Reach Out For The Sunrise Ch. 11bySadieRose©
© Sadie Rose Bermingham & Bellora Quinn 2010
Good Day to you, dear readers. The tempting and teasing is nearly at an end. We lay before you, chapter 11, the penultimate instalment of Reach Out For The Sunrise. It has been over a year in the delivery and now the end is in sight and we can rest our weary index fingers for a little while. Maybe enjoy a nice break in the Caribbean? Go surfing around the Great Barrier Reef? Soak up the sunshine in Santiago, Seville or Salamanca? Anything but sit in front of a laptop every night groaning "what... more editing?"
I jest... the words are on the page, they are in your charge now, sweet people. Receive them gently, we implore. Thieve them not, and remember. A gay vampire rockstar is for Unlife, not just for Xmas. And so we give you...
Xavier was silent and contemplative on the drive back to Aldo's villa. His stay at Marco's had been more eventful than he'd anticipated, and while he'd already mostly buried what had happened with Palo, setting aside the information Nicolas had given him about the marks and Marco's not so subtle prodding about Rayne was not as easy.
The driver occasionally glanced in the rear-view mirror at his pretty, brooding passenger. For all that the young man was artfully made up and dressed in the most chic and modern style, he gave off an unmistakable vibe of melancholy that automatically made anyone with half a heart want to offer comfort to him. But after a couple of his attempts at small talk were politely rebuffed the driver gave up on trying to talk to him.
As the car pulled up on the curving driveway though a little smile touched Xavier's lips.
Ridiculous as it was he sort of felt like he was coming home. Maybe it was just that he'd come to think of Aldo's as a kind of sanctuary. He'd only been away for a few days and yet it seemed like he'd been gone much longer. The merest sight of the house filled him with a sense of familiar warmth and longing though.
When the car pulled to a stop at the door he thanked the driver, got his gear out, and headed up the walk. The front door was open and he was expected so he just went in, wandering down the hall toward the kitchen, following the sound of well-loved voices. PJ, Aldo, and Chavez were there, along with another guy whom Xavier at first glance almost mistook for Jabez, although he was not as tall or as broad across the shoulders as the vampire.
"Lu-u-ucy, I'm home!" he crooned, grinning cheekily as he came in.
Aldo came towards him at once, a look of concern on his handsome face that almost wiped away his smile. In the background PJ rose and disentangled himself from the embrace of the tall, handsome, white-haired newcomer.
"Xav! It's good to see you," the Italian declared, pulling him into a hug. "You look gorgeous! How was it with Marco? He's not been working you too hard, heh?"
"It went alright." Xavier said neutrally, suddenly on his guard.
It was obvious, even to anyone who didn't know him, that while Aldo's affectionate greeting was genuine he was also anxious and that it was something to do with Xavier. Before he had a chance to ask him what was wrong though PJ was beside them both and he put a hand on Xav's shoulder.
"I'm glad you're back," he said gently. "We have some news for you, baby. I think you should sit down before you hear this, okay?"
A little frown appeared between Xav's brows as he let PJ lead him to a chair and settle him down into it. Something weird was up, for sure. Aldo's bright smile looked forced and PJ was smiling too but he couldn't hide the worry in his eyes. Xav looked back and forth between then, his own anxiety growing.
"What news?" he asked warily, knowing it couldn't be good if they were both handling him like fine china.
PJ cleared his throat and into the pause Aldo quietly said; "Dominic's back. He arrived about an hour ago. He brought something for you."
The Italian ignored the look he got from PJ that said his friend would have preferred to handle things differently.
Xavier blinked, looking surprised, but he didn't relax. Something was still fishy here, the way these two were acting, and Chavez hadn't said a word to him, wouldn't even look at him. He actually looked kind of pissed off, arms and legs crossed defensively as he leaned up against the counter. But Dom being back was a good thing, Xav thought, brightening a little.
"Oka-a-ay..." he said carefully, wondering why PJ had wanted him to sit just to tell him that. "I'll go put my stuff away then. And... where is Dom anyway?"
"He's in Rayne's room," PJ said before Aldo could open his mouth.
