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our little white lies

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Things change not too long after Harry was turned. He stops trailing after Nick, his sire, like a faithful puppy. He stops lurking in the shadows like a proper vampire, goes back to living his old life because he knows he will have to give it up one day but not yet. He wants to get his degree in psychology and eternity be damned if he doesn’t get what he wants.

It’s not hard. It almost feels normal, despite his sharp teeth he hides behind his hand when he laughs, masking it as playing coy. It’s normal to do laundry at night, to take night shifts, to sleep during the day, because that’s just how a regular student is. Harry fits right in and he savours the feeling of it.

Nick is there on the day he graduates, hiding in a shadow with sunglasses on his nose and a smile plastered to his face.

"I’m proud of you," he whispers and Harry returns his hug but evades his kiss.

Nick’s tight smile tells Harry how annoyed he is, but that is nothing new. Everything Nick once loved about Harry is now an inconvenience to his posh vampire lifestyle.

"What do you want?" Harry asks and rolls up his precious diploma with both hands.

Nick reveals a hint of teeth which always trigger a tugging sensation in Harry’s shoulder, where Nick bit him after telling him how beautiful he is, what a shame it would be for his face to grow old. Harry was no fan of Nick’s drab and boring view on beauty and eternity, he knew more about it than Nick ever learned in his very long life.

And that’s all Harry sees in front of him now. A bitter man with a bitter future, monotonous and dark. He’s not like Harry, who still loves the sun, who wears weirdly patterned button ups instead of dark and heavy velvet.

"Just here to see you graduate and watch you try to be a proper human for as long as you can. And a gift of course! I brought you a gift. She’s your age I think, vibrant with blonde hair, you do like the blonde ones, right? She smells delicious."

Harry rolls his eyes. Nick sounds like a father trying to win back his son’s favour. But he indulges Nick for old time’s sake, for the connection between them that will never fully disappear, no matter how far or long they’re apart.

"Lead the way, old man."

*

Nick is right, she is delicious, her blood rich and clean, no distinct taste of any medicine, no pesticides distorting the flavour. She’s probably eating healthy, organic food only. Nick does know what Harry likes after all.

Her hair smells of coconut and brushes against Harry’s nose as he shoves his face deeper into her neck. He likes that spot, as cliché as it may be, but this is where he feels everything. The quick beat of her heart as he drains her, before it gradually slows down. Her voice and her gasps, and the way she clings to him. Him and Nick, who prefers wrist over neck.

They always were a good team, but Harry has grown greedy over time. Didn’t listen. Didn’t follow orders.

"I think that’s enough, Harry."

He lifts his mouth, licking the blood from his lips with a confused frown.

"Why?"

Nick picks up her arm and shakes it like a doll. "Think she’s dead. Not much blood left in her."

Nick is right, but something in Harry shifts as he takes in her lifeless body, still cradled in his arms. The hunger is still there, very apparent and poking at his insides, begging for more. It’s familiar, the feeling of ‘not quite finished’ as he strokes her still warm skin. She’s pale as a sheet but the flesh underneath is soft, her limbs meaty.

"Why stop?" Harry asks, his mouth watering and his stomach growling.

"What do you mean?"

But Harry is already bending over her again, his jaw dropping low and his teeth breaking her skin. Not to drink.

But to eat.

*

"Mr. Styles, you are one of the best psychiatrists this city knows and MI5 would like to hire your services for a while." The man wears an easy smile on his lips, hands buried in his long coat.

"Mine?" Harry frowns as he opens the curtains. It’s late already, but even if it wasn’t, London is good for his kind. The sun rarely shows its face that Harry still misses so dearly. It’s tearing at his guts sometimes. Movies and artificial light is little comfort compared to the actual sun. "What for?"

"There have been a chain of murders lately that we’ve been investigating. We assume one and the same person is behind it. MI5 wants to learn more about the motives behind it." The man gives Harry a shrug. "Not sure how much you can learn from a dead body, but we’ve been a little desperate lately."

"Hm," Harry pretends to think. His job has been a little dull lately. "What kind of murders are we talking about?"

"Well." The man scratches at the stubble on his jaw. "We’ve tried to hold back information to the media, because we believe there’s a cannibal on the loose."

Harry stares at him. "A cannibal?"

"The victims have been eaten. Not completely, but enough to suggest that it wasn’t an animal."

Harry pinches his bottom lip between two fingers and eyes the man to see if he’s making this up. But why would he? He looks a little desperate to be honest. But it’s enough for Harry to say yes. He’s intrigued. He wants to learn more.

"Special Agent Liam Payne, you’ve found yourself just the psychiatrist you need."

*

"This is it?" Harry asks as he looks down at the corpse. Or he would, if there wasn’t two guys elbowing each other like the body is a treat to share.

"Fucking move, Louis, I’m looking for fingerprints."

"How about you let me figure out the cause of death first, huh Zayn?"

They both look over their shoulder simultaneously when they notice Harry, grimacing at his floral suit like 80% of the rest of the world.

"Well, well, well," Louis says with a grin.

"Cut it out, Tomlinson." Liam says and puts a hand on Harry’s shoulder. "They are from the forensics department, I’m still trying to handle them."

"Oh Liam, you couldn’t handle us if you tried." When Liam frowns at him silently, Zayn clears his throat and shoves at his partner.

"Sorry, Sir," Zayn says.

"Can you tell us anything so far?"

Harry feels like Liam has already made it a habit to ignore these guys when they’re having a moment of idiocy.

"The victim wasn’t cut or anything. Looks like someone used their teeth. And we’re talking about human teeth. I think he was still alive when it happened." Louis rubs his gloved hands against each other like he’s cold, a little thoughtful maybe. "Pretty cruel I think."

"We’ve taken samples to detect any tissue that doesn’t belong to the victim," Zayn adds with a yawn. "Fibre analysis didn’t get us any results though. It probably wasn’t the murderers first time."

"It was personal," Harry pipes up and they all turn to look at him when he crouches down next to the victim, taking a deep breath. The scent of fear and betrayal is still heavy in the air but that’s not everything. He knows what it looks like when some personal business is being settled. "They wanted the victim to suffer, wanted him to know exactly why this is happening to him. They must have been close."

"What makes you say that?" Liam asks from behind him.

Harry points at the victims face. "See the smudges? The murderer cleaned the victim’s face. Probably used their own hand or something, so fingerprints is a good idea."

Liam hums. "Anything else?"

Harry raises back to his feet with a sigh, arms crossing over his suit as he meets Liam’s eyes. "The murderer is probably a loner. Doesn’t have many friends, so one case of betrayal turns their world upside down and makes them overreact. I’d look for a classmate or a close family member."

"Hm. Thank you, Doctor Styles."

"Ugh please, call me Harry. I don’t like titles." He pauses. "Or any kind of labels."

Liam snorts. "Alright. Thank you, Harry. We’ve got a few leads and a few suspects, would you like to accompany me?"

Harry nods while Louis makes an unhappy noise next to them. He has his arm hooked around Zayn’s neck, has pulled him into the side of his body and Zayn doesn’t seem to mind. They both smell strange to Harry, like one scent is covering the other.

"What about us?"

"Questioning suspects is not in your job description." It sounds like something Liam has repeated a thousand times already.

Louis pouts. "But Siiiiiiiir."

Liam ignores him. "Let’s go, Harry."

*

Liam takes the hot cocoa from the barista before he hands it to the young man. He looks a bit filthy, long sleeves covering most of his hands, hoodie hiding his greasy dark hair with the blonde tips. he seems exhausted and scraggy with dark bags under his eyes and chapped lips. But he lights up like the sun when he takes the first sip and his red cheeks make something coil hot in Harry’s stomach. A different kind of hunger.

"Your name’s Niall?" Liam asks and buries his hands back in his pocket. It’s so cold, even their breath is visible.

"Yup, that’s me, your favourite homeless menace. And I know why you’re here but I swear I already told the police everything I know."

Liam gives Niall a professional smile, one that doesn’t reach his eyes. "We have some different kinds of questions."

Niall blinks, looking him up and down. "Okay." Then his eyes shift over to Harry. "What kind of questions?"

"Did you know the victim?" Harry just blurts out and Liam sighs like he’s dealing with another idiot.

Niall breaks into a laugh and almost spills his cocoa. "That’s the first thing the police asked me. What kind of agents are you?"

"Sorry," Harry coughs.

"Shawn Mendes, the victim," Liam starts anew. "We already know that you were familiar with him but how close were you really?"

Niall shrugs, fingers wrapped tightly around the cup to warm his disturbingly thin and frostbitten hands. "We really just know each other from the shelter. Used to share a room sometimes. Or a bed."

"A bed," Liam repeats with a raised eyebrow.

"It can get fucking cold, you know?" Niall defends himself with a frown. "Anyway, he never stayed long. Said he sometimes crashes at a client’s place..." He trails off, suddenly nervous.

Liam tenses. "A client’s place? Was he a hooker?"

Niall shrugs. "I guess…?" He curls his lips over his teeth while he talks, just like Harry, but he does it to hide crooked teeth, not pointy ones.

"Niall, did you know that Shawn had his own place where he lived? He wasn’t homeless, he was a student at King’s College with rich parents and about to graduate."

Harry can see and feel how focused Liam is, how he phrased the question to hopefully get a less guarded reaction from Niall. The boy almost drops his cup (again) and just stares at Liam with wide eyes.

"What?"

"We found him dead in his flat, why do you think he was hiding his fancy lifestyle from you? Do you know some of his customers? They might be responsible for his death."

"Liam," Harry starts but Liam is not finished yet.

"MI5 confirmed to grant you some benefits in case you’re willing to share more information."

"Liam, stop," Harry hisses and pulls at his arm.

He takes a step back and frowns at Harry, who jerks his chin to point at Niall. The guy is sniffling now, teary-eyed, and the tip of his nose is as red as his cheeks.

"How did he die?" Niall mumbles quietly. "No one wanted to tell me."

There is a strange change in the atmosphere, like Liam suddenly lost all the people skills he ever had. He makes a frustrated noise and combs a hand through his hair.

"Your friend was the victim of a cannibal who has terrorised London for half a year now. You can imagine how he died. Now, are you willing to help us?"

Harry wants to palm his face and look away but he peers at Niall instead. So small and fragile against the harsh weather. Harry wonders how long it’s been since he had a decent meal. Though their view on decent meals might be different. But Niall doesn’t seem hungry right now, instead he looks like he’s about to throw up.

And then he just does and Harry snorts at Liam.

"Great job, Special Agent Liam Payne."

*

He meets Niall again on one of the coldest days of the year. He’s sitting on a bench, toeing almost fondly at a patch of rotten grass on the ground. He still appears to be a little sickly, sniffling pathetically because his nose is running from the frost that bites at his skin. Niall looks small and miserable and a little disgusting. Harry approaches him anyway.

"You look like you could use another hot cocoa, but I only have tea." He holds out a cup that he got himself before he decided to take a walk through the park.

Niall’s head snaps up immediately, first eyeing the tea before his eyes meet Harry’s.

"What kind of tea?" He asks tentatively.

"Organic Oolong tea," Harry answers with a smile.

Niall just stares at him. "Seriously?"

He gets a shrug in response. "Sorry. I got it for myself, it’s what I like."

With slim hands Niall reaches out to take the cup from him, breaking into a smile that has Harry mirror it instantly. He can’t help it. "So you’re offering me your only tea? That’s very generous of you."

"I don’t mind," he mumbles and sits down next to Niall. "You look like you could need it."

"Oh, definitely."

Harry watches him take a small experimental sip, smacking his lips together with a small frown. He looks at the cup for another few moments, like he’s figuring out whether he likes the taste or not. He seems to come to the decision that there’s worse things than organic Oolong tea, so he starts to drink a little more eagerly, wrapping all of his fingers around the welcome warmth, just like he did the other day.

"How did you find me?" Niall asks then, pressing the side of the cup to his cheek.

Harry swallows, wondering how long he’s been out here. "I didn’t… It was just a coincidence. I sometimes need to get away from the job so I come here."

"Being an agent must be tiresome."

"I’m… not with MI5. I’m a psychiatrist."

Niall starts to laugh. "Yeah, that seems more like it. Your clothes probably don’t meet the requirements."

"Well, as a shrink I can wear whatever I want and no one can judge me on it."

"Must be nice," Niall mumbles, lips wrapping back around the cup to take another sip. "So if you didn’t look for me, is it fate then?"

Harry lets his chin sink a little deeper into his scarf. It gets cold real fast when you’re not moving and it’s just a rumour that vampires don’t mind the cold. The truth is, they can stand it even less. "Don’t know anything about fate."

