Chapter 1: Inferno (Hell)
"I'll get it," Damiano said as the doorbell rang.
He was closest and he was also starving. They'd ordered food over half an hour previously, but there had been a backlog so the estimate had been forty five minutes. That it was at least a little earlier than that was a god send.
They were at his place because it had been the closest to where they had been doing a late interview and they'd all decided they wanted to relax and unwind before everyone headed home. It had been an early start, a long day and they needed some chill time and food. Tomorrow was a day off and they all had plans to be apart for a change, so they were relaxing into it.
Pulling the door open, he smiled, ready to take their order from the delivery person. What he found instead was a tall, slender man in black, and a shorter woman in jeans and a red shirt. He had never seen either of them before.
"Hello," was as far as he got, when he looked into the woman's eyes.
She smiled at him with ridiculously white teeth, and very red lips as her eyes almost seemed to glow.
Then everything went to hell.
Damiano was pretty sure he had never felt so tired in his life. Waking up was like trying to walk uphill through treacle. It took so much effort he gave up several times. It was only that the regular beeping he could hear when he almost managed it was really annoying which finally forced him to open his eyes.
He blinked at the ceiling for a while, wondering where he was and what was going on. The light was dim in the room and it smelled strange, but his thoughts were turning very slowly so it took him some time to realise he was in the hospital. That didn't make any sense though.
Doing his very best to make his mind work, he tried to remember how he could have ended up needing medical care. They'd been chatting and laughing and winding down. They'd ordered food, and that's where his recollection became foggy.
Squeezing his eyes shut he demanded that his memory come into line. The doorbell had rung, he remembered that. He'd been the one to go to answer it.
He thought hard, searching for answers.
There was nothing, as if the memories were behind something, just a feeling that there was something he needed to know.
Without even realising he was doing it, he bit his lip. Dry skin cracked under the sudden pressure, he tasted blood and his mind exploded. Teeth, claws, terrible eyes, pain, it all ripped into his head as memory flooded back. Reality vanished in the nightmare and he screamed, fighting to get away. Something crashed, something else ripped, but he didn't care. All that mattered was escaping from the demon in his head.
When his back hit something solid and he couldn't retreat anymore, fear washed away everything else. Whimpering he pulled his legs up into a tight curl, burying his face in his knees and curling his arms around and up over his head.
"Damià, you're safe."
He heard Ethan's voice through the maelstrom, but he couldn't push the fear away. When fingers gently touched his wrist he tried to shrink away, but there was nowhere left to go. He remembered hands grabbing his wrists, pushing them back against the wall, holding him effortlessly. Then had come the teeth ripping into his flesh. But these fingers didn't grab, they stroked slowly.
Something familiar settled into his chest. Gradually it worked its way into his mind, pushing the memories further away. His frantic heartbeat slowly began to come down from rabbit-fast.
"Damiano, you're safe," Ethan said again and this time Damiano hung on to the words.
Where he was, how he had woken up, it all started to come back. Slowly, as if reality might suddenly bite, he pulled one arm away from his head, peering out over his knees and past his other arm. There was Ethan, sitting on the bed in ugly pyjamas, reaching out to him with a bandaged arm, and behind his friend was a man he didn't know, and a woman with snow white hair. Neither of them looked like doctors or nurses.
"That's Leo and Sofia," Ethan said, clearly seeing where he was looking, "they're here to help us. I only woke up about half an hour ago and Thomas is still asleep."
Ethan pointed to the other side of the room where there were two more beds, one of which held their guitarist. He had a square of gauze over the side of his neck, which made Damiano realise that so did he. However, the presence of himself, Ethan and Thomas prompted one obvious question far more important than anything else.
"Where's Victoria?" Damiano asked.
The flash of anxiety that crossed Ethan's face had him unfolding, his own terror forgotten as it was replaced by another.
"Where is she?" he demanded.
"She has been taken," the man Ethan had called Leo said.
All Damiano could see in his mind's eye was the monster that had attacked him. That creature anywhere near Victoria made his heart scream.
"She is alive," the woman stepped in.
The last word resonated through Damiano's brain. It was all too much too soon. Sharp pain ripped through his upper jaw, the room went all sorts of neon and his whole body filled with a bone deep ache.
"Fuck, he's going," Leo said, but Damiano had no idea what the man meant.
He folded forward, trying to do something, anything to relieve the pain in his body and his mind. When strong arms pushed him back into a sitting position he had no strength to resist. Shock coursed through him when it was Sofia sitting on the bed in front of him. He squinted at her, trying to see properly.
"Damiano," she said, her voice strangely resonant, "look into my eyes."
He tried his best to obey. When his vision finally did what he wanted, he was greeted by irises gently glowing blue. Part of him tried to panic, he remembered glowing eyes, only they had been bright red with madness, but a gentle blanket of calm settled over his churning emotions instead.
"Step back from the memories, Damiano," Sofia told him. "Step back and breathe deeply. The woman you remember is Tera, the man with her is her partner Rex, they are rogues of our kind. She attacked your band for fun because it amused her. We believe she intended to take you all, remake you in her image, and send you back, knowing our community would be forced to kill you all because of the danger you would pose to our secret. Do you understand?"
He nodded as her calm words settled into his mind.
"She infected you all with what is part virus, part metaphysical shift," Sofia continued to explain. "All of us here are vampires. You have been brought to a treatment facility because when Tera was forced to leave you, you were all in crisis. We are here to help you and Ethan and Thomas, and we will not abandon Victoria either, but I need you to breathe with me and put the new part of yourself away. You are not ready and not strong enough for it yet. Can you do that?"
He nodded a second time.
"Breathe slowly," she told him, doing so herself. "Reach for the familiar feeling of self inside you. Relax into it with each breath."
He did his best to do as he was told. He breathed in and felt for the core of him. Slowly his jaw stopped hurting and his body stopped aching, but he felt himself sagging into Sofia's hold, as if he couldn't keep himself up anymore. He had trouble keeping his head up, but she hadn't told him he could look away, so he somehow managed it.
Sofia gave him a soft smile, gently stroking her fingers against his shoulders as she held him up.
"Well done," she told him. "Now I am going to release you. It may feel overwhelming, but try to hold on to the calm. You are safe and we will help you."
He nodded even as he noticed that the glow of her eyes was beginning to fade.
Almost immediately the fear and panic tickled at the back of his mind along with the memories. He took a deep, shuddering breath and refused to let them win. It was hard as too many thoughts tried to fly around his brain at the same time, but he held to Sofia's words and the need to help Victoria.
"Well done," Sofia said, still gently rubbing his shoulders, but voice no longer resonating.
"Vampires?" was the best he could do with being coherent.
Chapter 2: Aiuto (Aid)
Damiano gets more of an explanation.
Damiano was sat about as close to Ethan as he could get without ending up in his friend's lap. Luckily for him, Ethan seemed to be of a similar mind, because it had been a mutual decision.
"I know Ethan introduced us earlier," Sofia said, giving him a small smile, "but I am Sofia Lilandro and I'm what you might call a specialist. I'm very pleased to meet you Damiano, I just wish it was under better circumstances. This is Leo Tremierei, he is a Magistra, to our community what a police officer is to the general population."
"Hi," Leo said from where he was standing.
"Leo has been chasing Tera for years," Sofia went on. "His team is the reason she did not get away with her plan last night."
"Just wish we had been there a little sooner," Leo commented.
Damiano wished they had too, but he didn't say so. The man did sound genuinely sorry about their predicament.
"What did happen last night?" Damiano asked, because his memories were all kinds of crazy and he needed something to help sort them out.
He fingered the gauze on his neck and did his best to push away the horrific memory of teeth tearing into his skin.
"Perhaps if I give you a little background first it will make more sense?" Sofia offered.
"Vampires have lived alongside humanity for as long as we can trace back," the woman explained. "Most of the legends about our kind are fabrications or the product of fear. We do require blood, we are sensitive to sunlight, although it is in no way fatal, and we are functionally immortal. We heal the majority of injuries almost instantly and we are much faster and stronger than normal humans. There is a metaphysical aspect to what we are, but we are not demons, and we do not sleep in coffins. We also have no need to kill to feed. In modern times we don't even need to bite someone."
"How then?" Damiano found himself asking.
Sofia nodded to Leo, who turned and walked towards the back of the room where there was a curtain in front of something.
"In little cartons mostly," Sofia told him. "Although feeding marks fade within hours and the experience can be euphoric under the right circumstances, I am sure you can imagine that in modern times it is far safer not to have to find willing donors every day or so."
Leo came back holding what looked like a small cream carton and gave it to Sofia.
"This is for you," Sofia said, placing it on the bedside table not too far from him. "You have been through and are still going through significant metabolic changes and you need to keep your strength up. We do eat normal food, but blood is the only thing that will really help at the moment."
When he saw that there was a straw stuck to the side of the carton, the desire to laugh waged a battle with his desire to be sick. He just could not imagine drinking honest to god blood.
"It doesn't taste how you think it will," Ethan said quietly and he turned to look at his friend. "They gave me one when I woke up. It's not anything like you're thinking."
"You said earlier that we were deliberately infected," he said, deciding he needed a moment to process before he could even think about what Ethan was saying. "Biting doesn't do that?"
"No," Leo was the one who spoke this time. "It is a conscious, deliberate act. To force it on a human is a crime."
"So why did … she," was the best he could do as her mad stare flashed through his head.
"Tera believes humans are animals and the rest of us are fools and she is addicted to causing pain and suffering," Sofia said without preamble. "She takes pleasure in fear and chaos. She enjoys creating others in her image and sending them out to wreak havoc. Sometimes she does it quietly and occasionally, like this time she likes to cause a spectacle."
"A spectacle?" Damiano said as too many possibilities barrelled into his head.
"She made sure she was seen," Leo said, "but it is being handled. As far as the rest of the world knows, your band has been attacked, but they have no idea of the less than human aspects of the case."
"And our families?" Damiano asked.
"They are being contacted, you do not need to worry about that," Sofia assured him. "You all have the right to decide who is told what and for now, we will be handling this as if you are in protective custody."
He was not overly reassured, however. He had a niggling desire to trust Sofia at least, but he couldn't figure out why, which was making him a little paranoid. He realised he was shaking and he felt completely exhausted. Sofia stood up, coming to stand beside where he was sitting, picking up the carton of blood on the way.
"You will feel much stronger and much more centred if you have this," she told him, holding it out.
"She's right," Ethan encouraged gently.
Damiano looked to his friend who gave him a serious little nod. He trusted Ethan and that really annoying voice in the back of his mind was telling him that Sofia was on the level as well, but he was still conflicted. Reluctantly, he reached out and took the offered carton. It was fridge cold, but why that surprised him he had no idea.
"Need a hand?" Ethan asked quietly when Damiano couldn't stop his hands shaking enough to open the damn thing.
He felt utterly pathetic, but let his friend take the carton. Dextrous fingers had the cardboard open and the straw inserted in moments.
"Thanks," Damiano said as he accepted it back.
"Think of it like one of those high caffeine energy drinks," Ethan told him when he hesitated. "That's what it was like for me."
For a bizarre second he couldn't help thinking this was all an elaborate joke and someone was going to leap out and yell, "Gotcha" or something equally as inane. But he lifted the straw to his lips anyway. Part of his brain that wasn't just trying desperately to cope with everything noted that the straw was paper so the vampire community was eco-friendly, which seemed sensible, what with immortality. And then he had to think about something else because that thought was far too big for his current mental state.
His first sip was tentative, but it didn't stop him from shuddering from head to foot. He almost dropped the carton. Luckily Ethan grabbed his hand and held him steady as the most amazing taste burst across his tongue, his nerves tingled and his whole body sat up and took notice. He swallowed reflexively and gasped, leaning against Ethan for support.
"Damiano?" Ethan asked
He couldn't reply. He was too busy feeling his system waking up in a way it had never done before.
"Is he okay?" Ethan asked, clearly worried.
"Damiano received the worst injuries of the three of you," Sofia said, although she did reach out and place a hand on Damiano's arm, "his reserves were lower and so the blood is having a more extreme effect. Damiano, can you take some more? It will speed up your recovery."
He took a longer drag on the straw the second time as Ethan helped him keep it steady. Closing his eyes, he savoured the wonderful feeling spreading through his body. It was like a wave of sunlight bringing to life plants and flowers under its progress. He mentally snarled at the far too poetic imagery even as it flashed through his brain. Demanding that his body obey him he took another mouthful of the blood and forced himself to breath through what was happening.
Only now did he have a chance to think about what the blood actually tasted like. Ethan was right, it wasn't how he had expected. In fact he wasn't sure he had tasted anything like it before. His only guess was that being a vampire changed the flavour, because it wasn't as if he hadn't come into contact with blood before. There were layers of flavour, pleasant flavour, almost like the blood was spiced. It was bizarre.
"Better?" Ethan asked.
Damiano closed his eyes for a moment and demanded his mind focus. It was what he did before a performance and it worked this time as well. When he opened his eyes again he turned to Ethan and gave him a nod.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
The shaking had stopped and he felt much stronger, just like Sofia had told him. It was crazy, but then everything was crazy at the moment so he just had to accept it.
"So, back to last night," Sofia prompted as Damiano finished off what was in his carton.
He nodded along with Ethan, shifting on the bed and pulling his feet up into a less tense sitting position.
"We were lucky," Leo said. "We have been after Tera for a long time and we are usually only in time to clear up her mess. She's old and, with us, that means powerful. The usual methods we have for tracking down criminals of our kind don't work with her. This time she was overconfident and intelligence reached us of what she planned to do. Unfortunately it was too late to stop it completely."
"So you arrived after she did," Damiano concluded.
"She had already sent Rex out with Victoria when we surrounded the building," he explained, "and she was waiting for him to return. Given the population centre we could not use all our methods to catch her and she slipped past us."
"As I mentioned earlier, becoming a vampire is part physical, part metaphysical," Sofia took over, "and the metaphysical part requires a maker's presence. Because she left you behind you were reliant only on your own strength, unbolstered by hers, which is why you required assistance. Usually a new vampire will wake just before dawn on their first night."
"But we slept all day," Ethan said.
Damiano was paying attention and listening to the conversation until he suddenly wasn't. He found himself looking across the room to where Thomas was still sleeping. There was no indication that Thomas was waking up. The monitor was beeping quietly in a regular rhythm and Thomas wasn't moving, but Damiano just had a feeling.
He had not seen anything that had happened inside his place after he had been attacked, but he definitely, one hundred percent did not want Thomas waking the same way he had. Uncurling from where he had pulled his legs up, he sat up. When Ethan pulled away from where the drummer had been leaning against his shoulder, he turned to look at his friend. Ethan gave him something of a confused frown, but did glance over at Thomas.
"Is something wrong, Damiano?" Sofia asked.
"Thomas is waking up," he said and pushed himself off the bed.
The floor was cold under his bare feet, but he ignored it in favour of walking over to his younger friend's bed.
"Are you sure? There…" Leo started to ask, but stopped when Thomas moved.
Damiano picked up one of Thomas' hands, leaning over the bed so Thomas would be able to see him easily when he opened his eyes. He realised Ethan had followed him when their drummer put a hand on his back so they could lean in together.
Thomas blinked open his light brown eyes a moment later.
"Hi," Damiano said, "how are you feeling?"
"Like we just won ESC again and I've gone two days without sleep," Thomas replied. "What..?"
It was obvious the moment memory caught up with Thomas. Damiano could only be thankful that his friend did not have as extreme a reaction as he had done.
"Someone attacked us," Thomas said, free hand going to his throat.
"But we're safe," he said, "someone came to help us."
He glanced over his shoulder to indicate Leo and Sofia. Thomas forced himself up onto his elbows so he could see.
"Sofia and Leo," Damiano vaguely introduced.
Apparently Thomas' thoughts went to exactly the same place Damiano's had gone.
"The ones who attacked us, took her," he said as succinctly as he could, "but Leo and Sofia are going to help us get her back."
"Get her back?" Thomas sounded just as confused as Damiano remembered being.
"They saved us and they will help us save Victoria too."
He did his best to make the statement sound perfectly confident, even if part of him was just as anxious as Thomas looked.
"Who took her? Why?" Thomas asked.
Damiano looked to Sofia. Everytime he tried to think of how to explain his thoughts filled with what had happened to him and words vanished.
"The woman's name is Tera, the man's Rex," Sofia stepped in for him. "They are both rogue vampires and their aim is simple, to cause suffering. You were to be their method to that, as well as their fun for the evening."
"Did she say vampires?" Thomas asked, eyes wide with incredulity.
"Yeah," Ethan replied, "and she made us like her."
"Everyone in this room is a vampire," Damiano added.
Thomas looked between them, then over at Sofia and Leo, frowning. He said nothing for several seconds.
"Is that why I feel so shit?" he asked, and surprised the hell out of Damiano.
"We both felt like shit when we woke up too," Damiano said, "but they gave us some blood which helped."
"And I won't feel like shit anymore?" Thomas asked.
"And then what?"
"Then we find Vic," he replied.
And apparently that was all the impetus Thomas needed.
Only once Thomas was settled and sipping on his blood carton with apparently none of the trepidation Damiano had exhibited, did Damiano focus back on their hosts. Sofia was giving him a contemplative look, but as soon as their eyes met, she smiled as if it was nothing.
Chapter 3: Sensitivo (Psychic)
Sofia reveals her speciality.
"So how do we find Victoria?" Thomas asked. "Where will this Tera have taken her?"
Damiano wanted to know the same thing. All the explanations in the world were not helping them get back their missing member.
"You haven't even asked us yet if we might have seen anything that could help," he pointed out.
"Did you see anything?" Leo asked.
Damiano shook his head. He hadn't seen anything except visions that were likely to haunt his nightmares for a very long time.
"I don't remember anything from when they stepped into the room," Ethan said with a shrug. "When I try to remember all I get is shock and fear, but no details."
"Me either," Thomas agreed, "well nothing that makes any sense."
Not that he begrudged his friends being blissfully ignorant of the details of the violence of their attackers, Damiano kind of wished he had been granted the same vagueness. The recollection of teeth tearing at his throat flashed through his head and he reflexively reached up to touch the gauze taped to his skin. For a moment he felt a ghost of the pain, even though it didn't hurt at all anymore.
"Hey," Ethan said quietly, bumping their shoulders.
He gave his friend a tight smile of thanks and turned his attention back to Sofia and Leo.
"To answer your original question," Sofia said, looking at Thomas, "we are using several avenues to try and find Victoria, but we are hoping you can help us speed up the process. You are all very close and because you were attacked at the same time, by the same vampire, you may be able to help us locate Victoria outside of usual detection methods."
"How?" Damiano asked.
"That's where I come in," Sofia explained. "I have told you I am a specialist."
All three of them nodded.
"My speciality is preternormal awareness," she said. "Put simply, I am a psychic."
"And because of that you can find Vic through us?" Damiano asked.
"Well, maybe nothing quite so black and white," Sofia replied, "but there may be clues, impressions that I can pick up using you all as the link. Unfortunately, Tera is far too old and experienced for my abilities to be used directly against her, even though she left considerable psychic debris when she attacked you all. However, there is a low level connection between children of the same maker and a low level connection between maker and child. Usually it manifests as a simple predilection for company, like family, but I should be able to use it to enhance my gifts towards finding Victoria."
Damiano shared a quick look with Thomas and Ethan.
"What do you need from us?" he asked, speaking for all of them.
Just a day ago, Damiano probably would have assumed someone claiming to be a psychic was a charlatan out to make money, but he simply believed Sofia. After everything that had happened, how could he not, so ten minutes later he found himself sitting in a chair on one side of a small table that had a burning candle on top of it. Thomas and Ethan were sitting in identical chairs so they were all facing inwards.
"Join hands," Sofia said from where she was standing just to the side.
Damiano took Thomas' hand in one of his own and Ethan's in the other, and waited as they joined hands as well.
"Focus on the flame," Sofia told them. "Empty your minds of everything."
It was hard to stop his mind churning, but for Victoria, Damiano could do it. He pushed all his worries and fears from his head, filling it with emptiness and calm.
"Now bring up your clearest memory of Victoria," Sofia's voice was low and smooth, all but sliding into his thoughts, that Damiano obeyed without having to force it this time. "See her in the flame."
His memory of Victoria was a simple one, from a day or so previously. She had been having trouble with a rhythm, swearing up a storm as she refused to give up, practicing the sequence over and over again. He had always admired her drive and that ordinary day had been no different. It was so clear in his mind's eye and he stared into the flame, watching the memory inside its movements.
As he stared he felt the world around him falling away. It was as if he was chasing the memory into the flame, sliding down into its depth, along a tunnel lit by its glow. Sofia said something, but he couldn't understand it as he followed the flame. Then, between one moment and the next, he blinked and he was looking at a different room.
It was strange, echoey, like everything was slightly delayed. Only when he turned his head did he realise it wasn't his head at all. He was looking out of someone else's eyes. Distantly he could feel anger and fear, but nothing clearer. The room was opulent, full of luxurious things, including the bed that the person whose body he seemed to be squatting in was sitting on. They, no she, looked down at her legs and Damiano knew those legs. He was looking out of Victoria's eyes.
Distantly he wondered why Sofia hadn't told them it would be like this. Were Ethan and Thomas looking out of Victoria's eyes as well?
It was a bit like a dream, fuzzy on the edges, not quite real.
Sofia's voice slid into his thoughts and suddenly he could feel a strange dual existence. There were hands on his shoulders and he took a deep shuddering breath, even as he still looked out of Victoria's eyes.
"Tell me what is happening," Sofia instructed.
"I'm," he tried to say, but his voice was slurred, his tongue heavy. "I'm seeing through her eyes."
It was slightly easier the second time.
"Do you see anything that will tell us where she is?" Sofia asked.
Damiano did not have control of Victoria's body, he was a passenger, but it dawned on him he might be having some kind of effect. As he tried to answer Sofia's question, Victoria looked around the room from one side to the other. It was then he realised there was a chain going from one of her wrists to the bedstead. He felt anger bubble in his chest.
"Calm," Sofia said softly, "anger will cloud the connection."
Taking another deep breath he tried to let the emotion go.
"Just a bedroom," he said. "Old house."
Not that that narrowed it down. It was frustrating to be able to see so much, but nothing useful.
"Ask Victoria if she knows," Sofia said.
"How?" Damiano asked, because none of this made any sense.
"You know," Sofia told him, "just as you knew how to find her."
Damiano was pretty sure that had been all Sofia, she was the psychic after all, but it was too hard to say so. He only hoped she could work through him again if he did what she asked.
Following the faintest of instincts he reached for the anger he had felt from Victoria before and this time, tried to make it resolve. Victoria was incredibly strong, she never gave up, and he knew he would find that in her anger. In the end he realised Sofia had been wrong, as his own anger responded to Victoria's, sliding towards it as if they were part of the same thing. But it required control. He fed tendrils of what he was feeling into what he sensed from Victoria and they crackled together.
It made no sense to his higher thoughts, but he followed the vague feelings as he had followed the flame. He did not try and ask Victoria anything with words, he called to her with more fundamental things. He sent his love, his hope and the most basic of images of what they were doing.
At first confusion came back, so he did it again.
He asked her his question with his soul, not words, and in a moment a blinding flash came back. Large gates, a driveway and a huge opulent house, and the most important part, an old sign.
