When I open my eyes, slowly coming to, I already know that Daedalus isn’t by my side any more. It is this familiar feeling of an empty space beside me, already cooling. Of course, I know, he cannot stay during daytime, it would be much too dangerous. I would have liked him to stay, though, but I wonder if he wouldn’t have left, anyway. I wonder if I would have stayed. It has been a strange morning. Very nice, but strange.
I do have quite a sense of romance, but I am not used to that kind of hanky-panky. Being lifted up and carried to the bed, oh my, there probably was not one among my past lovers who’d have thought of doing something like this, let alone being able to do so, given the fact that I am not really tiny. I smile at the memory of his strong arms hauling me up like a rag doll, and my smile turns into a big grin at the thought of Daedalus’ face when I peeled off his clothes, and especially when I peeled off mine. I didn’t see much of his face afterwards, but he must have looked really flabbergasted most of the time, because, as I grew aware of quite soon, none of what we did seems to have happened to him before.
Well, what was it we did? I smirk again while dragging myself out of bed, trying to jog my memory and body for the strenuous task in front of us. Ach well. A blow-job. Some rimming. Lots of petting. Touchy-feely beginner’s stuff. Yeah, I hate myself for thinking so, but it’s true. And I did it for both of us, I enjoyed myself greatly. I really like him a lot, and just think about it – he is so old, and I’m so young, and yet… Regarding sex, I have already waded through all the swamps of life, whereas he is still on meadow number one. It must be also true that I have an unholy fascination with this paradox, a man as big and powerful as Daedalus, helpless in my arms… Johnny would often chide me for this, I can see him with my inner eye, he would wag his finger in front of me, warning me about the risks I am taking by seeking out the big guys all the time; the powerful ones.
But – isn’t it all about power? No, it’s not. Daedalus has stirred other thoughts and feelings in me, too, and they keep coming up every now and then, and they contribute greatly to my well-being. Couldn’t it be, couldn’t it just be that I don’t just want to spend lots of more nights, but that I in fact would love to spend my whole life with him (or, considering, the better part of my existence)? Couldn’t it be true that, besides the fact that he is big and powerful, he is also ever so good for me, with his wit, the way he looks at me, the way he talks, in other words: that we are made for each other? And isn’t it true that it’s me who is thinking the candyfloss thoughts now?
Further thoughts on this topic will have to be postponed, though, for it is already late in the day, and there are worried colleagues to be reassured that their new boss won’t clear out, kids to be looked after, and a desperate warrior from the past, who is temporarily staying in a storeroom next to my room, waiting for my help. Nice prospect. Again, all about power… Ach, Callum, you’re naughty.
And again, I find no time to drive to the monastery. I can only hope that my desperate warrior isn’t after my head in spite of everything, and I’ll have to go on postponing my visit at Chao-dai’s. I actually don’t see the need to go there now, anyway, as Marcos can tell me everything I need to know about this immortal subculture I’m a part of now.
Daniel is less worried than I thought. In fact, he is almost unmoved by my visit, and his former alacrity has been replaced by some sulking melancholy. It doesn’t take me long to realize why this is so, for I find an article about modern archaeology from an older history magazine – written by his parents. I look at the photo while putting the magazine aside; so, this is what his parents looked like: handsome, highly intelligent geeks. No wonder he’s just like them.
The boy is sitting on the floor in a corner of the room, and I come to sit by his side. When he still doesn’t utter a word, I feel fear rising inside me that he has a relapse. I put my arm around his shoulders, and he cuddles close to me, sighing. Well, at least his voice hasn’t left him entirely. It is cruel, but I have to take this chance to get through to him, now that he is in such an emotional state, it is just too important to let it pass. I say, "They were nice folks, your parents, by the look of it."
Daniel hides his face in my chest and answers almost inaudibly, "Yes."
Giving myself another thrust, I ramble on, "I bet they knew a whole lot about archaeology, and old graves and the like."
This time, the answer is almost a sob, and I can feel his head nod.
"Almost as much as you know."
Now Daniel turns his head up to me and replies, "Callum, you know that I can’t know more than my parents." Then his face goes from reproachful to sad in an instant. "They were the best."
It hurts me as much as him, and yet I have to stick my finger into the wound. "And now they’re dead."
He nods into my chest again. I go on: "Daniel, we’ve never before talked about how your parents died."
"No," he answers in a choked voice.
"Daniel. Could it be you were there when it happened?"