"You could’ve ignored me."

"I just thought..." He frowns to himself. "You looked like you could need some help."

"Christ, when do I not need help?"

Harry looks at him then and Niall looks back, raising both eyebrows like he’s waiting for more.

"Do you..." Harry licks his cold lips. "Do you need a place to stay at? Just for a night. You can shower, have a decent meal and a change of clothes."

Niall chews on his bottom lip. "And what do you want in return?"

Harry doesn’t know what he means at first, opening his mouth to ask, but then it snaps shut again. If he wasn’t dead he would flush with embarrassment. "Nothing. I just wanted to be nice. I mean… You probably don’t want to beg for alms or-"

"Hey, listen." Niall says and shifts a little closer. "It seems all cool to be that guy who says ‘I don’t need you to feel sorry for me, I can make it on my own’ but the truth is? Living on the streets sucks. You don’t know if you’re gonna die tomorrow or not. So honestly, I’m taking anything you’re willing to give."

"Oh..." Harry notices the pleading in his voice. Of course he wants help. Of course he wants to come along. "Alright then. Do you… want to go right now? I don’t have any appointments anymore for the rest of the day."

"Fuck yes please, let’s go before my butt cheeks freeze to this fucking bench."

*

Harry wonders why he hasn’t thought of it before. It’s so much easier. Just offer a homeless person a chance to sleep properly and they’ll take it like a lifeline, only it leads them straight into the fangs.

No one will miss them, no one will care.

It’s a little sad, tugs at Harry’s heart in a painful way. It’s not like he doesn’t have a soul anymore, it’s not like you lose your humanity when you become a vampire. No, you’re exactly who you were before, only that you’re immortal and crave blood now. The change comes with time, like it does for everyone, and it certainly came for Nick. The guilt of killing someone is something you have to deal with on your own. Harry was a fucking vegan before he was turned but now it’s different. Because blood and flesh are the only things that taste good, that keep him alive. It’s not his fault and he decided to make the best of it.

Harry thinks about killing Niall as soon as they’re through the door but then he feels like he should let Niall take a shower first. It probably makes him taste better. When he’s done with that and dressed in one of Harry’s soft jumpers that is almost too big on him, he thinks that maybe Niall should have a decent meal before he dies.

Niall beams at the offer, asking for take-out while Harry had thought about cooking him a five-course dinner until he doesn’t look so bony anymore. But he lets Niall have his way, it will be his last meal after all. They eat on each end of Harry’s sofa with their feet meeting in the middle while a rom-com plays on tv. It’s kind of nice and Harry relaxes, swallowing down the food that he will probably throw up later to make room for Niall’s delicate flesh.

But then Niall becomes all drowsy, yawning and trying to blink away the urge to close his eyes. Harry watches him, the softness of his hair, how his skin is a little more rosy now and overall he looks happier. It suits him, makes him more beautiful and Harry wants to get a bite.

But maybe… maybe he’ll let him sleep first.

*

"Where did you go?" Harry accuses Niall, sleeping pants peaking out from under his coat, his scarf completely forgotten and his hair a mess.

Niall gapes at him with confused eyes and then he just fucking laughs. "Oh my god, are you still wearing your house slippers?"

"You were gone when I woke up." He didn’t even get the chance to sink his teeth into Niall’s pale neck.

"You said one night."

"Oh… Right. Um, do you want to stay another?" Harry is without doubt the worst vampire that ever existed. He fails at being mysterious, seductive and just falls fucking asleep when he’s supposed to kill his carefully chosen victim. This sucks.

"Another night, with you? Does your generosity know no ends?" He sounds amused, openly smirks at Harry now with his hands buried in a jacket that is definitely Harry’s. It looks better on Niall.

"It’s just an offer. You don’t have to take it." It’s fucking cold and for once it’s Harry who shivers and Niall who doesn’t.

"Oh but I want to take it. Anything you’re willing to give."

"You said that before."

"I still mean it."

It feels natural to take Niall back home. Feels natural to have him wrapped up in a blanket while Harry makes them tea ( "Real tea this time, please." ). All of it feels natural and Harry tells himself that he’s just waiting for the right moment to make the kill.

*

"So you work at home?" Niall flops down into the comfortable armchair across from Harry’s own seat. "Haven’t seen any of your patients so far."

It’s the locked room right next to the front door. Harry hasn’t let Niall see that one yet.

"I had a few of them here while you were asleep and… you sleep a lot."

"Fuck you, I have a lot to catch up with," Niall says with a grin and pulls his knees up to rest his feet on the edge of the seat. He looks comfortable and soft.

"Well, don’t fall asleep on me then."

"Well, that depends on how good of a shrink you are."

Harry smiles and throws one leg over the other, folding his hands in his lap. "What do you want to talk about?"

Niall laughs. "Doctor Styles, I have so many problems to deal with."

"Start with the one that haunts you the most."

Niall fidgets around a bit and makes his thinking face, which means he’s pursing his lips and squinting at the ceiling.

"When you’re homeless," he starts, "it always feels like you’re starving. I guess that sucks the most. And people just walk past you sometimes, while you sit there with empty hands and they… don’t care. It’s unsettling, even more when you ask for help and they just ignore you."

"How does that make you feel?" Harry asks. "When they turn you down."

Niall doesn’t hesitate. "Angry."

"How so?"

"People are very selfish sometimes." He’s not looking at Harry anymore. "When they have their pockets full of money and can’t even spare a single coin on someone who is dying… Are they worthy then?"

Harry frowns at the particular phrasing. "Worthy of what?"

Niall just shrugs. "Worthy of the wealth they have."

"What do you think they should do? All of them?"

"Try to make this world a better place." He finally looks up again and gives Harry a smile that has his insides start to come alive. "You shared a lot of things with me, Harry. I won’t forget that, you know?"

It almost sounds like a goodbye.

"I just wanted to help."

"Yeah… that’s what matters in the end."

The silence that follows is physically hurting Harry and maybe this is it, maybe that’s the moment to finally kill Niall and be done with it. To return to his old life and turn Niall into nothing but a memory.

But maybe he wants to give Niall a hug first and find out what kissing him feels like. So he leans back, smiling to himself, and does nothing.

*

"We thoroughly screened Mendes’ family members and close class mates but we got nothing. No one knew about his pretend-life of being homeless and the homeless kids didn’t know of his fancy life either. It’s a dead end." Liam leans back in his chair and for a moment Harry thinks he’s going to prop up his feet on his desk. It’s a really huge desk.

Instead Louis Tomlinson has his arse planted on the edge of it, watching Liam with his bottom lip tucked between his teeth.

"We couldn’t find any fingerprints either," Zayn says from where he’s leaning against the closed door. "But it’s still different from the other murders."

"You mentioned that before, other murders. You only wanted my input on this one. Why? What’s different this time?" Harry asks.

Liam takes a deep breath and exchanges glances with Louis, both serious for once. They haven’t worked together for long it seems but they know each other well enough to have silent conversations, apparently.

"Well," Liam finally says, tearing his eyes away from Louis. "It’s the first time the murderer left more than than just bones."

*

 

"I don’t know," Niall whines and sleepily rubs at his eyes. Harry just wants to take him home and tuck him in. "I don’t know anyone else who knew Shawn."

"Are you sure?" Liam pushes.

Harry sighs behind the mirror and turns away while Louis and Zayn seem so eager they’re almost pressing their noses against the glass. They love this interrogation shit and squealed like a bunch of teenagers when Liam allowed them in.

"I mean..." Niall trails off suddenly and Harry can hear the frown in his voice. He looks over his shoulder to catch Niall’s thoughtful expression. "I mean there was… now that you mention it. There was that one customer yeah? Always wanted to spend the night with Shawn, said he was what kept him young and shit like that. He seemed pretty attached, you know? Think his name was Nick. Nick… grim-something."

Harry freezes.

"Nick Grim-something?" Liam takes notes. "Do you know anything else?"

"Think he lives somewhere in Richmond."

Nick. definitely his Nick, then. Fuck, it doesn’t seem like Nick to be that messy. It can’t be Nick anyway since he doesn’t have human teeth and why would he eat someone? Harry remembers very vividly how disgusted Nick was, how he told him never to come back again. What does seem like Nick though is the habit of picking up prostitutes.

"Can I go home now?" Niall asks quietly.

Liam stops his pen on the paper. "You have a home?" He eyes him properly like he’s only now realising that Niall looks indeed much cleaner and healthier.

Niall shrugs, shooting a nervous glance to the mirror. "Something like that. Can I go?"

Liam shakes his head. "Not yet."

Niall might not be allowed to leave, but Harry is.

*

"What the fuck did you do?"

Harry pushes against the door, making Nick back away from it with a roll of his eyes. "Oh, how I missed you, Harold."

He gets his hand on Nick’s chest immediately, shoving him into the living room with a livid expression.

"Cut it out, Grimshaw, I’m here for your sake."

"Oh really? I feel great since I cut your greedy and very fucked up arse out of my life."

"Fuck you, I’ve done nothing wrong! You’re just angry because I don’t need you anymore, I never needed you."

"Grimmy? What’s the noi- oh."

There’s a guy coming from the bedroom, in nothing but his boxers and a bruise on his shoulder with two puncture holes sitting in the centre of it. Harry has looked like that too once. Only this guy seems a little older, about Nick’s human age. Harry feels like he should be jealous of being replaced but he’s not. That’s why they never worked. Because Harry never felt that way about Nick.

"So… did Nick offer you to share ‘eternity’ with him? Did he tell you that every day will be like your favourite radio show? Perfect, ever-changing and never boring?"

The guy frowns, wrapping one arm around his middle and the other coming up to cover up the bruise.

"This is Greg," Nick informs him. "He’s amazing and nothing like you."

"Good for him."

"Nicolas doesn’t need you," Greg pipes up. Brave of him. Because he still smells of his own blood and Harry is fucking hungry.

"Say that again when MI5 bursts through your door."

"What?" Of course that gets Nick’s attention.

"You have to leave now."

"The sun’s still up," Greg says anxiously, like he’s the one in danger of being burned and not Nick.

"I got here by hiding under my coat. You will manage."

"What do they even want?" Nick grits through his teeth. "I was careful."

"Apparently not. They found that hooker, Nick. Shawn Mendes was found dead. I don’t know what exactly you had to do with it because he was partly eaten and that’s my thing and not yours but you’re MI5’s best lead."

"Shawn?" Nick blinks. "Haven’t seen that kid in months."

Harry stares at him. "Seriously?"

"I swear. He was starting to bore me."

"But-"

"Hands up and don’t fucking move."

It’s Liam’s steady voice that Harry notices first. Then there’s a tickling sensation at the back of his neck and when he turns around he spots three guns directed at them. Liam is the closest, with Zayn and Louis right behind him and… fuck. It’s Niall. Niall is clinging to the door frame, hiding half of his face against it like he’s too scared to look.

Harry swallows hard, slowly lifting his hands because it’s Zayn’s gun pointed at him and he doesn’t seem like he’s fucking around. Not that a bullet can seriously harm him but it’s painful and a bitch to heal when you haven’t fed in too long. Niall distracted him a lot.

"Well, hello there," Nick chirps. "Fancy seeing you here, gentlemen."

"Nick, I swear to god, shut up," Harry hisses.

"Do you know him then?" Liam asks and Harry can see the betrayal in his eyes. Harry does feel bad about it, since he liked Liam a lot. All noble and brave and so righteous in what he does. You don’t see that anymore these days.

(These days, like he’s centuries old! Get a grip, Styles.)

Harry doesn’t answer and that’s enough of an answer for Liam, who fixes Nick again. "Niall, is that the one you saw with Shawn Mendes?"

"Yeah. That’s him," Niall answers dutifully.

"He didn’t do it," Harry says. "It’s been months since they last saw each other."

"Is that what he told you?" Zayn asks, a little amused. "All people do is lie."

"I don’t," Louis says proudly. "I’m always truthful and rude."

"Louis," Liam warns. It’s the first time Harry hears him use his first name. Louis seems to be just as surprised because he looks over to grin madly at Liam.

Which was kind of a mistake because Nick is using that moment to dash forward with incredible speed, vampire speed, and Liam can’t follow him, shouldn’t be able to, but the next thing Harry knows is that Nick stumbles back with three bullets inside of him.

"Nick!" Greg doesn’t dare to move but he looks worried, Harry can smell it radiating off his skin.

