Consciousness tunes in like it might from a radio dial. Slowly, with a cocktail of static and the lyrical, misunderstood pleas of perfect strangers. The connection is awful so it takes twice as long and is more disorienting still. It figures the metaphorical gadget in his own mind would be faulty somehow. It’s hilarious, actually.
“I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy...”
Everything hurts. Even opening his eyes takes a kind of strength and concentration he’s pretty sure he just doesn’t have right now. The slightest motion makes him feel as though he’s going to be sick. But what the fuck, there’s the distinct and irresistible smell of coffee in the stale air along with something less inviting he realizes as he struggles to prop himself up, his arms give way and he falls face first against the dirty sheets. An effluvia of dried, salty fluids.
“Because I'm easy come, easy go...”
The poor blonde bastard that Armand took a shining to last night is, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be seen. The warmth of a genuine smile flashes behind Daniel’s eyes, the gentle but insistent brush of a thumb on his jaw, on his- The bedroom is empty, the door cracked, the shades drawn. There’s an expensive looking red pea-coat drawn over the chair in the corner of the room that faces the bed. It must have been custom made. It clung to the blonde so perfectly he might as well have stepped out from the pages of this month's Vogue. Only a red coat left behind. A small thing, really but it speaks volumes, it fills tapes, it makes Daniel’s empty stomach churn. His whiskey mind, soft around the edges and dizzy, spins. He takes a deep breath and blows it back out against the bed. It smells awful. He probably smells awful too.
“Little high, little low...”
Queen is on the radio in the kitchen but it’s not Freddie he’s hearing... It’s a voice more full, infinitely more sad and beseeching and full of dark poetry and Jesus Christ there’s a goddamn vampire singing pop songs in his apartment. Well, their apartment… The vampire he shares an apartment with is singing pop songs in the kitchen and, yeah, there’s really no way to rearrange that to sound more sane. He chokes back a laugh. It’s only been a handful of months since they came to- what? A truce? An understanding? Daniel can’t tell and when he thinks about it too much his vision blurs and he gets that immaculate drunken feeling again and loses the fine thread of thought to the infinite tapestry of his mind.
All he knows is that he’s got it in the worst way for this creature and everything, everything is blissfully, painfully, rapturously out of his hands... Days (nights) are starting to blur together in a different way than when he was on the run. He still wakes up at noon sometimes, sweating, crying, laughing- where the hell am I? He goes back to sleep plagued by fever dreams and lust, lust, lust .
“Anyway the wind blows doesn't really matter to me, to me...”
Daniel sits himself up and scrubs a hand over his light stubble, his eyes, runs his fingers over the deep and numerous puncture wounds on his neck. Not tears, just mementos from the ‘little drinks’. It must have been a wild night and doesn't that just completely explain the weakness he’s feeling now? The dizziness . He can’t remember most of it but what he sees in the back of his mind contains hot skin and hotter strangers and small private rooms, designer drugs, an unyielding stare...
Of course Armand could heal the wounds instantly if he wanted to. Of course it didn’t suit his fancy to do so. Of course Daniel didn’t really want him to, anyway.
Pulling on whatever slacks are closest to the foot of the bed, sorry blonde guy (what was his name ), and pushing his glasses up his nose Daniel stumbles out of the rented bedroom wearing nothing else. His feet pad clumsily on the old tile and a lopsided smile pulls the corner of his mouth at the sight of Armand, singing earnestly to the cupboards and the porcelain sink and the electric coffee maker. Daniel laughs, giggles really, and slides his arms around Armand’s waist, slotting their bodies together. He hooks his thumbs in the front pockets of his familiars jeans and kisses his auburn hair. Armand stops singing and pushes back against Daniel just the slightest bit.
“Lover,” Armand sighs bluntly. It makes Daniel’s face heat up, the old fashioned secrecy of it. Lover . How dramatic and clandestine and inviting and perfectly Armand. It was stupid to be embarrassed about such a little thing in light of all that had passed between them, what he felt (hoped) was on the horizon.
“That’s… God, that’s really embarrassing, you know…” Daniel buries his face in the crook of Armand’s neck. He opens his mouth against the stolen warmth of the skin beneath the drape of impossibly soft hair, “Your singing voice is really… Gloomy.”
Apparently he’s spoiling for a fight, the serene domesticity scaring him more than he thought it would. Suddenly every tick of the clock on the wall sounds like a heartbeat, each one bringing him that much closer to death. What happened to the blonde? Yes, scared. Of course Armand’s singing is actually the most beautiful thing he’s ever heard and the altar, the cathedral he’s constructing for Armand in his mind becomes that much more ornate for it, his worship more fervent. Armand tenses in his arms but makes no other move. Daniel feels the insistent bite of regret that accompanies turning into an asshole but clinging to your conscience. Ah, well. It’s not like it’s undeserved.