"San Michele's Winery," he said as it flashed through his head.
"Well done," Sofia told him, even as he felt Victoria sagging with the effort it had taken for her to give him what she had.
"You need to return to us now, Damiano," Sofia said.
"But she's alone," he replied.
"Not for long," Sofia told him, "but you must let go, or you may become lost."
He did not want to give up the connection with their lost member, but he could feel the truth of Sofia's instruction. Victoria did not want to let him go either, that was all too clear. He sent her all the love he could, all the reassurance that help was coming, but letting her go was the hardest thing he had ever done.
"Good," Sofia told him, even as the presence of Victoria began to dim and the sight of the room started to grey. "Follow the path back, Damiano, return to the flame."
His ever musical brain likened it to pulling back the crescendo, reeling in the climax to leave only the purest of notes.
When he blinked this time, he was looking at the flame once more . There was a distinct stabbing pain behind his right eye. He shook his head and discovered everyone was staring at him. Ethan and Thomas were still holding his hands, but they didn't look anywhere near as dazed as he was pretty sure he did, if it was anything like the way he felt.
"Was it enough?" he asked, looking at Sofia.
Leo was doing something on his phone.
"Is this it?" the man asked, showing him an image on the screen as Thomas and Ethan released his hands.
Damiano had to shake his head again and he rubbed the bridge of his nose, because his thoughts felt kind of wooly, but he did his best to focus on the phone. The first image didn't look familiar, but what Victoria had shown him had been in the dark.
"I don't know," he admitted, so Leo scrolled to another image. "Yes," he said immediately, because it was the place all lit up for some event or other.
"It's not far," Leo said, "I'll get people out there right away."
Leo turned to leave before Damiano could react to that, phone already going to his ear.
"Damiano," Sofia said, crouching down in front of him, "how are you feeling?"
He shook his head again.
"Like I can't quite wake up," he said. "Will they get Vic?"
"They will," Sofia assured him. "I will be joining them when they leave, which will be in a few minutes, but I need to get you back first."
"Vic is more important," he insisted.
"Leo has to make sure his team has all the details first and they need to plan, I have a little while," she assured him. "You went in very deep. You must all be very close."
"We're family," Thomas said. "Is Damià going to be alright?"
"He'll be fine," Sofia said. "Damiano, I want you to look into my eyes again, alright?"
He nodded and did as he was asked. This time he was not shocked to find Sofia's eyes glowing gently.
"Let the connection to Victoria sink to the back of your mind," Sofia instructed in her calm, soothing voice. "Just let it go from your conscious mind and focus on yourself."
Unfortunately the stabbing pain behind his right eye increased significantly as he did so.
"Ow," he said, rubbing his temple.
"Headache?" Sofia asked.
He nodded and only belatedly realised he had stopped looking at her without her permission, but her eyes weren't glowing anymore when he quickly switched his gaze back.
"We don't react quite the same way to human painkillers," she told him with a smile, "but I'll get one of the attendants to bring you something. Apart from that, how are you feeling now?"
"Better," he said, "thank you."
"No need to thank me," she said, patting him on the shoulder. "You far exceeded my expectations."
She looked around at Ethan and Thomas as well as she spoke.
"I know telling you to relax will be pointless, but try and stay calm," she said as she stood up straight. "Tera had been eluding our forces for a long time, but I believe she has made a fatal mistake in targeting you. Victoria will be safe and back here before dawn."
Sofia spoke with such confidence, Damiano chose to believe her. Doubting now felt too much like giving up.
Chapter 4: Disperazione (Desperation)
Damiano has a very bad feeling.
If there was one thing Damiano hated, it was sitting around while other people took care of things he thought he should be involved in. He wasn't stupid enough to think he would have been any help with what the vampire community were doing, but that didn't stop the nagging feeling running through him. His headache was gone thanks to a couple of little pills he'd been handed just after Sofia left, but that was the best that could be said for the situation.
Stalking up and down the room was not helping. He couldn't shake the instinct he was not where he was supposed to be.
With one arm wrapped around his middle as his other hand rubbed reflexively at his collar bone, he couldn't keep himself still. Victoria was out there alone and that was plain wrong. The longer they waited, the stronger his feeling became that she needed their help.
Eventually it was too much. He walked to where Ethan and Thomas were sitting and held out his hands.
"We have to help her," he said.
"Damià, we can't…" Thomas started to say.
"We have to," he insisted.
The dread was clawing through his chest.
"Sofia isn't here," Ethan said.
"We have to try," Damiano countered. "We're going to lose her."
He could not explain it, but he felt that with every second Victoria was slipping away from them. Something in his expression must have convinced them because, finally, they reached for his hands.
The candle was on the table, pushed to the side, but they didn't have a lighter, so Damiano brought their hands together and stared at them instead. He had no idea what he was doing, but at his very core he was sure they had to do something. Throwing every other thought out of his head he concentrated on Victoria.
"Ours, not theirs," he heard himself whisper, but it was almost as if someone else was saying the words.
He felt his throat repeating the sounds again and again, but he didn't hear them anymore as he slipped into the tunnel again. There was no flame to guide him this time, the tunnel was dark, but he could feel the way. It was frightening, daunting, but he was more afraid for Victoria than of the dark. He pushed on. When he blinked and opened his eyes to see through Victoria's, it was not so much of a shock this time, but he was engulfed in rage. Pure fury and hate swamped him and he wanted to scream. Maybe he did, he couldn't tell. Only a sure and certain knowledge that they were about to lose Victoria forced him to hang on.
"See the pathetic creatures, Victoria," Tera said, pointing through the windows at the front of the building. "You want to kill them for me, don't you."
The three were in the front hall of the winery's mansion house and there were no more chains, but Damiano could feel the invisible ones lacing through Victoria's mind. This was the confirmation of the dread he had been feeling.
There were cars outside and people with crossbows and shotguns. Lights were flashing, filling the night sky all around and Damiano was sure he saw Leo as Victoria glanced past the magistra through the window. She took everything in and laughed, a high, insane sound that tried to shatter Damiano's heart. She didn't sound like their Victoria anymore.
Tera had done something to her. What, Damiano had no idea, but he had a horrible sense they were too late.
"Kill them for me, demon child," Tera said, running clawed fingers down the side of Victoria's face.
"Ours not theirs."
The words whispered in Damiano's mind. He grabbed for them even as Victoria turned towards the main doors of the huge house.
"Ours," he screamed with his whole soul as Victoria stalked towards the exit and, for just a moment, her step faltered.
Tera was old, her power was strong, Leo had explained that, Damiano could feel it as it curled through Victoria, but she had failed to take into account one thing: Damiano, Ethan and Thomas' love for Victoria.
"Fight her," Damiano cried with everything he had and everything he could feel from Ethan and Thomas.
He let go of every need, every thought, except that. He bundled it all in their desperate hope and desperate love. He gave everything he had to give even as Victoria threw open the double doors and strode onto the porch. Guns and crossbows rattled as the ridiculous tableau held for agonising seconds.
Damiano could feel the turmoil in Victoria as hate clashed with love and she stared at those she had been told to kill. He willed her strength, but he knew he had done everything he could. The rest was up to Victoria.
Vampire power ran through her veins in all its possible destructive glory. She stood on the knife edge. She could give in to the chaos, let it take her and use it to fulfil her task or she could take another path. Damiano could feel the seductive freedom of chaos, it called to part of his soul as well, but this was Victoria's choice.
"Ours," he desperately whispered in her mind, hoping she could hear him.
"They're in there," she yelled and threw herself to the side.
Damiano could have cried. He heard a high pitched scream of rage, but it almost immediately went dim in his awareness.
"Damiano, you better fucking breathe."
He heard Thomas shout, but it seemed like it was such a long way away. He was surrounded by darkness on every side and it was suffocating. There was a sharp stinging pain for a moment, but it was faint, nothing he could quite identify.
"Why is nobody coming?" Ethan said, voice as worried as Thomas'.
It was that more than anything that pulled Damiano closer to them. He didn't want his friends to be worried about him, they had enough to worry about with Victoria.
"Breathe you bastard!"
This time the sharp stinging pain was much brighter and he realised someone had slapped him across the face. There was light. Everything was grey not black and he could feel a burning.
"Damiano, if you die I will never forgive you," Thomas sounded frantic.
The burning seemed to be filling his whole chest. Only at that moment, as that realisation skipped across his mind, did his thoughts and body seem to realign. He took a huge, gasping breath into lungs that were starving for air. Clawing at the empty space in front of him he struggled as reality crashed down on him. It felt as if his whole torso had been compressed by a heavy weight and he dragged in oxygen over and over again as if it might suddenly be denied again.
"Damià," Thomas said, taking his face between two hands, "you're okay. Slow it down."
He looked into his friend's eyes and did his very best to follow the instruction. It dawned on him he was on the floor, half leaning against and half sitting in Ethan's lap. His head was spinning, there was that sharp stabbing pain behind his eye again, and he felt like he'd just done a full stage set about five times.
"Ours," he whispered, since it was the best he could do.
He really didn't want to, but there was nothing he could do about it as he ungracefully passed out.
It was treacle uphill time again, but Damiano had a reason to fight back to consciousness this time. He opened his eyes to find himself flat on his back on a bed once again. The pitiful moan that passed his lips was really not his fault as his head throbbed and his chest ached. The woman who had given him the painkillers earlier was leaning over him.
"Rest," she said simply and indicated the bedside cabinet.
There was a carton of blood and a couple more of the little pills she had given him last time.
"Thank you," he said.
He had only met her twice and was already aware she was a woman of few words. The look she gave him made him feel guilty, but nowhere near as guilty as the worried once over he got as soon as she left and Ethan and Thomas descended on him.
"Never, ever do that again," Thomas said so vehemently that it made Damiano wince.
He was not expecting the very awkward hug his friend dragged him into. There was no doubt he had scared Thomas one hell of a lot.
"Sorry," he said, but he couldn't say he regretted it, not even the thumping in his skull or the stabbing pain behind his eye.
Thanks to Thomas he found himself sitting up, which was helpful, but he discovered he was incredibly uncoordinated.
"What happened?" Ethan asked quietly, a sure sign that he was just as worried as Thomas.
"Vic," Damiano said, but had to stop as a particularly nasty pain took his breath away.
He moaned quietly and pushed his hand against his eye.
"Here," Ethan said and he found a glass of water and the pills under his nose.
Taking the pills, he popped them into his mouth, but he almost tipped the water all down his front, so Thomas helped him with that. He knew they would take a little while to kick in, but the water helped a little bit. When the blood was also handed to him, already opened with the straw in place, he accepted it meekly and sipped carefully.
"You were saying," Thomas said even as Ethan slipped onto the bed behind him to act as a very welcome brace.
He was in an incredibly touchy feely mood and their drummer's solid presence helped settle him.
"Did you get any of it?" he asked.
Last time they hadn't, but Sofia had been involved then. It had been all them this time.
"Anger and your desperation," Ethan said. "Nothing specific."
"Just a mess of emotion," Thomas agreed.
"I ended up in Victoria's head again," he revealed, "and for a while I thought it was too late."
He took another sip of blood as he remembered the desolation of that moment.
"Tera," he said, refusing to give in to the fear that curled in his belly even at her name, "had twisted Vic's mind. Probably what she wanted to do to all of us. Her power, fuck, so overwhelming. The house was surrounded. She wanted Vic to go out and kill people, probably as a distraction because there were so many, maybe just to make a point."
"You were right," Thomas said, "we were about to lose her."
"Yeah," Damiano agreed. "I guess I must have never quite let the connection go that Sofia set up."
"But Vic's okay?" Thomas asked. "You got through to her?"
"We got through to her," Damiano emphasised. "You might not have been able to feel what was going on, but I could and it was all of us that got her back. I just threw all our love at her and prayed. Vic did the rest, but then we all know she's the strongest."
"Yeah," Ethan agreed and Thomas nodded.
"What happened?" Thomas asked.
"Vic went outside as if she was obeying Tera, then she got out of the way," Damiano explained. "That was the last I saw."
"But she's okay?" Thomas asked.
"That's what I feel," was the best he could do.
The nagging fear was gone, replaced by a sense of waiting.
"I think we'd know if she wasn't," Ethan agreed from behind him.
Damiano couldn't quite shake the worry, after all there had been weapons involved, but he was pretty sure Ethan was right.
Chapter 5: Riunione (Reunion)
It's time to get the band back together.
He might have been exhausted, but the moment the door opened Damiano was on his feet along with Thomas and Ethan. There was Victoria wrapped in a blanket looking all stoic and controlled, but the moment she saw them her composure cracked. They all moved towards each other of one accord and wrapped their arms around each other in a completely chaotic four way hug. They were all crying and they clung on with rugged determination.
It had only been a little more than twenty four hours and their whole world had changed, but together they had strength.
"I think you should all sit down before you fall down," Leo said.
Damiano would have told him to fuck off, but his legs betrayed him. Only Ethan's strong arms prevented him from hitting the deck.
"Are you alright?" Victoria asked, checking him over like a worried mother hen.
"That's our line," he protested.
"I'm fine," Victoria replied, which was clearly a lie, "just glad that pretentious bitch is dead. Did I really feel you in my head?"
"You did. That's why Damià can't stand up. He did something incredibly dangerous without anyone who knew what they were doing," Thomas said.
"Traitor," Damiano complained, "and I can so stand up."
"Shall I let go then?" Ethan asked, the bastard.
He glared, Ethan raised his eyebrows. Apparently the other two guys were ganging up on him. Possibly he had frightened them a little more than he had thought.
"No," he finally admitted.
Somehow they all ended up on the same bed. Not an easy feat with the size of hospital style beds in the room. Ethan was sitting at the top end, long legs down one side of the bed. He had Damiano pulled against him, half sitting, half lying down. Victoria was between Damiano's legs curled on her side and into his chest, wrapped in her blanket and his arms with one of Ethan's hands in her hair. Thomas was to the other side of all of them, towards the bottom of the bed with an arm thrown over Victoria's hips and Damiano's legs.
None of them wanted to stop touching the others. Damiano didn't know what the others were thinking, but if it was anything like him, the touches grounded him, stopped his thoughts flying away with everything that had happened. Now the crisis was over and Victoria was back with them, he needed something else to focus on, and touch helped. It also helped to feel Victoria right there in his arms.
"That cannot be comfortable," Leo commented.
"We're fine," Victoria snapped, which shut that topic of conversation down flat.
Damiano tightened his embrace just for a moment in perfect solidarity.
"You're not," Sofia said as she reappeared from behind the curtains at the end of the room carrying a small tray, "especially not you two." She looked pointedly at Damiano and then Victoria. "But you will be. You've already proven that."
Damiano hadn't even realised she wasn't standing with Leo anymore. He'd noticed them when they had come in, but he'd been far too focused on Victoria since. However, his eyes zeroed in on the four little red cartons on the tray with straws sticking out of them. It appeared none of them were being given a choice either, because Sofia had opened them all. The first time he had been presented with one of those he might have been horrified, but part of him definitely perked up as Sofia walked over, even though he had already had two. However, as soon as the scent of blood reached them, Victoria had the opposite reaction. She buried her face in Damiano's chest and started shaking.
"Vic," he said, Sofia instantly forgotten as he stroked Victoria's hair back so he could see the side of her face, "hey, it's okay."
She shook her head, still clinging to him.
"We won't let anything hurt you," he promised to murmurs of agreement from Ethan and Thomas.
If anyone so much as looked at Victoria funny they were going to have three pissed off guys in their face, at least until Victoria was feeling better and could tell them to fuck off with the macho shit.
"Can't ... the pain," were the only words Damiano could catch from what Victoria mumbled into his chest.
Sofia placed her hand on his arm before he could respond to that.
"Victoria," Sofia said in her usual gentle tone, "did Tera force you to drink from an unwilling victim?"
Victoria nodded into Damiano's chest. He felt cold.
"Directly?" Sofia asked.
This time Victoria shook her head and Damiano realised he was holding his breath. At least that wasn't as bad as it could have been.
"The fear of a victim can be transmitted in the blood," Sofia explained quietly. "It is part of the addiction that rogues seek. It is an anathema to most of us."
"There's nothing in this, Vic," Damiano tried to explain. "We had it before. It's from willing donors."
Victoria still shook her head. All he could do was wind his arms around her a little tighter. He could not imagine what it must have been like to literally taste someone else's fear. They were going to have to talk about what Tera had done to Victoria to push her into the state in which Damiano had found her at some point, but it wasn't time yet. They needed to help Victoria through this first.
"We can feed from each other, can't we?" Ethan's quiet question made him look round. "I read it in the information you gave us."
Of course Ethan had read the help packet they had been given while Damiano had been uselessly pacing up and down earlier that evening. Ethan was conscientious like that.
"Yes," Sofia said even as Leo said: "Is that a good idea?"
"Whatever keeps them all strong is a good idea," Sofia said, looking over her shoulder. "Not you," she added when she turned back, pinning Damiano down with her all too knowing gaze.
He couldn't help thinking she was pissed at him for his earlier escapade, even though she hadn't been there to see any of it.
"Vic," Ethan said, leaning over his shoulder, "do you think you can feed from me?"
"Or me?" Thomas added.
Damiano so wanted to offer as well, but he didn't fancy arguing with the look Sofia was giving him. Victoria didn't immediately agree to the other's suggestion, but she didn't immediately disagree either, so he took that as a good sign. When Sofia offered the tray, he took one of the small cartons and decided to be a good boy for a change. It was still weird how the blood tingled on his tongue and how it made him feel, but he downed it as fast as possible. The last thing he wanted to do was stress out Victoria more than she already was.
He gave the empty carton back, feeling a whole lot stronger and waited for Thomas and Ethan to finish as well.
"It's gone," he said, rubbing gently on Victoria's back as Sofia walked away once they were done.
When Victoria finally released the death grip she had on his top and slowly turned her face partially outwards, he couldn't help his small sigh of relief.
"We're kind of stuck with this," he said quietly as she seemed embarrassed, but also still afraid, "and we can't have you wasting away. Want to take one of these idiots up on their offer before they grow a collective brain cell?"
"Arsehole," was Thomas' comment to that, which caused a ghost of a smile on Victoria's face.
"How long have you known me?" Damiano asked, determined to keep the mood light.
"Okay," Victoria said in a small voice that had all of his attention focusing back on her.
With minimal fuss Ethan made it very clear if was going to be him and they all shifted around a bit so that Victoria could reach him.
"What do I do?" Victoria asked, looking to Sofia for help once she had Ethan's wrist in her hands.
"Focus on what you want to do and allow your instincts to take over," Sofia said. "Tera already forced you into your full vampire form, so it shouldn't be too much of a shock to your system. Ethan, it will hurt for a moment, but then it should become pleasurable."
Victoria nodded and looked at Ethan, who gave her a nod of encouragement as well. Damiano did his very best to pretend he wasn't right there with a front row seat, because he didn't want to disturb them.
Victoria's eyes began to glow gently and she trembled once, her mouth opening so Damiano could just see two tiny points between her lips. He was suddenly sure he had never seen anything more beautiful or powerful. As she bent forward over Ethan's wrist, Damiano held his breath. It was strangely intimate and yet he couldn't look away.
As Victoria carefully bit into Ethan's flesh, their drummer gasped quietly, before he let out a breathy, 'Oh.'
Damiano could feel Ethan trembling, but it was not from fear or pain, that much was utterly obvious. He could almost taste their connection on the air, their linked pleasure. He did not dare more, it would have felt sacrilegious.
It took less than thirty seconds before Victoria was drawing back. She licked blood off her lips even as Ethan remained motionless, long hair hanging down and hiding his face. Damiano was overcome by a wave of lust that blew away anything else he was thinking and he had to clamp down on it hard. It wasn't right to think of his friends like that, but his baser thoughts clearly didn't see it like that. Ruthlessly he pushed those instincts down.
"Okay?" he asked in his best effort to be a good friend not a perverted one.
Victoria looked at him and gave him a small nod before she turned her attention back to Ethan.
"Ethan?" Victoria asked, reaching out to touch his wrist where the bite marks were already disappearing.
"I'm fine," he said.
"Thank you," she told him and Damiano tried very, very hard not to be jealous of the look the pair shared.
He gave himself a little slack because they were in an extraordinary situation, but he knew he really needed to get his reaction under control.
"Holy fuck," Thomas said. "I so want to try that."
So maybe he wasn't the only one that had had a reaction then, which was something.
Chapter 6: Sonno (Sleep)
Everyone needs sleep...
"Hey," Damiano said quietly when Victoria moved against his shoulder and gave a small sigh.
They'd pushed two of the beds together so they could get some sleep without having to separate, and Ethan and Thomas had dropped off a while ago, but Damiano had been well aware that Victoria had not. He was tired, but he couldn't sleep before she did.
Victoria looked up at him from where she was lying flush against his side.
"Hey," she replied, just as quietly.
"Want to talk about it?" he asked.
They'd talked for a while after their reunion, but mostly it had been Thomas and Ethan dumping him in it for frightening them, rather than anything from Victoria's side. Leo and Sofia had given them some quick reassurances that Tera had been dealt with and then left them to get some rest.
At his offer, Victoria's eyes searched Damiano's face as if looking for something. He let her, never moving his gaze from hers.
"It was so easy," she said eventually. "Giving in to the hate, it was so easy."
Reaching out, he stroked her hair back behind her ear.
"When we were trying to contact you, it called to me too," he told her. "I think maybe hate is easy, because it can give us power when we have none. But, Vic, the important thing is, you didn't give in to it. For a while she overwhelmed you with her power, fed your darkest impulses, but you fought through it."
"Only because of you," Victoria replied, and Damiano reached out to gently wipe away the tear that ran down her cheek as she spoke.
"Everyone needs a reason to fight," he assured her, "we just gave it to you. You're so fucking strong, Vic. You were alone against a power hundreds of years old and you only wavered at the very end. We were there at the last round to help you find the spark again, that's all."
"Poetic bastard," she said, even as another tear escaped her.
"Heh, maybe we can get another album full of songs out of all this," he replied with a quick smile and the tiniest of shrugs.
Victoria gave a hiccup of a laugh at that, but more tears were running down her face.
"Sorry," she said, rubbing them away with the heel of her hand.
"Crying's good for us," he said, stroking her back in soothing circles, "my therapist always says so."
He pushed away the errant thought about what all of this would mean for that relationship. That was a worry for another day.
"If it makes you feel any better I'm probably about to cry too, so we can look like a wreck together," he told her, which elicited another tiny laugh. "You know I'm an empathetic cryer."
"You just don't like anyone else having all the attention," Victoria countered and he made a tiny scoffing sound, even though it came out more like a laugh. "I'm making your shirt all wet," she apologised.
"Meh," he said with a shrug, "you're the one sleeping on it."
She poked him in the side for that.
"You're an arse," she said.
"But you love me anyway," he responded.
"Fucker," was her instant reaction before she paused, "but, yeah, I do. More fool me. I love you all."
"And we love you, Vic," he told her, kissing the top of her head. "We're going to get through this together, like we always do."
"Yeah," she agreed.
Of course, this was nothing like anything they had ever faced before, but Damiano had faith in them. There was clearly a support structure to help them, and they had each other.