Harry’s own instincts kick in then, an old one, the urge to defend his sire, but also his own hunger tearing at him, so he does the only thing he can think of: He bites Liam. He’s not focused enough on Harry to notice until it’s too late, the gun falling from his hold when Harry gets one hand on his head and the other on his shoulder. He feels a feral growl erupting from his own throat before he sinks his fangs into Liam’s neck.

Blood gushes into his mouth immediately, accompanied by a pained gasp from Liam. Only a few seconds later Harry rips away and starts to gag.

"What the fuck," he croaks and spits out the blood that is still left in his mouth. It’s the most disgusting thing he’s ever tasted and he starts to rub the sleeve of his suit over his lips. "Fuck, that’s gross."

He looks over at Liam who has fallen to his knees, hand pressed loosely over the wound but it doesn’t even seem to bleed anymore. A cold shiver, colder than his own skin, runs down Harry’s back when he sees the change in Liam’s eyes. They’ve turned white like snow, the skin around them darkening like they’ve sunken in, like he’s dying. He’s starting to breathe heavily, his dark lips parting to suck in the air.

When he lifts his head, his eyes narrow in on the closest living thing.

"Oh no," Greg mutters.

*

Liam knows that it’s his fault. He talked his sister into going for a shortcut, away from their parents so they would be the first to be back at camp. He ignored his parents yelling after them and dragged his sister along instead, giggling like the ten year old boy that he is.

But the next thing he knows is that it’s dark, that he can’t see and he doesn’t know where they are. Doesn’t know where he is. Because his sister is dead next to him, her body twisted from the fall and Liam can’t stop crying. It’s so cold his tears freeze on his skin and he doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know where to go. He doesn’t know how long he has been here, if it has been hours or days.

The ache in his stomach would suggest days, pulling at him and demanding food but there’s nothing here. Not even wild berries that could kill him if he was brave enough to try them. There’s nothing but dry earth and bushes poking at him like needles. There’s no singing birds, just the faint cries of a predator hunting its prey and Liam worries that he might be next.

He is thirsty and so, so hungry, his lips chapped and burning whenever he tries to wet them with his tongue. He’d give anything for his mum’s stew that he hates so much, would give anything for a piece of meat.

He looks at his sister and a strange sense of need overwhelms him, makes him move closer to her. He pauses then. What is he going to do? He doesn’t know, it’s instinct. Or maybe a voice in the back of his head telling him to save himself. Or maybe it’s his body that already knows and his brain is just too slow to catch up.

He touches his sister, her cold skin and swallows hard. His mouth drops open with a whimper and when he bends over her, muttering a string of I’msorryI’msorryI’msorry, it’s the last time he has ever felt human.

*

Wendigo, Harry thinks. He’s seen a face like that before, even if it was just a picture in a book Nick showed him. He takes a step back and spits on the floor again. No wonder he tastes inhuman, tastes like a demon. He has heard of the wendigo spirits before, befalling humans when they’re at their weakest, talking them into inhuman behaviour, forcing them to feed on human flesh. From what Harry knows about Liam so far it must be haunting him. At least it would explain his over disciplined and brooding nature.

"Liam?" Louis stares at his boss, his somehow friend, but not in fear. It’s awe.

But Liam is already moving, reaching out for Greg and moving fast. Harry curses himself for being paralysed for too long. Greg screams when Liam breaks his arm, the bone peeking out and blood dripping to the floor.

"Liam," Harry hisses and wraps both arms around him to pull him back. Liam’s growl is coming deep from his belly and Harry feels strangely comfortable in the wendigo’s presence. "Stop. You will ruin everything."

But the air is already filled with the scent of mortal blood, Greg cowering on the floor, sobbing and whimpering. His arm is pressed to his chest and the sight only stokes the fire in Harry’s stomach, the hunger climbing up his throat. But he’s stronger than that and tightens his grip around Liam who begins to struggle now, eyes still fixed on his prey.

"Fuck, I should’ve known," he hears Zayn say.

"Damn right you should have," Louis snaps.

They’re both stepping closer and then Zayn is in front of Liam, grabbing his chin with one hand to tilt his face up. Harry sucks in a sharp breath when he sees the red in Zayn’s eyes. It’s a dark red, like blood and his face betrays no emotion. He just examines Liam’s face like this is old news to him and that’s when Harry smells it. The little hint of demon under the aftershave. The scent that clings to Louis as well. It’s what Harry had wondered about the first time he met them. Fuck, he’s just a shit vampire for not realising any of it until now.

"Yeah, definitely one like me," Zayn hums and pats Liam’s cheek. "Just not the same."

"This is so inconvenient but also bloody amazing," Louis beams, but when he reaches out for Liam the wendigo begins to squirm in Harry’s arms, trying to bite at Louis’ finger.

So Louis is definitely human then. The reason he smells like Zayn must be something else then.

"Stop it," Harry snarls. "This is not fucking funny. If we don’t turn him back he’s going to ruin it all."

Louis shrugs, like Liam going on a rampage is the best thing that could ever happen to him.

"Let him feed," Niall suddenly mumbles.

Harry’s head whips around and there Niall is, casually leaning against the now closed door, gaze fixed on Greg as he licks his lips.

"What?"

"Let him feed. It will probably sate the spirit and turn him back into his own self." He looks at Harry then. "For a while."

He considers it, they all do, and Harry feels his grip around Liam loosen just a little bit. He shouldn’t let him, for Nick’s sake at least. But Nick is gone. The spot where he was shot is empty now, just a few droplets of blood as proof that he was there. He is not surprised. Nick was always quick to abandon his friends, lovers, to save himself. Not because he doesn’t care. He’s just afraid.

Harry on the other hand is rarely afraid. Even now he’s more intrigued than worried. Because when he looks around he can see the same hunger in all of their eyes.

Louis gives them a wide grin. "Come on, lads. It’s a beautiful day, let’s not waste it."

*

Zayn is a good flatmate. He’s clean and doesn’t leave his things all over the place. He’s the first one to be up in the morning and always leaves Louis a cup of tea because he doesn’t skip classes unlike Louis. He’s also very beautiful and modest, delicious to look at and Louis’ mouth starts to water every time he looks at him.

But he keeps telling himself that it’s not the right time yet. There’s so much he wants to do with Zayn before the grand finale. He wants them to work together and become that kind of duo you see in the movies. Those who love and hate each other but will always be there to bail each other out. He wants a friend because Louis never really had friends, just those who used him. He ate some of those but it was just the same as with fast food: You crave it so much but as soon as you try it you realise that it wasn’t worth it. That it’s not really satisfying.

Zayn will be different, Louis tells himself.

Zayn will make the terrible hunger stop forever.

"What are you thinking about?" Zayn asks as he shoves his glasses back up his nose, a heavy book about forensics in his lap. He’s always been the better student.

"Just thinking about dinner," Louis says with a lazy smile and toes at the playstation to turn it on.

"You’re always hungry, Lou."

"Yeah," Louis mumbles. "I am."

*

The day he finds Zayn dead in the living room is both exciting and devastating. A little scary, too, to be honest. Not because of the death itself, Louis is familiar enough with that shit. But Zayn is broken, open like a piñata with dark hands rummaging through his insides, searching for the most delicious bits. A figure made of pure darkness and red eyes, fixing Louis with a low growl.

Louis doesn’t know if he’s more scared or annoyed, but he points at the demon anyway. "Fuck you, I saw him first!" He accuses.

The creature pauses, blood dripping from its mouth and Zayn’s heart in its claws. Louis kicks the door shut with a tsk while he shucks off his jacket, stomach already half-full after having lunch with a classmate but there’s always room for more. There’s always room for Zayn.

"Shove over, you amateur," Louis huffs and kneels next to the creature.

Zayn is still warm, his eyes open and clear, tears dripping down the corners of his eyes like he was still alive when the creature tore into him. Cruel, he thinks. He would’ve been kinder, he had a plan in his head, to seduce Zayn, to corrupt him, to make him offer himself to Louis out of love. But it has always just been a fantasy, hasn’t it? Because Zayn was painfully straight, waiting for the right girl to make his parents proud. It’s a shame, really. Louis would have waited just to see him happy.

But he’ll take this anyway.

"Why would you go for the heart?" Louis asks when he notices the demon watching him with tentative eyes while nuzzling at the red meat. "The heart is too stringy and doesn’t taste that good. Here, the liver. Tender and soft. You just have to get used to the flavour. And don’t try the kidneys, believe me, it’s not worth it."

Zayn tastes just the way Louis imagined, pure and intense, the meat melting in his mouth. They eat in silence next to each other, Louis and the creature. It’s just like another lunch break with a classmate, easy and comfortable.

Louis swallows and grins at the demon. the demon grins back.

*

Louis wakes up to Zayn mouthing along his throat. For a second it feels so natural and so right that he stretches his neck to give him more room, to bury his fingers in the dark hair of his head. He wants more, wants to shift over and press their bodies together, but that’s when he remembers that Zayn is dead and he jerks away.

It’s still Zayn, beautifully naked in the dark, face looming over Louis. At least he’s wearing Zayn’s face but that’s not the Zayn he knows. His eyes are darker and there’s a flicker of a familiar red.

"It’s you," Louis croaks, voice breaking from his sleep. "What-"

"Ghoul." He even sounds like Zayn, just without the thick bradford accent.

"Is that what you are?" His hands are still in the ghoul’s hair who bends down to nose at Louis’ cheek.

"I want to be him," he whispers and then purrs when Louis pulls at his hair. He’s warm, warmer than Zayn ever was.

"How-"

"Teach me," the creature growls and opens his mouth against Louis’ skin, an almost playful bite. "Teach me how to be Zayn. Teach me how to be human and I’ll teach you everything I know."

"And what is that?" He touches Zayn’s face freely now, runs his fingers over his hair, over his sharp features. He could never do that when Zayn was still alive.

"Art," the ghoul says. "The art of my nature."

Louis makes a thoughtful noise. "I’m shit at being human though."

The thing, not-Zayn, grins at him. "That’s good enough for me."

Louis was wrong. The hunger never stops.

*

New-Zayn is nothing like old-Zayn. New-Zayn is messy and loud. He’s an artist and the world is his canvas. He’s eager to learn, sucking in everything Louis teaches him and picks up bad habits like smoking weed with Louis and covering his body in tattoos. He sleeps all day when he is full, after he has killed. He’s into comic books, a whole stack now on his desk where old-Zayn’s collection of coins used to be.

"Why do you like those comics so much?" Louis asks from where he’s stretching out his body on Zayn’s bed and typing away on his phone.

Zayn doesn’t look up, glasses so low on his nose they almost fall off. "It’s where monsters like me are called superheroes."

New-Zayn sometimes says shit like that and Louis wants him even more then. He wants that demon more than he wanted old-Zayn and it confuses him a little. Even more so when Zayn returns from his trip to the Malik family and suddenly talks with the same accent, in the same way. He’s different and so much more and so wicked at times it makes Louis almost stop breathing. He joins Louis in playing pranks, shares his weed with him, plays the part of being achingly human up to the point that Louis wonders if maybe he’s the demon and not Zayn.

But Zayn’s the partner in crime Louis always wanted.

"Teach me more," Zayn demands, not shy or clumsy anymore when he kisses the stag on Louis’ arm, lips trailing over the cracked heart as he looks up through his long, dark lashes. "Come on, Lou."

"piss off," Louis grumbles and pushes him back into his corner of the sofa. But Zayn is back in his personal space only a moment later, breath heavy with something Louis can’t name. He usually pretends to be weak and fragile like everyone else but the second time Louis tries to push him he is like steel, he doesn’t bend.

"Lou," he mumbles, fingers catching Louis’ hand on his chest. "Don’t be a dickhead."

"Dickhead!" Louis snorts with laughter. "Why do you even want to be human, huh?"

"It was boring before. This is exciting. Maybe I can even trick this god of yours into taking me into jannat."

"Jannat?"

"Paradise," Zayn hums. "Or maybe… just a short and boring life with you."

"Piss off," Louis repeats but with less heat this time, fingers splaying over Zayn’s firm chest where the tattoos spread underneath his batman shirt. His mouth turns dry when he imagines licking over them. "I already taught you everything I know."

"No, you haven’t." Zayn leans in closer, bracketing Louis with one hand on the backrest and one on the armrest, bodies so close Louis can smell him. He uses a different aftershave than old-Zayn. "Teach me how to fuck you."

He’s climbing into Louis’ lap, less human now with a twinge of red in his eyes. Louis doesn’t think, can’t think, really. He has wanted this for so long. He pulls Zayn down for a proper kiss, all wet tongue and sharp teeth and his head swims with arousal.

"Won’t eat me, then?" Louis asks when Zayn tears at his belt.

