Pulling the covers up over his head, Linke did his best to shut out the minimal light coming under his door and what seemed like far too much noise. In reality it was almost completely dark and the rest of the guys were downstairs, but it still felt too bright and too loud to his poor, oversensitive system. He had started feeling ill the previous week, but he had only retreated to his bed a couple of days ago.
It felt like he had the worse case of flu ever: his chest felt tight, although he didn't seem to be congested; he was photosensitive to a point where the smallest amount of light made his eyes hurt and his head pound; he could barely eat without throwing it up again; and nothing was soft enough to not feel scratchy against his skin, not even the silk shirt Franky had leant him to wear in bed when it became clear all his normal clothes were driving him crazy. He basically just wanted to curl up and die.
A knock on the door made him wince and he moaned when he heard the door open.
"Hey, Linke," it was Jan's voice speaking very quietly, "I brought you some soup. Franky says it's his grandmother's recipe and it can cure anything."
Linke didn't emerge from his covers, since he knew that with the door open it would only cause him pain.
"Thanks," he tried to say, but it came out as more of a mumble than anything sensible.
"I'll leave it on the table," Jan said and Linke heard a bowl being put down.
The others were really worried about him, he knew that much. David had even mentioned the dreaded word 'doctor' that morning, but Linke was holding out and hoping he'd get better on his own. It wasn't as if he'd never been ill before, he just didn’t remember being this bad, at least not since he'd had mumps at the age of eight.
When he heard the door close again, he risked poking his head out from under his shield of covers to investigate the aforementioned soup. He hadn't eaten more than a dry cracker or two all day and his stomach felt hollow, but the moment the smell of the soup hit his nose he dived straight back under the duvet. It just completely turned his stomach and he had to fight down to urge to dry heave. All he could do was curl up in a ball of misery in his cocoon.
"Oh you poor dear," an unfamiliar male voice had him pulling back the covers in surprise, even though he regretted the fast move instantly, "I know it's horrible, but it's almost over."
There was a tall, thin man with neatly trimmed black hair standing beside his bed, a man that pricked something in his memory even as he confused him as well.
"Who are you?" he rasped out, voice dry with under use.
The man smiled at him.
"You ask that every time," the man said, reaching down and pushing his hair out of his eyes for him in a very unsettling way; "my name is Richard and we have met several times before. It is a shame you will never really remember our meetings; I have enjoyed them all."
Linke was beginning to worry and he almost thought he might be hallucinating.
"Don't do that," Richard told him as he opened his mouth to call out for one of the others, and he found himself held by the man's eyes, which seemed to have taken on an eerie glow, "we don't want to be disturbed. After tonight you'll begin to feel much better."
He couldn't move as Richard leant over him, pulling his covers back and removing his shield. Those eyes held him, pushing everything else into insignificance and, as if he remembered something that he did not quite understand, he found himself moving his head to one side.
"Good boy," Richard said, whispering in his ear, "I am glad you remember at least a little."
It was a bit like a dream for Linke; he knew what was going on and he knew it should frighten him or make him react, but he just didn't. He lay there, feeling this strange man's breath on his neck, waiting for something that danced in the back of his mind just beyond reach.
He felt lips on his skin first and then teeth and then those teeth were sinking in and he stiffened, gasping quietly as pain raced through his system from the point of contact. He wanted to call out, but his voice was stuck, and, as strong hands held him down at the shoulders, he couldn't move. It took only moments to change, however, he could still feel the pain, but there was something about the lips on his neck, sucking hard that spoke to a primitive part of him, waking it up. It was erotic in a way he did not remember anything else having ever been and his pleasure centres began to fire as well.
It had never occurred to him that pleasure and pain might go together; he wasn't wired that way, but this, this was doing things to him that he could not deny. His cock was twitching and he could feel his body trying to become hard, but there didn't seem to be enough blood to go round. He was light headed even as his body tried to react to his arousal and couldn't and all he could do was pant quietly.
His chest was so tight he could barely breathe and, when Richard finally pulled away, he just stared up at the creature torturing him with the heady pleasure/pain mix.
"Now you are ready," Richard said, smiling, revealing long fangs and wiping a stray drip of blood from his chin; "now the adventure begins."
Linke couldn't move and he couldn't make his sluggish thoughts comprehend what was really going on. His eyes followed as Richard lifted a wrist and sliced into it with one of those white fangs, but he didn't really understand as it was held out to him, slowly oozing blood.
"Live or die," Richard told him in an almost gentle voice, "it is your choice now."