Now he starts trembling. I know that I’m close, oh so close, but I still have to go on. "Did you see how it happened? Did you watch?"
The storm breaks that fast that even I am a bit shocked, it all pours out of him in one big effusion: "I told them, but they didn’t hear me! I wanted to shout, but I couldn’t! And then the chain… and I… and I told them, and they just said I should shut up… But the chain broke, and then… and then… and there was so much noise and dust and things, and then everything was quiet, and I shouted, but I was too late, and then they wouldn’t answer, and I should have shouted earlier, I could see it, I could have warned them, but I just couldn’t shout. It was my fault, Callum! I could have warned them, and I didn’t! I could have done something!" And with this, he clutches at me and finally cries out the ocean of his agony.
Now I can see it clearly: I had sensed before something dark and big falling. It was a huge covering slab from a stone grave or something like that, and the chain broke, and poor little Daniel had to watch his parents die underneath. That’s what kept him from mourning: he felt guilty not only for being unable to warn them, but in his agonized little soul this guilt was spread and stretched until he found himself responsible for the whole accident.
All I can do right now is hold him and let the storm pass. Then we can talk about the subject of guilt, and other emotions.
The thought enters my head as I regard the symphony of colors and shapes. Considering, I turn my head to the side to gain another perspective, but there's no doubt about it. Serenity. Calm. Contentment. Possibly, happiness.
I didn't know I could paint like this.
And other things I didn't know, either; that drawing a breath into lungs that don't really need air feels so good, that linseed oil smells like this, that a lighter flame looks like this, that tobacco smoke tastes like this.
I thought I knew what being in love felt like. Apparently, I was wrong. I discover that I'm humming to myself - another revelation - and that I have no intention of stopping. And I can't stop thinking about Callum either, about what we did, how he made me feel, and how much I want to do it again.
It is done. After a long day and another night without a single minute of sleep, I am finally on my own again. Marcos is somewhat stable now, and our future talks will make sure he stays that way for some time. Apart from being charming and extremely eloquent, once in a talkative mood, he is also quite grateful, and I am very much looking forward to talking to him again.
But now I’m dead on my feet. Even an immortal has his limits, and two days and almost two nights without sleep are definitely too much. I head for my quarters and lie down for a long nap. It turns out to be four hours long, to be precise, until I have to get up again for my morning consulting hours. But four hours isn’t enough, regarding the fact that we were talking for, what, hey, more than six hours, and before, the long day, the even longer night…
Talking to Marcos was like going through my whole exam in one day, once more with feeling. Suddenly it’s afternoon, I realize that I again won’t go to the monastery. There simply are much more important things I need to do now, like taking a shower.
Partially refreshed and thoughts settled, I remember Julian, my almost gonna-be sire. He knows about Daedalus’ findings, of course, and yet I can imagine that he is still worried about the things that happened, especially because he hasn’t had word from me for the last two nights. I would be. And we were so close. And the things I felt and thought were – not entirely my feelings and thoughts. So close. I want to see him now, I must see him as soon as possible. I am sure he feels the same and will be pleased to hear my voice.
I search for his number for some desperate ten minutes until I realize that I had put the Prince on speed dial. Lack of sleep still takes its toll. I dial "one". An unfamiliar voice answers the phone, announcing Luna Estate. I ask for Julian, and am kept waiting without further notice. Then, finally, the master’s voice rings out of the earpiece. "Callum."
My heart leaps, and as always, I give a short laugh to override my excitement. "Julian. How nice to talk to you…"
"Same here," he interrupts me, and his tone of voice suggests that this isn’t the best moment for chitchat. He probably just got up from his coffin. "What can I do for you?"
"Oh, well, quite a lot of things," I can’t keep myself from saying this, he always gives such nice through balls. "But to be honest, there is just one thing, and it’s pressing. I must see you, Julian."
"I must." I exhale, almost sighing, as if it was the right thing to be flirtatious now.
"Well." It seems he is ruffling his calendar. But then, I hear him smile. "How about tonight?"
"What? Oh. Yes, of course. Where shall we meet?"
"What? Oh." I feel like an utter fool now. "Of course, Julian. Your place. I just thought we could eat something… Go out…"
I hear him smile again. "If you don’t like the Luna cuisine, we can go out next time."
"Julian, I didn’t mean… How could I have known?" I wouldn’t even have thought he had a kitchen, and especially not a cuisine, at that. "I’ll be there by nine, if that’s okay with…"
"That’ll do nicely," he interrupts me again. "See you."
