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One Way or Another

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The sight of them locked in each other’s arms, amorous and starved for eachother made Charley’s stomach turn painfully but he could not look away however much he wanted to. Words bubbled up in his throat, pleas for Amy to stop but he couldn’t force them out, his fingers curling into fists in the dirt beneath him, aching with the effort to keep still. Only Peter’s hiss of pain beside him kept him half aware of the nest of wild newborns circling the edge of the sunlight, barely holding them out of reach.

It took him a few moments to recognise that the sick feeling inside him was not because he was disgusted, not really. Well, he was, the disgust was definitely there, but it was firmly pointed at himself, because he just couldn’t find it in himself to close his eyes, transfixed by the sight of Jerry, face smeared with his own blood, coaxing hungry kisses from Amy’s willing mouth, clawed fingers buried in her blonde hair like they belonged there. Like she had always been his.

A shivering breath worked its way out of him by sheer force at the thought, and Charley realised he hadn’t been breathing, not that that would be a problem soon, the way things were looking. The only air down in the basement was heavy with old dust, the scent of death and the torturous sound of two undead creatures enjoying each other and he wanted nothing more than for it to end.

At least then he wouldn’t have to sit here, prey to his own guilt, and worst of all, the slow burn of jealousy underneath it when he looked at the way Amy melted like a burning candle into Jerry’s arms. If he examined that feeling any more closely, Charley was afraid he might put too much thought into how it might feel to be so worshipfully ensconced in the elder vampire's seemingly gentle clutches, and that it was not Jerry he was jealous of at all.

“Oh, look. A free show,” Peter groaned at his side, his sorry attempt for a laugh bubbling into a worrying gurgling noise that sounded thick and painful, like blood caught in his throat, and Charley cast a worried look over the older man.

It was obvious that he didn’t have long left.

His skin was an angry patchwork quilt of raw skin around the various bites visible over his arms through the torn material of his shirt. Jagged scratches rose in ugly red welts over his neck and chest, transitioning from thick lines to deep cuts, like blunt human fingernails started the wounds and vampiric claws had finished them. Underneath streaks of blood, Peter was browning, crisping up like over-fried chicken skin in the light.

It looked like late stage sunburn slowly darkening to third degree, spreading right before his eyes, and even through the thin sleeve of his shirt, Charley could feel the heat of his skin, a contained flame that would only erupt when the turning was complete.

Charley had seen what it had done to Doris. He had watched her stagger to her knees just feet from Jerry’s front porch when they had managed to escape the house, the desert sunlight cutting through her like a knife through warm butter. Her last agonised scream was a shrill siren that had rung in his ears for many hours after he had watched her collapse into a pile of dust, the rotting remains of her arm lingering on long after most of her had blown away in the warm breeze. It had laid there, twitching on the grass like it was making an aborted movement to escape the light and Charley had been frozen, watching as it too slowly succumbed to the sun and withered away to nothing.

He’d be damned if he’d watch it happen again.

“Peter,” Charley shifted carefully to his knees on the pile of debris, keeping clear of the border that rent light into shadow, the dust from the brickwork wafting up into the sunlight as he moved, “You don’t have much time.”

That bubbling laugh sounded again, and Peter choked on it, curling up into himself like he wanted to wrap his long thin arms around his stomach but it caused him too much pain.

“Neither do you, kiddo,” Came the hissed response, and it may have sounded like gallows humour if it hadn’t come through gritted teeth. Charley reached out to touch him, careful to avoid the obvious bites and scratches, and he could feel Peter’s eyes on him but he couldn’t meet them, not when all of this was his idea. Not when Peter was going to die, and it was all his fault.

“They bit you too much,” The newborns chittered around the circle of sunlight as if pleased, but Charley barely heard them over the sizzle and hiss of Peter’s skin in the sunlight. It was steadily growing louder, like white noise in the near silent basement, and the thin vapours pouring off of him were starting to smoke, “You’re changing too fast. You have to get out of the light or you’ll die.”

He expected a witty remark, a curse word or two or maybe a joke, but Peter looked so exhausted when he looked up that Charley almost flinched. His face was pinched in a pained frown, like he was trying to bite back the agony and failing miserably, like if he opened his mouth to speak, only screaming would come out. He would not have the quick death that Doris had. He was slowly burning alive at the speed the venom was spreading and Charley gripped hold of the lapels of his leather jacket, dragging him up so that Peter could hear him.

“You need to tell me what to do,” Charley rushed out in a hushed whisper, fingers slipping over the leather as it turned soft at his touch, the white noise rising to the constant hiss of a snake pit and before his eyes, Peter’s skin started to bubble, “I’m not going to let you die-”

“Such a drama queen, Charley,” Peter’s smile was a bloodsoaked thing, a spark of that swaggering charm he only usually displayed half dressed and soaked in Midori, but it was quick to fade, his hand coming up to curve over the boy’s shoulder in a gesture of solidarity, despite the newly grown claws curling out from his fingers, “This is not gonna be on you, kid.”

Charley didn’t have time to ask him what he meant as Peter pushed him back, tearing his grip free of the jacket and throwing himself out of the light, three of the nest of fledgling vampires descending on him in a disjointed flurry of movement, their excitement palpable. Charley barely avoided falling out of the circle of light himself, an aborted yell escaped him like an animal cry, as Ginger’s sharp clawed hand swiped just over his head, daring to touch the light and snagging in the curls of his hair before she hastily withdrew with a wounded hiss.

“Peter!” Charlie threw himself to the edge of his only protection, not feeling reckless enough to go beyond it and peering into the dark swarm of bodies, trying to find his friend underneath them, when an abrupt shift on his left made him turn to look.

Jerry was right there, crouched mere inches away and close enough to touch if Charley felt stupid enough to reach into the dark, but he did not. Dark eyes were watching, every twitch, every breath, and they fastened with alarming intensity on the flesh of his jaw and down, staring at the column of his throat as if he could already taste it, and instead of the fear that hooked deep into his belly and tried to urge him backwards and away from that sharks-teeth smile, Charley steeled himself, let his fear burn over into anger as he looked Jerry straight in the eyes, and spat, “I will kill you.”

