Ruby blinked, her eyes snapping open. A groan. Someone groaned? Who? She could see, but it was almost like a night vision scene: Wherever she was it was an artificial darkness, created to be dark. Safe. Her thoughts flooded at once. This wasn’t the cave, where everything was safe and Marko was waiting for her. This wasn’t the theater where they had just seen the movie and realized their dreams. This wasn’t the alley where the gigantic angry vampires had attacked her and David… David…!
“DAVID!” Ruby’s voice was more an angry croak then a shrill scream. Sitting up quickly, she grabbed at her throat… where the vampire had slashed his talons across her skin, severing her throat and windpipe. Where her blood had spilled and her life had drained away with it.
“It’s ok Ruby, I’m right here.” David’s voice was in her ear. He was slowly around her, easing her back to the shoddy mattress. Ruby croaked a few more times, unable to understand why her voice wasn’t working, why she sounded so different.
“But the vampires…” her voice trailed off in a particularly nasty sound.
“They’re not here. You’re safe. They won’t find us here.” David sounded tired, drained himself of any of the energy he might have drawn upon to sound confident. He also sighed, which wasn’t a noise that normally passed his lips in public.
Ruby laid back down as David positioned her. Looking around she realized they were in some room, almost a one-room apartment. She could see a bank of windows, or what she thought was windows, covered over with black plastic and blankets nailed down to block all light. Gazing around some more she saw David’s bike was also there, in several pieces.
“Your bike.” Ruby croaked. She felt rather then saw David grimace.
“I know. They put blood in the gas and oil tanks, and hacked on it pretty good by the time I managed to get back to it. I can fix her. Have to, so we can get home.”
“The cave.” Although she was still unused to her voice and didn’t trust it, Ruby’s mind was far more curious and needed to know what had happened. “Makro!”
“Shhh. You’ll excite yourself and you’ll get sick.” David’s hand held her down by the shoulder. She could feel it, the coldness of him, through the leather glove. She never had before. And the pulse of blood. An unnatural pulse.
“Oh my god.” Ruby’s hand flew to her mouth in a way her own mother’s had when she’d learned of her son’s death. “No!” Again she felt David’s expression rather then seeing it in the dark.
“I had to Ruby. You would have died on me. And as much as Marko is going to hate me for eternity, I would like to err on the side that he’d rather have you in his arms then in the ground. It doesn’t mean he’s going to be happy and pleasant about it though. He’ll resent me for ever for taking the very thing he wanted away …” David trailed off, his grim news finally delivered. His hand didn’t move from her shoulder.
Ruby let the silence hang in the air for a moment. She was what she had wanted for so long, after months of living with the Boys. But it didn’t feel right. She hadn’t accepted the choice, hadn’t gone in with her eyes open. It had all seemed to be done under cover of darkness.
“What happened David.”
“When that asshole slashed your throat, I don’t know. Everything went red, almost like it was on fire, burning in front of my eyes. I found I had a reserve of strength I’d never known and went berserk. I hauled off the ones that held me and tore off heads, and I’ll spare you the details of what I did to the one who… well, killed you is the only term that’s really gonna fit. The rest were so stunned that I had just killed three of their ranks with my bare hands that they backed up. I figure they were trying to gage whether I would attack them as well. But I didn’t. I knew what I had tapped into was fleeting. I snatched you off the pavement and hit the air. I haven’t checked the newspapers but I’d be really surprised if I wasn’t seen. I knew we had always kept this garage a neutral safe house and just hoped it wasn’t being used. Not enough of the others in the city know about it, so we haven’t been bothered.”
Ruby listened without comment. The savagery of the other pack was still there, upon her. She could feel it around her still, as though it was solid weight. David, on the other hand, she felt him feel a burden lift. He’d been waiting how long to tell her?
“I got you here but there was so little time left… You scared me Ruby. I was sure you’d die and then what would I do?” David trailed off. Ruby blinked. What had he just said? “So I did the only thing I knew. Gave you the Gift. You were out cold for three days, but I just kept on feeding you.”
“Feeding me what?” Ruby whispered, finding that safer then to talk normally. She glanced around out of the corner of her vision for bodies, some sign of normal vampire prey.
