London Loves Ch. 07bySadieRose©
© Sadie Rose Bermingham & Bellora Quinn 2012
Well here we are on Chapter 7 already! How on earth did that happen? Our thanks as always to everyone that has managed to keep up and follow the story so very far. To new readers, London Loves...? and its prequels are predominantly gay male and vampire/supernatural related so if that isn't your bag look away now.
We love that you love the stories, but please don't take them and reproduce them on your blogs and stuff like that, at least not without asking first. It's hard enough keeping track of what gets stolen from Litty without having to track down stories that have been 'borrowed' from other sites as well. Thankyou, and enjoy...
Xavier hadn't thought he'd be able to sleep again, but he was wrong. He'd slipped down easily into sleep with Rayne wrapped lightly around him and hadn't woken again until the sun was well up. When he did open his eyes it was close on thirty six hours since he'd been chased into that alley and beaten. Given a day and a half for the real aches to set in he'd expected to feel even worse. The deep bruising was still very painful and he wasn't going to jump out of bed and start dancing any time soon but he wasn't nearly as badly off as he had feared. He was very sore, but moving considerably better than he had been the day before.
The very next thing he noticed was how hungry he was. He either hadn't had the opportunity or the inclination to eat since breakfast two days ago with Clint and now he was just about ready to devour the pillow under his head.
He woke alone but the sound of conversation was a low buzz in the background. Rayne was talking to someone in the living room. Once his eyes had adjusted to the brightness he struggled into a shirt and pants and managed to limp through to the other room to find out what was going on.To his relief their visitor was Lord Warren, not Matt Greening. In spite of Matty's kindness in looking out for him after he was attacked, Xavier was still uncomfortable with Rayne's ex boyfriend hanging around the apartment.
Dominic was sitting on the edge of the futon talking to Rayne who stood by the window looking out. They both turned when he came into the room though. Rayne looked concerned but Dom's expression was one of mingled shock and horror.
"Bright Lady!" he exclaimed, springing to his feet and coming to Xavier at once. "You should still be in the bedroom, young man. You're black and blue, you poor thing!"
Xavier brought his arms up in an unconscious warding gesture, afraid Dominic was actually going to hug him, which would have been fine under ordinary circumstances but would be very bad for him right now. He relaxed though when Dominic stopped short of actually pulling him into his worried embrace.
"I would be, but there isn't any food in there," Xavier pointed out with with a small rueful smile that looked particularly pathetic given his current battered state.
"There isn't any food out here either," Rayne said, not entirely helpfully.
Dominic looked from one to the other like they were naughty children and shook his head. "Goddess! What am I to do with the pair of you? Ray, the boy needs nourishment if he's to get better. Haven't you even made him soup?"
"He was asleep," the little vampire sulked, clearly put out at being cast as the villain.
"Well he isn't sleeping now," Lord Warren declared sternly. He turned to Xavier with a proprietary smile; "What would you like for breakfast, darling?"
"Anything sounds good right now. I'm starved," Xavier said. "There really isn't anything to eat here though... Rayne just got back," he added by way of a slight defence for his mate. "... and I've just been eating out 'cause, you know, I can pretty much fuck up anything that needs to be cooked. There's a place not too far from here I've been goin' to for breakfast," he explained casually.
Dominic looked at him like he'd suggested something utterly ridiculous. "Tell me you weren't planning on hobbling down there this morning."
Xav shrugged, and then winced slightly, stopping mid motion. Dominic made a tsk-ing sound and motioned him to sit.
"Why didn't you call me?"
Xav looked up at him at little abashed, because he should have but he hadn't been thinking clearly. "It was like, 3 in the morning when I finally made it to the apartment... I knew Matty had a key and I wasn't sure if you did so I 'phoned him. I've been either at the hospital or sleeping and haven't had a chance to call you...or eat anything, since."
"Oh you poor darling," Dominic sighed again, shaking his head. "It's a wonder you haven't faded away to nothing."
He stroked Xavier's hair tenderly then reached into a pocket of his short coat for a small pad and an expensive looking pen. He scribbled a list and passed it to Rayne almost dismissively.