“Will you, now?”

Jerry’s voice was soft, mocking, forearms braced on spread knees, and the easy grace of a hunter. He considered Charley very briefly, appraising him with a look that held the weight of a touch before he looked down to the thick dirt beneath his boots, stretching out a single clawed finger to dig into the ground, drawing it so very slowly around the edge of the shaft of sunlight between them in a continuous line. He was so casual, so calm, as if he had all the time in the world, and Charley knew that he did. Down here, there was very little to stop the inevitable.

“I would very much like to see that.”

Amy’s laugh was a lilting thing behind him, a momentary distraction, and Charley only dared look at her for a short second with Jerry so close-by, almost demanding his attention. It was already strange that he hadn’t made a move yet. All he had to do was reach into the sunlight and drag him out. He was close enough, strong enough, and he’d played with the sun already, seemingly quite unconcerned by it. The worrying thing was, Jerry seemed to be enjoying the wait, and Charley couldn’t quite figure out what exactly he was waiting for.

What was he after that he didn’t have already?

“I’m not joking. I know you’re going to kill me,” His voice was flat, as level as he could make it, and just sitting there, caged in by nothing remotely resembling bars as Jerry smiled indulgently at him, inviting him to continue was maddening, “But before you do, I want you to know, I have nothing to lose by trying to take you down with me.”

“Brave words, Charley,” There was laughter in Jerry’s voice, amusement, like he was truly relishing the threat, like it should be obvious to this slip of a boy that greater men had tried and failed, and yet, he was enjoying the very idea that someone so small, so vulnerable, could consider himself capable of ending 400 years of survival instinct, “But you know, there is a thin line between bravery and stupidity.”

Jerry’s fingers pointedly traced the edge of the sunlight again, but when Charley dared to look, it seemed to have moved. Ever so slightly, just enough to be noticeable, the sunlight had edged away from the first line Jerry had drawn and Charley stared up at the ceiling, at the small hole he had blasted open with Peter’s gun.

The gap was worryingly narrow, and no amount of broken windows could filter in enough light to give him the time he’d need to think up a proper plan of escape. The sun wouldn’t last a whole day for him, not with so small a margin for it to get through, and when he looked back down, Jerry was staring at him directly, as if waiting for him to reach the same conclusion.

“Your time is running out.”


It seemed like hours later but in truth, Charley didn’t know how much time had passed. Maybe it only felt like hours because he was surrounded by ravenous carnivores hell-bent on opening him up like a sacrificial lamb, so eager to get their curly straws into his neck and sip him down like a milkshake that he was starting to adjust to the idea that he wouldn’t be making it out of here alive.

Some of the weaker vampires, the newer ones Charley would expect, had crawled back into their beds, packing in dirt around them until they were able to sleep. Likely the early morning sun was too strong for them, and even Amy looked a little worse for wear, keeping far back in the dark, only the bright white of her dress picking her out of shadows.

Peter had been left alone, unmoving and sprawled over the ground and it wasn’t yet clear if he had been drained dry and left for dead, or if he would soon be another monster looking to take a chunk out of the last of the group with a pulse. Either way, when Charley called out to him, he hadn’t received an answer and he wasn’t sure whether he should feel relieved about that or not.

Jerry was wide awake, hovering at the edge of the sunlight, walking around it in circles and at first, it had been a game, Charley turning with him to keep him in his sight at all times, never feeling quite safe with his back turned, but as the time passed, and nothing happened, the lull of complacency began to settle. He knew it was dangerous, to be so casual about his own death, but it seemed like the more he tried to deny it, the more Jerry fed off of his defiance and he was loathed to ever give that monster anything he could enjoy.

He shifted back another few inches so he remained firmly in the centre of the light, noting that the circle had begun to shrink, the angle of the light not slanting directly through the ceiling anymore. It wouldn’t be long now, and he wasn’t stupid enough to think that just because some of the nest had buried themselves to sleep, that he could escape the house. The one thing he lamented was that, the further back he had to move, the further he was from any potential weapon.

The crossbow was still by the door where he had dropped it, Peter’s gun was somewhere in the dark with very little chance of retrieval and the stake was still attached to his belt but he couldn’t get close enough to use it. It was as good as useless.

“You’re starting to bore me, Charley,” Came the sigh from behind him, and it almost brought a smile to his face, “I don’t enjoy being bored.”

“Go fuck yourself,” Charley quipped back, the words foreign in his mouth though it felt good to get them out. Often swearing in front of his mom would result in a cuff upside the back of the head, but she wasn’t here (thank the Lord for small mercies) and the situation was already dire.

What was a little cursing between creature and prey?

“Such a mouth on you,” The words were so close that Charley jumped, hunching in on himself as he turned to glance over his shoulder, Jerry pressed so close to the light that the proximity of him was enough to send a sharp spark of panic up his very human, very breakable spine and the look on the vampire’s face as he tilted his head back, inhaling the air deeply with a satisfied groan was disturbing.

“There it is, that fear...” A pink tongue, human shaped for the most part, slicked out to lick over the very sharp points of elongated canines and Charley wanted to move away but there was nowhere to move to, the reality of sharp teeth suddenly very close and very, very real, all numb complacency wisping away like a shadow of a dream.

“I remember when I first saw you,” Jerry dropped smoothly to his knees beside him with hardly a sound, knuckles braced in the dirt, close enough that the swing of his pendant broke the circle of light once with a bright silver flash and Charley felt his eyes follow it, Jerry’s open shirt practically inviting curiosity, “I passed you off as easily intimidated, simple prey, nothing particularly exciting beyond the usual virgin appeal, but then, when I came over to your house for some beer…”

The elder vampire paused, the curl of his mouth almost wicked, like he was relishing a particularly fun game that no one else knew the rules to.

“You didn’t invite me in.”