"Do you wanna have a try at sleeping now?" he asked. "I'll do my best to guard your dreams for you."
Victoria yawned, which he took as a good sign.
"Can take care of my own dreams," she replied around another yawn.
"But you don't have to tonight, Sorellina," he said and continued stroking her back until he felt her relax.
It was weird, but laying there in the dark, he thought he could almost feel the rhythms of his sleeping friends' minds. In the end that was what helped him let go as well and allowed him to slip into slumber.
The house was just outside Rome, far enough from the city that it was pretty isolated, but close enough to allow easy travel. Leo called it a halfway house. It was a place specifically to help those who had become vampires adjust to their condition before they returned to their lives. By all accounts that didn't usually involve all the drama they had been through, but no one was left to fend for themselves in the modern era.
As far as the press were concerned the members of Måneskin were at an incognito location getting over their injuries and the trauma of the attack on them. It wasn't that far from the truth. With how famous they were now, it had been impossible to keep what had happened quiet, but there was a cover story where Tera was a deranged rich kid who had decided she wanted Victoria for her very own. The rest of them had been collateral damage in her plan.
The climax of the story was that the police had unfortunately had to shoot Tera in the rescue.
Damiano didn't know what had actually happened to the female vampire or her partner, just that it had been messy. He didn't want any of the details either. Leo had given them a quick rundown at some point, but he'd only been half paying attention.
If he was honest, most of the day so far had been a blur for Damiano. They'd woken up and thank god, someone had found them some proper clothes. There had been lots of talking and arranging, but Damiano had had trouble following it. He did remember talking to his parents on the phone, but he had no idea what they'd talked about. There were protocols for family and the whole vampire thing, but he could have stamped all over them for all he knew.
"You, sit down," Victoria said in her most bossy tone.
Normally he would have rebelled, because that was just the kind of relationship they enjoyed, but having Victoria acting anything like her old self made him too happy. That and he felt like shit, so when Ethan walked past and gave him a gentle nudge, he folded onto the very nice looking couch.
"Did you sleep at all last night?" Victoria asked, bending down and giving him a critical once over.
"A bit," he admitted.
He honestly hadn't been trying to be a martyr, but he had to have been completely on edge. None of them had slept like babies, he knew that for a fact, because everytime one of the others had been disturbed, he had woken up. He'd mostly been able to get them to settle back down before they really awoke, so he wasn't sure any of them were aware of what a fractious night it had been. Well more like early through mid morning really.
"You should take a nap while we get settled in," Thomas said.
Now they were all ganging up on him.
"And what if I don't want to?" he responded, possibly somewhere on the other side of petulant-toddler.
"Count backwards from one hundred," Victoria said while giving him one of her hard stares, "you won't make it past ninety five."
"They said they picked up all our gear from the studio house and some from our places," Ethan piped up, "and we know how you like your stuff, so we can put it in a room for you."
Yep, they were all at it.
"Ugh," he said, throwing his arms into the air, "alright."
He could still be bratty about it.
Victoria gave him a half smile, kissed him on the forehead and pushed him down onto the couch. When she took off his shoes for him, he just went with it. He felt ridiculous because it was Victoria who had been the one kidnapped and she should have been the one they were babying, but apparently not.
He woke up a while later when a wet nose pushed under his chin. Opening one eye he looked down.
"Hey, Chili," he mumbled as Victoria's dog made herself comfortable, before slipping back to sleep again.
Chapter 7: Dicotomia (Dichotomy)
Sometimes what you see and what you feel need to be the same.
They really could have been at the studio house for all the differences there were, at least inside. Someone had set up their instruments and kit for them, having converted one of the rooms to be just about perfect for sessions if they so chose. There was a huge lounge and kitchen and a bedroom for each of them. The garden was also beautiful and they even had a table tennis set-up too. There was no pool, but there were umbrellas for them to sit under if they wanted to be outside for long periods because their skins were sensitive now, but it was still lovely.
The only additions were a soundproof room for private matters, since they could all hear so well now, perfect privacy was almost impossible in the normal living space, and there was an extra fridge full of little cartons of blood.
Damiano liked it as he nosed around after finally waking up and feeling sentient again. The others had indeed put his stuff away perfectly for him in a very nice room with a beautifully large bed. The only thing about it was, he wasn't really looking forward to sleeping in it on his own.
He cleaned his teeth because his mouth felt sandy after his nap, examined himself in the mirror over the sink, and simply took stock.
He looked pale and he had bags under his eyes, but otherwise he didn't look any different. There were the faint lines of the scar on his neck that had been revealed when the gauze had been removed that morning, but, in honesty, he could barely see them. That they were the only reminder of the wound that had so completely changed his life made it all feel so surreal. Ripped open and healed to virtually nothing in only a day. It just made no sense.
Suddenly he couldn't stand the dichotomy of what he was feeling inside with what he was looking at. He needed them to line up.
It was probably stupid. They had been told specifically not to push their vampire abilities for at least a few days unless absolutely necessary, but he needed to see it. The otherness was right there under his skin. Bringing it forward took no effort, so he didn't think he was breaking the guidelines. Even so, cold shock lanced up his spine as he stared into eyes that were no longer brown.
He almost backed away as his breathing quickened, but he refused to run from this. Forcing himself to take a slow, deep breath, he leaned closer to the mirror. He wasn't sure what he had expected, maybe red or possibly gold looking back at him, but what he was looking at was purple. Well, actually it was blue and red, blue round the outside of the iris and red around the pupil, but the glow mixed in the middle for an eerie purple.
With the even paler skin, they gave him an ethereal look. For a mad second he wondered what the fans would think before his better sense told him not to be a moron. Confirming to all the conservative idiots that he was, in fact, the devil was not somewhere he wanted to go.
He considered trying for fangs as well, but he was pretty sure that would be pushing it too far, so he just stared for a while.
He turned to find Victoria standing in his bathroom doorway.
"My, my," she said, walking up to him, "aren't we the pretty one. Of course you had to go two-tone."
That she was being so totally casual about finding him staring at his own reflection helped something in him relax. He even let her take hold of his chin to hold him still and get a better look.
"Could be 'cause you're hungry," she concluded. "Come on, before you hypnotise yourself."
The laugh just burst out of him and Victoria smiled at him in happy victory. He let the strangeness fade as she took him by the hand and led him out of the room.
"Sorry, was I too long?" he asked as they walked.
"A bit, but we're allowed to be weird at the moment," she replied. "We played rock, paper, scissors to see who got to come find you."
"But you cheat at rock, paper, scissors," Damiano pointed out.
"I know," she replied, "but you boys are saps and no one is willing to call me on it at the moment."
That made him laugh again.
"You're a menace," he said.
She gave him a perfectly innocent smile in response.
Chili bounced around their feet as they made it to the bottom of the stairs and he scooped the little dog into his arms. She was such a sweet thing and she didn't seem to give a shit that none of them were quite human anymore. That she was with them helped normalise everything around them in a way Damiano greatly appreciated.
He popped her back on the floor when they walked into the kitchen and she bounced off to bother Thomas, who was sitting at the table. Damiano did his very best to make it look casual as he walked over to their second smaller refrigerator.
"Anyone else want one?" he asked as he opened the door.
He was surprised when Victoria nodded first.
"You're sure?" he asked.
She had fed from Ethan the previous night, and Thomas that morning, but she still hadn't had one of the little cartons of blood, well, unless she'd had one while he was asleep. The way she was acting, he was pretty sure that wasn't the case.
"Gotta get used to it sometime," she said, but her voice was tight with nerves.
"I'll take one too, please," Ethan added.
"I'm good," Thomas replied.
Another instruction they had been given was drink blood whenever they felt the need. It was supposed to drop back to every other day eventually, but not at the moment.
"You're still adjusting, just go with it," had been Sofia's exact words that morning before sending them off to their new temporary home.
Damiano pulled out three of the cartons and put them on the counter.
"We don't mind if you're not ready," he told Victoria quietly, even if they all knew they could all hear it.
"It's a dumb fear," she replied and reached for one of the cartons.
He placed his hand over hers.
"It's really not," he assured her.
She smiled, a twisted little smile and pulled the carton towards her.
"You all say it's good," she said. "I trust you."
The fact that the little cartons had a straw on the side just like a juice box usually amused Damiano, but not this time. He passed one of the others to Ethan and set about opening his own as Victoria focused on hers with the same intensity she gave to a bass line she was having trouble with. Doing his very best to look like he wasn't looking, even though he was, he totally missed his mouth with his own straw the first time.
Victoria only hesitated a moment, before she took a huge suck from her carton.
"Oh," she said as she swallowed it.
"Okay?" Damiano asked, dropping any pretense of not paying attention.
She gave him a rather shocked smile and nodded.
"Now I really feel silly," she admitted.
Ethan walked round the counter and gave her a hug.
"No need," he said and spoke for all of them.
Damiano gave her a grin and managed to catch his straw with his lips this time. He took a long drag and almost choked as a wave of arousal smashed into his head. For a second he thought he was having a really weird reaction, but then it dawned on him he recognised the slightly distant feeling. Still spluttering, he put the carton down and tried to remember how to breathe.
"Damià, what's the matter?" Victoria asked.
He held up a finger in a request to give him a moment, as he pushed the mental images away.
"What happened?" Thomas asked, walking over to the other two.
"Y'know how you usually get the vague nice feeling because they make sure the donors are content when they donate?" he replied.
The others nodded.
"I think this donor was a little more than content," he said, blinking and hoping not all the blood in his brain had travelled south.
"Little more how … oh," Ethan said when Damiano just lifted both his eyebrows.
"Kinky," Victoria said and burst out laughing.
Damiano snorted an answering laugh and put the carton in the sink.
"The question is, do I complain or give them a five star rating?" he asked, which set Ethan and Thomas off laughing as well.
He grabbed a new carton and enjoyed the sound of his friends' happiness. This was all so strange, but there was light on their horizon. That they could still laugh made Damiano's chest feel warm.
"I'm cooking," he declared, since they all still needed to eat normally as well, and he was feeling guilty for flaking out on them earlier.
Chapter 8: Paura (Fear)
The first night in the house does not go well.
Staring at the ceiling was boring, but counting the crystals on the ridiculously sparkly lampshade in the middle of it eventually allowed Damiano to slip into sleep. He was still tired even after his afternoon nap, which was the only reason he managed to fall asleep at all, alone, in a bed that felt far too big. It felt wrong and lonely.
He had no idea how long he had been asleep when something woke him. The moon was bright and filled his room with enough light that he would have been able to see easily, even without sharpened vampire senses. Even as he looked around he had a sinking feeling as his mind woke up just enough to inform him getting back to sleep was going to be a pain in the arse.
Sighing and mentally swearing to himself, he sat up and reached for his phone. Some mindless scrolling might help him quiet his thoughts down again. Just as his fingers closed over the device he heard a squeak from the landing somewhere outside his room and he aborted the gesture. It sounded like one of the others was having trouble too.
Pushing the duvet back, he climbed out of bed and padded towards the door. A little company might help him and whoever it was wrestle their insomnia into submission. Normally he would have put a bet on it being Thomas, but with everything they had been through, it could have been any of his friends having trouble sleeping.
He opened the door and stepped onto the landing, looking towards the stairs where he was pretty sure the noise had come from.
Every muscle in his body froze.
It wasn't Victoria or Ethan or Thomas. It was a vision from hell.
He only recognised the creature standing there as Tera, because he had seen her wearing those same clothes through Victoria's eyes. There was barely anything human about her at all. One eye glowed that bright, insane red, locking him in place so he couldn't move or speak. The other was a black hole of nothing.
Her face was twisted, like a demonic thing, lower jaw jutting forward and mouth full of sharp, crooked teeth. Her hands were distorted, overly long fingers tipped with curling talons, bent together as grasping claws. All down her right side there were burns and half her hair was missing, while the rest was singed and wild.There were huge unhealed, gaping wounds on her body, crusted with dried blood and dirt.
All Damiano could see was madness in the thing stalking towards him, even as his mind screamed in denial and terror.
His whole body was trembling as his instincts fought the power demanding his obedience, but it was no use. What was left of Tera came right up to him, stroking his cheek with one of those terrible claws.
"Ah, Caro," she whispered, "so pretty, so strong. Do you understand how you could never win now?"
He could barely breathe.
"They killed my beautiful Rex," she told him. "Nothing but ashes left. I'm going to need someone to take his place."
Her foul breath assaulted his senses with every word she spoke.
"This time we'll do it right from the start," she said, running one of her monstrous fingers down the side of his neck, over the scar she had left there last time.
Her movements were so slow they were agonsing as she went up on tiptoe and leaned in. He couldn't even whimper as her jagged teeth slid into his flesh, each a pinpoint of excruciating pain. But what was worse was the insanity and hate that came with the agony. It slithered into his body and mind like a parasite, trying to wipe away all that he was. In this he could fight, but it was like one man against an army.
As she drank and drank, he fought, but even as his body failed and she lowered him to the floor, he could feel his sense of self being eroded, attack by attack.
By the time the demon from hell drew back, any external pain was irrelevant. All that was left was the battle for his mind.
"When you wake next time, caro," she told him, holding his chin so he was staring straight into her eyes again, "you will be all mine."
She let him go and his head flopped to the side, all movement beyond him. Darkness played at the edges of his vision even as he stared blankly at Tera's feet.
"Now for my other children," she said, stepping down the hall to the others' closed doors.
Damiano screamed in his mind, but his body lay there, impotent and helpless as death walked down the corridor towards his friends. That was worse, so much worse than any pain he was feeling. They were sleeping, totally unaware of the danger coming for them and he couldn't even call out to warn them. He tried to breathe in, desperate to make any sound, but his chest was so tight he couldn't even do that.
He heard his name, but he didn't know where it came from.
"Damiano," it came again and with it there was a high pitched whining sound.
"How is he making that noise? Is he even taking a breath?"
"I don't know."
It was the pure panic in the last statement that yanked him back to reality. He found himself curled in a ball, every muscle so tight it hurt.
That came from Thomas.
"Quick, get him up," Victoria said even as Damiano completely failed to comprehend what was going on.
Strong arms lifted him into a sitting position, but he couldn't do anything to help. His chest was burning, but he couldn't force himself to take a breath.
"Damiano," Victoria said, taking his face in her hands, "you're having a panic attack. I need you to breathe with us okay?"
If anyone would know about panic attacks it was Victoria.
She took one of his hands and placed it against her chest. Thomas took the other and did the same thing, while he was pulled against a broad, strong torso from behind, which had to be Ethan. They all breathed in deeply and slowly at the same time.
Damiano tried to do the same, he really did, but it was so difficult.
They didn't give up though, even as he failed. They breathed, he tried to copy and Victoria bathed him with words of praise.
It felt like an age, but gradually each breath was easier and reality reestablished itself as he slowly calmed down.
"Hey there," Victoria said when he finally had enough presence of mind to feel ridiculously embarrassed.
"Sorry," he said as it dawned on him he must have dragged all the others out of bed because he was having a nightmare.
"No need to apologise," Ethan said quietly, but firmly.
"I'll get you some water," Thomas said and disappeared quickly towards the bathroom.
"How are you feeling?" Victoria asked.
"Wrung out and stupid," he replied.
"Want to talk about it?" was her next question.
He shook his head, doing his best to push away his terrible dream. Maybe in the light of day he would be able to face it, but he didn't want to yet.
"Let's watch some TV," Thomas suggested as he returned, passing the small glass he was carrying to Damiano.
"Small sips," Victoria told him.
"Sleeping alone was a fucking stupid idea," Thomas said as they rearranged themselves on the bed, or rather the others rearranged themselves and made sure Damiano was comfortably ensconced between them. "I haven't slept a wink yet."
There was a large TV in every bedroom as well as the huge one downstairs in the lounge, so once they were settled, Ethan used the remote to turn Damiano's one on. Damiano kept on sipping his water silently while the others argued over what to watch. He felt all off kilter, halfway between reality and what was in his head, but the normality of his friends was beginning to help. He doubted he would be able to sleep again, but he hoped he would at least be able to rest.
In the end he woke up late morning, surrounded by Ethan, Victoria and Thomas, surprised he had fallen asleep at all. He couldn't remember falling asleep, or anything he might have dreamed. The echo of his nightmare was still there in the back of his mind, but it was distant enough now that he could look at it objectively. Tera was dead, but clearly his subconscious didn't quite believe it. He hoped he could convince it of the truth sooner rather than later, because he did not want another night like the previous one.
He considered going back to sleep, but then his bladder made itself known. Probably what had woken him in the first place. Now he was faced with the delightful task of extracting himself from the pile of limbs around him, without waking any of the others. He suspected it was a fruitless task, but he had to try, after all he was the one who had woken them all up in the middle of the night.
"My angel," Victoria said when Damiano handed her a cup of coffee.
He gave her a half smile for that and went back to chopping fruit for their breakfast. It was a nice repetitive task that was letting him keep his deeper thoughts at bay.
It had proved impossible to make it to the bathroom without waking everyone else on the bed, but they'd all decided it was probably time to get up anyway. Damiano had taken a fast shower and made it downstairs first, so he could put the coffee on and get breakfast ready. It helped assuage his guilt at interrupting everyone's night’s rest. Not that he thought there would be any recriminations, but he felt better at least making an effort for them.
"You know," Victoria said as he worked, "I think you may have saved me from a nightmare last night too."
He looked over his shoulder with a small frown.
"How so?" he asked.
"When you woke us up, I think I was in the beginnings of one," she told him. "You know I used to get them a lot?"
"Well I don't remember anything of what I was dreaming, but I know the signs," she explained.
"But you were okay afterwards?" he asked.
She gave him a smile as she sipped her coffee.
"Fine," she replied. "I think Thomas has a point, sleeping alone is dumb. I know we will need to get back to our own lives eventually, but we've been through some serious trauma and we're clearly getting comfort from each other. You had a nightmare bad enough to give you a panic attack, I was about to have one, Thomas couldn't sleep at all, and we'll have to ask Ethan, but…"
"I was restless too."
They both turned to find Ethan in the doorway to the kitchen.
"I rest my case," Victoria said.
Damiano couldn't argue with her logic and he didn't want to. Everything last night had felt wrong, up to the point where he had fallen asleep with the rest of them. He glanced at Ethan, who just nodded.
"Oh, thank god, coffee," Thomas said, walking in, "and I vote yes for the whole bed sharing thing. I'd like to get some more sleep this week."
Clearly he had heard the conversation before he arrived.
"Looks like that's settled then," Damiano said, "but just so we're clear, if anyone needs their own space, say so. There will be no judgement either way."
"Definitely," Victoria agreed.
Damiano put the plate of fruit slices on the counter and turned to the oven to check on the frozen pastries he'd thrown in there a few minutes before. Given the kind of night he'd had, he was feeling surprisingly relaxed as he pulled them out and slid them onto a plate.
Chapter 9: Altro Passo (Another Step)
Music and more
It's time to earn that rating ;)
At heart they were musicians, so it wasn't long before they took advantage of the studio space they had been provided. They worked hard at their music, but it was also a release. Damiano held his microphone as he watched the others set up their instruments. Victoria, tuning and tweaking her bass as she made it exactly how she wanted it. Thomas, his lithe fingers dancing over the strings of his guitar in a ghost of what they would be doing when they started playing. And Ethan, moving and placing every part of his drum kit into the perfect spot.
It felt so normal, so right, and it stirred something in Damiano. He had to look away as his throat and chest tightened as emotions welled in his chest. His eyes prickled with tears and he had to swallow back what he was feeling.
"Hey, you okay?"
He looked up and found Victoria standing much closer to him than he remembered. Doing his best to pull himself together he nodded.
"It just hit me," he admitted, "we almost lost this."
Reaching out, Victoria brushed his arm with her fingers.
"But we didn't," she said, voice thick with emotion, "and now we never will."
And wasn't that a huge thought to add to all the others. Once that would have been hyperbole, but now it was a genuine possibility. Not the life they had exactly, even if they didn't age they would have to leave it at some point, but this passion on which that life was based, they could keep that forever.
He nodded, taking a deep breath and pulling himself together.
"Need a minute?" she asked.
Shaking his head he sat up straight on his stool.
"Then let's rock," she said as she backed away, grinned and launched into the opening of 'Zitte e Buoni'.
The others quickly joined in and Damiano put his head back, feeling the music and waiting for his cue. The lyrics flowed from him with very little thought and he pushed all of his emotion into the music. They went from one song into the next in the short set they had agreed on and it felt amazing.
The beat and melody were in his blood so clearly and he rode on them like a high most of the idiots who criticised them could never imagine.
They were always in harmony when they performed even without an audience, all the hours of practice paying off, but this was different. Damiano felt like he could all but feel the bass in Victoria's hands, the guitar strings vibrating under Thomas' fingers and the kickback from the drums through Ethan's firm grip. It was almost sexual as it burned through him and Damiano sang like his heart was on fire.
Four songs down and he whispered the final words to 'I Wanna Be Your Slave' and silence echoed around the room.
"Well, fuck," Ethan said after a few moments and nicely summed up Damiano's feelings as well.
"Our next audience is gonna pass out," Victoria agreed.
Damiano laughed just to let out some of the joy in his chest. Being a rock star was amazing, being a vampire rock star was fucking incredible.
Damiano gently ran his fingers over Victoria's waist as she slowly lifted herself up and down on his hard cock. It felt amazing, but what was even more wonderful was the look of complete pleasure on Victoria's face. She had her head tilted to one side, eyes closed, where Ethan was kissing up her neck, one of his skillful hands cupping one of her breasts, playing with her pert nipple. Her breathy murmurs of enjoyment were like music to Damiano's ears, especially as Thomas employed his dexterous fingers on a new instrument, dipping between Victoria's legs.
They were all completely focused on her, on her pleasure, on making sure she was theirs and happy once again.
When she opened her eyes and looked down at him, eyes glowing a gentle pink, it sent a thrill of excitement and eroticism up Damiano's spine. It lit up all his nerves.
He blinked open his eyes onto the late evening light illuminating Victoria's room and cursed his fickle brain. That has been an amazing dream. What stopped him from simply closing his eyes and trying to catch it again, was the quiet sound of disappointment that came from Victoria at the same moment. Thomas moved next to him and he saw Ethan shift a little where he was sprawled across the bed towards the end of it as well.
They were haphazardly piled on Victoria's bed and the TV was showing the title screen for the movie that had apparently finished streaming after they all fell asleep. None of them really liked being apart from the others at the moment, not after everything that had happened, and they were under strict instructions to rest, relax and recuperate while they adjusted to their new status. Hence the attempt at movie night, but apparently they were all still more tired than they had been letting on. Either that or their bed sharing arrangement had given them all a pavlovian response.
That they had all apparently woken up at exactly the same time was a bit odd. Damiano didn't think he had moved. In fact, if he did it was likely Victoria or Thomas was going to notice he was hard as a rock, because he was only wearing a t-shirt and shorts. No doubt they would take the piss out of him for that.
However, he noticed two things at the same time. Thomas caught his eye, looked at Victoria and blushed, and Victoria's light top was doing nothing to hide her very, very pert nipples. He looked down the bed at Ethan and caught a glimpse of what he suspected was a similar problem to his own. An impossible idea started to form in his head.