It didn't make sense, not really, but Linke understood enough to know what the choice was. He did not want to die and he could feel his breath coming shorter and shorter, so he opened his mouth. He found Richard's wrist being pressed against his lips and a few drops of blood dripped onto his tongue. It took an incredible effort to swallow, even as the wrist was taken away, but he did it and that was when the fire started. It began in his belly and exploded outward like napalm.
He reared up on the bed, screaming silently and clawing for deliverance, only to feel hands pushing him back to the bed.
"Let it go," Richard's voice trickled into his awareness as the pain engulfed him, "it will be over soon. I apologise for how confusing this will be, but it is necessary."
It felt like it went on for an eternity, but Linke felt his body slowly relaxing and giving up no matter what his brain thought. He could still taste the blood in his mouth and see Richard looking into his eyes, but it was all fading. The world was going dark and he couldn't stop it and he wondered if he was dying anyway.
David knocked on Linke's door and waited for some sort of response. If Linke wasn't feeling at least a little better today he was calling a doctor, even if Linke still objected; this was beyond flu. Linke had spent a day wandering around looking like the living dead and had then retreated to his room for another two and in David's book, that was time to call in people with know how.
There was no answer so he knocked again; Linke at least seemed to try to respond to the morning check up, or he had the past two days. Feeling a little worried, David opened the door a crack to see if Linke was just being very quiet.
"Linke, we're headed to the studio, do you want us to pick anything up for you?" he called quietly, since he knew too much noise hurt his friend at the moment.
Still no answer.
The room was dark, with the curtains pulled tightly closed against the outside world, so he slipped inside, closed the door and waited for his eyes to adjust. At first he could see very little, but, after a few moments, dark shapes began to make more sense and he could see Linke lying on the bed. The last two times he had been in Linke's room all he had been able to see was a bit of hair sticking out from under the duvet, but this time Linke was sprawled on the bed with the duvet pushed right back.
David hoped this meant Linke's fever had broken or something like that.
"Linke," he tried again, a little louder, but Linke didn't even twitch.
His worry began to increase as he stepped closer to the bed. Linke's position did not look comfortable at all and as he moved closer, David could hear very quiet, raspy breath sounds. He realised he needed to be able to see properly and he pulled one of the curtains open to let in the morning light. If the fact that Linke did not react was not bad enough, what he saw made him go cold.
Linke's skin was so white it was almost translucent. Not only that, but as he stepped right up to the bed he could see flecks of dried blood on Linke's lips and drops on the white pillow.
"Oh shit," he said as dread began to form in his heart.
He turned and all but ran to the door, wrenching it open as fast as he could.
"Someone call an ambulance, now!" he yelled at the top of his lungs and then went back to Linke.
His friend was barely breathing, but, remembering at least a little first aid, he rolled Linke into the recovery position, hoping that might at least help.
"What the hell?" Timo charged into the room just as he was finishing rolling Linke over.
"He's unconscious," David said, not sure what else to say, "we have to get him to a hospital."
Timo already had his phone to his ear, which made David feel a little better. This was bad, this was very bad.
His room definitely smelled funny, that was all Linke could think of as he tried to wake up. There was a strange beeping as well, that he was sure shouldn't have been there, but it wouldn't go away. If someone had put something in his room he might have to kill them, but only if he managed to actually open his eyes. He had to have been sleeping really heavily, because it was absurdly difficult and took him at least five tries, before he could keep his eyes from falling shut again straight away.
When he finally managed it, it was not the greatest victory, because his eyes didn't seem to be working too well. Everything was blurred and out of focus and he had to blink hard for quite some time to change that. Only when he had managed to just about focus on the ceiling did he realise it was not the one in his room. That was the impetus that kicked his thoughts into actually moving and it dawned on him he knew the smell; it was a hospital smell.
Moving his head took some forethought, much more than usual, but it was easier than opening his eyes at least, and he found that the beeping was coming from a monitor beside the bed and he was not alone. There was a chair next to the bed and in it was a sleeping David, looking very uncomfortable.
He was beginning to think that maybe his flu had been worse than he thought.
"Da..." he tried to speak and discovered his throat felt like someone had been at it with acid.
The cough that came next was body shaking and debilitating, but he couldn't do anything about it. He tried to sit up on instinct and that was an even worse idea as it made him cough more.
"Here," he felt hands trying to help him and a cup of water pressed to his lips.
He took a sip and it made him cough again, but it helped the burning, so as soon as he could he took another. The whole experience was very unsettling, but it was one way to kick start his system and he felt much more awake as David helped him to lie back against his pillows again.