Charley closed his eyes at the soft purr in those words, suddenly feeling very obvious as he recalled with embarrassing clarity how he had practically screamed at the vampire that he knew exactly what he was with his body language alone. Jerry had probably had suspicions before that, when he cornered him out by the fence but it definitely hadn’t taken long to confirm them. Charley knew he was a rubbish actor, couldn’t keep his cool to save his life and the very situation he was in now was more than adequate proof of that.

“The way you stuttered and made excuses, leaving me standing in the doorway while your scent flooded with fear was intoxicating,” Jerry’s braced forward on his hands, like he could press through the barrier of sunlight between them and snatch Charley up if he wanted, ready to pounce at the slightest given opportunity, “I would have taken you then. I would have pressed you back on the kitchen counter and made you beg, and only when I’d wrung every last exquisite drop of pleasure from you, and trust me Charley,” Jerry stared him down, eyes black and blown wide, hungry in a way that set a shiver in the teenagers bones, “Fear is pleasure.”

The half-choked gasping noise that escaped Charley’s mouth echoed loudly around the basement and Jerry seemed pleased to hear it, lifting one hand to stroke over the shaft of sunlight between them, hissing only mildly at the near sting of it in close proximity, “Only then would I sink my teeth in you, and drink my fill.”

Charley felt terror seize his heart at the promise on that deathly pale face, backpedalling as far as he could in the light, but Jerry was gone when he looked up, and he barely had time to look for him when a clawed hand twisted in his hair from the other side of his protective circle, the sharp hiss of sunlight on undead skin filling the air as the grip tightened and tugged, craning his head back into the shadows and a toothy smile widened over him, Jerry’s free hand coming up to gently cradle his jaw.

Charley wanted to scream, wanted to kick and writhe but half of him remained in the protective light and he couldn’t give up that security. Screaming would only invite more hungry mouths for the feeding so he stayed silent, biting back every curse that wanted to leave his lips until his jaw ached and fighting not to flinch away from the unyielding grip on his hair, even as Jerry leaned down, the cold tip of his nose brushing gently over his temple.

“So brave, Charley,” Cold breath rolled over warm human skin as the vampire breathed him in, over the curve of his eyebrow, down over the apple of his cheek and when Charley felt a shaky noise rattle out of his lips, half prepared to plead, Jerry kissed him.

It wasn’t at all what he imagined, not that he would confess to imagining it.

Cold lips were firm and insistent, leaving Charley with little choice but to open his mouth as Jerry tugged his head further back by his hair, and the nerve-wracking knowledge that his neck was unprotected and presented on full display to the entire nest made him quiver in the vampires hold.

Jerry seemed to relish his compliance for the time being as he lapped his tongue between open lips, sharp teeth prickling gently over the boys full lower lip, threatening to burst it but he did not, content to hold Charley still and explore his mouth, almost like he was teasing himself with an appetiser before he could fully sample the main course.

When Jerry finally lifted his head, Charley was startled to realise he was panting, oxygen a heady rush in his lungs as he dragged it in with each desperate breath, and the nervous tremors wracking his body did nothing to help. Jerry looked thoughtful, fingers stroking over the scant amount of neck he could reach before curling up behind sensitive ears that made the human in his grasp shudder, and the satisfaction on Jerry’s face was mortifying as he willingly released the grip he had on the boys hair, watching him dive back into the sunlight.

Jerry watched him for a moment, eyes trailing down over the layers of clothing he was wrapped in, in a way that made him feel entirely naked, sucking his own lip into his mouth as if to savour the taste of Charley before he turned away, allowing him a brief respite to recover his pride, “You can’t stay in there forever.”


Impending death was a boring thing, Charley had decided, and he had had enough of it.

His minor protection was shrinking, the spotlight moving back and back with the ticking of the metaphorical clock until he had even less limited space to move in. The pile of rubble was more than a few feet from him now and while he was happy to be on semi-solid ground again and away from the choking clouds of dust that rose every time he moved, there was something strangely vulnerable about ground level that he couldn’t seem to shake. Bad enough that the sudden kiss (a manipulation, it just had to be) had rattled him enough, but it certainly hadn’t helped that Jerry had followed him, matched every inch of withdrawal with an inch of advance, creeping after the drifting light and the tempting meal hiding in it, like a strange game of chess.

Charley wasn’t fool enough to ignore he had too little time and space for any risky moves, but if he made none beyond cower and retreat, Jerry’s checkmate would be far too easily won.

The sunlight was pressed back against the wall now, the upper half of the perfect circle slanting into a straight line where the floorboards over head kept it from leaking into the basement. It wouldn’t take long for the sun to disappear from the house completely and Charley was already uncomfortable, crouched in this small measure of protection, knowing he had limited time left to devise a foolproof escape.

None of his plans had anywhere near a 100% guaranteed success rate, though to be honest, how would one manage to outrun an inhumanly fast predator, on their own turf, surrounded by their newly fanged hellspawn while utterly, moronically unarmed?

The answer to that was dangerous.

Charley was far too tired to think about it too much until it was the only choice he had left.

Instead, he used what little reserves of energy he had to turn his head to the left, seeking the blackened shape of the elder vampire in the dark, and finding him half-slouched against the rough edge of the torn up cement floor, elbows propped back on it and fingers laced over his bare stomach. He had stopped whistling a short while ago, some nonsensical tune that sounded suspiciously like Blondie’s ‘One way or another’, choosing instead to study the way the sunlight crept higher up the wall, the small breadth of it yet to inch across the ground barely enough to stand in.

Jerry had continued to monitor the situation between bouts of pacing, only recently settling into longer moments of unnerving stillness accompanied by a thousand yard stare that felt like a physical violation when he directed it towards the sunny corner of the basement. He had stayed up well beyond sunrise, and it must have been nearing midday at least, not that Charley had any sense of time beyond the weight of his own bones and the heavy sleepless ache behind his eyes but even that was enough to tell him he’d gone too long without proper rest.