He pauses, watching Louis’ lips while licking his own. "Don’t be an idiot. I’m still going to eat you one day."

"Or maybe I’ll eat you."

"Maybe."

Zayn fucks him hard into the cushions while he kisses him, moaning like it’s as good for him as it is for Louis. It’s just so fucking good Louis almost forgets his own name.

*

"So, does that mean Niall and I are the only humans here?" Louis asks with a scandalised expression.

"Um," Niall raises a hand. "I identify as a Zombie, okay? Like, a living undead."

Louis gives him a look. "A living undead?"

"I’m dead on the inside," Niall deadpans. "That counts, too."

"That’s ridiculous."

"If that’s the label he chose, you fucking respect it," Harry snaps defensively.

"Could you tone it down a little?" Zayn asks. "Liam is still asleep."

Louis sighs. "So let’s make a headcount. We have a living zombie, a ghoul, a vampire with issues, a fucked up human and a wendigo beyond control. Is that right?"

There’s an awkward silence, filling Liam’s living room where they all gathered.

"Do you think..." Harry starts. "That Liam is responsible for all of those murders and he didn’t know it?"

"Fuck," Louis swears. "That’s bloody awesome. What a twist, I fucking love it."

"Lou," Zayn drawls, hand sneaking up the back of his shirt. "Calm your tits."

Niall shuffles around next to Harry, staring at the bedroom door. "I think Liam’s awake."

Louis straightens his back. "One of us should--"

"No," Zayn interrupts him, pulling him into his chest. "No humans allowed."

Harry sighs. "I’ll go."

*

Liam feels like he’s dying. He’s exhausted, his insides are aching, his head throbs. He squirms around in his bed, trying to remember what happened. It’s different from all the other times when he blacked out. There are bits and pieces in his head, like Zayn’s red eyes, Louis grin and Harry’s teeth. There’s the memory of instant hunger, of starving, his sister’s laugh.

A cool hand touches his forehead when he turns over and his sight is still a little blurry but he recognises the floral pattern of Harry’s suit. More memories come flooding back and he bolts up, taking a deep breath.

"Easy," Harry says and holds on to his shoulders. "You’ve been out for a while."

"Did I kill someone?" He asks immediately, images of a man with a broken arm haunting him, delicious smelling meat.

Harry shakes his head. "No, don’t worry. You didn’t. He… he was already dead when you..."

He doesn’t have to finish that sentence. Liam feels sick. He feels so sick that he leans over the bed to throw up, coughing and gagging.

"Jesus, you really feel bad about it."

His stomach empties rapidly, the sight of it making Liam feel even more ill. He had been so careful, at least that’s what he thought. He thought he was stronger, thought he could handle the monster inside of him but he was dead wrong.

"Oh god," he heaves and falls back into the bed. "This can’t be happening again."

"Liam… Do you know what you are? How you became this?"

Of course he knows. Of course. That’s something he’ll never forget. He scowls at Harry as the only answer and watches him laugh. It’s the first time he actually notices the pointy ends of his teeth. Teeth he felt in his own neck. Harry has been hiding them with the lazy way he talks.

He reaches up with tentative fingers to touch where Harry bit him, but the skin already knitted itself back together, not even leaving a bruise. Then he feels Harry’s hand over his, pressing soothingly against his skin.

"I’m sorry about that. I thought you were human."

He wants to laugh and cry at the statement, because Liam had hoped that deep down that’s what he still is. Human.

But he isn’t.

*

Zayn and Louis are taking a smoke break, Harry can hear them bicker outside. Since Liam is asleep (again) it leaves Harry alone with Niall. They’re sitting so close together Harry would be having trouble to breathe if he still had to breathe. The ridiculous fear of Niall being scared of him was wiped away as soon as he saw how eagerly Niall was eating. And now he’s glowing with it, healthier and more alive than ever. To think he’s some kind of zombie doesn’t seem so absurd anymore.

"Didn’t think you would be a vampire, you know," Niall suddenly says while nibbling at his fingernails. "I thought vampires were more..."

Harry rolls his eyes. "What? Mysterious?"

"Mean."

Harry looks at him. Niall’s eyes are all soft, like he’s seeing Harry differently. Like he’s seeing more now, not less. That’s not what he expected.

"Well, I never was a mean person. At least that’s what I like to think. I’m sure I’ve made mistakes, too."

"Not with me," Niall says and shifts closer until their sides are pressed together. "I like how kind you are. How much you care. Especially older people tend to grow more bitter and stuff." He tilts his head to the side now. "How old are you anyway?"

"twentyfour," Harry answers dutifully.

Niall just grins and then whispers in a mock serious voice. "How long have you been twentyfour?"

Harry bursts into a laugh. "Fuck you, I’ve only been turned last year, I’m not that old!"

"Are you sure?" Niall is laughing too now. "Sometimes you really talk like an old man."

"Well, and you talk like a zombie."

"Nah, that’s you. All slow and clumsy..." He tries to poke Harry but with his vampire speed he stops Niall before he can even reach him. He holds on to his wrists, a little too hard maybe but Niall doesn’t complain, He gives Harry a heated look.

"Who’s slow and clumsy now, huh?"

"Still you," Niall says but stops struggling. His skin is warm underneath Harry’s fingers and his eyes are so fucking blue. When Harry looks into them he doesn’t miss the sky and the sun at all. "Do you hate it? What you are and what you do?" Niall suddenly asks.

Harry shakes his head. "No, never. What happened is not my fault and what I need to do to survive isn’t my fault either."

"You don’t have to eat them," Niall points out. "You only have to drink."

Harry offers him a bashful smile. "Well, my mum taught me never to waste any food."

"That’s one way to look at it."

"What about you? You had a choice, I suppose."

Niall turns a little more serious, circling his own fingers around Harry’s arm so they hold on to each other. "I have my reasons. I will tell you one day."

"I can wait," Harry says, grinning. "I’m immortal."

"Oh yes. Immortal and silly and very patient." Niall uses the hold he has on Harry to pull him in, eyes so determined it makes Harry feel shy in response. He ducks his head but doesn’t resist and Niall’s warm breath hits his face. "And beautiful. I always wondered what you taste like."

It makes Harry shiver, makes his skin tingle. Makes him feel alive. A strange sensation but so welcome, and when Niall lowers his head to catch Harry’s lips in a kiss he’s sure that his dead heart skips a beat.

*

Zayn hands the joint over to Louis. He looks so good with smoke rising from his mouth like a very handsome dragon. Zayn always looks good, but that’s just a fact. Louis kinda wants to push him against the wall and kiss him.

He drags the smoke into his lungs instead, watching Zayn through half-lidded eyes. "So what are we gonna do about Liam?"

"What do you mean?"

"He obviously doesn’t have any control of it. Of the thing inside of him."

Zayn hums, accepting the blunt back from Louis. "It’s not so much about control, you know. Wendigos are not so different from ghouls, but they can’t be in this world on their own. They need a body and once they joined with someone only death can separate them."

"Do you think Liam tried it anyway?"

Zayn shakes his head. "No, his spirit is wild and desperate." He licks his lips. "It’s lonely. Neglected."

Louis closes his eyes as he leans against the brick wall. He remembers how hot he had felt when Liam fought Harry’s tight grip to take what he wanted. Liam, that wendigo, it was hungry, and in that moment it was Louis who wanted to make that hunger stop.

"How lonely can it be?" He asks without thinking.

"More lonely than you think."

The tone of Zayn’s voice makes him look again, makes his hand reach up into Zayn’s neck out of habit, the familiarity of it burning hot in his heart. He knows everything about Zayn, knows every stretch of his skin, knows what his face looks like when he sleeps and eats, how he sounds when he comes for Louis. He’s known this version of Zayn for much longer than he knew old-Zayn and sometimes he doesn’t even remember what old-Zayn was like, because all he sees is this.

It’s his Zayn, who had to learn about the importance of closed doors, who has a strange affection for stray dogs, who uses the excuse of ‘I’m not human’ to get away with his bullshit, who still leaves hearts and dead limbs in front of Louis’ door sometimes, like a weird ghoul courting ritual that no one else understands.

Louis never forgets what Zayn is, who he is, and there are times when he doesn’t have a fucking clue what Zayn’s talking about, or they have ugly fights that make them not talk to each other for days. But Louis knows one thing for sure: he doesn’t want Zayn to feel lonely. Because he knows what that’s like, knows how it feels, and he chose this for himself a long time ago. He decided not to let anyone in unless he can eat them later. They can’t hurt him if he hurts them first.

But his treacherous heart had other ideas and chose a ghoul nonetheless. Maybe it’s the demons’ nature that makes Louis feel safe; they are evil, vile, but they do not lie. They don’t put on an act. Louis thinks it’s the one human trait he despises the most, the one he swore off ages ago.

And now he’s here, his head buzzing from the weed, his face pressed against Zayn’s and Zayn’s hands on his hips, always keeping Louis right where he wants him to be, sometimes leaving bruises like a mark that says mine.

"You’re not alone, you pillock," Louis mutters, lips already parting over Zayn’s and they kiss like it’s enough.

Like Louis is enough. Fuck, that’s a first.

*

Liam stares at the file in his hand, eyes not moving, reading the same word over and over again. He can’t really focus and he knows he should’ve stayed home a little longer since his fear of the monster breaking loose again is still so strong. It’s itching under his skin, taunting him.

But there’s also the fact that he can feel Louis’ eyes on him since he entered the office. His desk is right in front of the window, with Louis and Zayn wedged into the corners of the room. Zayn has fallen asleep again and for once Liam doesn’t yell at him. But Louis is so unnervingly quiet, and he’s never quiet, it drives him insane.

"What," he finally growls and looks up to catch Louis watching him curiously with his chin in one hand and a pen between his teeth. He has gotten that same look before but never so intense.

"What what?" Louis says without dropping the pen.

"What are you staring at?"

"Just you, sir."

It’s the usual blatant disrespect Louis is so often displaying. The sarcasm dripping from his mouth every time he says sir. The way he smirks at Liam when he gives him an order, though he never refuses. He’s still a little shit, driving Liam insane, pushing him until he snaps. It usually takes a lot more for Liam to lose his calm but he’s been on edge all day.

"How about you work instead?" Liam grits through his teeth. the paper crinkles between his fingers.

"I’m not in the mood. Hey, you know what? You should come to Zayn’s and my place later."

"Why should I?"

"So we can talk about you and your inner wendigo."

Liam swallows hard and forces his eyes back on the file. "I don’t know what you’re talking about."

"Seriously? You just gonna pretend nothing happened?" When Liam stays silent Louis lets out a huff. "That’s rude, just so you know. It was so nice when we sat around that body and shared a leg."

"Would you just shut the fuck up?" Liam hisses and stands up from his desk, hands both on the table to hold himself back. "You don’t have to make it worse, the situation already sucks."

"Worse?" Louis blinks at him, playing with the pen between two fingers now. "To me it’s fucking great."

Liam’s mouth drops open. "How can you… how can you be human and say shit like that?"

"’Cause he’s fucked up," Zayn suddenly mumbles from his own seat before he yawns and rubs his knuckles over his eyes.

"Aw babes, you say the sweetest things," Louis says and blows him a kiss.

Liam can’t believe what’s happening. "You’re both insane. I should just-"

"What?" Louis suddenly scowls at him with a new kind of severity, dropping his lack of concern like a mask. "You gonna expose us? Call us names? Kill us?"

"Think he wants to eat you," Zayn hums, watching Liam as well. "Think he wants to eat you raw."

"Oh good," Louis moans, "talk dirty to me."

Liam looks between them, utterly convinced that they’re taking the piss. Is he the only sane person left in this room? He takes a deep breath before he breaks someone’s neck or worse: have the monster come out to ‘play’.

He moves around his desk with careful steps. He’s heading for the door but stops in front of Louis’ table to place a hand on it, leaning down.

"I’m only going to say this once, Tomlinson. Be careful of what you say."

He had hoped to sound intimidating, to make Louis understand how serious this whole mess is. But it has quite the opposite effect. Louis’ eyes begin to sparkle and he tucks his bottom lip between his teeth, grinning. Liam feels like an idiot. Of course he’s not scared of a mess because he’s a mess himself.

Liam backs away quickly, finally leaving the office to clock out early. He just needs to go home.

"You know where to find us!" He hears Louis yell after him, but it’s Zayn’s words that still ring in his ears, that make the monster roar inside of him.

He wants to eat you raw.

*

"So, did you hear anything from Nick?" Niall asks while he nurses his pint and scans the crowd.