"Welcome back," David said with a small smile that didn't quite remove the worry from his eyes.
There were so many questions in Linke's head that he didn't know what to say. He tried to remember how he had ended up in the hospital and when, but all he got was a blank.
"How long have I been here?" he eventually asked, voice scratchy, but working again.
"Since this morning," David told him, clearly looking him over, "I found you in your room."
"Guess it wasn't flu then," he responded and did his best to smile.
David did not look best pleased at his attempt at humour.
"They're not sure what it was," David said, still looking him over, "but you were horribly anaemic so they gave you a transfusion. They've been doing tests all day and don't seem to be any the wiser. You look a damn sight better now than you did this morning through."
"Since I'm awake I'll assume I feel better too," he said, trying not the dwell on the whole not knowing what was wrong with him part. "What time is it?"
David looked at his watch.
"About ten pm," David replied.
Linke tried to work out in his head how much time he had lost. He remembered Jan bringing him soup and then nothing, so it had to have been just over a day. That was probably bad.
"Have you been here the whole time?" he asked, wondering how come David had been asleep in the chair.
"They would only let one of us sit with you," David told him, "and I wouldn't let them kick me out when they sent the others home. Timo is still trying to get hold of your Mum and Dad, but they were going away for the weekend weren't they?"
Linke nodded; his parents were still having trouble with fans at the house and had decided to just get away from everything for a few days. Talk about timing.
"They've turned their mobiles off," he said, thinking about it; "the number of their lodge is on the pad in my room."
He would have left them to it, since he seemed to be getting better, but he knew his mother would kill him if someone didn't let her know that one of her sons was in hospital.
"I'll let Timo know when I call him to tell the guys you're awake," David said with a slightly more real smile.
Linke was actually surprised to find he was feeling more awake by the second as well, almost as if he was coming back to life. He sipped the water slowly, letting it soothe his throat and tried to take in his surroundings properly. He, like most of the planet, did not like hospitals, but this one didn't seem too bad. He was in a private room and the disinfectant smell wasn't overly noticeable now that he had other things to think about, which were two pluses at least.
"Thanks for sticking around," he said, and he really did appreciate the fact that David had been there when he woke up; he couldn't really imagine what it would have felt like to be alone and confused.
"No problem," David replied; "nurses don't frighten me. Look, I'll go ring the guys and let them know you're back with us, because they'll be doing their nuts, and then I'll see if I can find you something to read at the newsstand. I just know you're going to be begging for a book sooner rather than later."
He grinned at that; it was so very true.
"Just don't be too long or I might have to read my own chart and that would probably be bad for me," he joked back.
David grinned then, a full fledged, real grin and Linke was glad; it looked like he'd really worried his friends.
Linke rang the doorbell and waited for someone to let him in, since his keys were still in his room. It was Franky who answered the door and his friend did a double take the moment he saw him.
"Linke," Franky said, stating the obvious, "I thought you were going to be in the hospital another couple of days."
"I was," Linke said and stepped into the house before Franky could say anything else.
That clearly confused Franky, because he found himself being followed up the stairs as he headed for his room.
"Then how come you're here?" Frank asked, right on his heels.
"I snuck out," Linke replied and opened his door, walked in and stood in the doorway; "I hate hospitals."
Franky looked even more shocked, especially when he shut the door in his friend's face. He really appreciated them being there for him over the last couple of days, but he really, really needed some space to just be himself for a while. The hospital had just about driven him mad: eat now, sleep now, give us half your blood supply now. He had managed to stick it for a day and a half while conscious as the doctors tested him to hell and back, but, when someone had mentioned doing some of the tests all over again, he had decided enough was enough.
His parents had driven through the night to get there after Timo had finally reached them and they had been with him most of the time, but when they had left to finally get some rest he had decided to do a disappearing act. He had gathered what little stuff he had at the hospital, dressed and then snuck out. He'd sent his parents a text from the bus telling them where he was going and now he just wanted to sleep in peace in his own room for a while. He also wanted a proper shower, but that could wait until he had slept.
No doubt Franky was at that very moment giving the news to the others that he was back, but he didn't care. Throwing his plastic bag of stuff onto the chair, he pulled his curtains, walked to the bed and fell onto it face first. It was really bizarre, but ever since the beginning of his hospital stay he had to work to make himself stay awake in the middle of the day and was wide awake at night. He could only think that his swan dive and day of unconscious had wrecked his sleep patterns.