“You’re only making this worse for yourself, boy,” The silence was broken by soft words and Jerry’s expression was one of concern, almost convincing if Charley didn’t know better.

“Maybe I’m hoping you’ll be too pissed off to kill me slowly,” He bit back, but the words lacked any real venom, head tilting back to rest against the chipped wall behind him. It had been a long time since he had last slept, and with no adrenaline to keep him wired, it was all he could do not to tilt forwards into the darkness, knowing Jerry would be there to catch him before he hit the floor.

He imagined he should be worried that the thought sounded almost nice, but he just didn't have the energy to linger on it.

It seemed a good while later when Jerry spoke again, sighing his name like he’d done something particularly endearing and Charley almost flinched at the sound of his voice, whole body startled back into the solid wall behind him like he had been shocked into wakefulness, but that couldn’t have been right. He'd just shut his eyes for a second, barely a minute. He hadn’t been sleeping.

Had he?

The inside of his mouth felt like cotton when he tried to wet his lips, that stale after-nap taste sinking like a lead stone in his stomach when he realised he had been defenceless for a lot longer than a minute, his eyelids heavy as he rubbed at them with the heels of his hands, pressing hard enough that multi-coloured spots erupted in the dark behind thin veils of skin.

He had fallen asleep. He must have.

Stupid, stupid, stupid-

“You deserve slow, Charley.”

There was a smile in Jerry’s words, and he could almost see it without having to open his eyes and look.

“Can’t say I’ve ever met anyone that held out this long. I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so infuriated by it,” Jerry laughed, and it was a soothing sound, low, deep, almost entrancing, “What else is there to prove, kid? You know there’s no way out of here that doesn’t involve me, and you, and one hell of a good time, so why are you making this so difficult?”

Charley breathed out a sigh, dropping his hands to press his bare palms to the cool stone of the wall at his back, hoping to soak up any feeling that would anchor him to the world of the conscious, and forcing his eyes open just enough to meet the dark look directed at him. He could see the hungry gleam in Jerry’s eyes but the anticipated smile was missing, and the way his head was ducked down, shoulders craned forward like he wanted to move but he wouldn't let himself just yet, felt like a warning. To the unknowing eye, he still looked so very relaxed, the picture of quiet calm despite the subtle overlying tenseness betraying his casual poise, and Charley straightened up as much as he could without compromising his safety, meeting that starved stare directly, “I’m in no hurry to die.”

Jerry looked meaningfully at the ground, and Charley followed his gaze, the sight of the sunlight creeping back over the toes of his shoes enough to snap him out of the easy lull his lethargy had pulled him into. It was like blinking awake after full submersion in a tub of ice water.

“We’ll drink you from the ankles up if we have to...”

Chapter Text

It was like Jerry could sense when he’d made a decision. Either, the way he shifted hadn’t been subtle enough, or the deep breath he’d taken had been that little bit too loud. It may have been something else entirely, but it didn’t matter now. He had almost forgotten that the monster he was trying to fool was over 400 years old, and that his experience in tracking and hunting prey was likely unparalleled. In his desperation to escape, he was completely aware that he didn’t have a chance of being unique in his planning. Desperation made people stupid, and Charley realised, all too soon, that he was painfully, predictably desperate.

It had only taken him a few minutes to check his meagre inventory, subtly feeling over his pockets for anything he might have overlooked without drawing too much attention, but even that was time he could scarcely afford to waste. If the elder vampire could see what he was up to, he didn’t show it and it was surely naive of him to believe Jerry was at all oblivious, but Charley was hopeful, frantically searching in as sedate a pace as he could manage, until a solid lump in his back pocket had yielded a small pocketknife.

It was barely worth having, the small click of the blade as he opened it ominously loud in the silence and it was wishful thinking that Jerry wouldn’t recognise the sound. Between that mostly useless little thing and the stake still hanging from his belt, Charley knew he was nine kinds of fucked.

The sunlight was waning, the bright warmth of the dessert outside nowhere near spent but with every inch the sun moved, he lost a little more time, his only defence shifting up from the floor and disappearing.

Jerry’s last threat would be more than plausible if he didn’t get a move on.

He didn’t give himself time to dwell on any particular conclusion, bracing one foot back to the wall both as an anchor to steel his nerves and a solid barrier to give him the force-start he needed, and before Jerry had the chance to even contemplate rousing his nest of baby vampires for their supper, Charley’s body had made the decision to run before his mind could even begin to list all of the ways that one defining choice could only end badly.

It was reckless, dangerous, absolutely insane, but it was the only chance he had.

So, he’d taken it.

With the alarmingly small pocket-knife in one hand, and the blessed stake in the other, still soaked in Amy’s blood, Charley used what little purchase he had against the wall to throw himself out of the sunlight towards the hole in the wall that used to be the basement door.

Jerry didn’t seem to be in a rush to stop him, easing up from his half slouched position against the crumbling shelf of the basement floor and that should have rung alarm bells in itself, but Charley didn’t care. He was within reaching distance of the crossbow that would help him defend himself at the very least, when something sharp latched around his ankle, dragging his feet out from under him, and he hit the ground hard, no reflexes quick enough to help him dodge the chunk of cement buried in the earth, the side of his head striking it with a painful crack.

The world was was suddenly both loud and bright at the same time, awash in a near-blinding explosion of colour. The dark rippled around him in waves that made him shut his eyes tight, but the vibrancy remained, charging through his head like a cacophony of noise and burning behind his eyes, settling into a persistent high-pitched ringing that brought his teeth down hard on his own tongue. It didn’t even register until the taste of thick, metallic warmth flooded his mouth.

Blood, he thought dazedly, the phantom memory of cool lips against his mouth like a swift brush of sensation, a kind moment in which everything was fine, and then the pain set in. It ricocheted down his spine until his body seized, but he couldn’t seem to make a sound to express the agony, didn’t dare move to provoke it further despite the niggling feeling that he was supposed to, that it was life or death and if he didn’t, he was giving up, surrendering to something… he couldn’t recall exactly what. He couldn’t command his legs to kick out at the hand loosening its grip around his ankle, wasn’t aware of anything outside of the fact that everything hurt, wheezing into the turned dirt of the basement floor, soft under his hands, but still solid enough to knock the breath from his lungs.