"Anyone hungry?" Thomas asked in what was clearly a diversionary tactic.
"Not for food," he heard Victoria mutter.
"Were we just all having the same dream?" he asked, before his better judgement could tell him to shut up.
If there was one thing that recent events had taught him, it was opportunities were to be grabbed with both hands. This felt strangely important.
Three faces looked at him with various levels of unsureness. Thomas really was blushing beautifully, which made Damiano want to give his friend a good reason for the flush. The strength of the urge was what took his breath away. He had thought about it before, just curious musing, but never with quite such heat. Ethan just had that worried little frown of his, and Victoria was clearly thinking hard.
"I was this close to coming," she said and held up her fingers in the universal gesture for a tiny distance.
"On my cock," Damiano said.
"And my fingers," Thomas said, sounding delightfully confused.
Ethan just made a sound of agreement.
"Well that's new," Victoria said, "and fuck, but now I am horny as hell."
"Tell me about it," Thomas said, relaxing somewhat now that the truth was out in the open.
Another crazy idea made itself known in Damiano's brain.
"Maybe we could help each other out?" he suggested, posing it in a light tone in case any of the others were on a different page.
He had a feeling they weren't, but he wasn't confident enough with the instinct to push hard. The way they all looked at each other spoke volumes.
"But that was a dream," Ethan pointed out. "Dreams are not reality."
"It didn't feel like a dream," Thomas said what Damiano was thinking.
"Fuck it," Victoria said, kneeling up on the bed and pulling her shirt over her head, "I'm in."
Any thoughts Damiano's erection might have had about wilting away immediately vanished as heat pooled in his cock. A sensible little voice was pointing out they really should think this through and talk about it, but sense and logic had fucked off when he'd opened the door to a strange woman with very pointy teeth and anger management issues.
"What do you want. Vic?" he asked, ignoring the other two for now.
They could join in or not, as they wanted.
"Well I was really enjoying the dream," Victoria replied with a smile as she shimmied out of her shorts.
"You're right, fuck it," Thomas said beside him. "We almost died this week."
Damiano gave him a devilish smile for that, sitting up and pulling off his own shirt. Surprisingly he didn't have to worry about his underwear, because Ethan took care of those for him, so all he had to do was lie back and let the drummer pull them off for him. Clothes were shed quickly by all of them, and then Victoria was climbing into his lap. She looked him in the eye, smiled and lifted herself up, lining up and sinking down on his very willing cock.
Another plus for their new vampire status, no chance of STDs and no unwanted pregnancies. Vampires had to work very, very hard to make babies.
Victoria felt amazing as they moved together with absolutely nothing between them. She was so wet all Damiano could do was moan as he slid into her slick heat.
Dreams were easier than reality and it took some shifting around to find the perfect position they had seemed to simply slip into in their minds, but they were all more than willing. The slight awkwardness actually bodies rather than idealised ones caused, made it all the more real for Damiano, all the more intense. Then the way Victoria pulled in first Ethan, followed by Thomas to kiss them as they all found their way had Damiano biting his lip and panting at the strength of emotion and sensation the sight caused in him.
She had them all in her orbit. And Damiano could only think that felt perfectly right. It was an affirmation. They had almost lost her to darkness and they had called her back, igniting the strength she had always shown. Now that strength shone. This was what they wanted, what they needed, and for their first time together like this, having Victoria right in the centre was the only choice.
As Ethan kissed along Victoria's neck and Thomas leaned forward to flick his tongue over the nipple not currently under one of Ethan's hands, she ground down onto Damiano's cock. The punched out groan he let out was full and heartfelt. He was so hard. Every sensation felt heightened. Maybe it was given their new vampire status, maybe it was just because it was them taking this new and exciting step. He didn't care about the whys, just the consequences.
"Fuck, Damià, you're so damn big," Victoria moaned.
He canted his hips, pushing them up as she ground down again, to make sure she got everything he had to offer. This time she discarded words and simply moaned out her pleasure, leaning against Ethan and using him as leverage to roll her pelvis to find just the angle she wanted. Damiano held himself still for her, let her use his cock as she buried her fingers in Thomas's hair where he was sucking on her breast.
She looked like a goddess and they were her worshipers. Not a scenario Damiano had ever seriously considered, but it was really doing it for him. Encased in her slick heat, he wanted to give Victoria everything she could possibly need. She put her head back, eyes closed, and rode him as Thomas and Ethan kissed and touched her, Thomas' quick fingers sliding between her slick folds. She looked so damn beautiful it almost hurt.
He felt rather than saw it as her vampire nature started to rise. It made his skin tingle where they touched and Ethan moaned into her neck, clearly feeling the same thing. When Victoria opened her eyes again and they were glowing that same pink from the dream, Damiano almost lost it. He held on only because he was desperate to give her all the pleasure. He met her eyes and for a moment it felt as if she could see his soul. Holding his gaze directly, she dragged Thomas up by the hair, kissing him hard and only breaking eye contact with Damiano at the very last moment.
He wanted her so damn much he could have cried.
As she released Thomas, leaving him looking dazed, her eyes came back to Damiano's and electricity ran up his spine. At that moment he knew what would complete this, what could give Victoria the ultimate pleasure. He titled his chin to the side, exposing his neck even as he continued to hold her gaze. She licked her lips and smiled to reveal the very tips of her fangs.
Pushing herself down on him, she leaned forward, slipping out of the embrace of the other two, even as they continued to touch her. As she breathed on his neck, he closed his eyes, anticipation curling in his gut and his loins. She kissed right over his scar and he whined in his throat. Her fangs slipping into his flesh was nothing like the terrible violation and hurt he had felt as Tera had ripped at his throat. There were two bright points of pain and they were divine.
He gasped, Victoria drank, and she came on his cock. The pleasure that flooded through him, masking everything except the amazing sensations running along every nerve in his body, were more than he could take without joining her. Bucking up into her soft, slick heat he spilled inside her, releasing all control.
He was pretty sure Victoria didn't take more than a small sip, but he lost track for a while, so he couldn't be positive about anything.
"Fuck," he heard Thomas say in a reverent tone.
Victoria lay over Damiano's chest, apparently completely relaxed as she absently played with his nipple ring. Each time she touched it, his cock twitched, even as he could feel himself softening. It was like a little shot of lightning and eventually he couldn't take it anymore, at least not yet.
"Please, no more," he said, opening his eyes.
What he saw had his breath catching in his throat again. Thomas and Ethan had definitely enjoyed the show and had taken it upon themselves to help each other out. They were leaning together over Damiano's legs, kissing, each with one hand threaded through the other's hair and their free hands on the other's cock.
Damiano nudged Victoria so she could turn and look, because neither of them wanted to miss this.
To him it looked like Thomas had taken charge of the kiss, holding Ethan's head just so and kissing their drummer deeply, even as they worked each other's cocks with dedication. Ethan moaned into Thomas' mouth and they pulled away slightly, gasping as if they had been so intent on chasing their pleasure they had forgotten to breathe.
Damiano could relate.
"Fuck, yes, like that," Thomas moaned as the pair leaned on each other.
They were close, Damiano could all but taste it on the air. He was almost as desperate to see them come as they seemed to be at chasing their orgasms.
"My boys," Victoria whispered quietly.
Damiano could only assume Thomas and Ethan were of a like mind to him this evening, because, apparently, that did it for both of them. Ethan shot his load about a second before Thomas and they bucked into each other's hands, muscles clenching and unclenching in a delightful display of total abandon. They leaned against each other, catching their breaths and holding each other through the aftershocks and Damiano never ever wanted to stop seeing such wonderful sights.
Chapter 10: Altro Giorno (Another Day)
It's time to talk.
The next morning was surprisingly not awkward. In fact when Victoria had climbed into the shower with him and asked him to wash her back, Damiano had done just that and it had felt perfectly natural. It was as if they had made a simple progression from touchy-feely friends to something more that they were all comfortable with.
Of course, that didn't mean they didn't need to talk about it.
"Okay," Damiano said once they were all caffeinated and fed and were just sitting around before they really started their day, "I know I broached last night as us helping each other out, but I don't think any of us are dumb enough to think it's just that if we keep going. So, do we keep going and if so, what is this; friends with benefits," he saw Victoria grimace at that term, "or something more?"
"I want to keep going."
Surprisingly it was Ethan who spoke up first. He had his stoic face on, but he sounded very sure.
"Me too," Victoria said.
Damiano looked at Thomas.
"Yeah," their youngest member agreed.
"Thank fuck," Damiano said, because he was beyond hiding what he was thinking. "And on to part two."
"If you think any of us are cut out for friends with benefits, you're the dumb one," was Victoria's succinct opinion on that one.
"That's what I feel too," Thomas said without hesitating this time.
"It's bigger than just that," Ethan said.
Damiano nodded when they all looked at him, he agreed completely. The only reason he hadn't simply declared what he was thinking is he hated the idea that his forceful nature might drag one of the others to agree to something they weren't feeling. There were four of them, this was a complex situation, no matter how simple his instincts were screaming at him it should be.
"So what is it?" he asked.
Looks were exchanged, but it was clear no one knew quite what to say.
"Can't it just be more for now?" Victoria finally asked. "So much has happened..."
She left the thought trailing.
"More is good," Damiano agreed, because he knew where she was coming from.
Their whole lives had been fundamentally altered and they were all still very much dealing with the events that had done it.
"To more," Thomas said, toasting them with his mostly empty coffee cup.
"To more," they all agreed.
Damiano was glad they had this time to be themselves and adjust because it relieved some of the pressure. He had a feeling they were all thinking along the same lines, but it wouldn't hurt to let them all get used to this new aspect of their relationship without trying to label it.
There was one thing he had been considering since the previous night though, and it seemed like a good time to get on it. He stood, taking his empty cup over to the sink and rinsing it so he could use it later. Only when he walked towards the door did the others take much notice.
"And where are you going?" Victoria asked as he headed towards the stairs.
"To google gay sex," he replied, giving her a grin, "because porn is not a good reference and that's my only experience with it. If you think you are getting all the cock around here, you can think again."
Victoria laughed loudly while Ethan looked interested.
"He's got a point," Thomas said.
Damiano was enjoying the late afternoon warmth. He mourned the fact he had to sit under an umbrella because even with modern products he would burn, but the air was just the right level of hot but not too humid. It was a beautiful day and the sun chased away his darker thoughts.
"You look like a very content cat," Thomas said and he cracked one eye open to see his friend sitting down under another umbrella a few feet away.
There were very comfortable recliners under the umbrellas, which had some sort of sensors on them that moved them with the sun. It was all very hi-tech. Damiano found it vaguely absurd because vampire and hi-tech just did not mesh in his expectations. Not that he was complaining. It meant he didn't have to get up and move every half hour or so.
"I know how to purr too," he replied with a wink and a grin.
"I think we unleashed a monster," was Thomas' response to that as he made himself comfortable.
"New things are exciting," Damiano replied, closing his eyes again.
There was a gentle breeze that moved the air just enough and he could smell the scent of flowers from the distant hillside. It felt almost idyllic.
"Do you think we should ask Sofia about the dream?" were the words that had him opening his eyes again.
He looked over to Thomas.
"Why do you ask?" he enquired.
"I went looking in the archive they gave us the link to," Thomas replied. "Y'know all the stuff we might need to know?"
Damiano nodded. He'd had a poke around it himself, but he had decided to take it slowly so he had time to adjust. As he had said, he did find new things exciting, but he was also aware that with something this fundamental to his understanding of himself he needed to take special care.
"There's nothing in it at all about sharing dreams," Thomas told him.
"And you think it might have something to do with what we did?" Damiano deduced.
"Yeah," Thomas replied.
Damiano considered it.
"I think," he said, sitting up, "we might need a band meeting."
"Look, I didn't mean to disturb you," Thomas said quickly. "We can do this later."
"I was going to get bored soon anyway," he fibbed. "Come on, this is clearly bothering you, let's find the others."
Victoria was reading a book in the lounge with Chili in her lap and Ethan was catching up on a Netflix show. Both decided Thomas had a point, which found them all sitting around one side of the kitchen table, with Damiano's phone on the other as they put through a video call to Sofia. They'd sent her a message and she'd immediately responded with the suggestion of a face to face call, so that's what they were doing.
There was a bigger screen in what they were all referring to as the therapy room, but they hadn't had the patience to figure out how to connect it to Damiano's phone.
"Hello," she greeted after they connected.
"Hey," Damiano said as the others all added something similar.
"What can I do for you?" Sofia asked.
"Something happened last night," Damiano said.
"We were hoping you could tell us if it's normal," Victoria added.
"I would be more than happy to offer my expertise," Sofia replied with one of her soft smiles. "I am assuming this was not something easily available in the archive."
"Not that we could find," Damiano replied.
"It is a very useful resource, but of course it cannot contain all our knowledge," she said. "How may I help?"
"Well the first thing you need to know is we're all still sleeping in the same bed," Victoria offered up the information. "We don't get much sleep otherwise."
"How so?" Sofia asked.
"Nightmares," Victoria said.
"The first night I had one so bad I had a panic attack," Damiano offered up in their defence.
"Would you mind if I asked what of?" Sofia enquired.
Damiano shared a look with the others. He had spoken to them about it since, but it still made part of him want to curl up and hide.
"Tera," he said, "she came here, burned, shot, she only had one eye," he wasn't sure why he mentioned that, but it had really freaked him out, "and was finishing what she started. Apparently I have a really active imagination."
"Ah, yes, the subconscious can be a very unruly place," Sofia said, her tone sympathetic, but Damiano was sure there was something underneath it as well, he just wasn't sure what. "However, I can assure you Tera will never return to touch any of you again. I was a witness to the cremation of her body and the scattering of her ashes."
That did settle something in the back of Damiano's mind that he hadn't realised was still tense.
"Thank fuck," Victoria said with vehemence.
"Indeed," Sofia replied, "she caused a great deal of pain with what she became."
"So she wasn't always like that?" Ethan asked.
They were getting off track, but Damiano couldn't say he wasn't interested as well.
"No," Sofia replied. "She was once a respected member of our community. Some may have called her a guiding light. Then she was captured by a sect of the Church. They tortured and experimented on her, declaring she was a demon. They made the fatal mistake of underestimating her, but the creature that eventually escaped, killing her tormentors on the way, was nothing like the woman of before. All that was left was madness and a desire for revenge against humanity and her own community who had not come for her."
Damiano did not know what to think. For them Tera was the terror that had changed their lives forever and kept them from sleeping soundly, but that was clearly not all she had been. He wasn't sure he liked the sudden lack of black and white in the whole situation.
"You sound like you knew her," he said, because he didn't want to think too hard.
"I did," Sofia said, "she was my teacher."
And if that wasn't a punch to the gut.
"I too came to this life through violence and she was the one who taught me all I needed to know. But the woman I knew died a long time ago and I mourned her then," Sofia went on before any of them could formulate a response. "I despised the tormented creature she became and am glad her spirit is finally free of that."
"Still can't have been easy," Thomas commented.
"I had long since ceased to think of the monster and the woman as the same being," Sofia assured them. "But, enough about me. Please, continue with what it is you wish to speak to me about."
"Okay, yeah," Victoria said, "so we're sleeping in the same bed."
"Whatever helps," Sofia said without judgement.
"Only yesterday evening we fell asleep while watching a movie," Victoria went on, "only when we woke up later … well …"
"We were having the same dream," Damiano finished for her.
"Remarkable," Sofia said, much to his surprise. "And you are sure it was the same dream, not similar ones brought on by, say, the film?"
"Oh, we're sure," Thomas said.
"It didn't have anything to do with the film," Victoria said.
Unless superhero movies were suddenly full of porn, Damiano mentally added.
"We discussed it," he said out loud, "and we were all participating in the same dream. It felt real when we were in it."
He did his very best not to think about what they had been participating in, because the last thing he needed was blood vacating his brain.
"Has it happened to others before?" Ethan asked what they were all wondering.
Sofia thought about that for a moment.
"Not in my experience," she replied, "but please, do not take that to mean it could not have. Our community has become much more organised and cohesive over the last one hundred years, but that is only a small time in our history."
"So what does it mean?" Thomas asked. "Is this because of what we did to find Victoria?"
"That could have something to do with it," Sofia agreed, "but I doubt that could be the total cause. You are in a rare situation in that you were made by the same maker at the same time and that maker is dead. You have also been through considerable trauma, physical and metaphysical, which has taken a toll on all of you. Those factors with your existing close friendship will have had an effect on the bond between you all. This is likely a coping mechanism while everything settles down."
"It's nothing to worry about then?" Damiano asked.
"As long as it is not distressing you, no," Sofia replied. "It's not, is it?"
"No, definitely not distressing," Damiano said as the others made similar denials.
"We just thought we should check," Victoria said for them all.
"A good idea," Sofia replied, "and I am always on the end of a phone if you need me. If you would like, I could consult with some of my colleagues to see if this phenomenon has been observed before."
Damiano looked at the others, who shared some glances and Ethan and Thomas shrugged. That just left him and Victoria and he gave a little head tilt to indicate he was not opposed, but she could make the final decision.
"Thank you," Victoria said, "I think it might be good to know. Sorry to have dragged you away from whatever you were doing."
"Not at all," Sofia replied. "Was there anything else?"
They all shook their heads and thank yous and goodbyes followed until they ended the call.
"Do you think we should have told her we're having sex as well?" Ethan asked as they all just sat there for a while.
"Nope," Victoria replied in a very definitive fashion.
"That's nobody's business but ours," Damiano agreed.
"Yeah," Thomas added.
"Good," Ethan said and it was discussion over.
Chapter 11: Brutta Giornata (Bad Day)
Some days are harder than others...
They were really trying to put themselves on a normal timetable, being up during the day and asleep at night, but they were vampires. Vampires were nocturnal by nature, so it was hard. So far they were managing to go to bed in the early hours followed by sleeping late. They were rock stars, it wasn't anything they hadn't done before, especially when touring, but they were also professionals and the average world did not work on rock star time.
Even when he crawled out of bed two days after they had all first had sex, Damiano knew it was going to be a long day. He just had a feeling.
Ethan was having visitors after lunch, a couple of his sisters and his dad were going to be coming, so the first thing they all did was tidy up a bit. There was a service booked to come in twice a week, but this was not one of those days. They weren't slobs by any means, but they had had sex on the couch twice the previous evening, so they threw those throws in the washing machine, and things like that.
Victoria had her first therapy session with her new vampire-approved therapist booked for later as well, which was bound to be stressful. They'd all been given options and picked who they'd like to talk to, but Victoria was the first, and having a new therapist was never an easy thing to do. It hadn't been mandatory, but they were big believers in that sometimes independent, trained help was the best way to go and they all had things they needed to talk about. Friends were great, but an outside observer could be lifesaving.
There was a screen and tablet set-up in the private room for remote sessions. Vampires didn't have to worry about the pandemic, but they had to play at life as if they did when possible to maintain their illusion of humanity.
They also had plans to do a short video for Instagram to let the fans know they were alright. The last thing they wanted was for rumours to get out of control and their management had been making noises about doing something. That was going to take some play acting and some fake bandages because humans did not heal as fast as vampires. It was all kinds of stressful, but they had decided it needed to be done.
At least they didn't have to come up with their own cover story, they just had to play into the one their new community had come up with for them.
Damiano found himself alone in the lounge after they had finished their tidying session and he knew he was thinking too hard about everything. Sometimes he couldn't help himself, so he sat down on the floor, brought his legs up so they were crossed and took a breath. He was a firm believer that sometimes you just had to take a mindfulness moment. At times he used an app, but this time he went old school and slowed his breathing down, concentrating on that.
It was a bit different meditating with vampire senses, because now, when he wasn't moving or focusing on something else, he could tell how much more he was aware of. Almost immediately he could hear the others in the house and it made him smile. Victoria was talking to Chili, Thomas was doing something on his phone, and Ethan was humming to himself with the sound of water in the background.
He felt himself relaxing into what he was doing, knowing they were safe and well. He had never felt as close to anyone as he did Victoria, Thomas and Ethan. Before they had been his closest friends, but now they were more than that, and he wasn't sure how to define it yet. He wanted to say partners, girlfriend, boyfriends, something like that, but they hadn't labelled whatever this was yet, and it felt presumptuous to just decide that by himself.
Pushing the heavy thoughts aside he let his senses bring him all the information they could. In his mind's eye he could almost see Victoria kneeling on the floor in her bedroom, playing with Chili and telling the little dog how wonderful she was. His smile widened as the simple pleasure he was witnessing. He knew it was Victoria's way of avoiding thinking about her appointment that afternoon, but that didn't stop the genuine joy of the moment.
He moved on to Thomas next and realised their guitarist was actually in the next room. Thomas was sitting at the breakfast table with his feet up on another one of the chairs and he was playing a silly matching game. Damiano had no idea what combination of senses were giving him the information, but it was almost as if he was standing right there as his mind filled in the gaps.
"Pink," he muttered to himself for no reason he could consciously fathom.
The sound of a shower door opening dragged his attention away. Ethan was still humming away to himself as he stepped under the spray. Damiano could almost see him, long hair piled up in a messy bun, broad shoulders, muscled back running down to a slim waist and pert arse. And fuck, Damiano was getting distracted.
He had seen Ethan in very little clothing and sometimes none at all many, many times, but, in the past, it had never turned him on like it did now. Having done his research just like he had said he would, he had plans, so many plans and quite a few of them involved Ethan's strong drummer's hands on his body. So far he had not broached them with the others, but he was working up to it and waiting for a few things to be delivered.
He pulled his concentration away from Ethan before he could get carried away. He had plans for Victoria and Thomas too, if they were agreeable, but they weren't currently naked, so they weren't as distracting. Switching his focus back to Victoria he noticed two things: she was no longer in her bedroom and she was no longer talking to Chili.
Opening his eyes he found himself looking at some very familiar legs.
"Having fun?" Victoria asked with a knowing grin as he looked up at her.
"Huh?" he asked.
Her grin widened and she pointed down. He followed her finger and noticed the rather prominent tent in his trousers.
"Ah," he said.
"What have you been up to, Damià?" she asked. "We just tidied, remember?"
"Well if you must know, listening to Ethan shower," he replied with his best unrepentant grin. "I was testing my senses and got distracted."
"Well a wet Ethan is a very distracting thing," Victoria agreed, "but if we invade his shower he won't have time to get ready before his family arrives, and I don't fancy being staked through the heart with a drumstick."
"That would probably hurt," he agreed.
"Table tennis?" Victoria offered as an alternative.
He was more than happy to help keep her distracted for as long as she needed, so he nodded. Unfolding his legs, he stood up and pushed the heel of his hand against his unruly cock.
"Just give me a minute to get the blood back in my brain," he said, which made Victoria laugh so loudly, Chili began barking.
Damiano was on edge the entire time Victoria was in her therapy session. He spent the whole hour in the lounge, in a position where he could see into the hall and the door to the private room. The only thing he had to be thankful for was he wasn't the only one. Thomas walked down the hallway at least twelve times and Ethan was watching Damiano watch the hallway, even if he was doing a good job of pretending to be engrossed in his phone.
When the door opened, Damiano didn't try and hide the fact he had been waiting for it, but he didn't get up. If Victoria needed space he would give it to her, they all would. She was holding Chili to her chest and she just stopped in the hallway. It was as if the world was holding its breath as she stood there, staring blankly at nothing. No one in the house made a sound.
