Young Blood Ch. 05

byicehead©

He took a couple seconds to look back and forth at the two of us before slowly rising up and saying, "Sure, no problem." With that, he stepped out the door and shut it behind him.

"If you want to talk to me," Michelle said, still clearly rather miffed with me, "you can at least have the decency to get out of that bed. It's fucking almost three 'o clock, for God's sake!"

"All right, but not until you close those blinds," I replied.

Her shoulders hung and her head tilted to the side. "What's up with you and those stupid blinds?" I said nothing, just gave her one of those looks. You know, of the "don't argue with me, just do it" variety. She rolled her eyes and said, "Fine." She walked to the window and closed off the deadly light pouring into the room, and I arose from my bed and grabbed my pair of jeans off the floor and began sliding them on.

"I just want to know one thing," she said to me. "What the hell happened last night? Why did you jump ship in the middle of what we were doing?"

I sighed. "I wish I could tell you. Right now, the only thing I need you to understand is that you and I are of the past. I can't allow myself to be tempted to get close to you."

She shrugged in a wide-eyed sort of way that still demanded explanation. "Why not?"

"Look, what I said before still stands, Michelle. I've changed. I've been pulled into a whole different world since we broke up, and if we keep this up I'll end up pulling you into it too."

"Well you seem to be doing more-or-less okay, aside from the part where you're sleeping all day. How do I know getting pulled into this world of yours would be a bad thing?"

"It's not as simple as..." I stopped. I looked away from her eyes, groping for a way to explain the situation without telling her the whole truth. But wait, what if I did? What if I told her what I was, and she expressed interest in joining me? What if she decided she wanted to be turned? No, I couldn't so casually give out that truth on the possibility that the recipient of the information would be intrigued by it. She'd probably freak out instead. Besides, even if I did let her join us there was...

Alicia.

"There is someone else," I said at last.

Now that she understood. Her head rolled back with an angry grunt. "I knew it," she growled.

"I'm sorry if you're disappointed that I didn't wait for you," I said, "but I've moved on. I've got my own life now, and you're just not a part of it anymore. I'm sorry."

"Fine. I understand," she muttered. "Then I guess this is where I excuse myself from your life." And so she marched over to the door and yanked it open. Both of us were expecting there to be someone standing there when she did, but we both thought it was going to be Larry. It was actually someone else entirely, just getting ready to knock on the door when it opened.

It was Elizabeth.

"Well how 'bout that," Michelle fumed. "I guess this must be her, isn't it?"

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow. "Her who?"

"She's just a friend," I said sullenly to Michelle.

"Name's Elizabeth," she said, extending a hand which Michelle did not take.

"Well, Elizabeth, I hope you'll make Vincent very happy. Have a nice life, both of you." With that she proceeded to storm out as Elizabeth stepped inside.

"What was that all about?"

"Ex-girlfriend, transferred here to see me, wanted to get back together. I said no."

"Oh." Elizabeth needed no further explanation.

"So was there something you wanted to see me about?"

"I was hoping you could join me down in the lower levels, so I could show you the preparations I've made. Alicia's still sleeping, at least last time I checked, so you don't need to worry about her."

In walked the big lout with an armful of beer cans. "Hey, if you two are finished about now, why d—" He stopped suddenly, seeing Elizabeth where he expected to see Michelle, and instantly turned on his I-laughingly-use-the-word "charm." "Well, hellllooo!"

Elizabeth looked at me, clearly repulsed. "Roommate?"

"Roommate."

The slob took a few eager steps toward her. "Hey wassup baby? I'm Larry! And you are?"

"Suddenly very eager to be gone from here."

Larry took a step back, reeling from that wound. Elizabeth looked at me in a pleading sort of way. "Just give me a minute to shower and put on some clothes I didn't just sleep in," I said. She nodded, and turned and walked out the door.

I was just starting to turn to head for the shower. "Hey, is it darker in here than it was a minute ago?" Larry said. I reflexively turned back to him in response, not really thinking anything of it. Then I saw him notice the blinds. "Oh, hey, weren't those blinds open?"

"Larry, don't—"

Before I could stop him, Larry had pulled the string. I instantly dove for cover behind my bed as deadly white-hot light came flooding into the room. Now that I look back on it, I probably overreacted a little; considering what time it was, there wasn't all that much sunlight coming into the room anyway, but I guess it's a natural vampire reflex to become panicky in the presence of daylight. Anyway, Larry looked at me with more than a little suspicion. "Y'okay?"