Someone was speaking.

There were words but he couldn’t make them out, the foreign feeling of something the weight and shape of a human crawling up over his legs, second only to the sensation of everything he was, torn loose and tumbling around inside of his own skull, dislodged by a relatively harmless chunk of rock.

Something cool and wet dragged up the side of his face, over the sharp ache at his temple, a slickened slide of skin against skin and he tried to flinch away from it because the touch was disconcerting, even if he couldn’t seem to remember why… couldn’t seem to…

Delicate hands slid over his shoulders, another distraction but barely enough of one and he couldn’t make himself concentrate through the haze that draped itself over everything he could make out in the dark, sharp edges and crisp lines melting into fuzzy shapes before the shrill ringing in his ears sent everything vibrating again. He couldn’t seem to focus on anything, not even the weight of gravity as those cold hands eased him up from his belly to his knees with deceptive strength. It hurt so much that he almost forgot his concern in the blinding, aching wave that rolled over him.

Pain blinkered his awareness.

He couldn’t see, he couldn’t think, a dull throbbing setting deep in the twisted tissues of his calf, and he was pretty sure the liquid sensation down the side of his face was a head wound but those small realisations seemed so very far away that it was easier not to think because thinking hurt, or at least he thought it did. He could feel his eyes rolling, and it would have been so easy to just follow the pain down until he fell beneath it. It felt like such a logical decision, such a good idea, to sleep, to let go. Or it did, until large hands stroked up the length of his bare neck to cup his face and steal his attention.

Rough palms and long calloused fingers took the weight of his head and eased his burden if only a little, spreading wide around the the curve of fragile bones and paper-thin skin, and Charley just about caught the fleeting thought that he felt small between them, like he could slip through the cracks and fall, if they let him.

When he tried to open his eyes, they did not cooperate, and in a blind panic over his lack of self-control, he drove himself back into the body behind him, noting the way his skinny limbs slid against feminine curves before slender arms crawled up to curl around him, holding him still like iron bands as the hands on his jaw followed him with their same cradling pressure.

“Shhh...” There was light above him, but he couldn’t turn towards it, those fingers keeping his head still and there was someone in his space, the proximity a glaring warning that he didn’t have the energy to heed. Cold lips pressed against his slightly open mouth, the sensation so much of a shock that he almost bit down on himself again, but the other did not move, hovering just within reach, and waiting for him to adjust to the touch.

It didn’t necessarily feel good. The inside of his mouth was still sore and bloody, and the cold fingers dancing over his fluttering and erratic pulse were less than reassuring but it was a distraction from the way he ached, familiar in some way he couldn’t quite confirm, and when a teasing tongue flicked out in a sensual slide over his upper lip, he couldn’t help but sink into it, leaning forward enough that he could tell exactly how little space he had between the hands that held him in front and the arms that held him from behind.

It wasn’t much.

The person, if it was a person, that taunted him seemed terribly amused by his hesitant consent, lips spreading in an obvious smile around sharp teeth and it was only when Charley felt his head being turned ever so slightly, guided by those deceptively gentle fingers so Jerry could find a better angle to ravage his mouth, that he realised exactly what was happening.

It was a little too late by that point as Jerry chose that moment to tug him a little further forward, pressing their lips firmly together and licking his way into the warmth of his defiant human’s mouth, a delighted hum filling the space between them as he lapped over the slow-healing bite Charley had inflicted on his own tongue. He seemed fascinated by it, easily coaxing the split open to encourage more blood onto his own taste-buds and Charley startled at the twinge of it, trying to pull back but not quite able, pinned between the two immortals, a helpless butterfly unable to escape the cork board.

Amy’s hands were wrapped like an immovable vice around his own, keeping them pressed down in his lap and the trail of her wicked claws, dragging back and forth over thin skin was almost tender, stroking possessively over the little blue veins raised on the backs of his wrists. She held him firm so he couldn’t push Jerry away if he tried, but it was getting harder and harder to even think of reasons why he should.

He was going to die anyway, right?

There was never a chance he could have gotten out of this place. Even if he had a single damnable hope in hell of escaping (which was not even worth contemplating because the very idea that he could compete with the speed of a 400 year old vampire, with just a twig of a stake and a two inch blade as his only defense was laughable) he would always be looking over his shoulder, putting people at risk. Maybe, if things had to end this way, he could even get Jerry to agree to leave his mother out of this, which would be a small comfort but a comfort all the same, and there was nothing more he could do for Amy or Peter. Ed was dead.

What else was there to fight for?


Jerry seemed to pause when Charley leaned forward into him opening his mouth wider and trying to reciprocate, but it seemed difficult for the teenager, the coordination more than he could bear.

He clearly wasn’t thinking straight.

The head injury over the side of his temple looked pretty nasty when he paused long enough to look at it, but the mess of broken skin didn’t seem particularly threatening, half hidden though it was under Charley’s blood-matted curls. Most head wounds bled stupid amounts regardless of how small they were.

That injury alone would not kill him, but the headache was, no doubt, intense.

It was the scent of Charley’s fresh blood and how tantalizing it was up close that was the immediate concern, ensnaring his senses like a lure, and he could see Amy over the boy’s shoulder, still licking the taste of him from her lips, savouring the flavour with a ravenous glint in her eye like she could hardly wait to seek out more.

Such impatience.

Most fledglings were that way at first, and worse, wasteful and messy in their initial kill and he had graciously given her that precious one and only chance to turn Charley when he had shut the door on them both so he could take down Peter, his own one-that-got-away.

She had squandered it.

Charley was no longer hers to have, and however much she would hate it, she would have to wait.