Then Chili wiggled a little, asking to get down and that was it. Victoria's face screwed up into a mess of hurt and she began to sob.
Damiano was out of his seat far faster than was humanly possible, but he only got to Victoria just before the other two.
"Cara," he said, touching her shoulders very gently and carefully.
She buried her face in his shoulder without a word, even as Ethan took Chili. Damiano simply wound his arms around her and let her cry. Sometimes therapy was hard and, given what they'd all been through, no doubt there would be plenty more tears in all their futures.
"We're here," Thomas said and joined in the hug, throwing his arms around both of them.
Ethan was not far behind, as soon as he deposited Chili on the floor.
Victoria said nothing and none of them wanted to push her, so they remained in a mostly silent, cohesive bundle of limbs with only the odd murmur of comfort for what seemed like an age. Damiano did his very best to be strong, but he hadn't lied when he had told Victoria he was an empathic cryer. Hearing and feeling one of the dearest people in his life expressing so much pain had his eyes prickling in no time and the tears came soon after. Thomas was there ahead of him and only Ethan remained stoic.
They'd talked to each other about what had happened, what they remembered, but they had danced around some of it. Victoria's reaction seemed raw, possibly what she really needed to begin healing properly.
"I've ruined your shirt again," she eventually said, voice muffled against his shoulder.
He gave a watery laugh.
"I can cope," he promised, kissing her hair.
"But I was wearing mascara this time," she added.
Thomas snorted a tiny laugh at that.
"I'll come cry on you when I have my first session," Damiano promised, "and then we'll be even."
Victoria tried to laugh, but it turned into a hiccup and an aborted sob.
"Come on," Damiano said, "let's sit down and we can all cry in comfort."
"Anyone want tea?" Ethan asked as they partially separated so they could move into the other room.
"Thanks," Damiano said and Victoria wasn't looking up yet, but she did nod.
Ethan could be as good with words as the rest of them when he so chose, but he was much more a man of actions. He headed to the kitchen, giving Victoria a gentle kiss on the cheek before leaving.
"I'm cold," Victoria said.
"Want to head outside?" Damiano asked. "I'm sure we can get all of us on one of those loungers if we try hard enough."
The weather was hot at the moment, but the private room was air conditioned, although he doubted Victoria's chill had much to do with actual temperature.
"Yeah," she said quietly, still not looking up.
Damiano had been prepared for the current outcome, however, and pulled a wad of tissues from his pocket. Handing them out, he gently guided Victoria towards the back doors. If she wanted to talk, they would talk. If she wanted to put herself together silently in the comfort of their company, they'd do that instead. He was pretty sure he, Thomas and Ethan were in firm agreement on that point.
It had indeed been a long day with quite a lot of crying. That's why they were ensconced on Damiano's bed with popcorn, ice cream and Disney+ cued up on the TV. It was comfort-movie time.
Victoria had cried for twenty minutes after her therapy session, and Ethan had done quite a bit of crying with his family. Apparently he had exceeded his stoic limits while not melting down with Victoria. They were all talking to their families by phone and they had all given their permission for their families to be brought into the loop, but apparently having them there in person and seeing everything first hand amounted to lots of hugging and crying. That hadn't involved the rest of the band so much, but they had made sure to be ready just in case, once Ethan's family members left.
Ethan looked back to normal now, but it was impossible to tell because his stoic reserves seemed to be recharged and he had it down to an art form. Victoria was still looking delicate and no one was up for anything deep that evening. Hence drafting in Disney.
"Shit," Ethan said as they all made themselves comfortable, "my sisters were going to message me, anyone seen my phone."
"It slipped out of your pocket and between the couch cushions when we were deciding what to do before coming up here," Damiano said, before his brain caught up with his mouth.
"Oh, thanks," Ethan said, scooting off the bed and jogging out of the room.
"Damiano, if you saw him lose his phone earlier, why didn't you tell him then?" Victoria asked in a mock serious tone.
He just looked at her for a moment as he traced back over his thought processes.
"Would you believe I didn't know I knew that until I said it?" he asked when he came up with nothing.
"Given the look on your face, yes," Thomas replied and crowed in victory as he managed to swipe the remote.
"All your thoughts get pushed out by pictures of Ethan's arse again?" Victoria said with an innocent smile.
"Hey," was Damiano's best comeback.
Given that Victoria was actually smiling, he was willing to be the butt of the joke. Then he realised what he had just thought and facepalmed at himself.
Chapter 12: Piacere (Pleasure)
Sometimes research pays off.
Time to earn more of that rating ;) .
"Dam, you've got a parcel," Thomas yelled up the stairs.
Damiano took the stairs in two jumps on his way down. Occasionally it was fun to use vampire advantages, and they were supposed to be adapting, so he counted it as practice. What he was actually doing was making sure he got to the parcel before any of his curious bandmates did, because he wanted to make sure he opened it.
"What have you been buying that's got you so excited?" Thomas asked as he bounced into the kitchen where the parcel was sitting on the table.
"Fun things," he replied with a grin.
"Is it just me or is he getting worse?" Thomas asked with a put-upon sigh.
"He just seems louder now," Victoria replied, laughing when Damiano gave her a one finger salute.
"See if I share now," he said, doing his best impression of a six-year-old.
The parcel was a plain white box with the false name he used for deliveries from sources he wasn't sure whether to trust. This was one delivery he would rather not appear in the tabloids.
Victoria pouted at him.
"Fuck it, I am weak," he said in his most dramatic fashion and grabbed a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer, beckoning them both over as he did so.
"Did I hear something about sharing?" Ethan asked, walking in just as Damiano was slicing through the packing tape. "That looks like a very discrete box."
"It does, doesn't it," Damiano replied, unsurprised that Ethan had noticed the details.
He flipped open the flaps on the box with dramatic timing to reveal packing peanuts and various cartons inside.
"Sex toys," Victoria said. "You went on a sex toy spending spree?"
"Well it's not like any of us have anything here," he replied, "and I was looking for specific things, but then I thought it would be unfair to get just what I wanted, and then I got carried away."
"How much did you buy?" Thomas asked.
"Like I said, carried away," he responded and pulled at the corner of what he was pretty sure was the thing he had gone on the site to buy in the first place.
The set was a deep purple and consisted of three anal plugs from small to medium and an anal dildo.
"From your research?" Victoria asked.
"I was hoping someone would use these on me," he replied even as the anticipation curled around in hot streaks in his belly, "and well, then, if that goes well … maybe …"
He didn't want to pressure anyone into anything.
"Everything in here had good reviews," he added rather lamely.
"When were you thinking of?" Ethan asked, giving him a small smile.
"Tonight?" he suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Ethan replied and Damiano felt his cock twitch at just the inference.
"Great," he managed to say.
He was never going to survive the afternoon, at least not with all his blood in his brain.
"What is this?" Thomas interrupted his contemplations, holding up another package.
"Oh, that's for Vic," Damiano said, looking at it. "One website I found was raving about them. It's a suction vibrator."
"Ooh," Victoria said, grabbing it from Thomas, "I've read about these, but never bought one."
"This must be for Vic too," Ethan commented, pulling out a strap on.
"Actually, that came with two attachments, one of which is hollow," Damiano said, "but mostly, yeah, I picked that up for Vic. Only seemed fair."
"Thank you, Damià," Victoria said and dragged him down so she could peck him on the cheek.
"No offence," he said when she let him go, "but I'd rather start with a real cock. Not going to lie, that intimidates the hell out of me."
"We've got plenty of time," she replied with a wink and a grin.
Heat rushed south at the look in her eyes.
"Anal beads," Thomas said, holding up the two sets Damiano had added to his order.
"Figured everyone might enjoy those," he said with a shrug.
"I love anal beads," Ethan said. "Oh, and a prostate massager."
"By that point I was mostly thinking, why the hell not," Damiano replied.
"How much lube did you buy?" Thomas asked as he came back with two tubes and two bottles.
"One of those is sex toy cleaner," Damiano said, "but the others were supposed to be good for different things. There's also two blindfolds, a dildo, several more things that vibrate and some sex aids."
"Was there anything you didn't buy?" Victoria asked with a laugh.
"Sooo much," he replied with an answering grin. "I figured it would be better to talk about the kinkier stuff first."
"We could just raid some of our stage costumes for that," Thomas commented and Damiano snorted with laughter.
"I am not wearing a corset for sex," he said in a resolute tone.
"Not even if I ask you nicely?" Victoria said in her sexiest voice.
For a second Damiano forgot how to think.
"Please wait, caller while we connect you," Thomas laughed.
"You all suck," was his incredibly witty response to that.
"For that you have to ask nicely," Ethan commented and Damiano had a sinking feeling he was going to be hard all damn day, from innuendos if nothing else.
Damiano spent over half an hour in the shower. It was utterly ridiculous, but he needed to make sure he was so clean he was almost sparkling. Some of the things he had ordered had been to make that part easier. Luckily for him, vampire skin didn't show up excess scrubbing or he probably would have looked a little red on the edges.
He walked out of the bathroom with a towel slung low on his hips, trying to look nonchalant, because he already knew Ethan was waiting for him. He'd heard him enter the bedroom while he was drying off.
"You can change your mind," Ethan said, which kind of gave him a hint that he was missing nonchalant by a long way.
Ethan stood up from where he was sitting on the edge of the bed in just a loose pair of pyjama pants and walked up to him.
"I don't want to change my mind," Damiano replied, allowing Ethan to capture the base of his neck in strong fingers. "I'm just nervous."
"I will look after you," Ethan said, leaning in and placing the lightest of kisses on his lips, "we all will."
"I know," he replied and let Ethan pull him into a much deeper kiss.
He opened his mouth, swirling the tip of his tongue around Ethan's, before sucking gently. Closing his eyes, he sank into the feeling of lips and tongue and Ethan's hand running down his side and over his covered arse. Ethan pulled away from his mouth, kissing across his jaw and down his neck and he went with it. What Ethan wanted, Ethan could have, after all that was the point of the evening.
When Ethan moved behind him, he leaned into the drummer's sculpted body, allowing his head to loll to the side. Ethan's lips were soft on the skin under his ear. Ethan's hands were firm and sure as they roamed over his chest and upper body. It made his insides tremble in a way he hadn't been sure they would. Warmth pooled in his lower regions as his cock began to fill, twitching against his towel.
It was a noise that finally made him open his eyes, which was when he discovered they had an audience.
"You don't have to stop on our account," Victoria said, from where she was standing just in front of Thomas in the doorway.
Damiano felt the flutter of nerves again under her hot gaze. Usually it only excited him, but the uncertainty of what they had planned refused to let his anxiety die completely as Victoria's excited eyes reminded him. He held out his hand, silently inviting both of them in, even as Ethan kissed right over the scar on his neck. A little whine constricted his throat as he full-body shuddered.
They each had a scar, albeit that they were incredibly hard to see. His and Thomas' would have been large and jagged had they scarred like a normal human, both on their throats. Ethan's was on his right arm, also large. Victoria's was on her neck as well, but it was almost delicate in comparison. Apparently the psycho bitch had had different standards for men and women.
Ethan's lips on his sensitive skin sent shorts of electricity straight to Damiano's cock.
"Want us to take you apart, Damià?" Victoria whispered in his ear as she took his invitation, pushing herself against him. "Take you apart until you're ready for Ethan's beautiful cock? Ready to be wrecked in the best way?"
Her voice was husky and so very sexy, and it went right to the core of him.
"Fuck, yes," he said, but it disappeared into a gasp as Thomas flicked his unpeirced nipple with a blunt fingernail.
His only choice was to surrender.
With all of them touching him, kissing him, he completely forgot to be nervous. The whole experience was too sensual and encompassing. He closed his eyes, choosing not to try and figure out whose hands were doing what, simply experiencing. One second he was kissing Victoria, then Thomas, then Ethan and he let it happen.
Someone pulled his towel away and he heard other garments being shed as they went along. Every time he tried to reach out and touch the others, he was gently urged back into the passive role, distracted by a deliberate caress or cheeky kiss. It was a little bit maddening, but utterly wonderful at the same time.
"Bed?" Thomas suggested after Damiano had no idea how long.
He finally opened his eyes again, but went with whatever the others wanted. As he was eased down onto the bed on his back, the nerves tingled in his belly again, but he soon lost them as the touches and kisses came back.
"Let us know if there is anything you don't like," Victoria told him, even as she licked a stripe over his nipple and tugged on the hoop through it with her teeth.
Making an affirmative noise was the best he could do as what little blood was left in his brain seemed to vacate for pastures further south.
As Thomas claimed his mouth and Ethan caressed his thigh, Victoria took it up a notch, wrapping her fingers around his already hard cock. Groaning into the kiss, his hips bucked weakly, pushing his erection deeper into her hold. He began to suspect they had a plan when Ethan used the distraction to lift up his knee for him and pull it slightly to the side. He barely had time to notice before any thoughts in his head were derailed by Victoria giving him a firm stroke.
This was not quite how he had envisaged the evening going, but like hell was he going to remotely complain. Part of him couldn't help thinking that he was not pulling his weight in the proceedings, but, given that none of his lovers seemed to want him to, he decided he would have to pay them back later.
Given how completely distracted he was, it was only a lubricated finger brushing over his hole that clued him into the fact they were moving on to the next step. He'd fingered himself before, since he made it a rule never to ignore an erogenous zone, but it wasn't something he'd ever done with a partner.
He broke away from Thomas' kiss for a moment, needing to breathe and his eyes met Ethan's. The drummer's gaze was dark and sexy and completely encompassing, even as he slowly moved his finger, gently teasing Damiano's hole.
With perfect deliberation, eyes never leaving Damiano's, Ethan pushed firmly against Damiano's rim. For a second he wasn't sure his body would allow it, but the lubricated finger slipped inside. He gasped. Thomas took the opportunity to reclaim his mouth, swallowing the sound and Damiano whined as he was stimulated in too many places.
For a while he lost track again, surrendering to everything they were doing to him. It felt strange to be breached, but it also hit erotic buttons he hadn't been fully aware of until there was something moving inside of him that was nothing to do with him.
Ethan was being so damn gentle with him too, and that was doing it for him as well. It occurred to him that he was fucked, figuratively as well as soon to be literally. The new experience was totally doing a number on him and he was along for the ride.
When Ethan crooked his finger and dragged the pad over what Damiano was pretty sure was his prostate he almost bucked Victoria right off from where she was laying along his side. He moaned into Thomas' mouth.
"I think he likes that," Victoria said with a low, sexy laugh.
He would have told her exactly what he thought of that comment, but he was too busy having his brain melted.
Victoria began teasing the end of his cock with her fingers, brushing lightly over the sensitive tip while Ethan worked him open. One finger became two with generous amounts of lube and it felt fucking amazing. However, when Thomas decided to take up playing with his nipples where Victoria had stopped at exactly the same time Ethan deliberately rubbed past his prostate, he almost came.
"Too much," he gasped out.
Everything instantly stopped and he sagged for a moment.
"You okay?" Ethan asked, carefully withdrawing his fingers, which made Damiano whine in loss.
"Just … all of you … too much," he said, but words were kind of hard.
"He can barely talk, we're definitely doing something right," Thomas commented.
The best Damiano could do was make a derisive noise at that.
"How about Thomas and I leave you in Ethan's capable hands?" Victoria suggested. "After all, we don't want you melting down quite yet and this is something I wouldn't mind watching."
That was so unfair as that comment turned his insides to molten metal.
"I think he approves of that idea," Thomas said and Damiano realised he had made a very debauched sound without even consciously registering it.
As Victoria's and Thomas' hands left him, part of him didn't like it, but most of him sagged in relief. While having all of them focused on him at the same time had been phenomenal, it had been overloading. It had helped him relax into the evening, but he also didn't want to miss any of the new parts. He gave them a smile as they withdrew to the other side of the bed, relaxing against each other, eyes on him and Ethan.
"Want me to get the toys?" Ethan asked, stroking up the back of Damiano's raised thigh.
It wasn't an unexpected question since that had been the general plan, but he found himself shaking his head.
"Just you," he said as he went with what he was feeling rather than any higher thoughts, "please."
"Okay," Ethan replied, giving him a small smile, "but I'll need to open you up some more with my fingers first."
Damiano nodded before letting his head fall back onto the bed. More lube and more fingers and Damiano lost himself in the delicious burn as his body gave in to Ethan's firm, but careful touch. He was more than happy to acquiesce to Ethan's greater experience.
He really had no idea how long Ethan worked him open, only that he didn't like it when Ethan withdrew his fingers completely. It took him a second to realise his lover had deemed him ready.
"Up," Ethan urged gently, guiding Damiano to lift his hips.
As Ethan slipped a pillow under his backside and the base of his back, Damiano felt his face heating up. This felt like another level, almost as if he was on display, especially with the other two watching as well.
Ethan leaned over him, between his spread legs, catching his mouth in a quick, sweet kiss.
"Okay?" Ethan asked.
"Yeah," Damiano replied, voice cracking as he tried to speak.
"Tell me if it hurts," Ethan told him, "immediately."
He nodded as the flutter of nerves came back full force.
He couldn't take his eyes off Ethan as the drummer sat back and deftly slicked himself up. Damiano hadn't let himself dwell on how well endowed Ethan was before, not wanting to psyche himself out, but it was kind of hard to miss now.
Ethan lined himself up before meeting Damiano's eyes once more. Damiano gave the slightest of nods.
Blunt slick heat, that was the first thought that came at him as Ethan carefully started to push in.
"Mother of god," he whispered as he felt his body opening up around Ethan's glorious cock.
It didn't exactly hurt, but it wasn't what he would have called comfortable, only he definitely didn't want Ethan to stop.
This was not what Damiano had expected. It wasn't just feeling Ethan sliding into him, although that was fucking phenominal. It was what it was doing to him on other levels as well. The vulnerability, the surrender, the intimacy. He couldn't begin to explain it in his head or out loud. He had had sex plenty of times, but this felt so very different.
Legs spread, cock hard and throbbing, he stared up at Ethan, all hard muscle and perfect control, and he melted inside. He felt so open and full and that pushed buttons he had never had pushed before, not just physical ones.
"Okay?" Ethan checked.
Damiano nodded, because his voice kept getting lost somewhere in what he was feeling.
"Please," was about all he could manage and he was glad Ethan seemed to get it.
The slick slide, the very slight pull, the feeling of Ethan's strong hands holding his legs, it was all amazing. Damiano loved sex, he was good at sex, but nothing had prepared him for this.
As Ethan began to move properly, even though it was slow, Damiano whined and moaned as his body relaxed further to accept the movement. The glide of slick hard cock inside him, married with the amazing sight of Ethan's magnificent, taught muscles rippling under smooth skin was frying the few brain cells he had left.
If that wasn't enough to melt every muscle in his body to water, after a few thrusts, Ethan shifted slightly and changed angle and Damiano cried out as his lover nailed his prostate. Being a drummer, Ethan knew all about rhythm, and Damiano could only surrender to the one Ethan chose this time.
It started slow, encouraging the arousal coursing through Damiano's body with warming sparks, but it built, bit by bit as Ethan seemed to read him perfectly. His cock bounced, full and heavy and untouched as each thrust filled and almost emptied him. He really couldn't think anymore. Reaction after reaction was drawn out of him and he didn't even try to control any of it.
When Ethan reached for his cock, he knew that was it.
One touch, that was all it took. Ethan's fingers wrapping around his shaft, stroking over the head and he was gone. He came so hard he literally saw stars and a litany of curses fell from his lips, because nothing else could get close to what he was feeling. His nerves lit up with rivulets of fire as his balls tightened and he shot rivulets of milky come all over his own chest. The way his anal muscles clamped down and quivered around Ethan's gloriously thick cock sent aftershock followed by aftershock through him.
It almost felt like an out of body experience.
Ethan, the complete gentleman that he was, stayed perfectly still until Damiano finally stopped shuddering, eventually gently pulling out as Damiano lay there in a wrecked daze. Only as Ethan moved and Damiano slowly came down did he realise he was crying.
"You okay?" Victoria asked, scooting over to him on the bed.
He nodded. He couldn't for the life of him work out why he was crying, but he couldn't stop either. Given that he managed something of a strangled laugh as well, he realised his reactions were all messed up. Apparently the intimacy of anal sex did a number on him, although he was also pretty sure it had more to do with who and why than what had been going on.
Part of him was yelling at him that no one else had come yet, but when Ethan moved round beside him and crowded in for what could only be called a cuddle, Damiano went with it. Victoria grabbed some tissues off the side cupboard and cleaned him up and he couldn't even put it together enough to help with that.
He did catch Thomas giving him a thoughtful look, but the best he could do with that was beckon-in the younger man as well. They snuggled up in a random, naked pile of limbs and it was perfect. Damiano decided that as soon as his brain started working properly again he would figure out how to say thank you in a very physical way to each of them, starting with Ethan. Maybe they could actually get to the toys this time. One advantage of vampire metabolisms that they had discovered pretty quickly was a much shorter refractory period. He was pretty sure it was going to take him a few minutes though.
Chapter 13: Comunicare (Communicate)
It's good to make time to talk.
They'd had a great morning playing music and working on a new song before breaking for lunch. Damiano had decided to take a nap in the garden afterwards. It was rapidly becoming one of his favourite places to just chill out and the recliners really were comfortable. Chili had decided to join him for the duration, so they were comfortably sharing a spot in the shade.
When he heard someone walking across the grass he didn't have to open his eyes to know it was Thomas. He was slowly getting used to the fact that he never had any trouble telling where any of the others were these days, especially when they were close. It was one of those things he chalked up to vampire senses and decided not to worry about it.
"Hey," Thomas said.
"Hey, yourself," Damiano replied, peering at his friend and lover over the top of his sunglasses.
"Mind if we talk?" Thomas asked.
The way he was moving slowly from foot to foot gave Damiano a clue that Thomas was unsure and this was probably going to be a serious conversation.
"Sure," Damiano said, sitting up, pulling his legs up and shifting Chili a little so Thomas could sit on the end of the sun-lounger. "What's on your mind?"
Thomas sat down, picking at his nails in a clear indication he was trying to decide how to start. Damiano gave Chili a quick head scratch and waited for Thomas to be ready.
"Are you bi now?" the younger man finally asked, bringing his face around to look at Damiano.
"Because of last night?" Damiano replied, because he needed a moment to process that.
"Well I'm definitely not one hundred percent straight," he said, because it wasn't a question he'd asked himself. "I'm not sure, honestly. I think it might just be you and Ethan that I'm into when it comes to guys, but I couldn't give you a firm answer. I've always been curious, but whereas I know most girls do it for me, that's not true for guys. Maybe I need that connection with a guy before my sex drive takes notice. I'm discovering quite a lot about myself at the moment to tell the truth. When I figure it out, I'll let you know."
"You looked really into it last night," Thomas said.
"I was, it was fucking amazing," Damiano replied completely openly, that part was easy. "On just the physical side if felt so good, but psychologically, fuck, it blew my mind."
"Why?" was the quiet and genuinely curious question.
"It's hard to put into words," he said after a few moments of thinking about it. "I think partly because I was giving up the control, I was the one being vulnerable, but the bigger part was that it was Ethan I was letting have me. Sex is great, but with you guys, it's not just sex."