“My own blood. You took a hell of a lot of it too. I couldn’t even get up the first night we were here. I figured I’d die, but you stood a chance of getting up and walking out of here, getting home to tell the Boys. Apparently, something thought otherwise and I got up the second night and hunted. Blood’s never tasted that good in years.” David rubbed his face. Ruby watched. He seemed to have aged under the powerful weight of the…
“How long have we been here?”
“Nearly two weeks.”
“Oh god Marko will be freaking out!”
Again David held her to the mattress. “No, the Boys… this is hard to explain. They know something happened, not what, but they know we’re okay now. That strength I tapped into? It was theirs. It’s never happened before, but I’ve heard of it. When a pack member is attacked, the others can share their strength. Usually if we fight we’re together and don’t notice if it happens. But since we’re so far away I guess that’s why it was such a shock. The Boys’ bond to me and you, their love, is what saved us.”
Ruby was silent for a long minute. Marko was back home, not knowing what had happened to her or what she’d become. He only knew she was safe. And with David. A normal guy would probably be driven jealous, but not Marko, right?
“You said Marko would be thankful but never forgive you?” again she whispered.
David nodded. “Usually, there’s a process taken when you’re a pack of vampires. New ones are given blood of all the members. It bonds them, gives them ties to each other and creates absolute loyalty.”
“You were a vampire before you met the others though.”
“Yeah. And my former packs’ blood is in my veins. But there’s nothing left of them to call to me, or to demand my loyalty. When I met the Boys… every one of them had my blood, and the blood of the others. Marko, Paul, and Dwayne are all bonded to each other, and to me. I’m only bonded to them because I sired them. Er, made them vampires.”
Ruby swallowed. This wasn’t sounding good. “And I only had your blood.”
“Yes.” David’s voice was soft and small. “No one else’s. And… because you were so unconscious, so unwell, it’s all you’ve had. You’ve never hunted. You’ve not made a kill. All you have is my blood in your veins. Way huge levels compared to the others.”
“It’s why I feel you, feel your expressions.”
“God you’re smarter then I ever really gave you credit for Rube. I mean, I always did think you were… but damn…” David rose slowly, wrapping his arms around himself, hiding in his trench coat. “I’ve never had a childer. Not one that was solely mine before. Never. I never thought I could do it, to be so a part of another’s very soul.”
“What?” Ruby was taken aback.
David looked down at her from the foot of the mattress. “We’re bonded.”
“Well you’re bonded to the others.”
“As a pack yes. But never on a…” he paused as though searching for the words. “This is the way Marko would have done it. He would have made you his own, like he will eventually make you his bride. And it would be him instead of me you’d be able to feel in everything you do, and everything you think, and see.”
“Oh.” Ruby didn’t know what to say. She’d never imagined this was what Marko had planned, or what would result when she was turned. She had thought they would make her one of the Lost Boys, bound to each and all.
“I’m so very sorry Ruby. I’ve… I’ve condemned you to be a part of me for eternity.” David’s voice crushed in on her; the spoke words held nothing, but the feelings that broke into her heart and mind were loaded with sorrow.
She laid her head back down, curling on her side. Everything had taken a huge turn from the path she’d been walking. Marko would be beside himself. Would he ever look at her the same? Knowing David was in her, a part of her, and she a part of David, in him, forever?
Her thoughts turned to what could be done, what could fix it.
“No, there is nothing that can sever this now. Even when it could have been salvaged, you were still so much in danger that I had no choice but to keep feeding you. You’re… well “alive” because you’re running on my blood.” He stopped, seeing the look on Ruby’s face. “Sorry. I forgot.”
“Forgot what David?”
“When you’re bonded to someone, you can sometimes read their surface thoughts. Nothing deep. There’s not enough of a bond to really do deep readings…
“Holy god you read my thoughts?!”
David looked at the floor, then away. “It’s not really reading at this point. It’s sharing. Your thoughts just are in my head constantly. I could stop them. No I will stop it, block it. I swear that. It’s just been the only way I’ve known you’ve changing, coming back from wherever you went. You were out so many nights, Rube. This is the first night you’ve been awake since we made it here.”
“I don’t understand David.”