Someone had changed his bed sheets for him and he smiled at the smell of home as he clumsily kicked off his shoes, buried his face in the pillow and let himself relax.
This was much better. He had felt off balance the entire time he was in the hospital, like he was missing something, but now he was happy and he felt quite able to sleep. He was drifting off when he heard a tap at his door.
"Go away," he mumbled, but he doubted the sound carried even close to far enough to reach the other side of the door.
As he feared he heard the door open.
"Linke?" of course it was David; his personal angel of mercy.
David seemed to have decided to be chief Linke-sitter over the last few days and although he appreciated it, Linke really didn't want to see anyone right at that moment.
"Please go away," he muttered into the pillow.
"You supposed to still be in the hospital," David pointed out and Linke sighed.
Lifting his head, he looked at his friend in the dim light in his room. He was still photosensitive, even though it was better than before his hospital trip and his eyes liked the dark so he could see David quite clearly.
"They wanted to start the tests all over again," he said shortly; "they have no idea what's wrong with me and I doubt they ever will, but I'm getting better all by myself. Now I just want to sleep, please."
He really would have loved to tell the whole world to fuck off, but everyone had been so good to him lately that he couldn't bring himself to do it. It was difficult to keep the whine out of his voice.
"Should we expect your parents to be turning up any moment?" David finally asked.
"Probably," Linke said, sensing victory and putting his head back down; "just tell them I'll talk to them when I wake up."
There was silence for a while and he let himself relax again, almost beginning to drift off.
"Okay," David said in a resigned voice, "but if we have to call an ambulance again I'm letting Timo kick your arse."
Linke smiled into the pillow and gave David the finger, which made David chuckle quietly. He would have replied with something more witty, but the bus ride with no dark glasses, in the middle of the day, had taken it out of him and now all he wanted to do was lie in the dark. Much to his pleasure, he heard David leaving and then he let the world fade away.
Tetchy; that was how Linke would have described his mood. He had spent an entire day trying to convince his parents he did not need dragging back to the hospital. In the end he had had to placate his mother by going to the doctor and having the doctor agree that he appeared to be fine apart from his reaction to light. In fact he felt stronger and healthier than he had done for a while. Even the doctor had had to admit that it was possible he'd had some sort of virus which had affected him very badly and now it was gone.
Then and only then, after he had backup from the medical establishment, had he managed to pack his parents off home and start thinking about getting on with his life rather than having it on hold. The band needed to finish the album and that was what he intended to focus on.
It was, however, the middle of the night, he couldn't sleep and every time he tried to read or use the laptop he found his attention wavering. It was very frustrating indeed. He was also hungry and, since he'd eaten a whole pizza by himself only a couple of hours previously, that was annoying as well. Ever since he had returned to the house a day and a half before he had been putting away food like there was no tomorrow and tonight he was hungry again.
He was feeling out of sorts and hoped to god that he wasn't falling ill again and he kept dwelling on it so he couldn't concentrate on anything else. What he needed was someone to talk about nothing to, so he put his book aside and headed downstairs. To his pleasure he found David sitting in the living room, acoustic guitar in hand, scribbling on a bit of paper. If David was writing then that meant David would probably be there half the night, which suited Linke fine. It also meant that he didn't have to think of anything to talk about, all he had to do was sit and listen.
"Don't mind me," he said as David looked up at him as he walked in.
"You okay?" David asked, completely ignoring his instruction and that said a lot about how much he must have scared his friends, because David very rarely noticed anything when he was composing.
"Fine," he lied smoothly, "just can't sleep."
"That will be the two litres of coke you polished off with the 12'' pizza," David said with a grin and looked back down at his piece of paper.
"That could have something to do with it," Linke agreed and smiled as well, before folding himself into a chair.
He made himself comfortable as David began plucking out a tune. If he'd had his bass close by, he wouldn't have been able to resist joining in, but as it was he relaxed back and just watched, using David as a way to keep his mind off his problems.
The song did not sound familiar, so he had to assume it was a new one; probably one of Timo's deep and meaningful ones. Timo had been looking pensive lately, which tended to mean a new set of lyrics would be forthcoming. It made Linke smile to think that he had probably contributed to this one with his dying swan act; such upheaval often sent Timo into a writing frenzy. Actually, it tended to do that to all of them, so there would probably be a few songs in the works very shortly.
He found himself slipping into a sort of daze as he watched his friend at work. David would pluck something on the guitar then write on the paper and then repeat the process. It was relaxing to watch, and David was very pretty when he was concentrating.