"There's a herbalist on Ladbroke Grove, near the library and a delicatessen called Snickett's about halfway down Portobello Road, they should be able to sell you most of that," he said sternly. "Shouldn't take you more than a half hour to get there and back. I'm going to run this poor lad a nice hot chamomile bath and let him soak those bruises properly. Honestly! You're supposed to be taking care of him, Rayne."
The little vampire studied the list rather sullenly but he did not argue and when Dominic gave him another of those 'looks' he reached for his coat and bent to give Xavier a gentle kiss.
"She's worse than my Nan," he breathed, touching his lips to his lover's mouth again.
Xavier returned the kiss with a hint of desperation. He'd much rather have been the one going out than the one left behind to be fussed over. Rayne's lips were twitching with a bit more humour as he pulled away and Xavier shot him a look that said thanks for that! before the vampire hurried out the door, leaving him in Lord Warren's tender care.
Quickly Xavier realised the pointlessness of resisting and he hadn't the energy to put up much of a protest anyway. He gave in and let Dominic minister to needs he didn't even know he had.
The huge green-glass soak tub in Rayne's bathroom was already filled with steaming water and various flowers and what looked like bark and twigs when he ambled in there. At least it smelled good. He stripped off his clothes while his friend was humming over the water adding a drop of this or a dash of that. Dom's little gasp made Xav turn around and then he looked away from the horrified and worried look on his friend's face. He supposed he did look pretty bad under the tee shirt, the dark purple of the bruises in full bloom over his torso probably wouldn't even begin to fade for a few days yet.
Xav didn't say a word while the older man alternately oozed sympathy and cursed the men that did this to him. He got into the tub at Dominic's direction, hissing and wincing as he tried to ease down into the hot water.
"For fuck's sake Dom, are you trying to boil me or what?" he whined a bit.
"Don't be such a baby," the older man chuckled, shaking his head. "The hot water will draw the bruising, darling. The comfrey tincture that I added to it will help to reduce the swelling, chamomile is always soothing, thyme and rosemary are good for your skin in any case. Don't scrub, just soak for a little while. I'll make some rosehip tea when Ray gets back, that should boost your immune system, help you get well from within."
He beamed at Xavier like a beneficent angel then left the young man to simmer for a while in the deep, green-glass bowl of aromatic stew. The rippling water reflecting on the cool green and white tiles was oddly soothing and it was quiet and peaceful in the bathroom once he was on his own.
In fairly short order Xavier got used to the temperature and relaxed bit by bit, his head resting on the back lip of the tub, the water reaching almost up to his neck. The hot scented water was soothing and felt silky on his skin. As he let his mind start to drift, not actually falling asleep but just floating a bit below total consciousness, he thought he felt a little shimmer of something flow over him. Nothing unpleasant, it was almost like a caress under the heat of the water. He guessed the low tingle along his skin to be the feel of Dominic's magic.
He stayed where he was, just drifting and feeling that tingle spread slowly through him until the water began to cool and he judged himself sufficiently prune-like. At last he got out, feeling as though he'd just steeped himself in a giant bowl of herbal tea... which essentially was true. He was not miraculously cured of all his aches and bruises, but the raw ache of his damaged muscles was less as he patted himself dry and wrapped himself in one of Rayne's robes. He didn't feel like crawling back into bed yet, despite knowing Dominic would probably chastise him for wandering around rather than resting. After the hot bath he felt pretty much rested anyway.
His stomach gurgled contentedly in advance appreciation of the hot bacon rolls his rebellious lover had fetched back with the shopping, knowing that he would not want to wait whilst food was cooking. In view of the fact that he knew the smell of bacon left Rayne nauseated, it was a touching gesture.
He could hear voices coming from the kitchen again and guessed Dominic was in there with Rayne. He wasn't trying to eavesdrop but as he approached he couldn't help overhearing what they were talking about. Dominic was asking questions and Rayne was sketching out the details of what had happened as far as he knew; received in a third hand account. They were discussing the possibility or probability of Clint's involvement in the attack. Xav didn't get upset, but he did look quite serious as he floated into the kitchen and helped himself to a bacon bap whilst Dom was busy cooking up a pot of something that smelled equally heavenly on the stovetop.