"Close those blinds Larry, now!" I shouted.

"Dude, what the fuck—"

"CLOSE 'EM!"

Obviously baffled, Larry consented. As soon as the lethal rays were gone, I stood up and sighed. "Dude, what's up with you, anyway? Out all night, later than even me, mortally afraid of the sun, hangin' out with weird goth chicks, you sure didn't used to do all that."

I just looked at him a moment, pondering my answer. I idly imagined for a moment if I were to tell him the truth. It was a comical idea; I knew he'd never believe it—So why not just tell him? Since he's not gonna believe it anyway, no harm, no foul! "You want to know?"

"Yeah."

"You sure?"

"Yeah!"

"You absolutely sure you want to know?"

"Dude, fuckin' spill it!"

"I'm a vampire."

For a moment, he just stared at me. Saying nothing. I just looked back at him, waiting for a response. And it finally came in the form of Larry just cracking up laughing. I couldn't hold back a smile, and added, "That's right, I'm an immortal, bloodsucking creature of the night." He laughed some more, of course. Just watching his reaction was actually pretty entertaining.

When he finally started to calm down, all he could say to me was, "Man, you are one crazy motherfucker." What made it more amusing was that I actually knew exactly what he was going to say before he did.

That's when things stopped being so funny.

I turned around again to head for the shower. I had not even taken a step when I suddenly heard the shuffling of blinds and felt a burning pain on my back, and instantly leapt away from the rays that Larry had just allowed back in. "Goddamn it, Larry, I told you to close those blinds!"

He gave me the most incredulous look he was capable of. "Dude, the joke's over!"

"I'm not joking with you Larry, close the goddamn blinds!"

"Vince, stop with the stupid vampire game, what's your fuckin' problem?"

I glared at him, and—I don't know now why I decided to do what I did—thrust my hand into the sunlight. I just held it there, feeling the pain of it starting to burn. My hand trembled as smoke started rising from it; I gritted my teeth in agony, which I think meant my fangs were on full display, and finally yanked my hand back with a grunt when I just couldn't stand it anymore.

I glared again at Larry, who had eyes the size of golf balls. "I won't ask again, Larry. Close-the-god-damn-blinds!" Larry obliged me again, and I had a good feeling he wasn't going to open them again.

He began slowly working his way towards the door. "Dude, I think you need to go to a fuckin' doctor or something, get that looked at, you know... And then maybe see a dentist, or something—"

I was not about to let him just walk away from this. In a flash, before his startled eyes, I flickered up to him, grabbed him by the throat and lifted him off the ground. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but one of the little things that happens to you when you become a vampire is that your strength goes up at least five fold. Or maybe it's ten fold, I'm not really sure. Whichever, the result is more-or-less the same: you become a helluva lot stronger. And I seriously doubt I could've lifted Larry off the floor with one hand like that when I was still human.

Larry stared down at me like a scared puppy as I snarled at him, fangs fully exposed. "Now you listen to me very fucking hard, asshole," I growled. "First of all, when I say I want the blinds closed, that means you had better keep them the fuck closed, because the next time you open them in front of me is going to hurt you a helluva lot more than it is right now. Secondly, what you're seeing right now stays here between me and you, because there are more of us on campus here, and if word starts getting around that somebody knows about us, someone's going to track you down, and I'll leave the rest of that up to your foul little imagination. Do we understand each other?"

He gave me a very shaky and frightened nod, and I let him down onto his feet. With that I turned again to head for the shower, but didn't bother taking another step as I noticed him starting to try to creep to the door. "Where do you think you're going?" I said ominously.

"Uh, nowhere," he said in a rather panicky voice. I glared at him with a raised eyebrow, and he saw there was no escaping this interrogation. I wanted to know. Defeated, he blurted out, "Going to find a fucking wooden stake!"

He was about to just go bursting out the door, but before he could even finish his first running step I threw a vicious left hook at his right temple that sent him sprawling right flat onto his bed where he belonged, unconscious even before he landed. With any luck, I'd hit him hard enough that he might even forget what just transpired, our at least mistake it for a booze-induced dream.