Thomas nodded as if he understood that, but went back to contemplating his nails.
"Why," Damiano prompted gently, eventually, when it became clear Thomas didn't know how to go on, "is all this making you reconsider too?"
A rather undecided frown came his way at that.
"I've always been sure I was straight," Thomas said. "Even with us, Vic's always been there in the middle of everything and I thought it was seeing/touching her and seeing you guys with her that was turning me on. I mean I like kissing you and Ethan, it's fun and it feels good, and, fuck, Ethan's hands sound be classed as a deadly weapon…"
"Yeah," Damiano agreed.
"... and when you sucked me off the other day it was amazing, but Vic's always been in the mix," Thomas went on.
Damiano nodded, he got that.
"But then last night, it wasn't me and Vic, or you and Vic, or Ethan and Vic," Thomas admitted, "it was Ethan and you, and it was one of the hottest things I have ever seen. I was so hard it hurt and me and Vic were barely touching each other."
"And that confused you?" Damiano checked.
Thomas gave a nod and looked at him again.
"You know, being turned on by gay sex doesn't have to mean you're gay or bi or anything you don't want to be," Damiano said.
"It wasn't just that I liked watching it," Thomas told him.
"Oh," Damiano caught on, "you wanted to try it."
"I'm not sure if I want to … well … I mean, god, the look on your face … but I'm not sure I could …"
Damiano put his hand on Thomas'.
"None of us would ever force you to do something you weren't comfortable with," he assured the younger man. "You don't have to like everything. We'll do our best to give you whatever you need. If you decided you wanted to try it later on, I would be more than happy to help, and I am almost positive Ethan would too, but I'm getting the impression you're much more interested in providing the cock for the enterprise."
He saw Thomas' lips twitch at his choice of words.
"Do you ever say anything the easy way?" Thomas complained.
"It's more fun this way," Damiano replied.
He was pleased to see Thomas' shoulders relaxing a little at this light tone.
"Then yes," Thomas said after a moment, "I would very much like to provide the cock to fuck you through the mattress."
"I'm sure we can arrange that," Damiano said with a grin, "but right now it's too hot."
"Wish we had a pool," Thomas agreed with a laugh.
"Wouldn't be able to use it without turning into a lobster anyway," Damiano bemoaned.
Damiano leaned against Thomas' back where the younger man was kneeling on the bed. They were both naked and the touch of skin on skin sent shivers of delight through Damiano. He could never get enough of the others, they were like an addiction. One he never wanted to break.
"Beautiful aren't they," he whispered in Thomas' ear.
"Hmm," Thomas agreed, eyes locked on where Ethan had his head between Victoria's legs.
She had her thighs spread wide and, although Damiano couldn't see exactly what Ethan was doing, Victoria was definitely appreciating it. The noises she was making were positively filthy.
They hadn't started the evening off with sex in mind, but that's what they'd fallen into, and it had probably been his fault. It had been a couple of days since his talk with Thomas and they hadn't talked about it again yet.
Damiano had had his second therapy session that morning, with his second therapist. To say he and his first choice had not gelled would have been an understatement. Everything the woman had said had rubbed him up the wrong way and he hadn't even been sure why, hence moving to his second choice. This session had gone better. It had been hard and there had been tears, but he had felt better for it.
When they had decided on trying for another movie night, he had been completely on board. He'd even watched the first part of the film. However, the day had worn him out and he'd started to doze off. In turn he'd slipped down where he had been leaning against Victoria. When he'd opened his eyes again he'd been nose to nipple with Victoria's lovely pert breast, even if it had been covered in a thin t-shirt, and he hadn't been able to resist.
Given how fast everyone had gotten naked, he was pretty sure he wasn't the only one who had been horny.
How they'd come to their current arrangement on the bed, Damiano couldn't honestly say, but it had involved sucking Ethan's cock and a lot of kissing, he did know that much. The show Ethan and Victoria were giving was well worth taking a short break to appreciate. Especially since he got to appreciate Thomas at the same time.
Kissing up the side of Thomas' neck, he kept his eyes on Ethan and Victoria, enjoying the assault on his senses. The room smelled heavily of sex and sweat. He could taste all of their arousal in the air. Thomas made the most delightful, small appreciative sounds which harmonised so well with the louder noises Victoria was making. Heat seeped into his skin from where he was touching Thomas. And his sight was almost overloaded with the beautiful creation in front of him.
That included Thomas as Damiano leaned up and over his lover. He could just see Thomas' erection standing proud, glistening at the tip, wet with pre-come. He would have liked to taste that too, but he satisfied himself with running his tongue over the salty skin of Thomas' neck. Thomas leaned into him, so he rewarded the move with the lightest of nips.
Thomas gasped and his hips bucked forward. Damiano saw his companion's dick bob, twitching in a very distinct manner at the same time.
"Want some help with that?" he whispered in Thomas' ear.
Ethan's gaze flicked up at them at that, but he was far too busy to keep his attention on them for long.
"Yes," Thomas whispered back.
Damiano wound his arms around the younger man, pulling him back against him so their bodies were flush. His own erection slid against Thomas' backside and he bit his lip to prevent the moan that threatened. He wanted this to be about Thomas, not him. Reaching round, he ran his fingers along the crease of Thomas' hip until he slipped them round and under his lover's balls. Thomas pushed back against him, startling a short gasp out of him as the movement stimulated his cock. He reciprocated with a gentle squeeze, thumb over the base of Thomas' shaft and fingers spread over his already heavy balls.
Returning his lips to Thomas' neck, he kissed in tandem with moving his hand. He touched lightly, dancing his fingers up Thomas' cock until he reached the tip, playing and dragging the tip of his finger through the slick droplet there and down over the prominent slit.
Thomas moaned, louder this time, bringing up his hand to lace it through Damiano's hair. Damiano rewarded him again, with a tiny nip. Thomas bucked into his hand.
"Fuck," Thomas whispered.
"You like that?" Damiano asked, keeping his voice low and sexy.
"Uh-hu," was the immediate response.
Their interaction was suspended for a moment as Victoria dragged back their attention, moaning with complete abandon and spreading her legs even wider. One of Ethan's hands was no longer on her thighs, but between them. For a moment Damiano wished he had a better vantage point, until Thomas pushed back against him and reminded him that they had been busy.
He moved his fingers, gliding up and over Thomas' tip, then back down, while kissing, licking and nibbling along the side of Thomas' neck.
It wasn't long before Thomas was competing quite nicely with Victoria for who could make the most debauched noises. As Ethan coaxed Victoria towards her orgasm, Damiano urged Thomas closer and closer to his. It wasn't a race, more a symphony of the senses as the pure sexuality of it all built and built.
"Bite me," were the words that almost caused Damiano to falter.
So far the only time any of them had explicitly used their vampire nature during sex was that first time with Victoria and him, and the request caught Damiano off guard. He had never bitten anyone before either.
"Please, Damiano, please," Thomas begged. "I need…"
Thomas ran out of words, but his fingers tightened in Damiano's hair. He flashed back to their talk the other afternoon. He had promised to try and give Thomas whatever he needed. He wanted to give all of his lovers everything he could and this was a direct request.
"Let me know when you're about to come," he whispered back, returning his hand to its previous rhythm.
Damiano had never let his vampire nature out during sex, at least not deliberately, but he called it forward now. If he had thought his senses were sharp normally, it was nothing compared to the clarity they provided as his other self was revealed. He buried his nose in Thomas' neck, narrowing down his focus onto just him. Thomas moaned, long and deep, clearly reacting to Damiano's power. It was such a needy sound.
"Now," Thomas said, "fuck, now."
Damiano called on his vampire nature that little bit harder, the part he had not yet done consciously. It was the weirdest sensation as his fangs descended in his jaw, but this time there was no pain. In fact it felt natural, like part of him was coming alive rather than being forced into being.
Following instincts he had, so far, only felt a reflection of, he opened his mouth and bit the willing flesh in front of him.
The taste of blood hit his tongue and he was instantly swamped with pure pleasure from within and without. It was like the hit he had received off the blood carton on the first day in the house, only about a thousand times stronger, so much more intimate and personal, and his own body was generating ecstasy at the same time as well. He wasn't prepared for any of it.
Up, down, left, right; they lost all meaning as pure pleasure ravaged his system.
Thomas was right there, a bright, blinding flash of bliss washing over him, and almost as close there were Victoria and Ethan. He couldn't not reach out to them, almost like when they dreamed. Pleasures mixed and expanded and, for a while, took away all thought.
A tiny, tiny sliver of Damiano's mind wondered if he should be afraid, but the rest couldn't imagine why.
Chapter 14: Rapporto (Rapport)
The group need to find out what happened.
It was a while before Damiano's higher brain decided that functioning might be worth it again.
He blinked and tried to convince his cognitive functions to cooperate with his senses properly. The first thing he noticed was the taste of blood in his mouth. Definitely pleasant, but unhelpful. The second was that he was lying flat on his back. This was slowly followed by an ache in his back and the realisation that he was lying on the carpet, not the bed.
Thomas was hanging over the side of the bed, staring at him, looking dazed.
"You okay?" Thomas asked.
The best Damiano could do was make a noise of agreement because most of his thoughts were still scattered by the echoes of pleasure rippling through his body. Ethan's head appeared next to Thomas.
"How did you get down there?" was the drummer's enquiry.
That was a harder question, because Damiano had no idea. Given the very slight ache, he assumed he had fallen, but he couldn't exactly say when or how.
"Check he remembers his name," Victoria's voice floated from on high, "because, holy fuck, I didn't for a while there."
He could relate, but he didn't really appreciate the laugh that came along with the pronouncement.
Thomas reached down and offered him a hand, which he took and carefully sat up.
"That was a rush," he finally managed to put some words together.
"Yeah," Thomas agreed.
Only as he moved did Damiano realise he was a bit of a mess. His abs were covered in smeared come that was beginning to dry. Which led to the questions, when had that happened and how long had he been on the floor? He noticed several other things as well, not least of which were that, for a start, the bed was a wreck with holes in the sheets, as if someone, or more than one someone, had ripped through them in several places, and each of them was pretty wrecked too.
"Shower?" he asked.
"Don't wanna move," Victoria said from where she was still sprawled bonelessly towards the other side of the bed.
"Not sure my legs work," Thomas agreed.
"And while those are both valid points," Damiano replied, "I am decidedly sticky, so I'm betting you are too, and Vic, you've got jizz in your hair."
"What?" Victoria sat up sounding less than pleased.
She glared at him and Thomas and it was definitely one of their faults since Ethan had been in entirely the wrong place to be responsible, but there was no way Damiano was taking responsibility.
"You were closest," he said, dumping Thomas right in it.
"And you had your hand on my dick," Thomas countered.
"Then I will apologise and wash Vic's hair for her if she will let me," he responded, accepting his fate, "but right now, ugh, shower."
"Don't we need to talk about what happened?" Ethan asked as Damiano climbed to his feet.
"Shower first, talk later," Victoria decided for them.
Since Damiano still needed to get his head straight, he was glad she agreed with him. He grabbed Thomas' hand and dragged him towards the bathroom too. He was feeling a bit possessive and he wasn't up to arguing with himself, even though that was new. Desperate, needy, wanting, protective were all emotions he would freely admit to, but possessive wasn't usually in his repertoire, not within the group. He put it down to blood and vampires and went with it.
"We're all getting in the same shower?" Ethan asked, as Victoria followed.
"Apparently," Victoria replied.
It was a bit of a squeeze even given the large shower cubicle, but they managed. Damiano washed Victoria's hair for her and gave her a head massage, and he washed Thomas' for him too, because there was blood on the ends. Ethan had his beautiful dark mane up in a bun and declined when Damiano offered, so did not get his hair washed or his scalp massaged.
Hence Damiano went back to Thomas. The punctures he had made on the other man's neck were nothing but little white marks already and even fading from that, but when he sucked on them Thomas' legs went weak, so Damiano counted that as a win.
"There's not enough room in here for sex with four of us," Victoria said, even as Damiano grinned in self-congratulation. "And we need to talk about what happened before anyone gets carried away. I do not want to see if vampires can drown because we all pass out in the shower."
Damiano growled and whined a little, but they did pile out of the shower. When they made it into the other room, Ethan pulled the discarded duvet over the wrecked bed and they all climbed back on so they could sit comfortably and talk. Damiano made himself comfortable towards the headboard and dragged Thomas to him to use as a cuddle cushion.
"Comfortable?" Victoria asked, eyeing them both.
"It was the blood okay?" Damiano replied. "Apparently when I drink from someone I'm a possessive bastard. So be warned."
"I don't mind," Thomas said, relaxing against him with a smile.
"Speaking of blood," Victoria said, "what the hell happened?"
"Pleasure overload," Thomas said. "I didn't think it was possible to come hard enough to pass out, but I stand corrected."
"It felt like a gestalt," Ethan said, tucking his long legs up underneath him. "Everything kept circulating between us and that seemed to make it bigger and bigger."
"That's what it felt like to me too," Damiano put in. "Like reflections that merged and magnified until there was nothing but pleasure left."
The other two made noises of agreement as well.
"It was mind blowing," Victoria said with something of a distant look on her face.
For a while they fell into companionable silence.
"Anyone seen this mentioned in the archive?" Victoria finally asked.
"No," Damiano said at the same time Thomas and Ethan expressed similar sentiments.
"Could it be like the dream?" Thomas asked.
"Maybe," Victoria mused.
"I think we need to talk to Sofia about this," Damiano said as he thought it through.
"That would mean telling her we're having sex," Victoria pointed out.
"She's psychic, she probably knows already," Thomas said, trying to make a joke out of it.
Victoria gave their youngest member a hard stare for that.
"She wouldn' tell anyone else," Damiano said, "and this might just be us being us, but we should make sure."
What they were to each other was private and they had all learned that the fewer people who knew about private things the better in their line of work. However, Damiano trusted Sofia. They hadn't talked much, but she had helped them find Victoria and that counted for a huge amount in his book.
"When were you thinking of?" Victoria asked, a small frown maring her brow.
"Now?" Damiano suggested with a shrug. "It's not late yet and I know I'll sleep better if we have an idea of what happened."
Victoria shared a glance with Thomas and Ethan. She did not look comfortable.
"I don't mind calling her alone," Damiano said as the others hesitated. "It would probably be less awkward, and I could fill you in afterwards."
"Okay," Victoria said after a few more moments of heavy looks, "I say yes. What do you two think?"
Thomas shrugged where he was leaning against Damiano's chest.
"I don't mind," he said, "whatever the rest of you think."
"We need to know," was Ethan's opinion on the matter.
"Just, Damià, remember to put some clothes on first," Victoria said, breaking the tension nicely.
He stuck his middle finger up at her and tried to convince himself he should get a move on and let Thomas go.
"Hello, Damiano," Sofia greeted, "how are you today?"
"Good," he replied, "thanks. You?"
"Very well, thank you," she told him. "I have been having a couple of days off, since no one has had need of my services."
"Oh, sorry to have disturbed you," he said.
"Not at all," she assured him with a smile, "I am always happy to talk. What is it you wished to talk about?"
Damiano sat back, leaving the phone propped on the table.
"Something happened," he revealed, "something a bit like the dream, only different."
"And you're worried about it?" Sofia asked.
"Not exactly worried," he replied, "just confused. It was good, amazingly good actually, but it caught us by surprise."
"Go on," she nodded.
It was crunch time. He took a deep breath.
"There's one thing you need to know first," he explained, "we're not just sleeping in the same bed, we're sleeping with each other."
He could have been more graphic to get his point across, but for some reason he shied away from that when it came to Sofia. It made no sense, after all Sofia was a lot older than he was, but he had far more to worry about than that tiny aberration of his psyche.
"For fun and relaxation, or for deeper reasons?" Sofia asked, completely not shocked by his revelation.
"Deeper reasons," he told her. "All four of us."
"If it is not too personal a question," Sofia said, "were any of you having physical relations with each other before Tera's attack?"
"No, we were just friends," he replied. "We were close, very touchy feely friends, but none of us were sleeping together. It's been a near thing a couple of times, but we never crossed that line until now."
"Thank you," Sofia said and gave him another of her smiles. "Now, what is it that has happened?"
Damiano took a deep breath. He didn't usually have a problem talking about sexual things, but he was finding this conversation somewhat difficult.
"We were having sex earlier," was as close as he seemed able to get to anything more explicit, "and Thomas asked me to bite him."
"Had you bitten him previously?" Sofia asked.
"I'd never bitten anyone before," he admitted. "At the time it seemed like a natural progression, but when …" he faltered for a second as the memory of the moment flashed through his head in vivid detail. "When I bit him, it was as if our pleasure combined and amplified and pulled in Vic and Ethan as well. The only way I can describe it is mindblowing, and we lost time."
Sofia's eyes opened in surprise for a moment before she smiled.
"Congratulations," she said, clearly pleased about something, "you achieved rapport."
"Rapport?" he asked. "I don't remember seeing anything about that in the archive."
"Yes, well, the archive has its limitations," Sofia replied with a light chuckle. "Rapport is something talked about only in private and I am almost sure there are many members of our community who do not believe it is possible at all."
"Okay," he said.
"Rapport is a moment between loving couples, or in your case all four of you, where the individuals' vampire natures rise and almost become one. Pleasure is shared so completely it reflects between those involved to create a resonance of ecstasy," Sofia explained.
"So why don't some believe it can be done?" Damiano asked.
"Because they are incapable of giving of themselves in such a way to make it possible," Sofia told him. "It requires a level of trust and synchronicity which can be incredibly hard to reach. Some couples take years, decades even, to achieve it."
His instinct was to ask, 'Then how did we manage it?' but he suspected there would be no clear answer, and he had a couple of ideas of his own.
"Are we moving too fast?" was what he asked in the end. "Could this be bad for us?"
"What do you feel?" Sofia asked and sounded just like his therapist for a second.
Only when she asked the question, it seemed like it was deeper somehow, given her abilities. Damiano sighed and pushed his darker thoughts away, doing his best not to let his paranoia get in the way of his consideration.
"I feel there is nowhere I can fall that someone won't catch me," was what he chose to say eventually.
He had doubts, fears, but that was at the heart of it all. He had always had doubts and fears and yet now he knew, at his core, that no matter what, he could not fuck up enough to lose those he loved.
"Does this closeness frighten you?" Sofia asked.
He shook his head, that was easy to answer.
"Do you think it frightens any of the others?" she continued.
He repeated the gesture, although he couldn't say why he was quite so sure.
"So this isn't the same as the dream?" he asked, because he needed time to think about the rest.
"It has similarities in that it underlines the connection between you all," Sofia replied, going with him without pushing thank heavens, "but rapport is a completely different level. It is a visceral and instinctive act involving blood, a significant trigger for us all. It is purely metaphysical and comes from your underlying vampire nature. From the way you described the dream, it was at a much more human level."
That made sense to Damiano and he nodded.
"Personal relationships between vampires can be intense," Sofia told him, "but they are most often very rewarding. Your instincts will be a good guide. Allow yourself to follow them."
He nodded again. He had more questions, but those few simple words settled him in a way he could not quite fathom. They had gone from friends, to each others' support structures, to so much more in such a short time. His instincts whispered to him that it was right, even as his higher brain worried. That Sofia backed up was he was feeling rather than what he was over thinking helped. He hoped they would do the same for the others as well.
Chapter 15: Eredità (Legacy)
The band get some unexpected news.
Damiano could not settle. They'd had a great practice, done some social media stuff and then had a delicious lunch, but now that he had a little time to himself, he didn't seem to be able to decide what to do. He'd taken to picking up the random things they had strewn around the living room and putting them where they were supposed to be. It wasn't exactly thrilling, but it was mindless and let him zone out.
"Damiano, please sit down, you're driving me crazy just watching you," Victoria complained as she caught him at it for the third time.
"I can't," he replied.
Possibly more than a little exasperated at himself. It must have shown because Victoria put her hands on her hips and gave him a thoughtful stare.
"Something on your mind?" she asked.
"No," he told her, perfectly honestly, "if there was I'd tell you. I just …" He tried to explain it and came up empty. "I really don't know," he concluded.
"If you're turning into a house-proud nonna at twenty two, I might have to put you out of your misery for your own sake," Victoria said with a shake of her head and a smile.
"I would welcome the release," he replied in kind, even as he straightened a pile of books that had accumulated on the coffee table.
"If I help, will that make it better?" she asked.
"Maybe?" was the best he could do.
"What I do for you," she said and started by picking up a soda can that had been forgotten between the couch and the armchair.
Damiano appreciated the companionship and gave up trying to figure out the whys of any of it. They had just about everything straight when the doorbell rang.
"Are we expecting anyone?" Victoria asked.
"Not that I know of," Damiano replied, but then his phone beeped at the same time Victoria's did.
He pulled it out and looked at the notification.
"It's Leo," he said and headed towards the front door.
He checked through the spy hole just in case, but it was indeed the Magistra standing on their doorstep.
"Hi," he said as he pulled the door open.
"Good afternoon," Leo replied, "sorry to call unannounced, but I was in the area and I just had some news you should hear."
"Come in," Damiano invited, stepping out of the way. "I'll call the others."
He went to the stairs and called up to where he knew Thomas and Ethan were both in their rooms while Victoria and Leo exchanged greetings.
"Tea or coffee?" Damiano offered as he turned back.
"Tea would be great, thanks," Leo replied.
Damiano headed into the kitchen and grabbed them all a drink, just guessing what the others would like while they spoke to Leo in the living room. He returned with a tray to find everyone still standing up, talking about nothing in the awkward transition between arriving and becoming comfortable.
"Shall we sit?" he asked, putting the tray down on the table.
He passed Leo his tea and was quietly pleased as the others grabbed what he had brought them off the tray. They all seemed content, so he had guessed right. Picking up his ice water, he chose somewhere to sit.
"So what brings you to see us?" Victoria asked as they all settled into seats.
"I thought you would all like to know that your case is now officially closed," Leo replied. "We finished the investigation yesterday and the report went before the committee today and was approved. Since it concerns you, a copy will be made available if you wish to see it."
"Did you turn up anything except Tera was a psycho bitch who decided it would be fun to try and wreck our lives?" Thomas asked bluntly.
"Nothing significant," Leo replied, and Damiano thought the Magistra had expected that kind of response. "We did find evidence of exactly what she had planned for all of you since she kept a journal, but no more."
"So she wanted us for more than just pointing and killing?" Damiano found himself asking, even though he was really of a similar mind to Thomas.
"Yes, her plans were quite detailed," Leo replied, "and completely insane."
"The last was a given," Victoria commented.
Damiano was curious, but he didn't think he'd ask for a copy of the report. Sometimes it was best not to know. They all had enough horror to deal with, without going into detail.
"With everything approved, that means the other formalities can be dealt with," Leo added.
"What other formalities?" Damiano asked.
"Tera's estate mostly," Leo replied.
"But didn't I read that anything a rogue vampire has is seized by the community for expenses?" Ethan asked.
Damiano realised he had apparently not been reading the same part of the archive as Ethan, or that might just have been that Ethan had read more.
"The forensic accountants are working on that," Leo replied with a nod, "and everything she accumulated since she became a rogue will be seized, but that does not apply to her holdings from before she became what she was at the end."