He wants to see Harry ‘in action’, wants to see how he hunts and the saga of Harry not being able to say no to Niall seems to continue. But somehow Harry is not in the mood to feed. Mainly because the cliché of drinking blood being tied to sex is quite true when it comes to Harry. It’s two things he always had trouble to separate.

"Nothing," Harry says. "Don’t think I’ll ever hear from him again. It’s not a shame."

"He’s scared of you," Niall says after gulping down half of his beer. It’s almost impressive. "Scared of what you know."

"What do I know?"

"That you don’t have to lose your humanity in order to do what you do. Think he was living in the past and that’s not healthy, especially not when you’re immortal."

"Speaking from experience?" Harry smirks.

"I wish," Niall laughs and looks around again, eyes suddenly locking on something or someone. "Ah, found one."

"Do we really have to do this?" Niall’s pout almost turns him into mush. With a sigh Harry shoves his drink away. "Alright, which one?"

There’s a red haired girl at the bar that Niall points out to him. She’s quite beautiful and actually someone Harry would go for. But then again, he isn’t exactly picky. He finds beauty in everything and everyone. And it is so easy to get along with girls, if only they are treated like human beings. Then all it takes is for them to be interested and sometimes that’s not in the guy’s hand. It happens or it doesn’t. Harry is lucky most of the time.

She giggles when he tells her a joke and he smiles at her, always delighted when people find him funny. Nick always appreciated his jokes, it’s why they got along so well at first. It’s sad how it ended and suddenly he wishes they could talk one last time and have a proper goodbye. But he’s not here for that, he’s on the pull, which really means just a litany of bad jokes.

"What’s the difference between a ginger and a vampire?" Harry asks her and she rolls her eyes, a little annoyed. She probably thinks she heard all of them a thousand times before. Not this one though.

"Enlighten me," she sighs.

"One is a pale, bloodsucking creature that avoids the sun. The other is a vampire."

He watches her break into a smile. "So you think I’m a vampire?"

"Sure you are," he tells her. "I should be scared of you..."

Her eyes begin to shine and he knows he caught her. It’s easy from here and her hand is warm in his when he leads her outside into the cold. She buries herself into his arms to seek a warmth that isn’t there and he wraps his hands around her, bending his neck to let her explore it.

"Bet your blood tastes sweet," she chuckles and gives him a playful bite. It eggs him on, the way she pretends to be him, the way she enjoys it, and he feels the arousal spread in his lower abdomen.

"Do you think so?" He asks, nosing along her throat. He loves the moment when breath and heartbeat quickens. It will make the blood flow even stronger.

"Yes," she murmurs.

"Let’s see how yours tastes instead," he whispers and sinks his teeth inside of her.

She tenses, a gasp ripping from her throat as she claws her fingers into his shirt. It’s his favourite one, it’s quite sheer and showing off his tattoos. He had caught Niall looking him up and down appreciatively, his gaze drifting back more than once. He can feel Niall’s eyes on him even now, watching him feed on this beautiful woman, and the thought arouses him even more, makes him press her hard against the wall where the pain starts to make her cry. But he doesn’t stop until he’s full, until she stops struggling and goes pliant in his arms.

He knows the blood will run dry soon but it’s still so heavenly good in his mouth, making him feel warm and fuzzy. Suddenly someone pulls him back, forcing him to drop her body and turn around. It’s Niall, suddenly so close, his lips parted with a heavy breath like he’s gotten hard from watching Harry. He is hard, Harry can feel it now, and then Niall is crashing their mouths together, moaning at the blood still on Harry’s lips, at the taste in his mouth.

They’re both holding each other’s faces like they’re afraid the other will leave, but their bodies so clearly want to stay and Harry hums when Niall pulls away briefly to lick his lips before he kisses him again. It’s a little softer this time, mostly breathing into each other’s mouths while their hands start to wander.

Harry knows they should leave before someone sees them but he doesn’t want to let go of Niall (ever again). He’s dragging his tongue over Harry’s lips now, the corner of his mouth and his chin. He’s licking away the blood, cleaning him thoroughly and Harry shudders, the need to take Niall home so incredibly urgent.

"Did you enjoy the show?" He finally mutters. "It was all for you."

"All for me?" Niall asks.

"Yeah."

Niall smiles. "And if you weren’t this kind and selfless, what would you do?"

"I..." Harry closes his eyes, imagines it. "I’d take you home, lay you out on my bed and feast on your body." His breath hitches when Niall rolls his hips.

"Show me then, take me home."

*

Niall is straddling him, hard dick pressing against his stomach and Harry moans at the wet suction on his neck, as if Niall is the one going to eat him. He feels so good, fits so perfectly into Harry’s lap, into his life, it’s baffling. Harry didn’t plan on this but now they’re here and he wants to feel Niall everywhere, wants him to leave a mark on his body and soul, wants Niall to be the one person who’s never afraid of him.

"Fuck me," Harry whispers suddenly, his sharp teeth grazing Niall’s shoulder.

Niall stops tormenting his skin to lean back and look into his eyes, not as fondly as Harry thought he would, it’s more intense. It feels profound. "Would you let me? Would you give yourself to me like that?"

"Yes," Harry says and presses them closer together.

"What else would you give me? Your heart?"

"I’d give you everything," he blurts out, mentally slapping himself because who needs to be so dramatic?

But he can’t help it, it’s right there under his skin. The urge to keep Niall forever, to put the world down to his feet just to see what he’s going to do with it. Because Niall just wants to have fun, is up for anything if it’s entertaining and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. There’s nothing deep about it, Harry is just in love with how unapologetic Niall lives his life. And Harry can just be himself with him.

Niall stares at him though like he’s insane. "Do you even know what you’re offering, you ridiculous idiot?"

"I do."

Niall takes a deep breath and hunches over Harry, pulling back his hair to bend his head back. "Harry Styles. I will make you so fucking happy and there’s nothing you can do about it."

Harry feels like he’s losing his breath, like human habit is kicking in. Because Niall’s words sound more like a threat than a promise.

*

Harry has never been fucked like this before, neither when he was alive nor dead. Niall is snug between his legs, his hips snapping forward in a rough pace while he holds on to the headboard with one hand, the other curled into the meaty bit above Harry’s hips. There’s sweat gathering on the red flush of his skin and Harry wants to lick all over him, getting a proper taste. But he needs permission and Niall is not giving it to him. He’s torturing Harry with how good it feels, fingers pushing deeper into his flesh.

"Do you still bruise?" Niall asks at some point and Harry doesn’t know how to answer, doesn’t know if he can.

Niall finds out by grabbing him more fiercely, by sucking at his neck, by fucking him harder. Turns out he can bruise plenty and Harry comes with Niall all over his skin, kissing each other until Niall has to breathe. Harry digs the heel of his foot into the small of Niall’s back, urging him on to keep going until he comes, too, until Harry is sobbing underneath him.

"So fucking good," Niall says afterwards, slurring it into Harry’s skin before he pulls him in for a proper cuddle. Harry goes willingly, limbs aching wonderfully.

"Overdue," Harry adds.

"Mindblowing."

"A little scary."

"Why?"

"Your dick is brutal."

Niall snorts out a laugh and Harry rolls on top of him to kiss him deeply and taste the salt on his lips. It goes on forever, lazy and pleasant. The last time Harry had a proper snogging session like that was when he was seventeen years old and his maths teacher said he wasn’t old enough to go for more. Harry will never be too young for anything ever again.

"I wish we could stay like this forever," he says eventually and runs his nose over the soft curve of Niall’s brow to kiss his cheekbone.

"We can," Niall insists. "I’m not going anywhere until you tell me to."

"No I mean, forever." He braces himself over Niall, arms pressed into the sheets next to Niall’s head.

"We can," Niall repeats and the way his eyes grow dark makes Harry want to go another round. God, Niall is everything he ever wanted, even before they all got exposed and found out what they are. Now it’s even better.

"Yeah, we could," Harry says thoughtfully. "But maybe I should wait until you’re super old and then turn you, so everyone thinks you’re my sugar daddy."

Niall squeezes his eyes shut and laughs, like he’s laughing in the face of immortality.

"Need a job for that first," Niall chuckles and drags a finger over Harry’s lips. "So I can support your pretty arse."

"I can help you get a job. You could be my sexy secretary."

Niall pretends to think. "I’m not sexy enough for that."

Harry is going to argue but then Niall’s stomach starts to growl and they lock eyes.

"Seriously?" Harry is at a loss for words. "You ate ten pounds of steak earlier."

"I’m always hungry," Niall shrugs but still blushes.

"Do you want her?" Harry asks carefully, moving aside so they can both sit up and look at the body next to Harry’s bed. The girl’s red hair covers her face, her limbs a little twisted from how Harry dropped her so carelessly, just so he could lift Niall onto the bed and ravish him.

"She looks tasty. Can I?"

"Got her for you, didn’t I?"

"All for me?" Niall repeats his words from earlier that night.

"All for you," Harry confirms and watches Niall reach out for the body.

Harry loves a good feast.

*

Liam is walking down the street in a quick pace, frowning down at his phone. The cold air is biting at his ears and he wished he had brought a hat or something. But he was in rush when he got a text from Louis (Please come. It’s an emergency) and an address. He probably shouldn’t care but he has a feeling in his guts that it's about the thing he’s trying to forget. The thing he’s trying to ignore.

And despite being Zayn’s and Louis’ boss, or maybe because of it, he worries about them. He was annoyed at first, with their easy banter and their careless attitude. But they were a balance that he quite enjoyed until the day they almost caught Nick Grimshaw.

Now Liam’s own boss is breathing down his neck, demanding results, preferably results in form of catching the murderer. But Liam is paralysed with fear of finding proof that leads to himself. So any distraction is welcome, even if it’s Louis fucking Tomlinson.

Speaking of the devil, when Liam rounds the corner Louis is right there leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette. He looks sinful like that and Liam swallows down any inappropriate feelings, the way he always does when he’s confronted with Louis or Zayn. Or both of them at the same time. And Louis is unbearable at worst and annoying at best but there’s something calm about him when he doesn’t know he’s being watched. Like his loud and bubbly nature is just an act he puts on to get people’s attention.

As soon as he notices Liam he breaks into a wicked smile and flicks away the rest of his cigarette with his thumb and two fingers.

"There you are, Liam." He’s not even calling him sir and irritates him. He’s gotten used to it..

"You said it’s an emergency."

"Oh yes," Louis says and buries both hands in his jacket, nodding into the alley between the two houses.

It’s quiet here, the low sun drowning everything in a deep orange colour. He follows Louis with a sigh, watching the back of his head and wondering what this is about. Soon enough he hears the way too familiar sound of bones breaking and flesh ripping apart.

He stops dead in his tracks and spots Zayn next to a body, only slowly realising that part of the guy’s stomach is already missing. Zayn’s eyes are the same colour as the blood his face is covered with and he eats absentmindedly, just occasionally wiping at his mouth with the back of his hand.

Louis coos at him and crouches down to push his face into Zayn’s shoulder. They look like they’re straight out of a horror movie and Liam feels nauseous, his mind so desperately wanting to slip away and unsee what he’s seeing.

But Louis shifts around to look at him knowingly, beckoning him over. "Come on. There’s enough for the three of us."

His words only make Liam take another step back. "Are you out of your minds? Both of you?"

"Don’t be like that. We can’t have leftovers, otherwise people will know..."

"We could chop him up and put him in the freezer," Zayn mumbles between bites, a chunk of meat in his hands now while he eyes Liam curiously. Zayn is different from Louis, not just because he’s a ghoul. Or maybe that is what’s freaking Liam out. Because Zayn can see much more than Louis does. He knows what’s under Liam’s skin while Louis only imagines it.

"Frozen food sucks," Louis says and shoves at him, making Zayn growl but he still smiles.

"Just because you don’t know how to cook."

"Excuse me I-- hey!"

Liam has turned his back to them to leave but quickly enough he feels Louis’ arms loop around him to make him stop, to pull him into his chest.

"Let me go," Liam says quietly.

Louis’ breath hits the back of his neck when he chuckles. "You can’t go, Liam. You’re stuck with us now, you know that, right?"

"I don’t… I don’t want to--"

"eat human flesh? I’m sorry babe, but I don’t think you have a choice." He turns Liam around in his arms and his cheerful expression slips from his face when he sees the tears in Liam’s eyes. "Hey..."

"I can’t," he chokes out. "I can’t do that again, I’m not... "

"Again?"

And he just blurts it all out, how he and his sister got lost when they were kids, how she ended up dead and how he was starving. And it’s the first time since his therapist said he was ‘healed’ that he’s talking about it. Because the only way to cope after that was to pretend it didn’t happen.