“Is my only reward for selflessness to be petty insults and dull, womanly insecurities, Daniel? You disappoint me…” Blessedly, Armand sounds indulgent. Willing to play. Whatever happened last night must have pleased him… He takes Daniel’s hands out of his pockets and cradles them. Daniel is struck yet again by those fine, silken instruments as Armand laces their fingers together and drops his head to give Daniel more access to the skin of his neck.
“Selflessness?” Daniel asks skeptically, his lips halting momentarily as the fog in his mind clears, gathers, clears, “Oh, the coffee!”
And he’s gone in an instant, the promise of caffeine and a warm cup in his hand apparently more seductive than Armand’s rare display of vulnerability. Armand’s eyebrow jumps high on his otherwise impassive face as Daniel takes the mug and raises it to his nose. He wears a look of concentration and severity that ages him a little, makes him look almost as haggard as he feels. Armand takes careful note. Files it away.
“Why are you smelling it like that?” Armand asks coolly, his eyes never leaving Daniel as the young man drops almost pathetically into the chair by the window. So weak, so pale, so gaunt. Those ridiculous goggles make his face looks so small, almost dopey. Such a crime to hide that face. He detects a tremor in Daniel’s dominant hand. That’s new. The morning paper is on the table.
“Is that even a question?” Daniel snorts as he scans the headlines. He rephrases a few of them in his head out of habit. Makes them flow better, gives them the magnetism they need to really draw people in. “A week ago you brewed my coffee through cigarette butts and like, dirt or some ungodly shit.”
“But you like cigarettes. It should have been an improvement.” Armand crosses his arms and his hands disappear into the too long sleeves of his over sized oatmeal sweater as Daniel shakes his head and dives back into the paper. He doesn’t have to look up to know that Armand is standing over his shoulder.
“Any way the wind blows…”
“Armand, get that thing outta’ my face,” Daniel pleads, pressing his hand up to cover the lens of their new Nizo film camera, “This isn’t exactly glamorous.”
“Nonsense. You look very handsome. Or you would if you took those spectacles off,” Armand replies sweetly and backs up a couple feet, scanning the cramped bathroom with the camera before holding it steady. The tired old exchange of Daniel making excuses for the bulky accessory and Armand stubbornly refusing to accept a reality that doesn't align with his whims passes between them telepathically, instantaneously. Daniel sighs and pulls a razor blade a bit clumsily down his cheek. The tremor, perhaps. There’s white soap covering just a fraction of his face and he’s still naked save for the stolen pants of last night's experiment.
Ah, what an illuminating success that had been, Armand recalls with perfect clarity. How accommodating and bold that young man had been. How eager to follow Armand while poor Daniel, still a bit shy in this sense, very unsure, bit his tongue and followed the lead that was given him.
Their new friend laughed loudly and walked confidently and frequently tossed his wild golden hair. A true bon vivant. A charming philosopher and Believer in Things, himself most of all. How Daniel had melted for him, utterly mesmerized and yes, more than a little high on one thing or another but nonetheless present and willing. Remarkable, Daniel’s ability to fall in love. The spark can come from a turn of phrase to a fluidity of motion to a small gap in the front teeth. Daniel is a fool and a lover, willing to give himself away to anyone who will have him and it infuriates Armand to no end. No, he will cure his beloved of this ailment. It simply isn’t healthy.
At Armand’s request they left one light on in the small, low bedroom as they fell together in a desperate, reckless tangle. Of course their new friend extended a hand to Armand- beautiful, inquisitive Armand. He smiled and suggested they all three share in this freedom as he expertly worked Daniel into a moaning, quivering mess. Oh, Daniel… Armand replied simply that he preferred to watch which only seemed to encourage the young man. He promised to put on a good show and just as Armand had detected he was good for his word.
Daniel’s eyes darted constantly towards the chair in the corner where Armand sat, legs crossed, fingers pressed together as if in prayer under his chin. There was a strange almost beseeching look on Daniel’s face as he bit his lip and sighed and begged and Armand carded furiously through his mind for an explanation. The first time that evening Daniel gasped, went rigid and groaned against the sheets calling only for Armand it struck the immortal silent. He then proceeded to make sure it happened three more times. An experienced director and lover, he patiently called out instructions to his guest that ensured nothing but rapturous pleasure for his Daniel. Over and over.
“You’re wasting all that tape, Armand,” Daniel scolds halfheartedly. He’s beginning to catch on that in this new life of his there will never be a shortage of anything. Money, things, experiences- they’re infinite now. It makes him faint to consider the vastness.