David sat on the mattress beside her, hands shoved in his coat pockets. “You were unconscious when I got you away from the Bloods. And when I got you here, there was no need to say it, you were probably clinically dead. You weren’t breathing. But I went on the chance you weren’t brain dead. That the spark of life was still in you somewhere. So I nearly bled myself out into your mouth, trying to grab that spark and capture it, give it a chance to explode back into life. Or unlife as it were. I… this is really graphic Ruby. I don’t know if you’re ready for it.”
“I have to know David.”
Inside David sighed. But made no movement to echo on the outside. His sigh ran down Ruby’s spine and she felt his misery at having to relive all the pain and struggle of the last 14 nights. “The slashes, from his talons, they severed everything. If you’d lived on as a human you’d probably never talk again, let alone be able to breathe on your own. My blood can make me heal, regenerate. All vampires have that ability. I was hoping it would do the same for you. It sure seems to, you can talk again. It’s not like you need to breathe.” He laughed a little, hollow. “But while everything was healing, you weren’t going to be able to talk. Not right away. And you were unconscious anyway. It wasn’t until the third night when I got back from hunting and fed you again that I heard your first thought. More felt it really.”
“You were screaming for Marko.” David looked away again.
“Oh.” Ruby realized how stupid her reply was. But it was all she had.
“At that point I figured you might recover quicker, enough so I could get you home and we could still salvage this, make you Marko’s. You’d still have me in you but never… never to this…”
“Extent.” Ruby finished his sentence. David whipped his head back and stared for a minute, then nodded.
“Yeah. But you weren’t. The injuries were so grievous… damnit. This is way too much for you to know!” David hauled off the couch, half with the invisible wings that he flew on. He was across the room, kicking pieces of his busted bike before Ruby realized.
It was far too much for David to tell her, Ruby realized. It had been so bad it had scared him, of all vampires. David, the strong one. Something tickled in her brain. If he could hear her thoughts… couldn’t she maybe see his? Maybe even his memories? Her eyes closed and she relaxed, doing things she had never known to do, how to do before.
Her inner eye flooded with pictures and thoughts, much like a movie. They were out of sequence though, jumbled, some frayed and abruptly ended. Focusing more, they stopped and fell into line before her.
David had got her there, soaked with her blood and the blood of their enemies. The garage was still abandoned, still waiting for its new owners if they should need. He kicked in the door and got her inside, down on the mattress. He was crying in rage, in fear, as he looked over her. She was a bloody mess, the skin of her throat and neck hanging, ragged, dying. Her hair was soaked with blood, making it impossibly red. David removing his coat, putting it over her as he slid into his vampire form. Baring his own fangs and biting his wrist. She heard a fleeting prayer…”forgive me”… a broken thought that flew through as she watched. He was feeding her, though it was very hard as her throat was severed. He stopped and used his bare fingers to try and re-assemble her severed throat and windpipe back together. The bile in her stomach rose out of habit. She wanted to look away but it was impossible as she was seeing the memories rather then watching first hand. Finally David had enough of it together and he smeared his own blood on the severed tissues. Then went back to force-feeding her.
The memories jumped. She was still on the mattress, under his coat. He looked tired, and wan, far paler then she’d ever seen him. He was lying out on his side, beside her, unable to really do anything. It was like he had told her; he hadn’t been able to move the first night. But he was there, force-feeding her what little he had left. The skin around the slashes seemed to be healing, regenerating. It went on for a little before he passed out. The memories jumped again. He was okay again, tending to her, trying to wash her with a wet rag. Cleaning the blood from her hair and face. But she still did not move. Not speak. Not awaken.
The memories seemed to skip and scatter now. David working on his bike between watching her. Laced with his worry and fears, and self-doubt plaguing him about what he had done. Then it came to the last, where she had awoken…
“Ruby?” David was standing over her, looking down. She opened her eyes slowly, trying to unfocus herself on his thoughts. She felt him still though; he was amazed, but scared, that she had suddenly been able to read him like a book.
“Thank you.” She whispered. He had sacrificed everything, possibly his own friendship with Marko just to save her. It wasn’t a selfish act, what he had done. Would Marko understand that? Could Ruby make him see that?
David blinked, taken off guard at first. Then quickly brushed away surprise tears at Ruby’s words. “You’re welcome, baby.” He whispered back, then turned and went quickly to his bike.