So I finally managed to get to my shower, got dressed and headed down to the lower levels. I found Elizabeth waiting for me in the main lobby just inside the entrance to the SVA. "Hey, what kept you?" she said.

I shrugged. "Roommate started asking questions. Let's just leave it at that."

"Fair enough." I followed her to her room. When we got to the door, she quietly told me to wait where I was while she stepped inside. As soon as the door closed, I leaned in and pressed my ear to it, straining to hear the dialogue that ensued.

"Hey there, lazy butt! You might want to think about getting yourself up about now."

For a moment there was silence, followed by a groan and a low voice mumbling, "What time is it?... Oh. Okay." I faintly heard body movement and sheets shuffling, and I think I almost heard a yawn. I'm not sure, but I think I did. "Guess I'll go hop in the shower now."

I heard a door close, and then another door opened, which of course was the one I was listening through. Elizabeth put a finger to her lips and quietly ushered me inside. Once she closed the door behind me, she crept over to her bed and pulled out a case like you might use to transport drinks on a beach trip or something. As I heard the shower start, she opened the case and I saw that it was full of ice, which surrounded a single liquor bottle, which she removed to show me the label.

"Sang du Coeur?" I read aloud.

"It's French," she whispered. "Means heart's blood. I asked Nigel for the most romantic drink he could come up with, and I got this."

"What is it?"

"Champagne, basically, with a little bit of O+. Just a little something to treat her to when you get back."

"Yeah," I sighed, "still kind of need to decide where I'm taking her to..."

Elizabeth flashed me one of those wicked smiles of hers. "Relax, baby, Elizabeth's taken care of everything. I've gotten you a restaurant reservation for 10:30 tonight. Second floor, balcony table, got a beautiful view." I'm deliberately avoiding telling you the name of the restaurant; just one of those little details I'm going to leave vague. "You two are going to go eat and have a good time, and while you're doing that, I'm going to be busy setting up the room for when you get back. You'll come back here, I'll bring you in, she'll gasp and go 'Oh, wow!' and then I'll leave the two of you to your little escapades while I go of to spend the night having some of my own with Vanessa and Rachel and whoever the two of them have managed to ensnare tonight." Towards the end of that I began seeing that naughty little look in her eyes that always implies humping is on the horizon.

I smiled back at her. "Elizabeth, what would I ever do without you?"

"Let's just avoid unpleasant thoughts for now," she grinned.

***

I returned to my dorm room and spent the rest of my Saturday afternoon focusing on my classes; doing homework, studying for tests, the important kind of bullshit like that. Larry remained unconscious for several more hours; I think it was sometime after seven when he finally came around, and the first thing he said was, "Dude, Vince, you wouldn't fuckin' believe this weirdass dream I had last night!" I suppressed the urge to laugh.

Ultimately, of course, 10 o'clock came around. I got out the best clothes I had—I think that was the first time I really ever gave much of rat's ass about what my wardrobe looked like—which really weren't all that much. Just a blue silk shirt and a so-so pair of slacks. I decided I looked good enough in them; at any rate, it was as good as it was going to get. I headed out the door.

And standing outside was the last person I ever expected to find outside my door. "Well, well, don't you look yummy tonight!"

For a moment I just stared in mute shock. When I finally spoke, the words that came out were, "Tanya, what the hell are you doing here?"

"You know, I really shouldn't have been surprised when I found out you were still living up here, with the humans, but I was. I guess I just didn't realize how truly messed up you are."

I scowled at her, fighting hard to keep my fist from rising to knock her face onto the other side of her head. This wasn't the time or place for it. I pushed my aggression down into the pit of my stomach and walked on past her to head for that soda machine. "Let's save this talk for another time, okay? I've kind of got a date."

"With your precious, button-nosed little human friend?"

All at once I wheeled back around and stared at her. "Have you been spying on me?" I demanded.

"You're supposed to be my enemy, remember? It's what I do. You know what they say, 'all's fair in love and war.'"

"Let's not go so far as to call this war, Tanya," I said, trying to hide the fact that I believed that was exactly what this was.

She shrugged. "Fine, I'll leave you alone. I'll let you go on your perverted little date with your tickle-me cute little human—"

"I'm going with Alicia, thank you very much!" Tanya didn't say anything, but I felt comfortable with the look on her face, knowing that in the little swordfight we were having I'd managed to get a good attack in.