"So you ate your sister? I ate mine, too." Liam opens his eyes to stare at him, lips parting at the revelation, but Louis just looks too smug. "Yeah, she was very annoying and th-- OUCH."

Liam shoves him hard, suddenly so incredibly angry. "You think this is all funny, don’t you? At least everyone else has an excuse for their behaviour but you’re just completely fucked up! Jesus christ, you don’t even know what it’s like to have a… a monster taking over your body and--"

"Liam."

"--having your life taken away from you--"

"You’re still here!"

Liam closes his mouth when Louis’ hands reach up to grab his face. "You don’t get it, do you? That spirit, that Wendigo, it saved you."

Liam sucks in a shuddering breath. "No."

"Yes," Louis says fiercely, his gaze adamant. "Where would you be now without it? You would’ve starved, Liam. And now you’re starving him."

"No," Liam mumbles again and tries to move away but Louis holds on to him.

"You need to take care of your inner demon as well. All it remembers is being a scared and lonely child that is starving to death. And you’re doing it to him, too. You don’t feed him until he’s forced to come out. He’s your survival instinct but he could be so much more than that."

Liam doesn’t want to listen, doesn’t want to hear it because he knows it’s true. He knows this thing is trying to get his attention and right now it wants to push Zayn away to get his own fill. Or maybe eat Louis first. Eat him raw. Because Liam isn’t the only one intrigued and disturbed by Louis’ complete lack of humanity.

"I’m scared," Liam admits and squeezes his eyes shut when he feels Louis pressing their foreheads together.

"You don’t have to be, we’re right here with you. You can only stay in control by not giving him a reason to take over."

"I will still kill. At least like that I won’t remember what I did."

"And if you hurt someone you love one day? You might see a difference but the wendigo doesn’t. And you’ll hate yourself for that even more."

He just keeps stroking Liam’s cheeks with both of his thumbs, lips so close Liam wouldn’t mind a comforting kiss right now. It’s driving him mad really, how Louis and Zayn just pull him in and make him wish for everything he’s denied himself to protect others. They’re just here, pretending that everything Liam is should be admired.

"If it makes you feel any better we can do the killing and you’re just along for the ride."

Liam can’t help but snort. "And when did you two lose your humanity?"

"Oh, Zayn was never human."

Liam blinks, not sure how this ghoul stuff works. "Then how--"

"I had a shitty teacher," Zayn provides after swallowing down because at least he knows that you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.

If Louis is Zayn’s only source on how to be human, then it’s no wonder he’s like this. Louis seems to read his mind and moves around Liam, wrapping both arms around his body and hooking his chin over his shoulder so they can both watch Zayn.

"Just let go, Liam," Louis whispers and rubs his cold lips and nose over Liam’s exposed neck. "We just want to take care of you. You’re hungry, are you not?"

Starving, Liam’s brain supplies and he almost moves on his own, with Louis still holding on to him and pushing into his back. It’s when he notices that Louis has grown hard over this. It’s sickening and exciting and when he drops down next to Zayn, Louis is right there with him, kissing his cheek.

"It’s alright," he keeps muttering, hands sneaking over Liam’s back soothingly.

Liam reaches out with trembling fingers, he even tries to return Zayn’s supportive smile but he fails. He is scared, and when the first bite finds its way into his mouth and the taste explodes on his tongue he wants to cry at how right it feels. How good it is.

"There you go," Louis hums and presses another kiss to the back of his neck. "It’s all good."

And it really feels like everything’s going to be okay.

*

When Liam gets home later that day and tries to relax on his couch Louis sends him a video. A video of him bend over the counter and Zayn fucking him relentlessly, driving high pitched moans out of him. It’s from a weird angle, like they just propped up the phone against a mug but he can see both their faces, their eyes constantly drifting off to the camera, knowing that Liam is gonna watch them.

He’s not an idiot, he knows what they’re offering. He knows that they’re inviting him in. They’re leaving the door open and just wait for him to walk in and make himself at home. But instead of doing that he leaves his phone on the coffee table to get some tea from the kitchen, ignoring whatever his brain is trying to convince him to do. He knows that the wendigo inside of him wants to have a say as well because it already made up his mind.

Liam tells himself that he’s stronger, better than that.

(He is not. He jerks off twice to the video before he falls asleep that night.)

*

Harry is wondering how Nial can eat so much ice cream when it’s so fucking cold but it doesn’t really matter as long as it makes Niall happy. And he looks happy, happy and soft, with his floppy hair that he washed this morning and is now falling across his forehead. With Harry’s jacket and the too long sleeves it’s really just his fingers holding the ice cone. There’s also a bit of ice cream stuck to the corner of his mouth and Harry finds himself reaching out to wipe it off. Niall gives him a smile when his hand just stays there and then he leans in for a sugar-sweet kiss.

Niall hums and keeps him close with nothing but his lips and Harry would like to press them together but he’s pretty sure Niall won’t forgive him if he makes him drop his cone. There’s also someone clearing their throat and they part with a gasp, turning around.

Liam, Zayn and Louis are all staring at them.

"When did this happen?" Liam asks.

"You literally just forgot we were here," Louis adds with a snort and rolls his eyes.

"No seriously, when did this happen?" Liam looks so lost and confused Harry almost pities him.

"Come on, we knew this was gonna happen," Zayn yawns with both hands around his cup of coffee. "You could smell it from miles away."

"You’re very nosy," Harry shoots back. "But I can’t help that I have a great taste in men."

Zayn groans and twists his face like he’s in pain.

"So you two fucked?" Louis blurts out with sparkling eyes and Liam elbows him hard, making him wince in pain. "What the hell, Liam?"

"We’re very happy for you," Liam tells them and Harry tries not to laugh.

"Maybe we should talk about what we came here for," Niall pipes up and licks another droplet of ice cream from his finger. Harry watches his pink tongue darting out and his own mouth goes dry.

"Harry?"

He turns to Louis. "Yeah?"

"You forgot. Again."

"It’s not my fault!"

"Just keep it in your pants for now."

Harry scowls at him. "It’s.. not like that."

Louis squints at the two of them. "Wait, are you two dating? How is that supposed to work?"

This time it’s Zayn elbowing him, even harder than Liam. He’s definitely gonna bruise. "Seriously?"

"Can we just focus, please?" Liam groans in frustration. "We’re in a fucking mess here."

"Actually, it’s just you. You killed those people," Louis reminds them all.

Zayn uses his elbow again. "Shut up, Lou."

Harry takes in the dark circles under Liam’s eyes and his unmade hair. He probably didn’t get much sleep. But other than that he looks a lot calmer than the last few times he saw him. Like something grounded him. Harry wonders what that was.

"The head of MI5 wants results and I can’t fucking deliver," Liam sighs and rubs at the bridge of his nose.

"The wendigo was really careful, Liam." Zayn gives him a comforting smile. "There’s nothing that points into your direction. And if it does I’ll just destroy it."

Harry wonders if he’s just imagining the heart eyes Zayn is giving Liam. He has seen them directed at Louis before but not at Liam. He’d like to repeat Liam’s words from earlier: When did this happen?

"Thanks," Liam mutters. "But I think they’re already suspecting me."

"What, why?" Niall asks.

"The Bureau asked me why I’m delaying the investigation. I said that I’m trying my best but they know I’m not myself at the moment. I’m not as focused as I should be."

"Fuck," Harry mutters. "Maybe I can… I don’t know, make up another psychological profile that leads to someone else?"

Liam shakes his head. "I won’t let you frame an innocent person. Fuck. Maybe I should just face the consequences and turn myself in."

"Absolutely not," Louis says. "We’ll find another way."

"There is no fucking other way," Liam hisses.

"I don’t get it though," Niall mutters. "You said you’ve been like this since you were younger, so why did the killing start now?"

"I suppressed it, this… thing. For years actually, and it worked. I was good at it until seven months ago, then everything just went nuts."

Niall nods with a thoughtful expression and ignores his ice cone. "So when did Louis and Zayn start working for you?"

"Uh... " Liam looks at Louis and Louis just shrugs.

"Seven months ago?"

They all share a look and Liam turns a little pale. "Wait, do you think--"

"Think your wendigo is lonely," Niall says with a smile and then eyes Zayn. "Think it’s looking for a mate."

Harry has never seen Liam blush like that before. He looks pretty and Louis and Zayn seem to think so as well because they’re both beaming like it’s christmas. Yeah, there’s definitely something going on and Harry knows Liam well enough by now to know that he’s fighting it. Fighting himself.

"Don’t worry, they’ll figure it out," Niall suddenly whispers into Harry’s ear.

Harry grins, sneaking an arm around Niall to pull him into his side. Niall goes willingly, throwing away the mushy rest of his cone. He’s not sure what the five of them are but he kind of likes it. He can just be himself and feels like he’s actually surrounded by people who are as smart as he is.

"So what are we gonna do?" Liam asks and ignores the piercing look Zayn is directing at him.

"We’ll figure something out. But for now we should leave," Niall says and points at the sky. "Think the sun is coming out soon and I don’t want this one to burn, he’s hot enough already."

Harry grins wildly and tucks Niall closer. "Would you hide me under your jacket and save me from the evil sun?"

"Sure, pet."

They grin at each other and Harry knows there’s another shag in store for him as soon as they get home. And maybe even more.

Louis makes gagging noises but smiles anyway. It’s almost like they’re… friends.

*

Louis never had many friends. No, scratch that. Louis never had many close friends. None who actually knew him or made the effort to get to know him better. Zayn is the closest thing to a friend he ever had, but he’s not even human and the way he loves Louis is both beautiful and terrifying. There’s room for more though, between them. A little bit of space that Liam already dipped his fingers in, Harry and Niall with a respectful distance. But Louis wants to be all over them. All of them.

He watches, from the safe haven behind his desk, the end of a pen between his teeth. Zayn sits on the edge of Liam’s table, carding one hand through Liam’s short hair while he works on his laptop. The initial hesitation is slowly bleeding away, leaving the wendigo closer to the ghoul’s touch.

His eyes are fluttering shut just for a moment, pressing against Zayn’s slim fingers. He pulls away again quickly though, scowling at Zayn and telling him to get back to work. The authority in his voice does not threaten them anymore and he must know it from the way Zayn laughs and the way Louis grins at him. They’ve wormed their way in, moved closer to Liam with every step they took until their bodies brushing against his side became a familiar sensation. On their first day they could see nothing but the back of Liam’s head, now they are close enough to hold his hands.

Does Liam even know that?

*

"Another body?" Louis asks giddily and skips along next to Liam’s heavy and meaningful steps. Zayn’s are barely audible, always on light feet.

"Yes. I talked to this FBI agent and he’s already there. Said he’s familiar with this kind of killing from one of his cases," Liam provides.

"That’s… not a good sign," Louis says, his good natured skipping grading down to normal walking.

"No, it’s fucking not," Liam hisses.

When they arrive at the crime scene there’s only two police men and a man in a long coat talking to them. He turns around when the three of them push past the police line, offering them a polite smile.

"Special Agent Liam Payne?"

"That would be me," Liam says and reaches out to shake his hand. "These are my-- my colleagues. The forensics team."

The stranger doesn’t even spare them a glance and Louis thinks that’s a little rude. They’re not exactly chopped liver. Aside from that Louis wants to know what Liam really was about to say. These are my-- what? Louis has a lot of suggestions, some of them quite filthy, others downright romantic.

"Nice to meet you. I’m Special Agent Simon Cowell and I’ve been informed that there’s a killing spree going on in London that I could help to solve perhaps."

"We appreciate the help," Liam says and then looks at the covered up body. "Did you have a look already?"

"Yes and it’s not a pretty sight."

Liam nods and crouches down to lift the cover, trying not to shake but Louis can see the tremble in his fingers. He’s worried, scared even. Scared that the victim will look familiar to him.

"It’s--"

"Different," Cowell finishes. "But quite the same pattern."

When Liam straightens his back again Louis is catching his eye, seeing a hint of relief in them. It wasn’t me.

Louis nods and steps forward, ready to get to work, when Harry moves into his line of vision. Niall is right behind him, the always cheerful expression plastered on his face, like he’s been bored all his life and just happy to spend time with them.

"And who is that?" Cowell asks.

For a moment Liam is struggling for words, just gesturing at Harry like he’s trying to remember. Or to forget. Just forget everything he knows about him. Vampire.

"Doctor Styles," Harry introduces himself when Liam fails to. "MI5 hired me when it became apparent that it’s one and the same culprit. I’ve offered some insight into the murderer’s behaviour. Oh, and this is Niall Horan, he knew the last victim and has been of great value to the investigation." He’s reaching behind himself, petting Niall’s whole face absentmindedly.