"Seems like a weird differentiation," Victoria said. "Why wouldn't the community seize that straight away?"
"I believe it stems from the hope that one day rogues may be reclaimed," Leo said with a shrug. "Sometimes it is hard to discern the origins of some of our laws."
"Hell, that's true of human laws too," Thomas commented.
"Our ancestors have a lot to answer for," Damiano agreed.
"A universal truth," Leo said with a small smile. "Anyway, so I have the name of the accountants and solicitors for you."
Damiano frowned at the sudden subject jump.
"Why?" Victoria asked and he was glad he wasn't the only one confused.
"Well they'll need to talk to you all about how our systems work. Given that we live so long we tend to have two official existences, the one for the human world and the one for our own community," Leo explained. "The accountants will be able to handle it all for you."
"But we only really exist in the human world at the moment," Victoria said, "and it's going to be like that for years."
"But Tera's estate is handled via the community," Leo replied.
"What's that got to do with us?" Damiano asked because he wasn't following.
He saw the light dawn in Leo's eyes.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I haven't explained very well. Because Tera made no preparations before she went rogue and cannot be considered of sound mind when she died, her estate is to be divided between all her surviving vampire children. There are only six and you are four of them. One of the others is a rogue and hence disqualified from inheriting, and the other was last seen in Tebet over one hundred years ago. There is information she is still alive, but not where. A portion of the estate will be held in trust for her, but the rest is yours."
"I'm guessing since you mentioned accountants, we're not just talking about a cat and an old stamp collection," Victoria said.
"Ah, no," Leo replied with a small smile. "I don't know the details, but I seem to remember she had a house in Rome and an estate in the countryside. She was once a very influential member of our community. The accountants will be able to tell you more."
"Holy fuck," Thomas said and Damiano could only agree.
Their lives just kept getting weirder
In the end Leo stayed another fifteen minutes or so, answering their questions and giving them the information for their new accountants.
"Did we just go to sleep one day and wake up in an alternate dimension?" Victoria asked after they had seen their guest out and sent off a message to the accountants to ask for a joint phone call.
"I can't think of any other reason we've gotten to this point," Damiano replied, flopping down on the couch next to her.
"It's that or we're in The Matrix and someone hit scramble," Thomas agreed.
"Or someone slipped us LSD," Ethan added.
"Argh," Victoria said, "why do I want to throw things?"
Damiano looped an arm around her and pulled her close.
"Because any mention of the she bitch makes us all feel like that," he assured her, kissing her forehead.
"This is good right?" Thomas said. "We're getting a headstart on the whole vampire side of things."
"But it still feels … I dunno … dirty?" Damiano added.
"Contaminated," Ethan said, expressing what Damiano was feeling perfectly.
No matter what, every time anyone brought up Tera, all he could see were those teeth coming towards him. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and pushed his darker thoughts away.
"Table tennis?" he asked hopefully, because he knew he wouldn't be able to concentrate enough to sing anything properly, but he needed to do something energetic.
"Yeah," Victoria said, pushing off him and standing up. "We can figure out the rest of this shit later."
She grabbed his hand and pulled him up beside her with a show of strength that would have astounded him a few weeks ago. Now it made him smile.
"Last one out there gets the wrecked bat," Thomas yelled and ran for it.
They were all still experimenting with the whole vampire thing, but that was now very, very fast. Damiano did not want the bat with the cracked and taped handle that may or may not have been his fault for being overenthusiastic, so he chased almost instantly.
"Hey!" Victoria shrieked when Ethan beat her to it as well, and the race was on.
If Damiano ended up on his back on the grass with Victoria sitting on top of him to try and exchange the decent bat he had grabbed with the knackered one, he wasn't complaining.
Chapter 16: Lotta (Fight)
The news Leo brought has caused repercussions.
With his thumbs jammed against the ridge of his nose and most of his brain just going in circles, Damiano didn't even notice he wasn't alone until there was a head butting against his leg. He looked down to see Chili sitting next to his foot, staring up hopefully.
"Hey, Chili," he said quietly, squinting through the headache.
He reached down to give her head a quick scratch, but that was the best he could do.
"You're up early," Victoria said, walking into the kitchen, "I only came down to let Chili out."
"Couldn't sleep," he replied.
"Wow, you look like you haven't slept in a week," Victoria commented, and she sounded worried.
"I'm fine," he snapped back, because for some reason her concern annoyed him.
That sent shooting pains through his head and he gave up and put his head on the table. It then occurred to him what he had done.
"Sorry," he apologised, letting the cool of the table's surface seep into his skin.
"Hey," Victoria said in a very soft tone, coming up beside him and gently stroking the back of his neck, "you don't look well. Maybe we should call someone?"
"It's just a headache," he replied, but didn't move. "It's the weather and the weird dreams, that's all."
"Want to talk about it?" she asked.
"Don't remember them," he said, carefully sitting up again. "They faded everytime I woke up, but they kept waking me up, so I gave up."
"Was it everything yesterday?" Victoria said, rubbing gentle circles in the back of his neck.
"Probably," he replied, leaning into her touch as she pulled him against her torso.
Some of the tension began to seep out of him and he hummed his thanks as her fingers tangled in his hair.
"I think I would have preferred if Leo hadn't visited," Victoria told him. "It whirled everything up again."
"Yeah," he agreed.
And that was it for conversation for a little while. Victoria's presence settled something in Damiano and he drifted for a while, his headache dimming somewhat.
"Want a coffee?" Victoria said in the end.
"You should go back to bed," he replied, finally breaking away, "it's still early. You shouldn't lose sleep because of me."
Victoria leaned down and placed a kiss on his forehead.
"I'll take that as a yes," she said and gave him a smile.
She presented him with coffee, toast and a couple of the specialist painkillers a few minutes later, which made him feel like an idiot for just sitting there for however long it had been. He really couldn't remember what time he had come downstairs.
"Thank you," was the best he could do.
Damiano's day was not going well. He was irritable and had retreated to the garden for most of the morning so he didn't say anything he would most definitely regret. The only one in the house he hadn't snapped at was Chili, hence removing himself.
"It's time," Ethan called from the back door several hours into his self-imposed exile.
Swallowing the desire to yell back something rude, Damiano turned off his phone and stood up. They had a conference call with the accountants. While he would have liked to skip it, even in his terrible mood, he did not want to leave the burden of dealing with it on the others. Besides which, the control freak part of his personality wouldn't let him.
Victoria wordlessly handed him a cup of tea and a banana the moment he walked into the house. His irritation rose, but he managed to keep it inside. He knew it was only because she loved him and worried about him. He'd only eaten a bite of the toast she'd made him earlier and he hadn't touched anything since. They all worried when he didn't eat, so he accepted the fruit without arguing. He couldn't raise a thank you, however.
He picked at the banana as they settled into the private room and Thomas got them patched in. Normally he would have been in the thick of things, but, as the meeting began, he sat at the back and let Victoria take the lead. Everything, literally everything was irritating him and he couldn't concentrate for shit.
What was worse is he couldn't work out why. As the accountant, whose name he totally couldn't be bothered to remember, took them through what they needed to know and went over details, no one was doing anything particularly annoying, but every single thing rubbed him up the wrong way. He was bored and annoyed and hoped the meeting would end before he decided to put his fist through something.
"We're still looking for the original deed," were the words from the accountant that managed to grab his attention. "There are other, more modern versions on file for the official records, but the original will be in the house somewhere. If we can't find it, we'll have to have a new one drawn up."
"Incompetent idiots," Damiano muttered under his breath. "Have you looked in the vault?" he asked much more loudly.
The accountant stopped talking and looked at him.
"The vault?" the man asked.
Damiano rolled his eyes and muttered some more unfavourable things, which of course everyone would have been able to hear because they were all vampires.
"The vault," he replied, "the one your firm has on file. The one behind the wine rack in the cellar."
The accountant looked down at his papers.
The other three were staring at Damiano and that was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back, because he couldn't take it anymore.
"I'll be in the garden," he said, turning to the door.
"How did he know that?" Thomas asked, even as Damiano went to leave.
He didn't want to hear it, so he stalked out.
"Damiano," Victoria called after him, "we need to talk."
He heard someone get up and he knew it was Ethan before his friend reached out to touch his shoulder.
"Dam…" was as far as Ethan got.
Fury burst through Damiano the moment Ethan's finger's brushed his arm. It was white hot and he moved without even thinking about it. Turning, he grabbed Ethan's wrist with one hand, Ethan's throat with the other and slammed Ethan into the wall, holding him there effortlessly.
"Never touch me," he hissed and his voice was all distorted with a reverb in it that had nothing to do with normal human vocal chords.
He was so angry he wanted to destroy something. Only the pure terror in Ethan's expression stopped him. It was like ice water on the fire as reality crashed into his brain. He released Ethan immediately, horrified by what he had done. All he could hear was his own thundering heartbeat as fury and horror warred for precedence in his head. It was as if he was two different people.
That was when he recognised the feeling.
"No, no, no no no," he said, shaking his head and backing away from Ethan as terror gripped him.
He was shaking and his breath came in little gasps as he felt her hatred and rage swirling around in his own mind.
"My god, Damià, your eyes."
That came from Victoria.
"She's in my head," he gasped out. "She's in my head."
Then he ran.
He all but flew up the stairs, slamming the door to his room, locking it and dragging the dresser in front of it. It was ridiculously easy and would probably be no barrier to anyone getting in, but he needed something there between him and the others. The idea that he might hurt them, or contaminate them with what was crashing around inside him was repugnant to him. The only thing he could think to do was hide.
Sliding down the wall, he sat, fingers twisted in his own hair as he did his very best not to think at all.
There was no sound outside his room or from the rest of the house for a long time. He had to assume the others had retreated to the private room. Then he heard a car arrive and the front door open and close, but no voices. He refused to focus on outside. Every time he did, the anger and hatred seemed to gain in strength.
He knew it was her, he could feel her. If he kept his thoughts quiet, it was as if she had no fuel to work with. It wasn't like meditation. That was relaxing and centering. This was a fight and stopping his emotions from running away and his mind from spinning was so incredibly hard.
Ignoring the sound of feet on the stairs was impossible, however. He counted five, even though he was trying not to.
He jumped reflexively as the door thudded inwards, taking out the lock, only stopping because of the awkward angle of the dresser. A second shove sent the heavy piece of furniture crashing into the wall as the door was forced open. Every instinct in Damiano screamed run, but he clawed onto his self control as Sofia strode into the room, closely followed by Victoria, Thomas and Ethan, with Leo bringing up the rear.
"Hold her, Damiano," Sofia said in a hard tone he had never heard her use before.
It begged no argument and he did his very best to obey.
Sofia knelt down in front of him as Ethan, Thomas and Victoria placed their hands on her shoulders. As her eyes flared bright blue it was easier, but it was also more difficult. He felt Sofia's power touch him and part of him acquiesced to it, but the thing inside of him railed against it.
He whimpered, unable to make another sound as vampire power met vampire power. There was no thought in his head as hate and rage tried to consume him, even as calm and control seeped into him like a cage containing the beast. Only then did he sense the others, woven into Sofia's gift. They were the other parts of his soul, but their touch sent the creature behind his eyes into a frenzy.
There was nothing but fire. Now he could finally scream.
Chapter 17: Retribuzione (Retribution)
Damiano thought he would go mad, until ice water flowed into the fire. It didn't quench it, but it was as if it filled the space around him, shielding him. Only now it felt like he might drown if it was there too long.
"Tera, enough!" Sofia's voice reverberated through him.
"Never enough," he heard himself say, but his voice barely sounded like him at all. "Release me or I will destroy him."
"You can't," Sofia replied, eyes bright blue. "He's stronger than you or you would have taken over the moment you entered him."
"I was biding my time," Tera replied through him.
"Lies," Sofia said. "It was only the turmoil of yesterday that allowed you to gather enough strength to attack, and even then you failed."
"He's mine," Tera hissed.
"He is his own," Sofia countered. "You will never win."
"Leave the children be, Tera," Sofia said, her voice softening slightly. "You are dead, your body is gone. You had your time."
"I will never die," Tera snarled. "They will all be mine. I will use the link between them and I will have four new bodies."
"Damiano, sleep," Sofia said before the terror of that statement could sink in.
He hadn't been expecting it, and neither had Tera he guessed, because it was like a switch. One second he was aware and staring out of a body that barely seemed to be his own, the next there was nothing but darkness.
Damiano came back to awareness slowly, like swimming leisurely up to the surface from the bottom of the pool. He could see things above the water for a while, but they were all distorted and didn't make any sense until he broke the metaphorical surface. When he did, he discovered he was on his knees in a space he did not recognise, but that could have been any generic dungeon in any one of a hundred movies. The floor was stone, the walls were stone and light seemed to be ambient and coming from nowhere in particular.
There was a hand on his neck, holding him in place. He could feel long claws against his skin.
It felt as if he had woken into something and he did not move.
"Come any closer and I will destroy him," Tera snarled, confirming exactly what he could feel.
The claws dug into his throat for a second and he smelled blood. That woke his senses even more and he took in what he could see in front of him. What he saw stirred something inside of him.
There were Sofia, Victoria, Ethan and Thomas, only they didn't look like they had in the bedroom.
Sofia was dressed in a white hooded robe, like an ancient priestess or druid, her face framed by her pale hair in perfect ringlets. Her eyes were glowing bright blue. Victoria was to her right and she looked like an avenging angel, flaming sword, armour and wings to go with the look. To Victoria's right was Thomas, dressed like he was cosplaying from an anime, holding a huge axe. Tight pants and a waistcoat finished off the look. And to Sofia's left was Ethan looking as if he had just stepped out of the pages of a fantasy novel, hair plaited back to fall in a mane down his back, shirtless with leather trousers and long boots and a curved sword in both hands.
All of their eyes were glowing just as brightly as Sofia's, but with varying shades.
It was like some weird mismash of movies, but the power humming at the edges of Damiano's senses made him believe it was happening. He didn't understand how or where, but it was definitely happening.
"You cannot win, Tera," Sofia said, her voice echoing around the chamber like an ancient goddess.
"I can and I will, Little Rabbit," Tera replied, "you cannot defeat me."
"You lost the right to call me that a long time ago," Sofia replied, "and I am no longer the timid child you first met. Besides, Tera, it is not me who will defeat you."
"These pathetic children," Tera spat back.
Damiano met gazes with Victoria and he felt power sizzle up his spine. He could help the tiny movement he made at the shock. The grip on his neck tightened and he found his head forced to the side as Tera's thumb threatened to cut off the circulation to his brain.It hurt, but he bit his lip and refused to make a sound.
"You have no concept of what you created," Sofia replied, smiling sadly.
"They are mine," Tera snapped, "and if I cannot have them, I will destroy them."
"You can't," Sofia said, but she met Damiano's eyes, not Tera's as she spoke, "you have no power over them anymore. Together they are stronger than you or me."
"Deluded fool," she said.
But Damiano had got the message. He looked back at Victoria and this time he held her gaze. Energy sizzled up his nerves. Next he flicked his eyes towards Thomas, feeling his cells light up as vampire power flooded into him. Finally he looked to Ethan and it was like completing a circuit. His whole system was deluged, just like it had been when they achieved rapport, only this was not about sex and pleasure, it was about raw power.
"What..?" he heard Tera say, but as she tried to squeeze, he reached up, fingers going around her wrist and he tightened his own grip.
Claws ripped at his skin, but any pain was irrelevant as he pulled her hand away. He stood, turning as he did so, feeling himself changing as he moved. It occurred to him he had been wearing only soft pants, but by the time he was facing Tera he was in leather pants, boots and a chest harness, almost like some of his stage gear. Only this looked ready for battle. In his free hand he was also holding a long, deadly pike.
Tera did not look as twisted as she had in his nightmare, but her hands were distorted with the long claws that had been digging into his flesh, her teeth were sharp as she hissed at him, and her eyes were the insane red he remembered, but she was whole and her face was mostly human. With their combined power coursing through his body, however, she looked almost pathetic.
"Let go," he said and his voice echoed with all of theirs, as if they were all speaking at the same time. "Do not make us destroy you."
It was hard to think anything except straightforward thoughts as all their reactions mixed into one. Anything more felt like fighting against each other as they responded in their own individual ways.
Tera growled, bringing her free hand round in a swiping gesture even as she tried to free the arm he was holding. Damiano didn't move. He didn't have to because Ethan lunged, blocking Tera's blow with the back of one of his swords.
"Don't make us hurt you," Ethan said, and Damiano felt his own vocal cords vibrate, even as his voice joined with Victoria's and Thomas' to echo Ethan's.
"Remember who you were," Victoria spoke, stepping up to Damiano's shoulder, speaking for them all.
"Go on to what comes next," Thomas added with all their voices as he joined them.
"We don't want to cause you pain," Damiano told her.
"Weaklings! Pathetic children," Tera screamed at them.
Damiano released her hand. She staggered backwards a step. For a second the tableau held, Tera poised for attack, all four of them simply waiting. Something flickered in her expression, almost as if she was doing as Victoria asked, but Damiano saw the madness slam back into place. He knew the others did two as Tera screamed an animalistic battle cry and came at them.
Damiano moved first, bringing his pike down, so Tera threw herself onto it. It slowed her down, but her rage was so complete she barely seemed to notice she was impaled. Thomas swung his axe in from the side, biting into her thigh, causing her leg to collapse. Ethan struck from the other side, one sword joining Damiano's pike through Tera's chest, the other, cutting a line along the top of her grasping arm. Victoria moved in last, her flaming sword coming round, straight at Tera's neck.
It wasn't like a real fight, more like a video game against the final boss where the perfect combination of moves was guaranteed to destroy the enemy.
The moment Victoria's sword touched Tera's body everything stopped and Tera screamed. Not a scream of rage, but one of agony.
Damiano could not move as what felt like flame rushed through him. All he wanted to do was drop the pike and back away as that scream tore at him. He could feel the others' regret and disgust, mingling with his own, but none of them could stop this now.
Tera did not flail and bleed. In fact she did not seem to be able to move anymore than Damiano could, the only thing she was capable of being the terrible sound she was making. Where their weapons pierced her skin, she was glowing. It started red, like her blood, but over long, agonising seconds it grew brighter and brighter, going orange, then yellow, then white. It began to spread over her skin, obscuring the woman beneath, until she was nothing but a glowing caricature of what she had been.
The scream cut off, the light disappeared, only Tera was not gone. She was slumped on Damiano's pike and Ethan's sword, with her head lolling to one side where Victoria had sliced her neck. There was blood now, only she no longer looked like a monster. Tired, normal eyes opened and looked straight into Damiano's. For the first time meeting her gaze he did not feel afraid, but before he could react properly, she vanished.
As she went, so did the weapons. Damiano almost pitched forward as the weight he was braced against suddenly wasn't there anymore, but Ethan caught him.
"It is over," Sofia said from behind them and Damiano didn't know what to think.
It wasn't like waking up from a dream, more like taking off a VR headset when playing a computer game. Damiano blinked and his surroundings changed. He found himself back in normal clothes, sitting on the floor in the middle of the lounge, supported on one side by Victoria, the other by Thomas and from behind by Ethan. They were in a ring of candles, the curtains were closed, and Sofia was sitting directly in front of them.
Sofia's eyes were still bright blue, but as he looked into them, she also blinked and the blue faded.
"She's gone," he said, and there was no doubt in his words.
"Forever," Sofia confirmed.
Damiano had the strangest desire to laugh. He felt light and floaty and like a huge weight he hadn't even realised was there had been lifted from his shoulders. He was so euphoric that it took him a moment or so to realise the world was going kind of shiny. Everything turned various shades of silver and began dimming on the edges and he didn't have any say in the matter as he unceremoniously passed out.
Chapter 18: Purificato (Purified)
Damiano's nose twitched and a familiar scent dragged him back to consciousness. He opened one eye to find Victoria holding out one of the little cartons.
"Thought that might drag you back to us," she said, and gave him a smile.
It was a toss up whether he started crying or accepted the offering, and for a change hunger managed to trump wayward emotion.
"Thanks," he said and several pairs of hands helped him sit up.
He accepted the carton as soon as he was in a position to do so.
He had apparently been lying on the couch which had been pushed against the wall, and he found himself bracketed by Victoria on one side and Ethan on the other as soon as he was no longer lying down. Thomas sat on the floor in front of him. There was a lot of touching going on. Not that he was complaining. It felt like back when they had all first woken up at the hospital.
The candles were all out and the curtains were open. It was once again a ridiculously cheerful sunny day, which made everything that had happened feel even more surreal. When Victoria nudged him, Damiano remembered the blood carton and took a sip. There were four discarded ones on the coffee table, so he knew he wasn't the only one to have partaken.
"How are you feeling?" Sofia asked.
"A bit spacey," he replied.
"Understandable," Sofia said. "It will probably take a few hours for your metaphysical self to resettle."
"It was when I dreamed about her, wasn't it," he said, because he had to know, "that's when she got into my head?"
"That was when she chose to attack you and lost the first time. She would have had to use the connection between you to transfer the moment her body died," Sofia replied. "I am so sorry, I had no idea she would be capable of such a thing. I believe Tera may have been far older than she led the community to believe when she settled in Italy."
"Then you couldn't have known," Damiano said.
He didn't blame Sofia for her instinct of guilt, he had the same one, but he was refusing to give in to it. He felt cleansed, even if his thoughts were all over the place, and apportioning blame was not going to help anyone.
"I should have checked," Sofia insisted.
"How old does a vampire have to be to be able to do what she did?" Victoria asked.
"It has only been documented twice," Sofia replied, "more legend than fact. The vampires involved were both reported to be several thousand years old."
"Totally not your fault then," Thomas said, and Damiano was glad they were all on the same page.
"Do the legends say what happened to the others?" he asked, because he found himself morbidly fascinated.
"In one case it was a mutual decision," Sofia replied. "A husband and wife, the husband was killed by hunters and somehow transferred to his wife's body. They co-existed as two beings in one shell from then on."
"What happened to them?" Victoria asked.
"That is not documented," Sofia said. "They may still be alive somewhere. Very old vampires do not always reveal themselves, pretending to be much younger than they are. In that, Tera would not have been alone. I just cannot believe I never realised it."
"You trusted her," Ethan said simply.
"What about the other one?" Damiano asked.
"The older vampire's personality instantly obliterated that of their child," Sofia replied. "They continued using the new body until they were once again defeated, and that time precautions were taken to prevent it happening again."
"Then why did she fail?" Damiano asked, because he couldn't understand it.
Sofia gave them all a quiet smile.
"Together you are positively remarkable," she said. "I was amazed when you three boys called Victoria back, igniting enough resistance within her to fight off Tera's influence. I did not tell you at the time, because I did not wish to unsettle you further than you already were, but, given the direct access Tera had to Victoria, that should not have been possible. When she attempted to take over Damiano, the bond between you all meant she could not usurp his personality and her power went mostly dormant."
"What gave her so much power today?" Thomas asked.
"The metaphysical can be very unpredictable," Sofia told them. "Just the focus on Tera and her estate reignited her essence. From what you have all told me, I believe she was then using Damiano's subconscious to fuel her strength and deplete his, however, I have no doubt you would have prevailed, even without my aid."
"That's not how it felt," Damiano said.