Xavier went still, and the room suddenly got very, very quiet. PJ might have just meant the room Rayne had been using before he left, but since that was also Xav's room there was no reason for him to refer to it so and anyway why would Dominic come back at all? Xavier suddenly guessed who the handsome, silver-eyed man sitting next to PJ was. Mikka, PJ's friend, whom he had asked to go looking for Rayne in Paris. If both Dominic and Mikka were here...
The stunned look on Xavier's face flickered only briefly before closing off, like a solid door slamming shut on the sunshine. He shot Aldo a look full of reproach.
"Brought something for me, huh?" he said, low and angry, shaking his head. "Rayne's with him, isn't he." It was not a question and no one tried to answer him now. He immediately thought that Dominic must have bullied Rayne into coming back with him. Something of that nature must have happened because he sure didn't believe Rayne just decided he missed him and came back here on his own.
PJ ran a hand slowly up his arm, a gesture that was both soothing and warning at the same time.
"Babe," he said gravely. "It's not that simple. I didn't exactly give you the whole story on the phone. They found Rayne, yes, but your instincts weren't that far off. He did run into trouble and he was in a pretty bad shape when Mikka found him. I'm still trying to get to the bottom of what happened to him up there but whatever it was, it's fucked with his mind."
"Yeah, yeah!" Aldo turned away shaking his head as if he did not quite believe that. "He's playing stupid games with you, Paddy. Just like he's always done! Listen to Mikkal, he knows how Rayne is."
PJ looked like he might have said something more about that but a movement in the doorway drew their eyes. Dominic leaned there for a moment, mortally tired, watching them argue. For once he almost looked his age. He smiled when he saw Xavier though. "I thought I heard your voice, darling. It's good to see you again. I take it the boys have broken the news to you?"
Xavier opened his mouth to say something. He wasn't sure what might have come out, but before he got to speak he was sidetracked by a low aside from Mikka, who was still embroiled in the tensions between Aldo and PJ.
"You were not there, Aldo. You did not see him...what had been done to him," he murmured gravely.
PJ's handsome companion sounded so deadly serious Xavier's head turned automatically to look at him. He sounded infinitely more tired than Dominic looked and his tone was too defensive.
"What do you mean?" Xav asked, frowning slightly. "Who did what to him?"
The room got quiet again and Xavier looked around at the faces that were avoiding looking back at him. That little niggle of anxiety that had been at the back of his head since he'd come into the room suddenly blossomed into something approaching full-blown panic.
"I knew something was wrong!" He stood up, too agitated now to sit any longer. "What happened to him? What about his mind?" He looked around at the silent somewhat shell-shocked faces and his anxiety exploded into irritation. "Would someone please just cut the bullshit and tell me what the fuck is going on?"
For a moment there was stalemate as the occupants of the room virtually squared off. Aldo and Chavez were visibly hostile, Mikka and PJ the solid wall of defence. Then Dominic half-turned in the doorway as a small, dark-haired figure pushed up against him and snuggled under the protective warmth of his arm, peering out at everyone as curious as a small child.
His green eyes widened when he set eyes on Xavier though. Briefly, Rayne looked up at Dominic as if seeking some acknowledgement of what he was seeing.
"Xavier?" he whispered hoarsely.
The older man nodded gravely. "Go on... you know it's him."
Xavier's expression could not seem to settle on a single emotion, but anger and hurt were chief among them, with a good deal of confusion thrown in the mix. After all, Rayne had not only dumped him but the last time he'd seen him he'd left him lying on a couch nearly bled out and with a raging fever serious enough that Xav had only been semi-consciousness for several days afterwards.
Xavier's eyes locked on Rayne's and for a moment no one else in the room existed. What he saw in those shimmering pale green orbs was hard to say. Rayne had never looked at him like this before. He'd seen those pretty eyes filled with desire and passion, laughter and concern and even anger, but right now they just looked confused... lost... searching.
"Y-you don't remember me?" Xav asked in a small hurt voice.
"He doesn't remember anyone, darling," Dominic said in a pained tone. "He doesn't even remember his own name half of the time. But he remembered yours, Xavier. He kept on calling out for you, even when he had no idea where he was, or who."
The most beaming and beautiful smile illuminated Rayne's face then and he whispered; "Xavier."
"Yes, darling," Dominic assured him again. "Yes, it's Xavier."
