That was literally the only thing I could say. Some things, some revelations are just too big for the words I had. I hugged him tighter to me. It was the only way I knew how to respond, to make this sweet blameless boy feel loved, protected, safe.
He turned over and buried his face in my chest. I didn’t feel worthy of the trust he had shown me by sharing his past. But I wanted to be. We spent the night like that, cocooned in our private world, away from the hurt and pain and misunderstanding of the world outside.
When I woke up the next evening I knew. I had been puzzling over the perfect book for Jamie – one matched just to him. But there always been missing pieces to the jigsaw, and nothing I could think of seemed just right. But now I could picture the perfect book.
As usual, Jamie was awake already, his head buried in “Hikaru No Go”. He lifted up his eyes and smiled at me. I grinned back.
“Hey cutie. How are you today?”
He thought carefully for a minute. “Better. Yes, definitely better. Lighter. Maybe it’s true what they say about weights on your back.”
“Stay here, okay? I’m going to get you something. A gift.”
“Awww, you don’t have to do that.”
“Nope, but I will and you can’t stop me.” I stuck my tongue out at him and pulled on a shirt. “See you soon!”
I ran the entire way to Barnes and Noble. And all the way back. Every minute of separation seemed like an eternity.
“Close your eyes.” Dutifully, Jamie obeyed. “Hold out your hand.” I carefully placed the book in his hand. “You can open them now.”
He looked at the book in his hand. His expression was confused.
“Life of Pi?”
“It’s a book about a survivor. A teenager. He’s traveling on a freighter with his family, transporting zoo animals, and the boat sinks. He finds himself alone in a life boat with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. He has to endure more than any person should. But he lives.”
Jamie turned the pages reverently, as if he held a thousand year old manuscript in his hands that might crumble to dust at any moment. He looked up at me, and a tear was tracking down his cheek.
“Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you so much.”
Love made me blind. Blind and careless. Maybe the warning signs were there all along, but I was too caught up in the moment, too consumed by passion to notice.
Jamie woke up earlier than me. Not once or twice but all the time. I’d wake up to find his head in “Life of Pi”. He was never quite sure how much earlier he was waking up – being a vampire messed up your sense of time something fierce. It never seemed like a major problem, because Jamie was always waiting for me to wake up.
Until the day he wasn’t.
It didn’t seem like a big deal at first. I just assumed he was somewhere around the parking garage.
“Jamie? Hey Jamie? Where are you man?”
After searching every level of the building I was forced to admit he Was Not Here. This turn of events had me stumped. We’d been together almost every moment of every day since I turned him. Apart from a few occasions when I had left him at the sit while I ran errands, we hadn’t been apart. I really had no clue where he might go on his own.
Something was nagging at the back of my mind. Something important. Time and dates. Something to do with dates. And being apart. We’d been apart when I got his gift. And of course when I had to feed…
How long? How long had it been? I rummaged through the sit. Surely I would have written the date down somewhere? With growing trepidation, I realised we hadn’t really talked much about his first kill. I’d been complacent. His first kill had been quick. Easy. No weeks of soul searching, denying the inevitable realities of the situation. No last minute regrets when you have your fangs around their throat. When those primal urges called out to him, he hadn’t hesitated. He had reacted.
But he had acted on instinct, and he would probably do so again.
In matters of life and death, instinct isn’t always your best friend.
Think, think. How long had it been? Were there any indicators in the past few days?
I’d never taken the time to cover the more… practical aspects of hunting. Choosing the right victim. Concealing your activities from the human world. Not getting caught. I could not – no, Would Not – let the neglect of my responsibilities as a sire turn into a cautionary tale for vampires everywhere. I had to find Jamie fast before he got himself into more trouble than he could handle. The critical problem with that plan, I thought as I ran through the evening streets of Chicago was that I Did Not Know Where The Hell Jamie Was.
I started on the streets we had traveled through together. My one hope was that he would be drawn to the familiar. A slim hope perhaps, and I was in real trouble if he picked favourite haunts from before he met me.
Grant Park drew a blank. So did the Loop and Navy Pier. Running down North Michigan Ave, scanning every back alley, side street and patch of shadow, I tried to think of where else he might go. Lincoln Park seemed to far away. Maybe the clublands around Noferatu? The warehouse clubs always drew a steady stream of pedestrians to the area, but the industrial area was otherwise a dark, lonely, forbidding place. Lots of potential victims, few potential witnesses, and numerous discreet locations to do the deed. I would have hunted there more myself except for the competition. Plus there was a sort of honour system at play. Too many “accidents” and suddenly everyone arrives by cab or worse still, not at all. Nosferatu was good for us, and we didn’t want jeopardize their business by cutting off their living customers.
For want of a better plan, I started at the club itself, my search radiating from the club in a spiral. I almost missed him at first. He was slumped against a wall beside a dumpster in one of the thousands of almost identical looking alleys that dotted this neighbourhood.
“Jamie? Jamie? It’s me Trevor.” Was he asleep? Injured? Why was he crashed out in this pit of a place. He stirred and looked up at me.
Blood was smeared around his mouth (on his hands too I noted in passing). And his eyes… they were glazed over, trying and failing to focus on me. A line of drool dripped from the corner of his mouth.
“Come on Jamie.” He tried to bat me away with his hand. I snapped my fingers under his face, trying to hold his attention. What the fuck was going here? I wiped a finger through the blood congealing on his face. I sniffed it suspiciously, then gave it an experimental lick.
“Oh fuck. What have you done Jamie? What have you done?”
An experienced vampire can recognize a thousand different chemicals or more in someone’s bloodstream. I didn’t need to know nearly that many to recognize the unmistakable traces of heroine.