Time . The one thing he doesn’t have nearly enough of. Armand promised him the world but the one thing Daniel would asked for, the thing he needs in order to enjoy the universe Armand has opened up, he was denied.
“I’m not. I’m working on a new film... Do you want to be famous, Daniel? I can do that, you know,” Armand adjusts the lens delicately and takes a step closer to the sink. “Mortals will pay to see your likeness smile and move. Make love to the camera, Daniel. Look at me.
Daniel laughs at the absurdity of it and his cheeks color. Young again, not at all the skeptic with the coffee cup.
“If you make me laugh again before I finish this the only thing I’ll be fit for is a slasher flick.” The words don’t fully register meaning until after they’ve been picked up by the camera. Daniel’s whole expression changes as he turns towards Armand, eyes to the floor.
“Look at me,” Armand repeats. He’s still recording when Daniel lifts the razor back up to his throat, eyes now locked onto the lens. “Daniel, don’t .”
The scent of blood saturates the air as Daniel pulls the blade deliberately across his skin with a curious smile. Armand sucks in a breath but holds tight to his camera. What will the blood look like on film? Grainy quality, of course, but it must be capturing the heavy, fast rise and fall of Daniel’s naked chest. The way the fluorescent light makes the blood shine as it drips down his freckled shoulder and onto the linoleum floor. A little stream bright and thick. Was there any hope of the microphone picking up Daniel’s quiet gasping? He might as well be panting hot against Armand’s ear.
Idiot. I told you not to.
The speed with which Armand takes action once he makes up his mind is utterly inconceivable. Daniel sees his lover's sweater soar out the doorway then feels the contours of the bathtub chill his skin all before his razor hits the floor. Within another blink of his eyes he feels the impossibly light density of Armand on top of him, knees on either side of Daniel’s body. The tub is dry and clean but small and one of Daniel’s long legs sticks out the side while the other bends awkwardly up the wall. Armand’s hair is wild, the ends brushing Daniels cheeks. There’s a moment of hesitation where Armand simply looks at him before he bends his head and licks the blood from Daniel’s neck.
Armand moves slowly and thoroughly, his tongue exact and graceful as a calligrapher's pen. Thanks to dear, sweet Louis he had regained much of the libidinous expertise lost to him during his years under Les Innocents. Yes, with the right balance, pressure and force he could have this mortal shaking in mere moments. And how sweet the sound of his heartbeat as it quickens. How beguiling the shallowness of his breath and the clutch of his fingers as he runs them up and down Armand’s hard, naked back.
“Yes, love,” Armand interrupts, picking the thought from Daniel’s mind and continuing between strokes of his tongue, “It’s dreadful isn’t it... So unyielding… Nothing like yours…”
To emphasize his point, Armand slides his fangs gently over the nicked skin and relishes in the supple give. He rubs his thumb at the corner of Daniel’s mouth before slipping it into the wet heat. Daniel sucks on the digit, filthy, groaning, completely overwhelmed by the lavish images Armand is cloaking him in and the promise of the swoon and the impossible hardness of the immortal boy against his groin.
Lips replace teeth as Armand sucks persistently at the cut. He doesn’t want to add another set of holes to this battlefield of puncture wounds. Daniel is really in no shape for this… Ah, but to feel Daniel shudder and grab and whimper and suck in a way that would never satisfy him. It only serves to resurrect the ghosts of pleasures Armand used to revel in.
“You need to eat something,” Armand whispers, kissing up the length of Daniel’s throat, taking his earlobe between cool lips. He pulls his thumb from his paramour’s mouth with a wet pop, “You worry me…”
“No, you have to do it, please, Armand, what happened last night? I feel like I’m dying,” Daniel sobs, puts his hand on the back of Armand’s head and weakly tries to pull him back to his neck. It couldn't be more obvious that Daniel is pouting. Manipulative and melodramatic. He works himself up then lashes out when he doesn't get his way. Funny that they should find one another, each having to look his own nasty petulance in the face. Oh no, the likeness doesn’t stop there...
“Hush, you’re not dying, Daniel. You’re simply tired and hungry... You were so good last night,” Armand continues quietly, peppering Daniels jaw with kisses, rocking against him rhythmically. “So strapping… I fear you broke my heart.”
“What heart?” Defiant even through the haze of arousal. These cruel games serve no purpose but on they play. It’s love, isn’t it?
“Oh, you intend to cut me now,” Armand laughs and sits up, looking down at Daniel with narrowed eyes he rubs his lips together, spreading the blood like makeup. He places his hands low on his lover’s pelvis and pushes them up slowly along his torso, punctuating his words with the tortuous rolling of his hips, “The sting of your words is rather blunted by the breathless way in which you gasp them, Sir .”
