Alucard’s relationship with taverns has always been conflicted. When he was old enough to set off on his own, his initial opinion of them was a touch romantic. They were places of lively music, good drinks, and old friends reuniting after being apart for many years.
The first tavern Alucard visited was a disappointment; empty with too many dark corners and it smelled of a week-old piss stain. He left his second tavern with a black eye and bloodied lip - baby's first bar fight. Though he found some pride in the fact that the other men looked far, far worse. Instead of mending bruises, they would be mending broken bones.
There are of course exceptions to the miserable and violent establishments scattered throughout the countryside. This tavern, a more than adequate shelter for the traveling hunter, Speaker, and dhampir, has quickly fallen into that realm of safe yet dreary. Quiet and vacant, much like its town which has seen the very dregs of Dracula’s armies. Doesn’t hurt to keep your guard up, but it’s not necessary.
Alucard sits at the bar, slowly running his finger around the rim of his glass. A run-down tavern that happens to serve decent wine; the apocalypse must really be upon Wallachia. There’s still a bit left over but Alucard leaves it. He knows how insidious alcohol is to a human’s body and mind. It can cause them to forget, to become violent, sad, reckless, carefree, or sick. But for a dhampir, it might as well be water. He enjoyed it for the first couple sips until he lost interest.
It’s not the wine’s fault, nor is it the tavern’s. Alucard has been in a sour mood all day, along with his other companions. Dracula’s castle has once again eluded them. A dark, metaphorical cloud looms over Alucard and shows no signs of leaving him. Their first destination was Targoviste, where all this bloodshed and carnage began. What they found was a mass gravesite and darkened skies, but no castle. They then tried to follow Dracula’s path of death from city to city only to have him disappear.
Frustrated. Shamed. Alucard could fill a whole volume of every negative emotion running through his mind. But they can’t give up now. He can’t give up, as much as the human side of him wants to. Better that he, Trevor, and Sypha drown their anger in alcohol now, sleep it off, then get back on their feet in the morning.
Alucard looks over his shoulder to see Sypha sitting at one of the tables, eyes shut while she rests her head against her crossed arms like a pillow. Tossing a few coins on the counter next to his glass, he makes his way towards her.
“Sypha…” He whispers, gently shaking her shoulder.
“Hm?” She lifts her head and wipes her drowsy eyes, turning to Alucard. “Sorry… I must have closed my eyes without knowing.”
“There’s an extra room upstairs. You should rest there.”
“What about you?”
“I will find a room down here.” He says, rubbing her back. Since they started their dangerous journey together, Alucard has become more and more affectionate towards Sypha and Trevor. Whether it’s a subtle hand gesture here or a few caring words there. Part of him wonders what Lisa would say if she could see him now. Or a more intriguing thought, though one he’s rarely entertained – what would his father say?
Alucard looks around the room. “Where is Belmont?”
“I saw him retire not too long ago.”
The dhampir raises his brow. Trevor retreating to his bedroom after (he presumes) one tankard of beer? That’s not the Belmont Alucard has come to know so well. Come to think of it, he doesn’t remember hearing a peep from Trevor once the three of them settled down with their respective drinks.
“He…” Sypha adds. “He did not look well.”
“I could not see his face clearly, but… it looked as though he was crying.”
“Crying?” Another rare Belmont characteristic – possibly the rarest of them all.
“Before I could ask what was wrong, he disappeared into his room. Should… should one of us try and talk to him? Or should we leave him be? Maybe this is something he needs to deal with himself.”
Alucard thinks for a brief moment. Sypha’s latter suggestion isn’t cold or insensitive. He can sense how much she cares about him, but there is still the important question of whether or not they should give Trevor the freedom to fight his personal demons.
“Get some rest, Sypha. I will speak with him.”
“Are you sure?”
“I am. If this is something he wishes to handle on his own, then I won’t be long.”
“Very well,” she says with a hint of uncertainty. “Good night.”
“Good night, Sypha.” Alucard escorts her to the bottom of the staircase before turning to the hall of bedchambers next to the tavern. Sensing a presence in the second room, he knocks. No answer. With a loud, drawn-out creak, Alucard opens the door. Standing by the window, staring out at the barren snow-covered streets is Trevor. He doesn’t turn around, even when he hears Alucard walk in.
“You’ll catch your death if you stand there all night.” He prepares for one of Trevor’s usual snide remarks or some equally witty repartee.
“I don’t care.”
Alucard is so used to hearing those three words, he never thought he would be caught off guard by them. This moment is different, now that sentence worries him. He walks closer to Trevor and sees how watery his eyes are, not to mention how pink his cheeks have become.
“How much have you really had to drink?”
The hunter sniffs, wiping his nose on his sleeve. “Not nearly as much as my usual lot.”
Alucard opens his mouth before Trevor interrupts in a harsh tone. “Is there something you want?”
“If you wish for me to leave you in peace, I will.”
“… don’t go.” Trevor mumbles, as though ashamed of his outburst. Alucard doesn’t say anything. He instead takes his arm, giving it a gentle squeeze, and leads him away from the window. They sit down on the creaky bed, waiting for the other to speak. While silence can be pleasant, Alucard wishes it would end.
“I was thinking about home. Or what used to be home.” Trevor swallows past the growing lump in his throat. “Now it’s just a pile of burnt wood and ash.” He states the last sentence with more vitriol than Alucard has ever heard him spout before.
