brightly-colored pin between the seats. Tinkerbell. And he leans over and fastens it to Star’s jacket.
The Las Vegas Strip is like an amusement park that never closes: fake pyramids, fake castles, ceilings painted with a fake sky that cycles quickly from day to night and back again. David slings an arm around Michael’s shoulders, tilts his face up to the ‘daylight.’ “There you go, Michael. Just like the real thing.”
It really isn’t. At all. But he doesn’t mind.
Security guards watch them with a sort of bored suspicion, ready to shoo them away from the bars and the slot machines. On the lookout for teenagers trying to sneak a drink. They’re not exactly wrong about that.
And everywhere they go, David picks up trinkets, things to drape around Star’s shoulders or thread through Michael’s ear or to paper the walls of the boarded-up house they take over on the outskirts of the city until it starts to look a little like the old cave. Candles and stolen records and piles of pillows heaped up on the floor.
And though there’s no more need to spend the day side by side in a cramped trunk, he still wakes up with David’s arm like a bar across his chest. With Star warm against his back. Hungry, but not urgent.
There are ridges around David’s eyes this time. No pretense at humanity today. And still half asleep, Michael raises a hand to David’s cheek, tracing the line of his cheekbone. Wonders if that’s what he looks like.
David’s eyes open at the touch, focus on Michael. He just watches him, waiting. And the way David looks at him always feels like a challenge, a dare.
“Want something?” David says, quiet, teasing, and he does.
And David laughs low in his throat when Michael kisses him, and again when Michael bites down hard enough to draw blood. And then Star’s arms come around Michael, tight, and he turns to look at her. Her eyes are on David, holding his gaze, and Michael still doesn’t understand how it works between the two of them. And Star drops her lips to Michael’s shoulder, and one side of David’s mouth pulls up in a smile.
She rises to her knees and pulls Michael along with her until he’s leaning back in her arms, David’s hands sliding along Michael’s thighs, tugging at his jeans until Michael’s naked between them. Sharp teeth at his throat, not drawing blood, just present, a reminder, pressure against his pulse, suddenly very loud in his ears. And Star turns him to face her, her lips on his as David works his way down.
When Michael draws back from her, David’s looking up at him, at both of them. Smirks when he sees Michael watching him. And Michael makes a strangled sound at the sight of those lips closing around his cock, delicious and alarming; but David’s teeth are blunt and human, and Michael shudders between the two of them.
And it’s easy, it’s like being back in that moment in Santa Carla all over again, time rewinding; candles burning low and the touch of Star’s hands and the taste of David’s blood on his lips.