Xav felt the little hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Something was profoundly wrong here. He stood frozen to the spot as goosebumps crawled up his arms. How could Rayne remember his name but not remember who he was? What the fuck had happened to him?
He watched transfixed as Rayne slowly moved out from under Dominic's protective arm and came to him. Standing face to face again like this brought back a flood of memories, for Xavier anyway, not all of them happy. He had been so angry with Rayne for leaving him the way he did, packing up and trying to sneak off while he slept. How could he have done that after all they'd gone through together?
Yes, Xavier had broken the unspoken rule and told Rayne he loved him, but he hadn't asked for anything in return. Just to be with him. And how pathetic was that? Maybe Rayne had been right to leave him. It still hurt though.
Almost against his will Xavier lifted his hand to Rayne's cheek, his fingers brushing softly there as if to see if he was real.
"What happened to you Ray?" he asked softly.
Soft, cold lips brushed the palm of his hand and Rayne nuzzled him there affectionately. His long fingers reached for Xavier automatically and he wrapped himself around his mate almost possessively.
"You came for me," he whispered huskily, his lips pressed to Xavier's ear. "I was lost and you came for me. But then... when I woke up I didn't know how to find you again."
Xavier was still rooted to the spot, his body felt frozen even though it was almost a shock to the system when Rayne touched him and wound around him so tightly. He should be angry. He was still angry. He ought to push Rayne away. He should shove him away right now, as hard as possible. He could not just forgive and forget so easily the way Rayne had treated him; how he had taunted him when he left him, and how badly it had hurt. He wasn't really going to just forgive all that in an instant because something bad had happened to Rayne and he'd come back all messed up, was he?
Everyone in the room saw the way Xavier stiffened when Rayne put his arms around him. In the space of a few heartbeats that followed not one of them didn't speculate what he might do next, and more than one was certain Xavier was about to push him away.
Xavier closed his eyes. You bastard! You broke my heart! How dare you run away like a thief in the night, go get yourself hurt, then expect me to just forget everything when you come crawling back! The inner seething lasted all of a moment and then Xav crumbled. He couldn't help it, he still loved Rayne no matter how much it hurt. His arms wrapped around his lover and held him tight, his head bending so he could bury his face at the side of Rayne's throat. The hurt was still lodged deep inside, but the anger melted away. He might be an idiot but he wasn't heartless... and it felt so good to hold him again.
Rayne made a small sound and nearly crushed his ribs he tightened around him so much, and a flood tide of emotion hit Xav like a big wave. It was chaotic and confused but it was also overlaid with an overwhelming sense of relief. Just that small lowering of his guard and the connection between them sizzled, electric enough to crackle in the air around them. There wasn't a person in the room that didn't feel it.
The vampire made a low, happy purring noise and snuggled into the hollow of Xavier's neck and shoulder, lipping and kissing the sensitive bite marks he had left there. Xavier's lips parted around an intake of breath and Rayne's mouth sought out his and swallowed his little gasp. The kiss was clumsy, hungry, but sweet nonetheless.
When their lips parted again Xav looked over Rayne's shoulder up at Dominic, his blue eyes almost as lost and helpless as Rayne's.
"Thank you." Dominic mouthed the words almost soundlessly as Xavier held Rayne. Just loud enough to be heard he murmured; "Your instincts were right Xavier; we nearly lost him. Maybe we have lost him anyway. He swings back and forth from adult to child and I can't keep track of what his mind is doing. The closest I can equate it with is the aftermath of a stroke, or perhaps some kind of brain damage. He is improving though. He's not forgotten how to feed and that seems to help."
Brain damage? A stroke? Xavier blanched. Jesus! What the fuck had happened to him? But Xavier had already asked, and he wasn't getting very many straight answers and... oh, man... he wished Rayne would quit kissing his neck like that! He couldn't think straight. He wanted to ask Dominic what he should do? Ask if he was he going to stay like this? He wasn't sure he wanted to hear Dom's answers though.
Xavier let out a shaky breath, his heart pounding violently in his chest. When they had first got together this weird connection-thing only happened when Rayne bit him, and it was mostly one way. After some weeks though, the feeling of being connected was with him all the time, intensifying when they were intimate or when Rayne fed from him. Even then Xavier didn't pick up much from Rayne, only what the vampire wanted him to feel or what slipped by in a moment of passion. Xavier had figured that Rayne shielded so much from him more out of a sense that he was protecting him than anything sinister.