It was difficult to pull away when Charley was almost craning towards him, that plush wet mouth partially open and inviting, his skin stained in the most desirous shade of red, and the beat of his heart, the only one for at least a mile, a drowsy baseline in the quiet of the nest, dulled from pain and lack of awareness. The picture he made alone was far too tempting, but Jerry wanted him to see, wanted him to know what he was doing.

He wanted him to feel it.

The boy had caused so much trouble in the past couple of days alone, more than any human was worth, really. Never had he met a simple creature so enthusiastic about putting himself so willingly in harm’s way. Breaking into his house was a stupid idea to begin with, even if he only had unconfirmed suspicions as to what he thought he was really dealing with. Stealing one of his newborns? Hitting him with a car? And then, on top of that, the audacious brat had tried to hunt him in his own house?

No, Jerry thought, this one would not have the trance of ancient blood to lull him into complacency, would not accept his fate with quiet doe-like eyes, falling under his spell as Amy had when he’d pressed her to him in that club, easing her down with a single bloodied kiss.

Charley was an entirely different animal, who deserved an entirely different approach. It had been a long wait, and his eventual surrender would not be accepted with blind eyes and docility.

That would be no fun at all.


Cold hands held him back from sweet oblivion, the mouth that he wanted to fall into moving out of reach, but Charley swallowed the distressed sound he wanted to make, knowing well enough that it would be too much of a gift to the vampire that held him, the chilled fingers around his neck gentle now, but capable of so much death.

He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

Jerry was a blur in front of him when he opened his eyes, trying to discern his shape, a black outline in the deeper black of the nest and even if it was too dark for him to see clearly, he could still feel those eyes staring at him so intently that he nearly pulled back fast enough to do himself damage. He didn’t get far, the coaxing grip on his jaw more firm than he realised and he was only allowed enough leeway to send him back into Amy’s embrace, back arching uncomfortably as she tightened her hold.

It was difficult, to have her so close, the familiar scent of her shampoo mixing with the unfamiliar feel of her chilled skin and her silence. Amy was never silent. She had always had something to say, always been a brash, bright ray of sunshine, used to drawing focus and keeping it, so warm and inviting that he almost envied the ease with which she drew people to her.

He’d been surprised when she chose him. He had been a nobody before Amy had turned that smile on him and the first time she’d said his name, that she’d even bothered to remember it was a memory he truly cherished.

She had courted him with a ferocity he could never hope to match, despite the less than savoury reactions of those two assholes that trailed her like hungry dogs hoping for a biscuit. A year ago, he would have never believed that she would give him so much, and that she would try to give him so much more. He’d thought it was something special.

But, now?

Charley knew she’d tear into him with teeth and claws without hesitation.

“You were never this eager for me,” Her soft whisper at his ear was playful, a shadow of who she had been not even a day ago, and Charley squirmed in her grasp as her sharp chin came down to rest on his reclining shoulder, nuzzling into the bone there with a contented smile.

“A discourtesy I’m sure he deeply, deeply regrets,” Jerry purred, leaning in close enough to keep Charlie trapped between them, even as his teasing fingers left Charley’s throat to pet over Amy’s wild tangle of hair in fond adoration and one rough pull was all it took for him to snatch her mouth in another one of those hungry, dizzying kisses. And oh… they were so close, surrounding him, caging him between them, and it was so much worse this time, watching them sinking so firmly into each other and drinking pleasure from one another’s mouths, like they…

Charley tried to look away, but for a second time, found he could not.

He had felt those kisses himself, he knew how powerful they were, knew what it was like to fall under them, to want them.

It was almost sickening to watch, at least that’s what he assumed the roiling in his stomach meant, but Charley couldn’t move, caught even more securely between them as Jerry moved even closer, sandwiching his prey between his own body and that of his childe, one large hand cupping over Charley’s hip and squeezing hard enough to bruise the tender skin hiding beneath the protective padding of the suit.

The rush of blood to his fingers was only a slight pain to the throbbing in his skull as Amy released the tight grip she had on his wrists so she could reach out to her Sire, one hand sliding sensually up the naked skin of his bare chest beneath his open shirt, the other latching viciously to the collar of Charley’s ugly quilted jumpsuit, the sharp curve of her claws scratching over his chest in her haste, but not with enough force to break skin.

He could hear the snap of cotton as the seams stretched to breaking point under her newfound strength, but he couldn't worry about that, not while his hands were finally, blessedly free. Trapped as he was between the two monsters that held him, they were so perfectly distracted with one another that he managed to slip his hands from his own lap unnoticed, stretched fingers grazing over the turned earth, seeking and hopeful for something he could use to fight his way out of the very awkward situation he found himself in.

He didn’t remember where he dropped his meagre weapons, the sudden shock of diving ribs first to solid ground too abrupt for him to take full stock of what happened, but they couldn’t have gone far. He didn’t know how much use they’d be but something was better than nothing, right?

Desperation tried to force his hand but he kept a slow and steady pace, avoiding the slightest chance of drawing attention, and the promise of solid enamel under his touch after a minimal search was a dream come true. He had just managed to close his fingers around the rusted red hilt of the penknife, half buried in the scuffle that took him down (he was lucky he hadn’t fallen on it, really) when a jarring noise rang out next to his ear, Amy’s sigh of satisfaction both needful and complacent, pleasure-soaked with the attention she had managed to glean from the mouth that pleased her.

It wasn’t even her, could never be her, and yet...

Charley could feel his fingers cramping from the death-grip he had around the handle of the knife, and the strength it took to fight down the tension in his shoulders as Jerry finally deigned to pull away from her was significant. He seemed satisfied, though he wasn’t even looking at Amy at all, and if the smug smile stretched over his face wasn’t enough to spur impulse, the way his eyes were fixed on Charley, drinking up his reactions like it was the finest thing he’d ever tasted was just the ticket.

Charley struck, swinging his arm up hard, the arc of the small blade nearly cutting the look of surprise right out of the elder’s eyes and there was a brief few seconds of madness where all euphoria was swept away in sudden lashings of movement that sent a startled chittering around the outer layers of the nest. Charley threw his arm back, the blade cutting down sharply in the space where Amy’s shoulder had been, and in the scant light left in the basement, he was pleased to see the flash of dark blood on the blade.