"Clint didn't set me up," Xavier injected into the conversation with his mouth full, although he wasn't trying to be rude about it. "I know he didn't."
Dominic glanced up anxiously from the pot he was stirring and Rayne, who was leaning on the counter beside him shook his head gravely.
"I don't want you to mix with him any more," he said. It wasn't a direct order but it had that tone to it that added, if he was defied, he would not be happy about it. "Maybe he didn't mean for this to happen to you, but he hangs around with the kind of people that..."
Rayne broke off because Dominic gave him a look that Xavier didn't see. He could guess from Rayne's defensive reaction that Lord Warren didn't always approve of Rayne's choice of companions either.
"Xavier's a grown up, Ray," was all Lord Warren murmured. "And Clint is nearly an adult too, you can't police them all your life. What happened was unfortunate, but this is London. You can't wrap the boy in cotton wool, darling."
Xav put down the roll, feeling the delicious food turn to ashes in his mouth and slid onto one of the barstools by the kitchen island. He was bristling ever so slightly at Rayne's high handed tone, but he was not altogether surprised by it.
"Are you more angry that I let him hang out here, or that I found out he's your kid?" he asked mildly. He didn't really want to get Rayne wound up but there were some things that needed saying between them, and he'd be damned if he was gonna take all this sniping about Clint and not say a word in his own defence.
Now Rayne's hackles were up too and Xav could tell Dominic was thinking he might be in the middle of yet another row. Xav held Rayne's hostile gaze though, treated him to a tired, slightly lopsided smile and waved a dismissive hand. "I'm not trying to give you shit about it Ray, I just want you to be fair, that's all. If you don't want to let me in on things like, 'oh, by the way, the little emo brat on my front step is my kid...', then don't get pissed off at me cos I stumbled into it."
Rayne opened his mouth and Xav hurried on. "By the way, he's not a bad kid... and I'm pretty sure he knows you're a vampire. I did the best I could to keep him from tripping out until you got back and decided what you wanted to do about it."
Rayne's teeth clicked together softly as he closed his mouth on whatever it was he had been about to say. Dominic moved the pan he had been stirring off the heat and turned to look from Xavier to the little vampire with a chuckle.
"He's a smart one, say what you like!" he remarked with some amusement and Xav wondered if Dominic was talking about him or Clinton.
Rayne shook his head incredulously. "He told you I was a vampire? The little fuck!"
Xavier put his chin carefully on the palm of one hand, resting his elbow on the counter.
"No...not exactly. He tried to get me to tell him you were a vampire though. He was asking some pretty pointed questions. I didn't confirm or deny anything, exactly, but he's not stupid Ray. He's...he's feeling something. He told me he was drawn here, to you. I think he can feel the difference around vampires like I can..." He trailed off for a second and then looked back up at Rayne. "I had to tell him something, at least. I didn't want him trying to dig up info on his own, I was worried he'd get into more trouble than he could handle. So, I told him if he got that feeling around anyone else to stay away from them."
Dominic sucked a short breath through his teeth and Rayne looked irritably at him.
"It's happening," the older man said with a small shrug. "You knew there was no way of stopping it. He is coming into his inheritance, Rayne. The child of a union between a vampire and a mortal woman will grow to become Dhamphirii. Better that he does so as your ally than your opponent, darling."
"I think Clint's drawn his own battle lines," Rayne said darkly. "If he comes near Xav again, I will wipe the fuckin' floor with him. But if he thinks he scares me, he's got a nasty shock coming."
The vampire looked unsettled though. It was clear enough from his mood that he felt he was being forced to take a stance he'd rather not have adopted. Xavier had touched on a sore spot, Clint was his son, for good or ill and his track record as a father was already a less than shining example.
"Rayne..." Xavier waited until his lover looked at him. There was both concern and confusion in his sky blue eyes, his face expressive despite the discolouration of bruises. "He's not such a bad kid, really. I'll stay away from him if you want but if he comes around I'm not going to treat him like shit. He didn't do anything wrong."
"You don't know him half as well as you think you do, Xavier," Rayne warned.
"Matt told me about what he did. About him accusing you of stuff and then trying to burn the place down. I'm not saying there's any excuse for that, I'm not saying he's not messed up, but I think it's all coming from just wanting attention."