And before I can answer, he hangs up.
I am excited, if a bit annoyed. The phone call was somewhat business-like and quite different from what I had in mind, yet I feel like a teenager in love. But I am not in love, and I haven’t been for a long time, and if ever I fall in love again, it is more likely that Daedalus will be the centre of my attention. Julian is far too opportune and far too popular, as it were.
And far too business-like, thinking about it. But… business-like can be sexy…
So, we have a date. So it’ll be at his place, and it’ll be tonight. So what. He wants us to talk in private, with no one eavesdropping and possibly no one watching Julian Luna go out with me. Makes sense, and makes me sigh. Damn, he is good. And there still is this little dark fantasy of mine, in the back of my head, about Daedalus and him… I can’t help it.
And yet. Just a day ago, I spent a couple of loving hours with Daedalus, Julian’s closest friend. What kind of man am I, that I dare think about doing something similar with Julian now? But it is so very much intriguing, they both are so different, so… attractive. It just makes sense, I can’t tell why.
One thing is obvious: the bond between them. I could feel it from the very beginning, I could feel it when I watched them while I died, just imagine, Julian called his name, not mine. Maybe I find out more about the other thoughts and feelings, the ones that were close to the surface and transferred while Julian and I were "one".
The memory arouses me again, every time I think about it. We were so close to having sex, so I’ll be damned if we won’t go all the way next time we meet. No matter what I did with Daedalus.
And yet. I know that Julian is as straight as can be, and I have no intention of seducing him. He won’t be seduced, anyway, he’s far too big. No, it is more like a mutual necessity I sense, something that has been going on between the two of us, and if not, well, then I’m mistaken and all the things I felt and saw must have been a product of my imagination. I must admit that I am somewhat confused.
Upon entering Luna Manor, I realize that I haven’t really seen the house before. I know I’ve been here for my transformation gone wrong, but I must have missed all the details, understandably, because of excitement. Now I am excited, too, but much more aware of my surroundings.
Luna Manor is a huge, old house – old for American standards, at least – with that nice creamy colour and all the turrets and pillars that make such a big house look even more impressive and castle-like, if a bit too curly for my taste. Well, at least one thing that’s not straight about Julian. The great hall seems to come from an old movie, as is the whole interior, including the host who is just now materializing out of the shadows (by going down the staircase) in order to welcome me personally. He looks more gorgeous than ever, not only because of the dinner jacket (I didn’t know they come in black, too), but also because of the enticing smile on his face.
We greet each other cordially, and while I fight back the urge to take him in my arms, like we were the last time we met, he turns to see me to his dining room. It is empty.
When I look around a bit puzzled, Julian faces me and smiles again. "I thought you might like a romantic table set for two…" he says smugly, letting the words trail a bit, just to make me glare, before adding, "So I had one set in the winter garden."
"Julian, you’re bad," I chide him jokingly, and grinning happily, I take his hand before I realize my audacity.
He looks at both our hands, not pulling his back at once, and his expression falters ever so slightly while he makes as if to say something. Then he shrugs off whatever emotion might have tried to catch up with him, shrugs off my hand, too, and avoids me as before. "Come."
It is a lovely setting: table, candles and the like – tasteful, but not kitschy. We have our splendid little dinner in silence, and I realize to my personal amazement that Julian does indeed manage to eat – and I try to bear in mind that he sets especially great store by the dessert. Finally, the coffee arrives, together with some special drink for Julian (I am cautious enough not to ask), and we both lean back and look at each other.
We remain looking at each other for some time, both of us apparently unsure what to talk about. At last, I say, "This is nice." He inclines his head, as usual, and scrutinizes me, obviously in expectation of what I’m going to say next. Hence, I won’t disappoint him. "I mean, sitting here, with you. Nice. After all we’ve shared."
"I embraced you. It is not that we…"
He falters, and I help him out, "… that we had sex or the like."
"Or the like."
"Yes." I smile warmly. "And yet it is the most intimate thing you can have, right?"
Now he leans forward like a predator before his pounce. "It is, indeed."
I put my hand on his, feeling his muscles tense a bit, then relax again without pulling back. "I remember every detail, Julian," I whisper.
For another precious moment, his eyes get this special shine, then he pulls his hand free and leans back again. "As I said: We were close because of that. It’s not that we’ve shared anything physical." And then his face becomes the reliable mask I am used to looking at.
"Yes, Julian," I say, complying with his attitude, and smile, quite blankly.