Jerry’s snarl was borderline savage in the dark, but Charley didn’t wait to see how angry he was, and in that split second of confusion, when restraining hands and wild kisses seemed a world away, he threw himself out from between them, fighting down the nausea from the sudden movement and the way his head spun, the rubber soles of his feet digging into the ground to propel him toward the abandoned crossbow. He was only feet away, and it was so close, now that if he could just reach it-

It was a desperate gambit at most, his fingertips barely grazing the butt of the weapon when a sharp yank on his utility belt of all things pulled him flat on his belly in the dirt again, but this time, he did not stay there long, a cold hand wrapping around the back of his collar and dragging him to his feet with so little effort that it was frightening.

Charley tried to fight back, bringing the pocketknife down with force, driving it through anything solid he could reach, and jolting with the realisation that he had struck home, sinking the tiny blade into Jerry’s thigh through thick denim. It didn’t matter, and it most certainly did nothing more than annoy the unholy crap out of something used to being stuck with far larger weaponry than something that was technically on par with cutlery.

His hand was knocked away like he was an unruly child playing with something he had no business touching, and he couldn’t help but notice that he was the only one that flinched when Jerry pulled the knife from his leg, sheathing the blade without consideration and pocketing it like it had barely tickled him.

“That was extremely stupid, Charley, even for you,” And he didn’t even get the chance to respond before Jerry’s grip loosened, the rounded curve of a strong shoulder digging into his stomach as the world tilted and Jerry lifted him from the ground. He tried to push himself up, his hands pressed to Jerry’s back, the sick memory of how helpless he felt when he saw Jerry carry Amy away like this in the club still fresh in his mind, but the grip restraining his legs was firm and he could barely move without putting too much pressure on his already turning stomach. The disorientation knocked full force into the receding headache from the still sluggishly bleeding head wound and he tried to breathe but it was difficult, even before Jerry began to move.

He scaled the crumbled basement wall like it was nothing, even with Charley hanging over his shoulder like dead weight, and the alarming sight of Amy snapping the crossbow in half as Jerry carried him out of the room, like that pure amount of strength was a whim and not an effort only made the situation seem all the more hopeless.

The house was dark aside from the scant few shafts of light bleeding in through the windows he’d managed to smash in his attempt to infiltrate the vampire’s lair, the sun moved enough out of range that the pathway to the stairs was mostly clear for Jerry to move to the second floor of the house unscathed, and he took his sweet time doing it. Charley was surprised he wasn’t whistling a jaunty tune to match the bounce in his step as he dangled the front door and all its promise of freedom in front of his prey’s nose before it disappeared around the corner.

It was only when Jerry stepped into the bedroom, clearly heading for the closet that the rush of fear closed in, adrenaline hot on its heels as he kicked and squirmed, Jerry’s amused laugh like a switch that made his eyes burn even as he blinked away building saline and swung his elbow at the back of the vampire’s head. He wouldn’t let the monster see him cry. He wouldn’t.

The dreaded white hallway lit up easily, and the jingle of keys as Jerry tugged the ring from his pocket to unlock one of his little snack-box cells poured what was left of Charley’s energy into his struggles. It wasn’t Doris’ old cell, wasn’t even Amy’s with the trap door that led to the basement.

No. It was the one he had hidden in. The one he had watched from as Jerry dragged Doris’ shaking body out into the light so he could make Charley watch as he feasted on her like she was a ripe bouquet just waiting to be savoured. He knew it was intentional, Jerry didn’t even have to say anything to prove it, and as the door swung open, the mocking cadence to Jerry’s ‘Home sweet home!’ made the kick to the leg he’d managed to stab him in all the more gratifying.

The world spun again as Jerry threw him to the ground with a simple shrug of his shoulder, and Charley landed on his already bruised hip, his wrist twisting painfully beneath him to save his head from hitting the solid floor of the cell. The door was still open, but Jerry stood in front of it, almost daring him to move, waiting for it and while all Charley wanted was to get out of the little white room and all of the pain it promised, he was not willing to move any closer to the animal that held him captive.

He tried to drag himself up, but every inch of ground he surrendered was swallowed up as Jerry followed him, a twisted parody of the way he had followed him in the basement, but this time there was no circle of light, no burning barrier to protect him. This time, when his back hit the wall and he had nowhere else to crawl to, Jerry came down to meet him, sinking to his knees on the floor and moving forward, eyes fixed on Charley like he could eat him alive just by looking at him.

‘There’s nowhere to go,’ Charley thought as he kicked out at the advancing vampire, biting back an agonised scream that still managed to escape as a pained grunt through gritted teeth as Jerry’s hand clamped around the offending leg, around the claw-marks Amy had left in his suit when she pulled him down, and the pressure on the broken skin beneath spread like fire all the way up to his thigh, ‘I can’t get out.’

Jerry’s hand pulled back, taking Charley’s leg with it and while he scrambled for something to hold on to, something that would keep his back pressed to the wall as some poor measure of safety, the cell was bare, the walls and floor giving him no grip with which to keep himself from sliding towards the monster toying with him. His other leg was pressed down flat, one clawed hand curving over his knee and patting it softly like he was trying to calm a stressed woodland creature and Charley’s fist swung in rage as Jerry came too close.

He broke the skin across his knuckles on Jerry’s jaw (that thing was cut like glass!) but it was worth it when Jerry released his legs to fight down his arms instead and he was able to get in at least two good kicks before he was pinned bodily to the floor, Jerry’s belt buckle digging into his stomach through the thin padding of his suit.

The vampire’s hips were uncomfortably wedged between his spread thighs, his arms pulled taught where Jerry pressed them flat to the ground, but as disagreeable as his position was with his head propped up between the wall and the floor, his neck was safe for the moment, and Jerry looked more than a little agitated about that.