I took a step closer and added, "And about that human girl you're talking about: her name's Michelle, and for your information I've decided to break off any contact with her. And you know why? Because I care about her. You hear me, Tanya? She's a person, and she's important to me, and I don't want to put her in a position where I'm tempted to take away whatever future she might have."

I felt a pang of remorse as I said those words, seeing the face of that hooker from last night flash across my eyes. And the young woman with the little dog on the night I changed. It passed; I felt nothing for them. The pangs mostly come from imagining Michelle being in their position.

I kept everything concealed, though. "Now, if you'll excuse me, Alicia's expecting me." Even after the secret entrance closed behind me, I could still hear Tanya's sick laughter following me down.

I headed down and knocked on Alicia's door, and waited a few moments for a girl I knew to appear. The girl who appeared was not one I knew, or so I thought at first. Not only was her hair not up in a ponytail, but the color had... well, not exactly changed, but been fine tuned. The simple dirty blonde had become shimmering, intermingled streaks of brown and gold. And her eyes... My God! Those eyes! Those pale cerulean orbs had almost taken on a kind of sapphire glow. The kind of glow I'd never seen in anyone's eyes before... Except of course for Elizabeth. I wasn't even paying attention to her dress, which I think was blue taffeta or something. All my attention was focused on her beautiful smiling face.

"Well aren't you going to say something?" she said at last.

"Huwayolaugre..." I managed to say.

"That would be salivating boy talk for 'you look great,'" Elizabeth said behind her.

"Oh," Alicia giggled coyly. "Well then thank you, salivating boy."

"All right kids, you go have fun now," Elizabeth beamed. "Oh, and Vincent?"

"Yes?"

She took hold of my hand and slapped a handful of money into it. "Something you're going to need, trust me."

I looked at it, then nodded my approval. "Thanks, Elizabeth."

***

Now contrary to what you may have seen in the movies, vampires love a good meal as much as any human, with or without a serving of blood. So with that cleared up, I'm going to say this: the restaurant was great. We had a beautiful view of the bay and the city lights from that balcony; the table was set up perfectly with all the ornate decorations and the candles; and of course, the food was good.

For a while, though, neither Alicia nor I said anything to each other. I don't think we needed to. I was focused on only one thing: she was beautiful. I mean I'd always known Alicia was genuinely pretty, but before that night I never would have described her as beautiful. It was like something had changed inside of her, and she'd taken on this mesmerizing, otherworldly splendor that I'd only seen in Elizabeth before. And from the look in her eyes, I'd say she knew it.

Of course, she was the one who broke the silence. "Are you just going to keep ogling me all night, or are we going to actually talk?" We both started laughing.

"Well what can I say?" I said, deciding to tell her exactly what was on my mind. "When I knocked on your door tonight, I was expecting the simply pretty girl I knew. I wasn't expecting to be greeted by the blinding beauty that's sitting in front of me now!" She made a coy little smile, and I added, "I mean what did you do to yourself? Your hair, your eyes..." I froze in mid-sentence on the word eyes, because those were what I was looking into again, and was again falling under their spell. I finally snapped out of it when she blinked.

"Well, it has to do with this thing Elizabeth's been teaching me about," she said. "It's called Blood Rose." Two words I'd heard before, albeit by eavesdropping from the other side of their door. "It's about fully awakening the body and mind and attuning your vampire senses to the world around you. You remember that little thing we did at Tanya's party, where we drew blood and put our hands together so we would each feel each other's pleasure in addition to our own?"

"Yeah?"

"That's a Blood Rose technique. Joining the senses. It's a Zen kind of thing, except specially designed for vampires. Oh, and it's kind of for women only."

"Yeah, Elizabeth mentioned something about that. Why is that, anyway?"

She shrugged. "Hell, beats me!" she chuckled. "Elizabeth said something about there being a similar practice for men, just don't ask me to tell you anything about it."

"So, ah, what does all that have to do with the way you look tonight? Cause whatever it is, I'm certainly happy you did it!"

Her face suddenly took on a very Elizabeth-esque kind of smile. "I mentally made myself look beautiful," she mused. "I perform these weird rituals every night for five nights, and then meditate every night on how I want to look, and slowly my look starts to change."

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