He takes the chance to change the subject. "How are things working out for you at the hospital?"
I am missing the obligatory final ‘then’, but luckily it won’t come. No, I’m not that easily turned down. "Fine, thanks. Julian… About what we shared…"
"It was my intention to make you my childe," he interrupts me, somewhat annoyed, but at least I have him now. A bit more calmly, even regretfully, he adds: "We failed."
"I liked what you did, though."
"Of course. Our kiss is pleasurable."
"Kiss. Yeah." Makes me smile again. "Euphemisms everywhere. You sucked my blood, and we both liked it a lot."
However, it won’t make him smile. "If you want to put it so… crudely. Mortal language is no better. You sleep with someone when you have sex with someone."
Again, I obediently answer on cue, "Whereas having sex is, to be scientifically precise, just what every one of us, well, has; a sex."
Yes, and he is annoyed now, and will probably want me to get to the point, and that is where I want him. Promptly, he says: "What is your point?"
I look at him with what I hope to be my most self-righteous smile. "I want to do it again."
"I would be careful if I were you," he retorts, "You might easily end up being addicted to it. Besides, I doubt that you would want to be my blood-doll."
Blood-doll. Julian, what a nice way to put it. Talking about euphemisms… Never tell me that I will. I always won’t, then. "I won't get addicted to anything. I'll be careful. I just like it a lot, because I'm closer to you then." I listen to myself, and realize that I mean exactly what I’m saying. I want to be close to him. Too. Oh, my. So, my emotions have caught up with me, at last.
Julian is sitting there for a little while, looking at me. Then he comes to a conclusion. "If it means that much to you, who would I be to refuse."
Time for me to get up from my suddenly uncomfortable seat. Julian seems to feel the same. And just when I am about to put my arms around his neck, he says: "Did you enjoy the meal?"
This is no time for chit-chat, again, so I just follow through, hugging him close and kissing him. Julian returns the embrace somewhat hesitantly.
Surfacing for breath, I remark: "If this is the only way to shut you up…"
And here, Julian surprises me again, smiling smugly himself now. "I can think of at least one other way." He points in the direction of his bedroom. "Shall we...?"
"You must be kiddin’ me. I’m ettlin’ tae." No more discussion now. I stride in front of him, almost dragging him after.
We get rid of our shirts, no more. Julian is very strict about that. Anyway, next thing I realize is both of us lying on his bed, sharing this one obscene kiss, before his lips search for a place to bite me. I guide his head further downward, for I’ve learned that wounds above shoulder-height won’t heal easily with immortals like me. His lips meet the delicate spot under my collarbone, and then I feel his teeth piercing my skin ever so softly, yet the sensation is unpleasant for a moment, and I give a soft yelp. His hands are on my back at once, their movement soothing the pain and at the same time, together with his sensuous lips on my skin, evoking another reaction quite familiar to me.
Like before, we are both strongly aroused soon, for different reasons, and yet caused by the same activity. We feel each other’s feelings, share this ultimate sensation of intimacy, and it is even stronger than last time, it is in fact stronger than anything I’ve felt before. Our minds seem to meld, our bodies to be one, and although I have closed my eyes long before this, I seem to be watching us from high above with my mind's eye. He is on top of me now. I feel very light-headed, almost somnolent, and I hear my own voice whisper Julian’s name again and again like a mantra.
He lifts his head, and smiles at me with reddened lips. Then, like a cat that has been distracted over its cup of milk, he attentively watches my little wound when the quickening I now posses starts healing it, claiming what is mine, showing little flashes of blue light around the pinpoint holes on my skin. I smile back and wonder what it must feel like, having sucked my blood and now being forced to give back the energy that was extracted. And I want to feel it a bit longer, make it last, all of it. He seems to read my mind and lowers his head once more, and this time he bites just above my nipple, taking it in his mouth while sucking my blood, and it doesn’t take long before I black out.
Coming to my senses again some time later, I leave a satisfied and dozing Prince behind, and hurry to get back to my other love, who will be waiting for me at the hospital. All that Julian and I shared was a couple of hours including some blood loss on my side, one soppy kiss – and no sex. And yet I feel about it just like I felt about the night with Daedalus, and something like a bad conscience tries to swirl up in my stomach, for I have indeed betrayed him, somehow. While driving into the parking lot, I come to the conclusion that, in spite of this, I need them, both of them. And although – or maybe, because - my mind is in this special state of extreme wobbliness it dawns on me that this will take some time and a lot of scheming…
To be continued...