“You don’t make this easy, Charley,” He tried to pull the human down a little more but Charley wriggled his way back, tensed up like he was poised to strike and glaring murderously through his bloodied hair at the creature on top of him.

“I’m so sorry to be such an inconvenience to you!” He spat back, trying to find purchase on the floor with his feet but the rubber slid without grip, his raised knee providing Jerry with something to hold to as he slid closer, uncomfortably aligned against every dip and crevice of the body below him and when his hips rolled subtly in the space between the boy's’ thighs, Charley’s eyes widened until the whites of them beautifully matched the cell walls.

“W-what are you doing?”

“Shhhh,” Jerry silenced him with a soft kiss, allowing himself to be gentle because there was nowhere Charley could retreat to, even as blunt teeth snapped at him and Charley’s free hand sank into his hair, yanking like he could pull Jerry away from him with his dwindling reserves of paltry human strength. Still he fought, like he could undo four centuries through sheer will alone.

Jerry pressed his way into the boy's’ mouth, careful to avoid any bites sharp enough to draw his own blood, leasing Charley’s other wrist to wrap thin legs around his waist and it was easier than he expected to pull the boy closer, even as Charley's other bloodied hand realised it was free to move and reached up to tangle in his open shirt.

Charley nearly keened under the unfamiliar touches, squirming when strong hands curled around his thighs to hold him firmly in place, fingers tightening in sporadic pulses in the vampire's hair like he could only grasp at the threads of lucid thought, telling him to fight, and while his body tried, his mouth was willing to concede, drinking up Jerry's kisses like he would die without them.

Jerry was nothing if not pleased by the enthusiastic reception.

He took a moment to admire the sight below him, those accusing eyes half-lidded, cheeks flushed like he was tempting Jerry to eat him up, bitten red lips yielding to him when he sank down to kiss him again like he was almost hungry for it and it wasn't clear anymore if Charley was pushing or pulling when Jerry rolled his hips again, the soft exhale into his mouth carrying the reedy sound of reluctant pleasure.

It took no effort at all then to pull him away from the wall, a few bare inches of persuasion to lay him out flat on the floor and tilt his head back to steal all those tasty little noises straight from the source, Charley wriggling beneath him like he wasn’t sure if he needed to leave, or if he should stay. Not that he was given a choice in that, Jerry’s hands pressing beneath his spine to arch him up into the vampire’s body, and when his head tipped back, too boneless to support himself, it took no effort at all to slip lengthened fangs into his bare throat.

Charley stiffened in his arms, his thundering heartbeat much louder now as it sent pulse after pulse of rich, hot blood straight into the mouth latched to his neck, soaked in fresh terror and the addictive taste of rushing endorphins. It was an absolute feast, only sweetened by the fact that it was Charley writhing beneath him, and when Jerry pressed his hips down into the cradle of Charley’s own, grinding down hard against the heat of him, the startled cry that escaped the boy’s mouth was a glorious victory.

It was extremely hard not to sink all the teeth he had into him and drain him to the last drop but he barely managed to curb the urge, one hand cupping the back of Charley’s neck to hold him still as he drank his fill, the other sliding down, pressing briefly at the little dip of the boys tailbone before he ventured further, clawed fingers grasping a handful of Charley’s ass to guide him up into a distracting rhythm of delicious friction, the legs around his waist clenching tight enough to drag him down, and it was maddening how much he wanted this boy.

Charley’s stuttering whimpers were building, his hips eagerly rolling up of their own accord now and the flex of muscle against his fingers as he chased his pleasure almost drove Jerry to tear the hideous one piece suit from his body so he could claim him properly, but the flow of blood was weakening and he had to stop, Charley’s grip softening as he clung to Jerry’s shirt, the only energy he had left helping him grind up as hard as he could manage into the body that held him down.

Withdrawing his teeth from the smooth skin of Charley’s throat was almost torture but it was worth it to see the docile, glassy-eyed creature beneath him, so strung out and needy but with no energy to take as he lay him down on the ground again, his fingers carding through the mess of his dirty curled hair. The blush in Charley’s cheeks had faded to a waxy pallor, so close to the shade of the floor beneath him that he almost looked immortal himself, blue eyes so stark in his pale face that the sight of him was approaching otherworldly.

“Easy,” Jerry stroked his fingers gently over the neat puncture marks he’d left behind, hitching Charley’s hips up to roll against the hard flesh he could feel beneath the suit, the soft murmuring whimper he received in response tempting him to lean down and kiss the boy senseless, Charley’s arms lifting to wrap around his neck as he relaxed into Jerry’s embrace, his hitching breaths building, dull nails scratching across the back of Jerry’s shirt until with a long drawn out moan, he fell limp, the tension bleeding out of him with his release.

Charley was unconscious when he looked down at him, wilting in his arms like a swooning damsel, clearly overcome by the blood loss and injury he'd suffered in the past few hours alone, the mild exertion on top of that more than enough to put him out, hopefully for the rest of the day.

Jerry pressed cold fingers to the boy's bony wrist, but his pulse was steady and while his breathing was shallow, he was healthy enough, pale lashes practically dark against his cheeks and his bruised lips looked almost sore in the harsh light of the cell. Much as the brat had a penchant to annoy him, as Jerry considered him silent, sleeping, it would have been a lie to say he'd rather not stay, to keep his precious pet company through the failing hours of the day, but it was about mid-afternoon by his estimations, and the menace had kept him up far too late already.

He managed to disentangle himself from Charley’s hands, his fingers still clenched tightly around the loose fabric of his shirt and when he made it to the door, Jerry had to glance back to ensure that the boy was still there, an exhausted heap where he’d left him.

It seemed he wouldn't stir for a good long while.

“Sweet dreams, Charley.” He couldn't help the mocking smile that curled at the corners of his mouth, licking over his teeth to enjoy the residual flavour of the boy's blood, and as he turned to leave, the click of the lock as he shut the cell behind him was one of the most satisfying sounds he had ever heard.