“Armand,” Daniel whimpers as his nipples are pressed and rubbed by his master's cruel fingers. “Give it to me.”
“You have everything already yet you choose to see nothing,” Armand hisses, leaning low again and looking despairingly into Daniel’s violet eyes before yanking the glasses off his face, throwing them against the wall and disappearing with preternatural speed.
“Daniel,” Armand whispers brightly. The record on the turntable is spinning and spinning though nothing comes from the speakers but cracks and jumps of sound. It’s probably for the best as Armand can barely stand the panting, clumsy vocalizing and lazy electric hammering.
“Hmm,” Daniel replies lazily. He wants to get up and turn that record over but somehow Your Time is Gonna Come doesn’t seem like tactful background music. Armand is too inclined to take things as deep and poetic signs from some higher power and Daniel just doesn't have the energy to break the news that it’s really just his favorite Zeppelin album. No, babe, it’s not an omen or a portent. It’s just the first track on the record. No cosmic conspiracy involved.
“Is this remedy working, my love?” Armand digs his skillful fingers into the tense muscles of his paramour’s shoulders. Surely Daniels heavy, contented sighs are a clear enough affirmation but Armand can’t resist the easy praise. Perhaps that’s petty, desperate even. Who cares?
“God, yes…” Daniel hums, his head lolling forward in complete surrender. It’s comfortable between Armand’s legs with his back leaning against the chest of his familiar. He rests the hand not holding the glass of whiskey on the immortal boy’s shapely thigh and his face heats at the hardness against his back. Could it be that it’s always-
“Such thoughts, Daniel! You exhaust me with your stamina. Shall I find you another playmate?” Armand continues his work on Daniel’s shoulders, firm circles that pull out satisfying little cries. Just lovely, soft things.
Daniel thinks of the blonde. Beautiful and proud and dead. The rooms spins a little as he shuts his eyes to it and downs the whiskey.
“No, I’m not… Armand, why did you… Why him?” The red coat is still in the room haunting them. Daniel begins to shiver beneath Armand's gentle touch.
“Oh, beautiful one…” Armand smooths his hands over Daniels quivering shoulders and runs them up and down his arms. Leaning close, he places his lips just below Daniel’s ear. It’s touching, heartbreaking. For Louis to have unintentionally enthralled this curious, dark romantic and for fate to have delivered him directly to Armand… When he speaks again it’s a music full of tenderness and patience. A soothing song that cloaks the senses and begs to be forgiven, to be loved. “He was a liar… You surprise me. For all your talk, all your lusty dreaming and idyllic notions, all your begging and torturing me for the Dark Gift, that this one death should bother you…”
“I just…” Daniel opens his eyes to a world swimming with tears. It was all true but damn it, he could change. He must. To live forever at Armand’s side is everything to him so damn the dead blonde and the way his heart aches for him. More and more tears coming for the smote humanist who held Daniel like a virgin and whispered poetry against his lips. Curse this stupid, mortal weakness.
“Shh, you mustn't think such things,” A flurry of kisses to the shell of Daniel’s ear, to his neck. “Don’t be so quick to cast off those honorable badges. To feel such compassion, ah…You weep for that man even… Oh, Daniel...”
“I can kill, Armand. Let me go with you tomorrow, please.” Just don’t make me sleep with them.
“You don’t know what it is you ask of me. I love you. I want you to feel. I need you to. True they will use you Daniel, and lie to you and abandon you. But they do not deserve your scorn or your ill intent. You are apart of them. Louis spared you for a reason. The only one to ever escape him, did you know? Be strong for me, that’s all I ask of you.” Armand sighs and wraps his arms around Daniel’s chest, holding him flush. Oh, this man and his mood swings. His blinding highs and suffocating lows. His bellowing screams and his bubbling laughter. Riotous to suicidal. Inquisitive and timidly bold and easy to read as a magazine.
Armand’s preternatural heart thumps then flutters. How much love this mortal feels for him. And how much he needs that love. At last, at last, at last.
“Tell me, Daniel,” Armand nuzzles the impossibly warm skin before him. A neck now healed of every puncture and bruise. A blank canvas before a starved, fervent artist. “When that man was hilted within you and you writhed against him, sweating, moaning, begging...Yes, you were... Who was it that you desired?”
“You already know…” Daniel whispers, ashamed, subdued.
“Say it.” This feeling is sweeter, richer than blood and twice as sustaining. Ah, to be a god of old who needs only the worship of those who love and depend on you to thrive.
“Only you, Armand. I want only you.”