“I never found the men who did it… but I wanted to. I wanted to strangle each one in their fucking sleep. Make them suffer the same way my mother and father did in that fire.” Trevor drops his head and clenches his fists tight enough to draw blood. “I was so full of rage I made myself nauseous. I still do. Every time I think about those men and how they might be alive right now, committing murder for money, for someone else, or for the sick fucking thrill of it, I…”
Alucard holds Trevor’s hand in an attempt to offer some calm before he hurts himself. “I know that feeling.”
“Oh, of course you do.” Trevor replies with another sniff.
“I am being truthful.”
“Alright, fine. How? How could you possibly know what I’m feeling? I was unaware that dhampirs were so well known for their empathy.”
Alucard almost snaps back at Trevor in an equally rude manner. But what would that solve? “I know… I know because I was there when Lisa was executed.” Despite how hard he tries to hide it, Alucard’s voice still shakes with every word.
“You never told us that…”
“I stayed far enough so no one would be able to see me, but close enough to feel the heat of the flames on my own skin. I wanted to kill everyone in that square. I could have, and it would have been easy. I could have torn out their throats with my fangs or run them through with my blade.” As he makes his confession, Alucard can picture in his mind what could have happened that damned night. The rivers of blood flowing throughout the square, the suffocating ash and smoke billowing through the air, and his mouth dripping with so much red.
It scared him then, it scares him now.
“What stopped you?”
“… I heard my mother speak.”
“Don’t hurt them! They don’t understand!”
“I was ready to strike. Mere seconds away from casting my vengeance. But I kept listening.”
“They don’t know what they’re doing. Be better than them!”
“Those were her last words. I left that square with my sword sheathed, tears staining my cheeks, and a hatred still burning in my heart. To this day I still do not know if she was speaking to my father or to me. But I have made every attempt to live by her final request.”
“And you tried to get Dracula to follow suit.”
“Well…” Alucard rubs his chest. “Tried being an apt term. But now do you understand? No person is an island, Belmont. Anger is good; it gives us purpose. But you never have to suffer like this alone.”
“What about you? Have you suffered alone?”
“More times than I can account for.”
“Has it made you stronger?”
“… no. It only hurts more.”
Trevor scoffs. By now he’s given up on holding back tears. “I’ll drink to that.”
He’s also stopped distancing himself. Without a single second guess, Trevor drops his head on Alucard's upper arm, defeated and exhausted. The dhampir pauses before gently embracing him. Trevor's response is to grab the back of Alucard's coat and press his tear drenched face against the other man's shoulder.
“I’m ruining your good cloak,” he chokes.
The dhampir prince holds the back of Trevor’s head, delicate fingers stroking his messy hair. “To borrow from your choice of words… I don’t care.”
A noise comes out of Trevor that sounds something like a laugh and a sob. He tightens his grip, not ready to let go just yet. His tears have almost stopped, but now there’s a growing unsteadiness to how he carries his head. Alucard offers some help by cupping his blushed cheeks in both hands and wiping his tender eyes with his thumbs.
Before he can pull back, Trevor leans in closer and closer until his lips brush against Alucard’s. It’s too quick, too light to be considered a real kiss. Still, it affects Alucard all the same. He stares at Trevor, admittedly surprised by the gesture. But it doesn’t take long for his eyes and expression to soften. He runs his hand along the hunter’s arm, waiting for the right sign. Trevor gives it to him as he closes his swollen eyes and touches foreheads with the dhampir. Closing his own eyes, Alucard shares another kiss – one that both men can feel.
That kiss leads to another. And then another, one after one. Both want to go slowly; all night if they so please. Alucard can taste the last few drops of ale off Trevor’s lips. He moves down to his neck, savouring the warm skin.
“Don’t…” Trevor whines between exasperated breaths. “Don’t bite me… no biting…”
Alucard kisses an area just above his shoulder. “I won’t.” His lips and tongue wreak their gentle havoc along Trevor’s neck, but Alucard keeps his word. He can hear Trevor’s heart pump blood through his veins, its rhythmic pace speeding up every time he kisses or touches a sensitive spot. But Alucard refuses to bite his beloved hunter.
Trevor's been receiving so much, it almost makes him feel spoiled. Now it’s his turn to give. Removing Alucard’s long black coat, he carefully slips his hand underneath the thin white shirt, feeling every inch of the dhampir’s lithe body. With his mind clouded by impulse and desire, he starts unbuckling his pants.
Alucard feels something shift within him. He reaches for Trevor’s hand as he struggles with his belt, stopping him. “Not tonight.” He says, calm as ever.
“Why? What’s wrong? Am I doing something wrong?”
“No, it’s just…” Alucard tries to put his complicated thoughts into words. Of course he wants to be with Trevor. He wants to hold and touch him for as long as possible. He wants nothing more than to forget the hellish world right outside their room.
“But there is the imbalance of one of us being far more drunk than the other.”
Trevor furrows his brow. “I told you I haven’t had that much to drink.”
“You’ve had enough. The last thing I want is for us to do something we both regret in the morning.”
Trevor doesn’t argue. Despite his tipsiness, he understands Alucard reasoning. “Fine.”
“Another night. A better night,” Alucard reassures with a kiss to his head. “You have my word.”
“I’m gonna remember your word.”
Alucard chuckles; there's the Belmont sense of humor he thought was gone. “Please do.”
“I still don’t want you to go.” Trevor says, lowering his voice.
“And I won’t.” They give each other a few extra kisses before climbing into bed. The blanket’s not that soft or comfortable for that matter, but it’s thick and warm, which means it’ll do just fine. Alucard lets Trevor rest close to his chest and holds him, burying his face in his hair. Within seconds, the once talkative Belmont is fast asleep, sounding off a chorus of steady, repetitive snores.
Alucard smiles. It takes longer for him to sleep, but he doesn’t mind.