"Trust me on this," she replied.
When she said it like that, Damiano had no choice. He had a feeling there was something she wasn't saying, but he did trust her, and he was too tired to worry about it.
They talked some more, but about less monumental things. It wasn't long before Damiano found his head drooping. He hadn't had any decent sleep the night before and everything that had happened had really taken it out of him. When he almost fell asleep on Ethan's shoulder, Ethan put a cushion on his lap and urged Damiano to lie back down. He dropped off with his head in Ethan's lap, his legs over Victoria and a hand on Thomas' shoulder.
He dreamed. Tera was there, only she wasn't the twisted creature they had all met. She had the same face, the same build, only when she smiled it was without cruelty, and the glisten of madness was not in her eyes. She waved at him, nodded her head and faded away into nothing.
"Good luck, My Child," her voice whispered as she disappeared and Damiano relaxed into uninterrupted slumber.
"What exactly are you doing?" Victoria asked, just as Damiano looked down at his phone to see if he could work out what to do with the apparently myriad strands of hair he currently had in his hands.
"Trying to recreate the amazing hair Ethan had in his fantasy outfit," Damiano replied.
He had found a Youtube tutorial with almost the exact same style from the dreamscape, and Ethan had said yes when he asked, so he was going for it. Ethan was sitting on the floor in front of the couch, placidly scrolling on his phone as Damiano failed spectacularly.
"Why?" Victoria asked.
"Because we felt like it," Damiano said, giving her a look as Ethan made a small snorting sound. "Okay, I felt like it and Ethan didn't run away."
If he was honest, he wasn't quite sure where the fit of madness had come from, but it was feeding into his need to touch, and Ethan seemed to be enjoying it, so he wasn't arguing.
After everything that had happened, Sofia had stayed the night in Thomas' room, since it was one they hadn't used since the last bedding change. Then she'd spent a good percentage of the next day with them, making sure they were all doing alright and didn't have any lingering metaphysical effects from what they had done. She had left them after making them promise they would call immediately if they needed anything.
That had been the previous day and Damiano was all too aware he was in a weird mood, but it didn't feel bad. He found himself not wanting to be out of proximity of the others for more than a few minutes at a time, and if he could touch it settled him even more. Ever since they had forced Tera out, he felt cleansed, but slightly off balance. Like he was adjusting and needed time to get used to a new state of being.
When he touched Victoria or Thomas or Ethan he could sense their energy and it helped him maintain the sense of rightness at his core. It wasn't that he feared being without them, more that being with them comforted him. He knew he was adapting pretty quickly and settling back to normal, but Sofia had had a quiet word when she noticed him trying to resist the impulses and told him not to, so he was taking her advice.
"I hate to break it to you," Victoria said, "but that does not look anything like the braid you are going for."
"I know," Damiano said with a put upon sigh and released the hair he was holding. "The tutorial makes it look so easy."
Victoria sat down beside him on the sofa.
"Maybe with two pairs of hands?" she suggested.
Damiano grinned and picked up his phone to show her the video he was watching.
"No pulling," was Ethan's only input, even as Damiano left Victoria to watch the tutorial while he brushed out the drummer's hair to start again.
It was a lovely evening and they had decanted to the garden to enjoy the fresh air and setting sun. Damiano and Victoria had claimed one lounger between them, with Chili as an added extra, while Thomas and Ethan had claimed another. Ethan had his hair up in a messy bun because while Damiano and Victoria had had fun earlier in the day, they had managed to prove that some things Youtube made look easy, actually took lots of practice.
Everything was very relaxed and calm and Damiano felt incredibly peaceful.
The incident with Tera had given them some closure and kickstarted their need to get back to work. After talking to their management it was being arranged and they weren't going to have much longer to enjoy the solitude of their countryside retreat. Damiano was looking forward to jumping back in whenever they were given the go.
"I've been thinking," he said, mostly because it felt like the right time.
"Uh-oh," Thomas commented, "do we need to worry."
Damiano stuck his tongue out at his bandmate in a completely mature reaction.
"For your information, I've come to a conclusion that I thought I'd share," he said, giving Chili a head rub while he spoke.
He paused for dramatic effect.
"Which is?" Thomas asked, rising to the bait.
Damiano scored himself a virtual point for making Thomas ask and grinned.
"I'm bi," he said. "My taste in men seems to be very specific, but I'm definitely bi."
"Congratulations," Victoria said and gave him a smile and a pat on the leg, "welcome to the bi-side."
"Cool," Ethan agreed.
"Damn, that means I'm the only one still confused," Thomas moaned.
"You don't have to label anything if you don't want to," Ethan pointed out.
"Yeah, but I'm supposed to be the cool, sure one," Thomas complained, "where Damiano is the confusing, flighty one. This is not the way round it is supposed to be."
Damiano made a scoffing sound.
"I'm supposed to confuse other people, not myself," he countered.
"Yeah, you keep telling yourself that," Thomas replied with a laugh.
Throwing one of the scatter cushions they had brought from the lounge seemed like the only valid response to that. Of course that resulted in a cushion war between all four of them. Even Chili got in on the act, running off with one that was almost as big as she was.
Chapter 19: Rivelazione (Revelation)
Damiano gets an unexpected text.
Tomorrow they were heading back to their regular lives, not that there was anything regular about them. They had three interviews booked, one with a magazine and a photoshoot, one radio, and one filmed. They'd released updates throughout their recovery period, answered a few outlets’ questions via email, and done short spots on social media, but these were going to be their first in person bookings.
It was going to be a big day, but they were all ready for it. Nothing would ever be the same, but Damiano thought maybe they could make it better. Yes they had the trauma to continue to deal with, you didn't get over having your throat ripped out or being kidnapped in a few weeks, but the possibilities now were endless, and they had each other.
They also had a large house in Rome, an even larger house and grounds in the country and investments, the bank account with lots of noughts on it was being held in trust for Tera's other vampire child, whose identity was confidential. If the mysterious vampire didn't reappear and claim it within fifty years it would go to them, not that they were worried about that part. They had given the accountants and their associated solicitors instructions to continue maintaining everything as they had been doing. The house and estate had tenants and the investments could keep ticking over as they had been. Everything had all of their names on it and that was as much as they wanted to deal with it at the moment. They had decided to keep the vampire side of things completely separate from their old lives for now.
Damiano left the others to head outside for a smoke and took his phone. He was considering quitting because nicotine didn't do anything for him anymore. Caffeine still worked a treat, but nicotine, not so much; vampire bodies were weird. However, the habit was kind of comforting, what with all the changes both physical and mental. As he checked his messages, he found a new one waiting from Sofia, and flicked it open. All it said was: "We should talk".
Somehow he wasn't surprised as several things jumped into his head all at the same time. They slotted together and he finally had to admit what events had been pointing him at, even if he had been ignoring them.
He sent back one word: "When?"
Two hours later, Sofia and he were sitting across from each other in the room usually used for their private therapy sessions.
"Is this where you tell me I'm psychic like you?" he asked, leaning back in his chair.
Sofia smiled at that.
"Well, no two of us are ever the same," she replied, "but in principle, yes. When you did not ask why we needed to talk, I suspected you had worked it out."
"You covered well when we were looking for Victoria, but then there was what happened during the raid and the dreams," he revealed. "I thought it might be all of us together for a while because of the dreams, then I thought it was to do with her," he still had trouble saying Tera's name, "but there have been other small things, which seem to be just me. Was finding Victoria when you first suspected?"
"Well that definitely underlined my suspicions," Sofia told him, "but actually it was the way you reacted when Thomas woke up the first time."
That was news to him, but then he remembered the way she had been considering him.
"Oh," he said, "that was what the look was for."
"It could have been that you were simply hyper-aware of your friend's condition given the circumstances," she explained, "but you seemed very certain."
"Hmm," Damiano agreed, "I was," he admitted. "But how do I know if I'm having a psychic moment or just guessing?"
"Have you had any trouble telling the difference so far?" Sofia asked.
That seemed like circular logic, until Damiano thought about it. He went through what he was pretty sure were instances of whatever ability he had coming into play and he couldn't fault it.
"No," he said finally.
Sofia smiled a little.
"I am fully aware that saying 'you just will' is an unsatisfactory answer," she said, "but unfortunately, with us, it is an explanation which fits."
"Is this why she chose me, why she could get into my head?" he asked.
"Yes and no," Sofia replied. "Your reaching out to Victoria would have left you as more of an open conduit, hence the reason Tera reached for you and not Victoria who was physically closer when she died. However, it is also most likely why her efforts completely failed."
"I don't get it," he admitted at that.
"A psychic mind is a strong mind," Sofia told him.
"I'm sure my therapists would beg to disagree," he countered.
"Strength comes in different forms," Sofia said, perfectly seriously, "and I am speaking from a metaphysical point of view, not that I think you are giving yourself enough credit either way."
"So I left the door wide open, but tried to slam it in her face without even realising it?" he asked.
"And you almost succeeded," Sofia tried to assure him with a nod.
He was still having a little trouble with the urge to feel guilty.
"We've had more dreams too," Damiano said, changing tack because he was still processing.
"And it is not unsettling any of you?" Sofia asked.
"No," he said, shaking his head, "in fact I think it's helping. We don't have nightmares when we're together and the shared dreams are always energising."
He left out that the shared dreams also seemed to be seventy-five percent sexual. They hadn't had a huge number, but enough, and they were usually quite specific in nature.
"You have adapted so quickly," Sofia said and she sounded genuinely impressed. "Four fledgling vampires without a maker should not work this well, but I think your abilities may have slipped you into the maker role."
Damiano shook his head.
"Not maker," he said, because he didn't feel that, "the link, but not maker. We make ourselves."
"Do the others know?" Sofia asked.
"They might have suspected something, but this is all so new and with everything that happened, well," he replied. "They probably definitely suspect something now we're shut in here though."
"Do you want them to know?" was Sofia's next question. "I can always make up another reason to be here."
"They have to know," he said.
There was no decision to be had there; he could not lie to them now.
"Leo suspects too, doesn't he?" he added.
"We have spun it so that everything that happened can be explained by the extraordinary circumstances," she told him, "so the hierarchy have reasonable doubt, but Leo is no idiot."
"What happens if the hierarchy finds out?" he asked.
"There are those of our kind who believe those of us with extra gifts owe them to the community," Sofia said, "and they can be annoying, but we are drawn to where we are needed, so it is better to ignore them. They will find out about you sooner or later, but it's better to put it off as long as possible."
"There are also a few who will offer you large amounts of money to be their pet psychic," Sofia added with a small smile. "Up to you if you were to take any of them up on it of course, but some get petulant when told no, so also better dealt with only when necessary."
"Sounds boring," Damiano commented with a small smile.
"Very," she said.
"Speaking from experience?" he asked.
"I tried it for a while some years ago," she explained. "An easy life, but we are not meant for an easy life, or we would not be what and who we are."
He nodded with a shrug, she had a point.
"Why didn't you tell me before?" he asked, after all it had been over three weeks.
"You needed time to settle in your new being," Sofia replied. "I knew you would call me if you needed to ask questions, and then there was the incident with Tera, so I waited until the last moment to come to you. Your recovery was far more important initially, and self-discovery is far better in this context than simply being told."
"I did almost call you a couple of times to ask about this," he waved in the general direction of his head, "but kept talking myself out of it," he admitted with a small laugh.
They were talking as if this was just another everyday thing, but really it was huge. It was only Sofia's calm and collected attitude to the whole situation that made it seem not overwhelming.
"What do I need to know?" he asked, deciding to be practical rather than listen to the part of his brain trying to freak out.
He could do that later, by himself if he found it necessary.
"Follow your heart," Sofia said simply and smiled again, "but I don't think I need to tell you that. I can give you some general techniques for difficult times, and I can teach you how to help others come closer to their inner selves as I was trying to do with you, Ethan and Thomas when we first met. And, of course, I can teach you how not to kill yourself if you decide to pull ricidulous stunts without backup," she added and he gave her a small grin in return, he deserved that. "Most of this is not a science and your own instincts will be the best guide. As long as you are aware, that is the best any of us can do."
"Do you ever get really strong hits off blood?" he asked, because that's what occurred to him next.
"You mean stored blood I assume?" Sofia asked and he nodded. "What do you mean by hits?"
"Like someone having a really good time barrelling into your head," he replied, for some ridiculous reason totally unwilling to just come out and be graphic about it.
"Ah," Sofia said, "yes, that does happen occasionally. Some donors enjoy the thought of their blood being consumed more than others."
"That's one way of putting it," Damiano commented.
"Only the strongest of emotions leaves an impression in the blood like that, even for those of us who are extra sensitive to such things," Sofia reassured him. "It is not something you will have to worry about often."
"Good," he replied, "because I like my own blood in my brain."
Sofia's laugh at that, made him smile. She was such an unusual person. Her face was young, late teens, early twenties at most if Damiano did not miss his guess, but her eyes and the way she carried herself spoke of a wisdom he could only dream of ever achieving. Sofia fitted her role. Damiano was pretty sure he was the farthest from being suitable to be the psychic one out of all of his friends.
"Why me?" he asked. "I've never had a supernatural or psychic experience in my entire life before all this."
"You're sure about that?" was Sofia's simple response.
"Okay," he said, "how about never knowingly then?"
"I wish there was a simple answer," Sofia replied, "but I am afraid sometimes there is no logical reason for certain things. True psychics among vampires are rare, among humans even rarer. You may have had a latent talent which was awoken by Tera's attack, or the metaphysical changes you have been through may have created this ability by themselves. There is no way to tell unless you remember any specific instances of psychic ability from before you became a vampire."
"Nothing is coming to me," he said and then grinned, because he liked to laugh at his own jokes.
Chapter 20: Verità (Truth)
Damiano needs to talk to the others.
You're getting a second chapter today, so I don't have to remember to do it tomorrow ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After seeing Sofia to the door when they finished their talk, Damiano wandered into the lounge and threw himself onto the couch. Thomas and Victoria continued playing the video game they were pretending to be absorbed in, and Ethan was apparently trying to work out a drum sequence in his head and the air. They acknowledged him, but nothing more than that. For a while Damiano just sat there watching them.
"You are all completely shit at pretending to not be interested," he finally said.
"We were trying to be considerate," Victoria pointed out.
"Well you suck at it," Damiano replied with a grin.
He was nervous, heart beating a mile a minute, but he knew how to cover nerves. At least with other people he did. When Victoria put her controller down, walked over, sat beside him, linked her arm through his and said; "You know you can tell us anything right? We won't judge.", he realised he wasn't doing such a great job.
He took a moment to decide how to tell them, before taking a deep breath.
"Turns out all the extra extra weird shit lately is probably on me," he admitted.
"You might have to be more specific," Thomas said, "because I'm not sure what counts as just weird or extra weird or extra extra weird anymore."
Which was a fair comment.
"The psychic connection stuff with Vic, the blood incident when we first got here, the strangely specific feelings about things, the dreams," he trailed off after the last one.
"You're causing them or just facilitating them?" Victoria asked, seeing right to the core of his hesitancy.
"Facilitating, I think," he replied. "Sofia thinks I might have taken the place where a maker should have been for us, and because of the weirdness that is me, it's a little intense."
"So you're psychic like Sofia and because of all the utter shit that was going on, you're linking us together so we don't have to deal with this on our own?" Ethan asked as if sorting it out in his own head.
"Yeah, I guess," Damiano agreed, although he hadn't thought of it quite like that.
"Okay then," Ethan said with a nod, as if perfectly satisfied now he understood.
"You any good with lottery numbers?" Thomas asked.
Damiano picked up a tangerine and threw it at his friend's head, which made Thomas snort with laughter even as the smug bastard caught it. When he looked over to Victoria, Damiano could also see a twinkle in her eye.
"So, exactly how long had you been hot for the rest of us before all this began?" she asked with an innocent bat of her eyelashes.
"Oh no," he said, "you are so not laying all that on me. I totally admit to being the link, but the rest is all our faults. None of you exactly ran the other way."
"But the whole world knows you're the kinky one, Damià," she said, kneeling up and swinging her leg over to gently settle in his lap, "and you lead the rest of us astray. You lead the whole world astray."
She ground down against him as she spoke.
"We're sweet and innocent," Ethan added and gave him such a pure and adorable look it should have been illegal.
"Is your spidey-sense giving you any hints as to what might be fun for our last afternoon of freedom?" Victoria asked, with just as sweet a smile.
"I might have an inkling," he replied, playing along.
He was really going to miss it when they couldn't just indulge their impulses whenever they felt like it.
The sex had been epic. Frankly the sex was always epic. Damiano couldn't get enough of the others no matter how much he was allowed to touch and be touched. They'd moved upstairs and were all in Ethan's room, mostly because his door had been open and Chili had decided to go that way.
Chili was getting very good at amusing herself when the humans of the group were amusing each other, but she sometimes joined them on the bed when they were just sleeping, or made herself comfortable on the floor.
"Are we ready to label this yet?" Damiano asked as they sprawled comfortably on the bed.
It seemed so long since they had had their first talk about what this was between them. They were comfortable with it and it was familiar now.
"I love you, all of you."
It was Thomas who spoke without the slightest hesitation.
"I want to love you for as long as you'll have me," he added, looking just a little bit nervous at that part.
Victoria leaned over, slid her hand round the back of his neck and dragged him in for a fast, but heartfelt kiss.
"Me too," she said as they broke apart and she looked to Ethan before Damiano found her staring right into his eyes.
"Yeah, I feel the same way," he agreed. "I can't imagine a world where we don't have this, where I don't love you."
"Partners," Ethan said, "more than lovers, more than friends, more than bandmates. Partners."
Ethan held out his hand, and Damiano reached out his to join in without even having to think about it. Victoria's settled over his, and Thomas completed the pile of palms.
"Partners," Damiano agreed.
"Partners," Thomas and Victoria said at the same time.
"But that does not mean I am above kicking certain people out of bed if they stick their cold feet on the back of my legs in the middle of the night," Damiano added, because everything suddenly felt far too serious.
He totally deserved the pelting of pillows he got for that remark.
For various reasons, not the least of which was sleeping alone tended to be disastrous as Ethan and Victoria's nightmares had proved the two ill-advised times they had tried, they were moving into the studio house together straight from the halfway house. Damiano also really did not want to go back to his place, possibly ever. The traumatic associations were still too close. His family had been wonderful about looking after it for him once it was no longer designated an active crime scene, but having his brother bring over some of his stuff for him was as close as he chose to get.
Stepping through the door of their shared space felt more like coming home than he was sure his own place would ever feel like again. Looking out the windows into the back yard, he noticed two things immediately.
"Where did that come from?" he asked, dumping the bag he was carrying and walking towards the French windows.
The pool now had what looked like a very expensive roof over it in a darkened, semi-transparent material. It was open at the sides, but the water was semi-shaded from the direct glare of the sun. There were also several of the hi-tech umbrella-recliner combos in the garden as well.
"Well I was wondering when we'd be able to use the pool," Victoria said as they trailed outside. "Looks like someone else thought of that too."
"Did we pay for that?" Damiano asked, because he definitely didn't remember any talk of remodeling anything.
"Probably part of the compensation," Thomas said, coming up beside him.
"Compensation?" he asked.
"You really need to finish reading that packet of information we were given right at the beginning," Victoria told him with a laugh and a shake of her head.
Damiano gave her a sheepish smile. He had read some of it, but hadn't gone back once he'd started delving in the archive, he had just assumed that all the information he needed would have been in both.
"The community takes responsibility if someone is remade against their will by one of the members," Ethan was actually helpful and explained. "Victims are given care and compensation to make sure they can start their new lives without having to worry about any changes. Everything we need is taken care of 'until such time as assistance is no longer required'."
That last part was definitely a direct quote, Damiano could tell.
"Just didn't expect that to include a sunshade on a swimming pool," Victoria commented. "I was resigned to night swimming. This is much better."
"Thomas, don't even think it," Domiano said when he saw their guitarist eyeing the water. "We have just enough time to put our stuff away and get to where we need to be. We can use the pool later."
Just occasionally he could be the mature one. Thomas looked disappointed, but did follow the rest of them back inside. They'd packed up most of their things in the halfway-house and they would be arriving later, but they had some personal items with them and they all headed upstairs to put things back in place.
Damiano found another change when he wandered into the kitchen to get a drink of water before they left for their first appointment. One of the lower kitchen cabinets appeared to have vanished, leaving only smooth panelling where it had been. There was, however, a small sticker on it that simply said push with an arrow pointing up under the edge of the counter top. He felt around where the arrow was indicating and discovered a small recessed button. He pushed it, and a hidden door popped open to reveal a familiar looking small refrigerator.
That answered the question as to how guests in vampire homes didn't suddenly find themselves looking at a fridge full of blood.
Closing everything up again, he removed the sticker, grabbed a bottle of water from the main fridge and headed back into the other room.
"I found the blood supply," he announced.
"Great," Victoria replied, "but we need to move or we're going to be late."
Their first interview had a huge fashion photoshoot to go with it and they managed to turn up a few minutes early. That was where they had their first unexpected encounter of the day.
Damiano climbed out of the SUV they were being driven around in today, designer shades clamped firmly on his nose and mask on, only to see a very familiar shock of hair coming towards him. He'd never seen Sofia in a mask before, since it wasn't necessary when only vampires were involved, and she was also wearing sunglasses, but there was no doubt who it was.
"This is a surprise," he said as she stopped in front of them.
"We go where we are led," she said and he could tell she was smiling. "I am officially your new assistant."
"For how long?" Victoria asked.
"As long as I am needed," Sofia replied. "The community would have made sure you had someone here to help until you are fully adjusted back to your lives, but I usurped the position. If you need anything, just ask."
"Can you get us out of standing still and looking pretty for an hour?" Thomas asked in his best petulant tone.
"'Fraid not," Sofia replied with a small laugh.
"Come on whiny," Victoria said, also laughing, "this is the part we signed on for, remember?"
"Oh yeah," Thomas replied as if that hadn't occurred to him yet, but the following giggle gave him away.
They were all excited to be getting back into the flow of work, even if it did involve a full magazine photoshoot and all the waiting around that entailed. They were Måneskin and they were about to remind the world why they were rock stars. It was going to be different, but they were all determined it was going to be good.
Having Sofia there settled the little voice of worry at the back of Damiano's brain. He had trusted her from the moment he met her, and he trusted her to have their backs as they jumped back into their career. Violence had changed their lives forever, but they were ready to take them back.
When, a day later, a huge crystal ball surrounded by a ridiculous number of unpolished crystals showed up on the bedside table in his official room at the studio house (personal spaces were becoming something of a fluid concept between them all), he knew everything was going to be okay.
"I hate you all," he called out only to hear his partners sniggering on the other side of the door.
When they opened it, he gave them the appropriate one finger salute and their sniggering became full-on laughing.
Later, when he was clearing the joke gifts away, one of the crystals vibrated in his hand as he picked it up. It felt warm for a moment and he caught a spark in the very centre of the crystal ball from the corner of his eye. He slipped the small crystal in his pocket and put the polished ball on a shelf.
Maybe not so much of a joke after all. Only the future would tell.
And we're done! Thank you for sticking with me. Hope you enjoyed the story and thank you for all the kudos and comments.
I may be considering a sequel, if I can just decide which direction to take it.