Liam palms his own face while Cowell just frowns at him. "Good to meet you. Your input is very much appreciated, especially with this murder being so different."

"I always try to help," Harry answers with a smile and takes Cowell’s offered hand to shake it as well.

That was his first mistake. There’s a sizzling noise, like skin and flesh being burned and Harry’s eyes widen, his mouth falling open to release a guttural scream. He tries to tear his hand away but Cowell’s grip is iron and his gaze darkens.

"Vampire," he spits like an insult.

Everything's happening so fast then, Louis can barely keep up with it. Guns are being drawn and Louis fumbles for his own on instinct, trying not to break into a nervous sweat. He hears Niall’s voice yelling ("Don’t touch him!"), sees him struggling to tear Harry away from Cowell. There are several shots being fired and more shouting, Harry’s strangled cries and then Niall’s dead on the ground, a bullet in his head.

"Fuck," Louis breathes and instantly shoots the two policemen who haven’t figured out yet which of them to kill. It wouldn’t have taken them long to realise. Cowell’s gun is pointed at the three of them, Harry now pushed against his chest and his hand wrapped around Harry’s throat. Louis can see now that it’s the silver rings on Cowell’s fingers that burn Harry’s skin. He can’t talk, can’t really do anything as his skin melts away, burning his flesh, his pipes, his vocal chords. There’s blood dripping from his mouth but his eyes are fixed on Niall’s lifeless body, like his own death doesn’t even matter.

"Stop," Cowell growls when Liam inches closer, his face twisted in rage. He’s hot when he’s angry, like a force of nature that Louis wants to be ruined by.

"Let him go," Liam demands but Cowell only smiles.

"What? This vampire? You shouldn’t care for him, he’s just scum, the lowest of all demons. Not even born and bred like one, just a very pale imitation of life. You see it’s Artemis who cursed the Empusa, the first vampires. The purity of silver shall burn them to expose their tainted nature. And Apollo forbid them to ever walk in the sun again. It’s a lesson, you see: Never anger a god."

"Fucking hell, why are you giving us a history lesson?" Louis groans. "Just let him go, you’re no better than him or us for killing an innocent."

"Innocent?" Cowell eyes Niall and barks out a laugh. "Do you not even know what you surround yourself with? I’m afraid you and I are the only humans here."

He raises his foot to roll Niall over from where he’s been lying face down on the pavement. They all suck in a sharp breath when they see the hole in Niall’s head that cracked his skull and deformed it. But the blood running from the wound is not red like Louis expected. It’s white, the whitest of white. Louis is no sappy fucker like Harry but the only word he can describe the colour of Niall’s blood with is starlight.

"Faerie folk. I’m not surprised you don’t know about them, they’re from celtic legends and quite hard to kill. He must’ve been a weak one."

"He wasn’t weak," Zayn scoffs and tightens the hold of his gun. Louis knows how badly he wants to shoot this guy, knows that the same urge lingers under Liam’s and his own skin. But Harry is still between them, still in danger, so what can they do?

Louis takes another step forward and Cowell’s gun immediately shifts over to point at him instead. He’s old, that guy. Old as balls to be honest. But that makes him experienced and Louis is not going to pretend he has a chance. So he lifts both of his hands, spreading his fingers away from the gun before he drops it to the ground and kicks it away.

"Louis, what are yo--"

"What do you want?" Louis asks coldly, interrupting Liam because this is not the time for lectures.

"Oh, you know what I want," Cowell answers and squeezes Harry’s throat so hard that the blood starts to gush out between his fingers, making Harry gag. He stands there helplessly and Louis feels sorry for him, wondering when he started to consider him and Niall friends. Because he can’t even bring himself to look at Niall’s corpse. It hurts a little more than he thought it would.

"Do I?"

"I’m a hunter. I want all of them dead. Or maybe I should make them kill each other by threatening to kill you? Are you their little human pet?"

Louis stares at Cowell for a moment, wondering, and then starts to laugh hysterically. "Have you quite finished? Because honestly, between Ghouls, vampires, wendigos and… faeries… I’m the biggest monster you’ll find. And my life you’re trying to threaten? Sorry mate, but it’s not worth a shit. So you really need a better plan here. Because from what I can see, you only have one gun." He takes another step forward and hears said gun click. "Maybe you can manage to kill harry and shoot me, but then what? There’s still those two lovely creatures and you should see them in action, it’s quite hot. Gets me hard every time."

Cowell makes a disgusted noise and Louis almost wants him to kill him. Just to feel what it’s like. Just to make his death mean something.

"I’m here with the grace of god. If you think I can be outnumbered, you’re wrong."

"God. Of course," Louis snorts and suddenly catches Harry watery eye. "Like the right hand of god or some shit, right?"

Harry is weakened, only half of his throat left and yet he still understands and presses even harder against the hand. He makes pained noises and grabs Cowell’s right arm as quickly as he can, pushing the hand that holds the gun down. Zayn shoots him first, a bullet going straight into his shoulder. Cowell gasps and shoves Harry to the side, sending him sprawling onto the pavement right next to Niall. Useless, dead. Technically dead but not actually dead.

This man doesn’t even seem to mind the bullet, not even the second or third one and then Zayn just throws his gun away, red bleeding into his eyes before he charges him. Liam is frozen into place, doesn’t know what to do when his gun isn’t working because that’s all he ever learned, how to use a gun. Louis will teach him better.

"Liam," Louis mutters and quickly wraps both arms around him, pushing his gun away. "It’s not gonna work, we need you."

"What are you talk--"

Louis cuts him off with a kiss, hot and warm and beautiful and then another kiss, soft and lingering. "We need both of you."

"Louis..."

"Don’t be scared, we’re here with you." He turns his head and nods at Zayn who is taking a punch from Cowell, hissing at the pain. "He’d die for me, you know? He’d do it for you, too. But would you kill for us?"

Liam sucks in a breath. "I..." He’s watching Zayn, so concerned it makes him sweat.

"Would you?" Louis asks and presses another kiss to his stubbled cheek. "Will you?"

The shift of the wendigo continues to be a fascinating sight. It happens much quicker this time, his face darkening, the little veins branching around his eyes and lips. He’s fast when he dashes forward and rips right into the hunter. He didn’t scream before but he’s screaming now, with Liam almost unhinging his jaw to fit the width of his arm into his mouth, to break muscle and bone while Zayn bites into his shoulder. Louis feels like a proud boyfriend and would whoop like a cheerleader if there was time. But now that Cowell is distracted Louis throws himself down next to Harry to make sure he’s alright.

"Jesus christ, just look at yourself. Not so pretty anymore."

Harry glares at him and gathers a bit of cold blood in his mouth to spit at Louis. It makes him laugh, because it feels like friendly banter and Harry manages a small smile before it drops again, his eyes darting to the side, to Niall. He reaches out with trembling fingers, touching his face carefully, as if he’s afraid to wake him.

"No, look at me," Louis says and puts both hands on Harry’s cheeks to pull him back. "You’ll survive this, okay?"

"’m fucked," Harry croaks, voice barely there and raspy like he’s an old man who smoked all his life and lost both lungs. He coughs up more blood and Louis grimaces, shooting another look at his boys. Liam is stumbling back when Cowell manages to kick him, mouth red with blood.

"Okay, think we need to get you out of here first."

"Fuck," Niall groans and-- wait what?

Louis watches with a slack jaw how Niall pushes himself into a sitting position, touching his cracked head. He takes a deep breath and then the bullet in his head just drops out of the hole, his skull rearranging, his skin knitting itself back together. There’s still a trail of white blood across his temple and his eyes are solely fixed on the man who did this to him.

The fighting stops, everyone’s head turning to Niall who climbs back to his feet with ease. There’s a stern expression on his face that Louis has never seen on him before, so opposing to everything he is.

"Fear Gorta," Cowell grunts, not able to move his arms. "Not as weak as I thought."

"I’m quite surprised myself," Niall mutters and licks over his dry lips. "But I guess I’m alive. Can’t say the same for you."

"I’ve been blessed by the--"

"Doesn’t matter. You can be as powerful as you want, you’re nothing without your head."

There’s nothing else to say. Zayn and Liam lock eyes for a split second before they both go for Cowell’s neck. This time he can’t scream. There’s just blood gurgling in his throat, flailing limbs and Louis’ beautiful friends. Niall is on him too, to get his own teeth in. There’s so much blood. So much.

And then Louis does the most embarrassing thing ever: he faints.

*

Harry is glad he doesn’t have to breathe because that would be impossible right now. He presses a hand against his throat, sight blurry from the pain (he’s dead, why does he have to feel pain?) and tries to sit up after the noises stop and Louis still lies next to him, completely knocked out.

He winces and whimpers but it hurts even more and soon enough there are hands on him, brushing his curls away from his face where the blood glued them to his skin. He knows those fingers and wants to cry with relief, his cracked heart already stitching up with every stroke of Niall’s thumb on his cheek.

"Hey, pet."

"Niall," he croaks, barely able to hold his head upright but he doesn’t have to. Niall is there to catch him.

"Does it hurt? of course it does." There’s a wrist being pressed against Harry’s lips. "Just drink a bit, it will help you heal."

He doesn’t have much of a choice, doesn’t even think about it when he opens his mouth against warm skin and sinks his teeth in. The blood flooding his mouth tastes less of iron and more of… he can’t describe it. It burns on his tongue like alcohol, in a good way, in an addicting way. It hurts to swallow and feels like the blood will just pour right out of his throat again but with every gulp he feels better, stronger again.

"Fuck," he mutters and pulls away, reaching up to touch the wound. It’s healing already and Harry had strong healing abilities before but that’s just…

"Better?" Niall asks and Harry finally manages to focus on him, on his face, on the blood slowly drying around the seam of his mouth. Paired with the smile on his face he looks like a clown and Harry giggles. It’s hilarious.

"Better," he coughs and lets Niall pull him back to his feet. "Louis fainted."

"And we’ll never let him forget about it," Niall smirks.

Harry turns his head to Cowell’s corpse. His head is gone, like actually gone and the rest of his body looks like a pile of mush. Harry’s heard about hunters before but never encountered one because he’s not the type to hide in places that hunters would scout. Harry learned to blend in and it’s much harder to expose him that way.

"It’s okay," he hears Zayn whisper. Liam is in his arms, or rather the wendigo, kissing him hungrily like it’s the first and last time he’s ever able to do it. The wendigo seems wild, feral, with a very strong instinct to feed and seek comfort. He’s pushing his whole body against Zayn with a low growl, making Zayn purr in delight. They’re like pups playing around, only there’s a lot of blood involved.

"Shouldn’t we," Harry starts but doesn’t finish.

"Yeah, we should get out of here," Niall says, palm sliding against Harry’s to weave their fingers together.

*

Harry sighs, sinking deeper into his side of the couch. Louis’ and Zayn’s couch, but Louis is currently snoring away on the other couch next to them. "You didn’t tell me."

"No, I didn’t," Niall says, looking incredibly soft and beautiful and Harry wants to eat him.

"So what exactly are you? Fear Gorta, that’s what the hunter called you."

"Yeah, that’s me… one of me. It’s simple, really. I ask people for help and if they help me, I’ll bring them good luck. If they don’t… " He shrugs. "Guess I don’t have to eat them, but it seems much more reasonable."

Is he some kind of anti-Leprechaun? Harry wonders about it and looks Niall up and down, the taste of his blood still a fond memory on Harry’s tongue. He swallows hard and stretches his leg to press his toes against Niall’s thigh.

"Ni, how old are you?"

Niall circles his fingers around Harry’s ankle, the lightest pressure that sends warmth through his whole body. He’s like the sun, the literal sun, making Harry feel alive again.

"Was born in eighteen-hundred-forty-two or something. Can’t remember really. My birth was a little different from yours."

"Eighteen-hundred-- Niall! That’s like… You already are my sugar daddy." He grins madly and reaches out to pull Niall in by the front of his shirt. He goes willingly, climbing in between Harry’s legs until they’re close enough to kiss. But he can’t, not yet. "Why though? Why didn’t you tell me?" He feels like he shouldn’t be hurt, he didn’t tell Niall about his vampire nature either, but that was when they still thought of each other as humans.

Niall sighs and drops his head on Harry’s shoulder like it’s hard to come up with a good reason. "I… I was nervous. And worried."

"About what?"

"That you’d think I didn’t mean it because I had no choice. But I did. I wanted it. I wanted you. I chose you."

"Because I was nice to you..."