Rayne gave him an incredulous look. "Yeah? This last time I caught up with him he stabbed me in the arm."
Xavier finally looked shocked. "You're kidding..."
The vampire looked seriously at him. "I don't have the scars to prove it, fortunately, but my jacket's still hanging in the hall, there's a nice little tear in the sleeve now that'll be a bitch to mend. Thing is, I don't actually think he was going for my arm, if you know what I mean."
Dominic also looked shocked by this and visibly upset.
"That's beyond attention seeking, you should call the police, my darling," he said. "What if he hurts someone else? Someone who'll bleed more?"
Xavier didn't thank Lord Warren for pointing that out to Rayne, especially since he was being so protective as it was. He was still quite shocked that Clint would actually stab Rayne and he felt disappointment settle on him keenly. Could he have been that wrong about the kid? Were his instincts that far off? He sat there quietly staring a hole through the worktop in front of him and wondering if he had actually misjudged Clint. Maybe the boy had set him up, after all. It wasn't impossible. Actually, it would have been very easy.
But then, why had he asked him to stay at the theatre? Why had he come along and helped him? Why stay with him and drag his ass all the way home? But on the other hand, wasn't it just a little convenient the way Clint had found him in that alley? What if the kid had taken his phone on purpose to give himself a reason to come after him in order to cover his own tracks? Maybe he was playing some game, trying to make himself look good, get close to Xavier to hurt Rayne?
If Clint really did have something to do with the mugging, Xav thought... well, disappointment didn't begin to cover how that made him feel. He should be pissed, and somewhere inside he was, but he was also wounded. He'd gotten to kind of like Clint. He'd been good to the kid for more reasons than just because he was Rayne's son. Now he felt he'd been stupidly naïve and he couldn't meet Rayne's eyes.
Maybe Rayne saw a little of the confusion in his face because he moved closer, so smoothly and silently that Xav was hardly aware of him until he felt his lover's hand on the back of his neck. It was a gesture designed to be both soothing and a little possessive.
"We don't need to get the police involved," the vampire said atonally. "I'll deal with Clinton. Right now our priority is Xavier. He needs to get well, and then we need to figure out how to build his defences up so that something like this can't happen to him again." Rayne kissed his lover's blond curls, tenderly whispering; "Don't worry. None of this is your fault, sweetheart."
Xavier leaned into Rayne, letting himself be comforted, but still feeling rather disconsolate.
"I've been thinking about that very thing actually." Dominic said while he poked around in the pans on the hob. "I've just about taken care of all the most pressing business here and I'm overdue a trip back home." He turned around, smiling at them both. "Why don't you both come with me? Get out of the city for a while and Xavier can recuperate in peace."
Rayne exchanged a look with Xavier and murmured; "You're inviting us to hang out at Flowery Twats? We must look a mess!"
Xavier looked quizzically at him, but Rayne was grinning now so he figured it was some sort of a long standing joke between them.
"It's not the first time I've let you stay there, darling," Dominic did not look up from his pans but a smile quirked his lips too. "And yes, I think you are both in a bit of a state. Maybe the chance to get over your respective traumas somewhere neutral will help you both to recover. And I can work on building your protection with you from day to day. It will speed the whole process up."
"In that case," Rayne said sarcastically, "you're on!"
Dominic finished making dinner and then made sure that Xav ate everything on his plate, and had second helpings. He had some political business to attend to at the House before he travelled up to Cheshire and so he bade them farewell, letting them know he'd be driving north on the following day and would meet them at the airport, since it would be quicker and more comfortable for Rayne and Xav to fly up when they were ready.
After Dominic had gone Rayne helped Xavier to pack, and opened the case he had brought back from Manchester to empty it and throw in some fresh clothing. The handful of garments that came out of the case were shoved hastily into the laundry basket but not before they caught Xav's sharp eyes. He said nothing at the time but whilst Rayne was on the phone to Matty later, he slipped into the bathroom and investigated in more detail.
It felt a little bit wrong to be doing this but he was curious about what he'd thought he'd seen, and also the weirdly surreptitious way Rayne had tried to smuggle the clothing into the basket and out of sight.