Linke sat up, shocked at himself and wondering where that thought had come from. He didn't think about his friends that way, he didn't think about any guys that way.
"Everything okay?" David asked, having seen his sharp movement.
"Yeah," Linke said, faking a smile, "foot went to sleep and cramped."
It was a lame excuse, but David seemed to be just about wrapped up in his music enough to accept it. Since it would look suspicious if he got up and walked out, Linke let himself sink back into the chair still trying to figure out where the thought had come from. Maybe he was higher on sugar than he thought; he could just imagine what Timo would do to him if he put the moves on David. His life wouldn't be worth living even if he swung that way.
Eventually he relaxed again, putting the thought down as a momentary aberration. Watching David's hands moving across the strings was almost hypnotising. David had nice hands; long piano-maestro fingers and short, neat nails. There would be calluses on those fingers, little rough places like on his own fingers that would undoubtedly feel interesting if ... He caught himself as the thought threatened to get away from him and desperately tried to hunt down its source. This time he didn't move, but he found his eyes fixed on David.
As ever, David's hair was completely failing to obey any style rules and was falling around David's face in a complete mop. It was funny, but somehow that suited David perfectly. Linke tried to imagine David with completely perfect hair and totally failed. He realised his thoughts had skipped again, and what was more worrying was that it had been harder to pull himself back. It was beginning to dawn on him that he felt rather out of control and this was not normal.
David looked up at him and smiled and he smiled back and decided that David should smile much more often, because it really was a lovely smile. There was so much life in that smile; nothing made David come alive like music. He found his shock dissipating as he let his eyes roam over David; after all, he was only looking.
David absently pushed his hair back behind his ear, revealing a long portion of pale neck and Linke found himself captivated. He actually felt his pulse speed up and he licked his lips, biting his bottom lip lightly as his eyes zeroed in on the blood vessel he could clearly see beneath the skin. Everything else became irrelevant as his mind narrowed his world to just David.
It was like his contact with the world went up a notch as sounds and smells and images became so much clearer. He could smell the shampoo David must have washed his hair with earlier; he could hear David's steady pulse. It was amazing and overwhelming and he found himself slowly standing up as he felt the need to be closer to the source of such wonder.
David was playing a short tune and seemed totally oblivious to his approach, so he was all but standing over his friend when David finally looked up.
"Something I can..." David trailed off when their eyes met.
Linke just stood there looking for a little while as David's gaze went kind of glassy. When he reached out and took the guitar, David let him, sitting there and looking into his eyes as if nothing else existed.
"I'm hungry, David," Linke found himself saying, "will you help me?"
It was like part of him knew what he was doing, but the rest didn't, only the part that did was in control of his body.
David was gazing up at him and nodded slowly, which made him smile. It was then that he felt his teeth moving; it was the oddest sensation, but he really didn't care as his eyes once again fixed on the pulsing blood vessel in David's neck. He knew what he wanted then; knew what he needed and he dimly remembered teeth on his own neck. He didn't know if he was about to consign David to the same fate, but he couldn't stop himself anyway.
Very carefully, he pushed David back into the chair and David let him again, head going back against the back of the chair so that Linke had the perfect view of David's long elegant neck. He leant down eagerly, opening his mouth and placing his fangs against that pale skin. It didn't take more than the tiniest pressure for his teeth to slide into that waiting flesh and he heard David gasp quietly.
Now he remembered the pain of a very similar bite, several bites actually, but, as blood hit his mouth, he remembered the pleasure as well, because it was the most sensual experience he had ever had. The blood running down his throat was better than the hands of a lover, as arousal and pleasure coursed through him. David mewed quietly as he pushed their bodies together, chest to chest as he drank. He could feel David's body all but vibrating and David's hands came up to cling to his arms.
It couldn't have been more than a few seconds really; he didn't take that much, but David shuddered against him, gasping and clinging and then went limp. It was that which made him break away and even as he watched, the two neat little holes in David's neck closed as if they had never been there. All that was left were two tiny trails of blood.
Need fulfilled, he felt his fangs retreating and the room returning to normal levels in his awareness and with that came reality. He pushed himself away from David and scrambled backwards until he was standing in the middle of the room. All he could do was stare at where David was collapsed in the chair, totally unable to believe what he had just done.
He was a monster out of a nightmare; he had just attacked his friend; this couldn't be happening. Shock coursed through him and he began to shake, legs going weak and forcing him to sit down. He literally couldn't believe what he had just done, it wouldn't resolve in his brain and it paralyzed him. He sat there staring, totally unable to do anything but shake.
End of Part 1