"No, because you chose to be nice to me. Because I fell for everything that you are. From your dimples when you smile to the way you kill. And with caring for me like you do you’ve made me stronger. I’ve never been that powerful before and it’s all thanks to you. I can probably live forever now."

"Forever," Harry echoes and combs his fingers through Niall’s hair. He’s going to need a haircut soon. "You’re my good luck charm then?"

"Something like that," Niall mutters and lifts his head to almost brush his lips against Harry’s. So tentative. Waiting. Asking.

"Yeah," Harry whispers back and eats up the last few inches to kiss him deeply, breathing in Niall’s scent. He knows now why he smells like this, so unique and earthy, so good.

Niall sighs into his mouth, rolling his whole body into Harry’s and making him gasp. Harry is so distracted by Niall’s everything that he barely overhears a mortal heart picking up speed. He’s not the only one hearing it and when Niall pulls back to look at him they start to grin. Louis is just pretending to still be asleep.

"Yeah," Harry repeats and kisses Niall again. "I like this. I like you."

"You like me? Really?" Niall mutters between kisses.

"Mhm. I like even more that you like me, too. Even though I’m a shitty vampire sometimes." His fingers creep under Niall’s shirt, following the line of his spine to make the beautiful boy on top of him shiver.

"You’re not shitty," Niall says and presses a kiss to his still sensitive throat.

"I am. One time I forgot I was a vampire and just opened the curtains in the morning like an idiot."

Niall giggles and starts to fumble with the buttons of Harry’s shirt. "Won’t happen again. When the sun threatens you again I’ll throw myself on top of you like a safety blanket."

"Would you?"

"I would."

They kiss again, harsher this time, Niall’s hips grinding into Harry’s and he can’t suppress the groan that aches in his throat.

"Alright!" Louis suddenly yells and sits up. The blanket slides from his shoulders and his hair is sticking out in various directions. "Alright, stop, I don’t want to witness that!"

Harry and Niall both burst into a laugh, though Harry’s soon turns into a cough and Niall makes a concerned noise. He rubs the back of Harry’s neck with his hand and then looks at Louis.

"Good morning sleeping beauty."

"Fuck, how long was I out?"

"Almost three hours."

"Fuck." Louis rubs at his eyes and then blinks rapidly. "Where’s Zayn and Liam?"

"Uh… in your bed, I think."

"What? without me? Fuckers!" He stands on wobbly legs and knocks his knee against the coffee table, hissing loudly.

"Careful. They’re probably just asleep."

"Yeah but..." Louis consciously rubs over his sore joint.

"They didn’t just leave you here," Harry assures him when his nose catches a hint of anxiety. "Zayn was worried that Liam would try to eat you. He still wasn’t himself when we came back here."

"Oh. Well then!" He plasters the biggest smile onto his own face, saluting them both and staggering over to the door of his bedroom to disappear behind it.

Harry stares after him, thoughtfully, until he feels fingers push under his chin and then all he sees is Niall.

*

Liam sits at Louis’ and Zayn’s kitchen table while the two of them chatter away and try to get the moody coffee machine to work. Zayn insists that it’s cursed while Louis thinks he’s just incapable of using it correctly. Meanwhile Niall complains that he wants coffee and Harry keeps him on his lap with a firm arm around his waist, nuzzling at the back of his neck. It’s weird, domestic, feels too familiar and too much like today didn’t happen.

Liam has a need to talk about it without finding any words to express what he feels. The horrible sensation under his skin, the satisfaction of the wendigo and the fact that he doesn’t feel as bad about his full stomach as he should. He’s sick of himself, not of what he did. He almost wishes the hunter had killed him so he’d be done with it. But he’s here and apparently the only one worrying about the consequences. He can’t be here playing… happy family.

"Where are you going?" Niall asks.

Liam slides into the sleeves of his coat, facing the floor with a deep frown. "Just leaving."

That gets Zayn’s and Louis’ attention who now stop fighting over the bag of coffee beans. They’re like predators raising their ears, fixing him with their intense gazes.

"Where?" Zayn asks, confusion written all over his face. Like this is Liam’s life now and there’s nowhere else to go. So blatant, so matter-of-factly.

"The office. Someone has to take care of this shit." He loops the scarf around his face, feeling more secure with every layer he puts on. Like an armour, only it’s not protecting him but protecting everyone else.

There’s a long silence before Harry props up his chin against Niall’s shoulder to look at him. "Liam, are you trying to take the bullet?"

Liam shrugs, still looking at his own toes. "I’m going to fix this."

"Liam..."

He backs away immediately when another pair of feet steps into his line of vision. Two hands cup his cheeks with one pair of lips trying to kiss him but he ducks away, fumbling for the door.

"Liam," Louis whines again, trying to hold on to his sleeve.

"I can’t," he mumbles and opens the door.

He can hear Louis huff and sniff and make a noise that says I don’t even care but they both know it’s not true. That’s exactly why Liam can’t stay. He’s not that strong.

"You know where to find us," he says, reminding them both of the day at the office. The first invitation. The second one now. Somehow Liam feels like Louis is not going to offer it a third time.

It worries him more than he thought it would.

*

"So you’re trying to tell me that this FBI agent is the actual killer and tried to kill you and he ate those two policemen and then just disappeared?"

"Something like that," Liam mutters. "We got a few bullets in him but he managed to get away."

His boss simply glares at him, obviously not believing a word he’s saying. "And there was no one else? Just you, Malik and Tomlinson? No one else saw it?"

"No, sir. I’m sorry I failed, I know we’ve been on this case for a long time."

His boss nods then, leaning back in his expensive leather chair. "You’re our best man, Payne. I’d hate to lose you."

Liam just sits there, waiting for his death sentence. Because he knows, he knows. Liam has been at MI5 ever since he left school, they all know what kind of man he is.

"Sir--"

"Hand over your badge."

Liam swallows hard but submits eventually, opening his coat to get his badge from the breast pocket of his suit. His boss snatches it from his hand to drop it into a drawer.

"You’re not a Special Agent anymore, you’ll just be an agent. You disappointed us terribly so you’ll have to work your way back up."

Liam blinks at him, confused. "Uh..."

"As you know we’ve already transferred Malik and Tomlinson to a different department. You won’t work with them anymore."

"Alright," Liam croaks, still not sure what’s going on.

"Now go, we’ll handle everything else tomorrow," he says and starts to write something down on a sheet of paper.

"Tomorrow?" Liam asks and when his boss raises his eyes they are purely black, a complete void, with an inhuman smile spreading on his lips.

"Tomorrow," he repeats with a metallic edge to his voice and Liam just gets the fuck out of there.

Holy shit.

*

The door is ripped open but Louis’ head is still turned away, yelling into the back of the flat. "Well fuck you, it was not my idea." He turns back with a grin and it freezes on his face when he recognises the man in front of him.

"Hi," Liam almost whispers.

"Liam," Louis says, just his name, and it’s so different. Liam wants the teasing back, the yearning, the excitement and the expectation. He looks Liam up and down, shortly stopping at his waist where the shirt is riding high.

"Louis," Liam starts, tries to say everything he practised in front of the mirror, knowing Louis would tease him for it.

"Haven’t seen you in a while." Thirteen days, twenty hours and something around fifty-four minutes. "The movie already started."

Liam presses his lips together, raising his shoulders in a shrug, in an apology. Louis’ scowl slowly melts away, like he wants to be mad but can’t. There’s a smile instead, a smile Liam has thought a lot about during the last few days. He always tried not to get too close to anyone but Louis and Zayn pulled him in over and over again. They want him. The wendigo inside of him seems to agree, telling him to reach out with his hand and pull Louis in by his neck, to taste the salt on his skin and make sure it’s really him. To maybe have a bite.

He does none of that, for now, and crosses the threshold when Louis waves him inside. He’s helping Liam out of his coat and then quickly drags him into the living room. The smell of pizza hits his nose immediately. The light is dimmed and everything looks cosy, like he interrupted something. Then he sees Niall on one of the couches trying to comfort a crying Harry.

"Honestly, mate," Louis snorts with a roll of his eyes. "We’ve just started the movie and you’re already crying."

"F-fuck you," Harry sobs and blows his nose with the tissue Niall handed him before he went back to stroking Harry’s hair. "It’s Up! and no one told me it would be that sad. No one told me!"

"Come on," Niall pulls him in by his face. "Don’t be sad," and then just covers his face with kisses until the tears subside.

"Can you believe them?" Louis shakes his head and pulls Liam over to the bigger couch, making them sit next to each other.

"Are you doing this often?" Liam asks and looks at the animated old man on the paused screen who sits in a church and with a balloon in his hand. Liam doesn’t think he’s seen that one before.

"Every friday," Louis confirms and hooks his arm under Liam’s to comfortably lean his head on his shoulder. "We’ve survived something profound that day, Liam. It’s like in Harry Potter, you know? We can’t not be best friends now."

"I suppose that’s true," he breathes and tentatively leans into Louis, turning his head a little to feel the texture of Louis’ hair against his lips. It makes Louis only burrow deeper into him and it pleases Liam so much. He wants to kiss him.

"Harry and I also brought the pizza," Niall declares.

"And the fact that Harry demanded a vegan pizza is still fucking hilarious," Louis chuckles into Liam’s shirt.

"Well I’m still a vegan, kind of. People don’t count."

"Sure," Niall says and smiles at him like he hung the moon.

Liam perks up when one of the doors opens to reveal Zayn. He approaches them with his eyes still fixed on his phone, tongueing at his teeth like he’s still got pizza stuck between them.

"Where were you?" Louis asks.

"Talked to my mum."

"What did she say?"

"Just the same ‘you changed but I still love you’ talk."

"Love your mum, she’s ace."

"She is," Zayn mutters, his own fondness surprising him apparently. He stuffs his phone away then and completely lights up when he sees Liam.

"Hey," he says and immediately occupies the empty spot on Liam’s other side, like nothing ever happened, and kisses him on the mouth.

Liam makes a surprised noise but kisses him back, already familiar with the shape of Zayn’s mouth. He remembers his kisses too well, his hand on his thigh, trying to bring him back from behind the veil. Though it was different last time, when he shifted and the wendigo took over. He remembers most of it since he wasn’t starving or in immediate danger. He also remembers Zayn’s real face, the monster behind his eyes, what he really is. Liam was not scared and he isn’t scared now.

"My turn," he hears a whisper in his ear and Zayn’s mouth gets replaced with Louis’. He’s more eager than Zayn, like he’s feeling left out, and pries Liam’s mouth open with his tongue, humming beautifully.

"Didn’t we want to watch a movie?" Niall asks and it takes a moment until Louis is satisfied enough to pull away.

"Only if Harry promises not to cry again," Zayn laughs.

"Fuck you, I’ll cry as much as I want," he sniffs and reaches for a slice of pizza.

"Oi," Louis says and kicks at Harry’s leg. "Leave some for Liam. You know he has an appetite."

"But not a good taste," Harry says and pulls his hand away. "Some of his victims looked really gross."

"Can we please not make jokes about that?" Liam sighs.

"Except for Shawn Mendes," Zayn adds, "he was hot."

It makes Liam frown, his hands squeezing nervously around Zayn’s hand and Louis’ knee. He hasn’t given that boy another thought ever since the investigation lead into a dead end. He never seemed as familiar as the rest of his victims but he was already so knee deep in it, it wouldn’t have mattered.

"Ehrm..." Niall is coughing loudly into his fist and then raises his head to shoot an apologetic smile at Liam.

"Shit." Liam should’ve trusted his guts back then. "You?"

"I’m sorry," Niall says with a shrug. "I was angry."

"It was personal," Harry murmurs thoughtfully. "I knew it."

Niall nods. "The little things I had… I still shared them with him and then I found out that he didn’t even need it. He was selfish. And I wasn’t the only one he fucked over." A frown tugs at his forehead, like the memory of eating his friend leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. Like he couldn’t even enjoy it. It was just rage and disappointment.

"Niall." Harry wraps both of his arms tightly around Niall’s shoulders, pressing his chin into his shoulder. "I’m sorry."

"It’s done now. And I’m not sorry about it anymore. Brought us all together, eh? And we have pizza."

"The most important thing," Harry agrees. "Whatever we do, whatever we eat, nothing can beat pizza, honestly."

They all mumble in agreement and laugh and Liam can’t quite believe that it is so easy, but apparently it is. The movie continues then and Liam relaxes under the weight of Louis and Zayn, feeling himself smile when Niall laughs loudly at something Harry whispers against his cheek before he kisses him.

It’s warm and unexpectedly gentle, something Liam never thought he’d have and now that he does… he thinks he’ll fight to keep it.

With hands and teeth.