Maybe that was right. He was wide open right now, and the barrage of emotional debris was enough to nearly take him to his knees. It was almost physically painful. It wasn't telepathy, only empathy, although he got a little flash of something else. The night he had woke up screaming and falling out of bed it had felt like someone had stabbed him right though the heart, and he again felt a coldness touch his chest and make him want to rub the place where it had hurt.
With an unsteady hand Xav lifted the edge of Rayne's shirt, his fingers finding and tracing over the fading scars on his chest, so faint they were almost gone, but still enough for him to see that what he had felt was real. His lips compressed and he had to blink his stinging eyes quickly. Someone had done this to him, put those scars there, hurt him so badly he'd nearly died.
"You can see what happened?" Dominic queried softly.
Xavier shook his head once. "No, but I can feel it." His voice sounded strained. "Whatever happened, it was really, really bad." The last was almost a whisper.
Xavier suddenly didn't want to be in this room full of people any more. He felt too exposed and flayed raw just from the little brush of Rayne's emotions. He let his shirt fall back in place, took the vampire's cold, slender hand and pulled him along behind him as he headed toward the hallway.
"We need to talk," was the only explanation he gave the others as he fled with Rayne in tow.
Once they were in the bedroom Xavier closed the door and sank down on the edge of the bed, pulling Rayne close and holding him. He kissed his temple, breathing in his scent and trying to get hold of his own galloping emotions again.
"I couldn't find you." Rayne said, a forlorn echo of what he'd been trying to tell him earlier.
"I'm here now, sweetheart," Xavier murmured soothingly. It occurred to him that in Rayne's current state he probably didn't remember how they had parted; might not even remember anything other than his name. If he did start to remember... Jesus! He might want to leave again. Could he do this then? Could he hold Rayne now and love him and help him, knowing that in the end he might just get his heart stomped on a second time?
It wasn't even a question really. Rayne needed him, and Xavier loved him, and if he was destined for heartache again... but he didn't want to think of that now. Right now he just needed to hold Rayne and soothe him and maybe help him find his way back home.
Xavier's arms circled around him and he touched his forehead to Rayne's. He brought one hand up to his lover's cheek when he noticed those luminescent green eyes shimmering with tears. "What is it Rayne, what's wrong?"
Rayne swallowed several times, struggling to keep the tears from falling. A single crystaline droplet overlapped his lower lashes and trickled fulsomely down his cheek though and he made a tiny little hiccuping sound as he struggled to remember the right words to say.
"You... I hurt you... you're angry with me," he faltered in a small voice, so unlike his usual bluster that it was as if Xavier was talking to a different man. "I had to find you. It was so important... but I don't know why," he quavered softly now, another tear escaping. "I thought you would make it right... that when I found you it would all be... better. But you..." He lowered his head, unable to even look at Xavier. The tears dropped down wetly onto his nervously twining fingers. "You hate me, don't you?"
"No, I don't hate you." Xavier said softly, putting an arm around him and stroking him soothingly. "Yes you hurt me, and yes you made me mad, but I don't hate you. I could never hate you Rayne." He brought his other hand up to cup Rayne's face, his thumb caressing his cheek and wiping away the tears there.
"I'm sorry Rayne," Xav continued, his own voice raw and husky with emotion. "I'm sorry I couldn't make it better. I don't know if I can help you, I don't know if I can ever make things right. I can try though." He kissed Rayne's lips very softly, and he tried to put into that kiss what was behind the hurt and the last traces of anger. The ache in him was so bittersweet, and without really meaning to a memory came up in his head unbidden. Rayne above him, his face half bathed in the moonlight seeping in through the window. His body floating in a hazy bliss. I love you, Rayne. The words spoken so tender and husky and not meant to actually pass his lips.
His heartbroken mate looked up at him, bewilderment still flickering in his eyes as he accepted the kiss, but he did seem to sense some of what Xavier was thinking and feeling for the look in his eyes softened and grew less fearful. His fingers glided lightly up Xavier's arm to his shoulder, into the dip of his collar bone and up along the smooth curve of his slender neck to caress the little dimples left by his fangs there. Their noses were almost touching and Rayne could feel the quickening of Xavier's breath between his lips.