1. Louis and Daniel, cell phone
“Long time no see,” Daniel said, drifting up out of the darkness.
He looked as beautiful as any of their kind, an opalescent mother-of-pearl creature with his gleaming violet eyes and pale hair.
He’d been so much more beautiful before he died.
Still, Louis smiled up from the spray-painted park bench he’d been inhabiting since rising from a disused crypt.
“Indeed," he said, "but I’m afraid that I no longer speak to the press.”
Sad, edged smile Daniel had, on the face of a man older by seven years than Louis would ever seem. Sitting together, they must appear as they had died-–a pair of lovely, wasted drunks exposed to the elements and criminals.
“I got out of that business years ago, man,” Daniel said with a shake of his shaggy head. “Fiction pays better.”
“And you always find a way to hide that thread of truth, don’t you?”
“I do try.” Encoded, all of their truths; hidden in plain sight. Other things hid, too, in the casual stretch of an arm along the bench, the brush of an ever-callused hand to Louis’ shoulder.
The slip of a finger into the unraveling seam; two corpses touching where one once lived.
“I got you something,” Daniel said, near whisper. A small, black device, heavy for its size, with a blue-lit digital display.
Louis didn’t keep utilities. He forgot to pay, when indeed he bothered to rent rather than squat. No electricity, no gas, no water–no phones.
“So next time I’ll know,” Daniel’s whisper was nearly harsh in the soft blue night. “I came by last week and... ” His sobbing inhale and digging nails took the place of description.
The ashes would practically have been still warm, following Lestat’s mortal rage.
And Daniel had… feared. For Louis, dead inside and out, the one who'd ruined him first and worst.
“It’s prepaid,” the no-longer-boy continued, staring down into the trodden-down grass and dirt, “and the batteries’ll last forever. My number’s in there. If I call–-”
2. Marius/Daniel, memories
These are the things Daniel remembers:
There are good days. The ones that pass in blurs of slow, exacting movement and still, artificial life. He makes beautiful cities that respond only to his touch, and in them he sees all that could have been. In those miniature worlds Louis takes Daniel in his arms and gives him blood, and they’re together for all eternity. Armand stays by his side, and Daniel doesn’t emerge to find that secrets too precious for his ears are now splashed across the bestseller list. He understands what went wrong in those worlds.
On bad days, Marius is there. Marius tells him things will be alright soon, and lays out maps for Daniel to follow, clothes to wear. Bad days are easy: all he needs to do is empty his head and listen. He’s come to the End of the World, and found solace there. The madness that animated his bones and his tongue and his feet has leeched away. A reporter listens, and makes an excellent student. He’s held safe, and he understands.
He stores the madness in his cities, where it is safe to scream.
3. Jesse/Gabrielle, uniform
“Now bear with me; I’ve only done this once.”
The clippers hummed, traveling over Gabrielle's scalp and leaving heaps of gold in their wake.
Jesse chewed her lower lip, fang exposed and heedless of it while she concentrated so hard on leaving Gabrielle’s head like a stubbled field after the harvest.
They’d already trimmed it, enough to bring a small fortune from a wigmaker, and yet there this impossible quantity still dropped to her shoulders and the floor and the crevice between her breasts.
She felt so light, with it removed. Air stirred the back of her neck, and she ran her fingers back and forth over the bristled side.
“Want a mirror?”
“Not until I’ve dressed.” Really, Jesse should know better. “You next?”
Green eyes went wide.
“Come on. It’s only one night, if you don’t like it.”
Finally her young, young, young lover (thirty-five and no more; Gabrielle had been a woman of forty-three, with seven children, two hundred years ago) rose to the bait.
Red joined the gold, heaping softly about them in a nest, and she was almost sorry to see it go. Jesse looked so much smaller without that fullness about her face, a shocked, naked paleness broken up by small mouth, thin brick brows (plucked to current fashion and sure to be stuck that way), and most of all the eyes.
‘Flames in a skull,’ Daniel had written about Lestat’s love, and what was it about green?
They showered afterward, cleaning the clippings from one another’s skin, Gabrielle’s body different than Jesse’s clean-shaven one beneath the hot water. And then they dressed.
Gabrielle felt good in her clothes-–heavy boots, leather and denim and twill with tight, tight things underneath--and then she looked in the mirror.
“Thank you, Jesse,” she said, before setting her cap atop the uniform buzzed fuzz.
4. Armand/Daniel, pizza
“You can’t expect me to eat that.” Daniel looked down in horror at the thing on the table, a bubbling concoction of soy sauce and cheez-with-a-z (thanks to Armand’s delighted discovery of aerosol cans) and wasted imported pineapple. He regretted ever wishing for the day that the vampire would grow tired of appliances.
“Tell me what it tastes like,” Armand ordered, eyes bright. He had burns on his fingers where he hadn’t bothered using oven mitts. At least he’d remembered to turn it off.
“You do it.” He’d thought vampires could still taste even if they couldn’t swallow. Maybe this was just a new form of torture, payback for putting his foot down about the couple last night. He was tired. He was always tired now.
“The experience won’t be real unless it’s you. I’ll get it from you after.” Like his head was a goddamn library.
“No.” It was stupid to get killed over pizza, but he’d had it. Had it with the late nights and the questions and the strangers fucking him numb while Armand barely deigned to touch his mind. “Get someone else.” He got up and threw the mess of dough into the garbage, retreating to the bedroom that was just one of many. He couldn’t have eaten it even if he wanted to. His stomach revolted against everything lately. The sheets were soft against his aches, and he wished he’d had the foresight to bring painkillers and whiskey. He’d be down for the count now.
A glass of water was pressed against his cheek; Armand helped him sit up and swallow. Armand’s movements were detached, his face curious - no doubt he’d plucked what Daniel needed out of his head with no idea why. But the press of his tormentor against his back was a relief, even as one of those cold hands pressed against the single raw, red mark under his ribs. Not the last, unless. Kill me, kill me , Daniel begged inside the safety of his head. Anything but this .
Armand only pressed closer, all his force of will and mental power forbidding Daniel to die, like he really believed it would work.
“Sorry, boss,” Daniel breathed. “Ball’s in your court.”
5. Daniel/Marius, promises
(Yes, both of up got prompts for this pairing on the same night)
Daniel was mad, but he would be sane again. Marius had promised. And then Daniel could leave.
Marius took care of him, as he did for others. The ones who needed it.
He held Daniel when he cried, too hard, harder than he should after something pleasant. Being loved shouldn’t make a boy cry.
Marius promised that Amadeo had learned, so long ago.
Armand would love Daniel again, someday, when he was better.
Marius promised, fangs sunk deep in Daniel’s neck, pressing him down into velvet red as the tears on his face.