Three days I spent waiting for Jamie to come down off his high. Three days watching over the love of my life, semi-conscious, incoherent, drifting somewhere I couldn’t reach him. Every time the sleep cycle took me, I feared it would be the last time I saw Jamie. I fought it. I fought it so hard, but vampire physiology won’t be denied. And every evening I breathed a sigh of relief that he was still with me. Through all those dark lonely hours, I wondered what this meant. For me. For him. For US. Was this a one-time relapse, or had Jamie’s past come to reclaim him?
There was a shuffling of blankets beside me. Jamie had spent half his time buried under them, shutting out the world and everything in it. The blankets groaned.
“Oh God. Kill me. Kill me now.”
“Everything hurts. Why Trev? Why does everything hurt?”
“You went and did something foolish. Here – have this.” I passed plastic medical bag filled with blood under the covers. “Trust me, it’s top of the line stuff. Just what you need as a pick me up.”
“What the hell happened to me Trev?”
“You chose the wrong donor Jamie. My fault for not warning you about the risks. You drained an addict. The heroine was still in his system. And then it was in your system.”
“Coming down never felt this bad before.”
“The stuff gets concentrated in the blood. The hit is stronger, lasts longer and kicks like a mule when it’s over.”
Jamie’s pale face peeked out of the blankets. He looked a mess.
“The fresh blood will help, but you won’t feel completely better until the tainted blood in your system is replaced by new stuff. That takes time.”
“Is there any way to speed up the process?”
“Trust me, you don’t want to go there. There are some… extreme measures available, but they can be worse than the disease.”
Jamie pulled himself into a sitting position, blankets still wrapped around him.
“Jamie, there’s something important I need to know. Is this going to happen again?”
“I don’t know,” he sobbed. “I could never fight the urges when I was alive. I’m not sure I can fight it now.” I hugged him close.
“The first thing to remember… the need? It’s all in your head. Even if your body craved it before you turned, it doesn’t need the drug now. But sometimes the neurons in your head tell you otherwise. Second thing to remember, you were fighting it alone before. You have me to help you now.” I kissed him on the cheek.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you. This is dangerous stuff. Vampire addicts are a risk to everyone. They act instinctively, not rationally. They get reckless. And careless. They draw attention to themselves. Jamie… the Elders hate ‘attention’. They have a zero tolerance policy to vampires who cross the threshold. There’s no ‘rehab’ in the vampire world. They will ignore you until you step over the line. Then they’ll hunt you and kill you. And I won’t be able to stop them.”
The look of despair on his face pierced me to the soul.
“Help me Trevor. Help me be good.”
We tried to pretend that everything was normal, but of course it wasn’t. No matter how hard we tried to put it out of our minds there was a new undercurrent between us, both of us wondering whether the “urge” would strike Jamie and when – and would he be strong enough to resist it if it did. I didn’t know how much I could trust Jamie, and he didn’t know how much he could trust himself. We suddenly found moments of silence between us, where neither of us knew what to say. Certainty had been replaced by doubt.
And yet our lovemaking became more passionate than ever. The bedroom became the battleground where we tried to dispel those doubts. I was desperate to show Jamie and show myself the strength of our love. For Jamie, it was a distraction, an activity to drive away what he called the “twitches”. We spent ours in a writhing frenzy, each trying to outdo the other as we rubbed and licked and sucked and stroked. Jamie pulled my lips to his, his knees touching his shoulders and urged me to thrust harder, faster, deeper. When his turn came, he was an animal, pounding me raw. Every day he surprised with some new method of sexual gratification. One day he tormented me for hours, taking me to the edge of sexual ecstasy but refusing to let me come. We went at it till our bodies became sandpaper and every touch caused us pain, and we did not stop.
For most vampires, time is a trifling thing. When you have something in abundance, you pay little attention to the bits you lose here and there. Maybe deep down on subconscious level we both realised we might not have as much time together as we thought we would.
My one and only skill as Jamie’s rehabilitation partner was Distracter in Chief. Whenever Jamie felt the onset of the “twitches”, I would throw us into one activity or another. It wasn’t all sex (all though that proved a reliable standby). I showed him the neighbourhoods of Chicago. I took him to parks, to the zoo, to the late night arcades. I took him to the fights where vampire battled vampire for cash and glory. He was fascinated and repelled at the same time. I debated trying to scrounge up tickets to the IceZone, but if the place really blew his mind I’m not sure I would get it back. And let’s face it – I was scared as hell to take Jamie anywhere near a place that provided easy access to every illicit substance known to man, and many many more the daylighters couldn’t even dream of.
And every night as the adrenaline wound down, Jamie curled himself against me, and the slow creeping petrification of daysleep began I wondered: would tomorrow evening be the one where I woke to find Jamie not there? That drink of the poisoned chalice had awakened something in Jamie. The “twitches” were an acknowledgment that the disease had sunk its claws in Jamie once more, and wouldn’t go down without a fight. I needed to take some precautionary measures.
Jamie stared at the complex geometrical diagram I’d drawn on the concrete floor of the parking garage with skepticism.
“This is going to help us?”
I completed the last finishing touches on the chalk glyph.
“The binding circle will allow us to locate each other even if we’re separated.”
“Allow you to find me you mean.” There was a petulant note in his voice.
“That is the idea. But you can use it locate me as well.” He continued to stare at diagram mystified.
“The tetragrams are simply a focus to concentrate and direct the energies at work. The blood does most of the work.”
“We are vampires. Blood is the basis of most vampire magic.”
“Magic isn’t real!”
“Neither are vampires.” I smiled and flashed my fangs. “Maybe its just science that hasn’t been explained yet. We’ll mingle our blood within the circle – don’t give me that look, it won’t be much – and with the appropriate ritual incantations… no, you don’t have to believe in them for them to work, but the right frame of mind does improve the results. It’s just a temporary connection – we have to do it again after each feeding since it only links to the blood inside you, not your soul.”
“You can link to a soul?”
“It’s difficult. Soul bonds are the ultimate commitment. Once you’ve made them, there is no going back.” I looked deep into Jamie’s eyes. I saw the yearning there, and my extra was chiming like a cathedral bell. “Jamie – you’re not ready. Hell, I’m not ready and I would give everything in heaven and earth to you. But I tell you what – if we beat this, I’ll think about. Now are you ready?”
We sat cross-legged at the centre of the overlapping tetragrams. I held a knife in my hand and took a deep breath. Two quick strokes and blood was welling up in the palms of my hands. I gently took one of Jamie’s hands in mine.
I held Jamie’s bleeding hands in mine, palms pressed together, blood mixing together. I closed my eyes and began to chant. It was an ancient language – I didn’t even know what the words meant. But the lilt and trill of the invocation calmed me. I felt myself slipping into a state of total relaxation. The spots on my palms where Jamie’s hands were touching mine grew warm. As the song continued the warmth grew hotter and the feeling spread from my hands to my arms to the rest of my body. My whole body was suffused with a comforting glow. My palms had become fire and yet I felt no pain. I experienced only a curious detachment. There was me, feeling the heat. And there was also me, observing the me feeling the heat.
And I was not alone. The me who was observing and the me who was experiencing became aware of an other, an other who was one but also two, because there was a Jamie who was experiencing and a Jamie who was observing. At the exact moment that the world paused, and I felt on the brink of knowledge that went deeper than the memories of vampires or men, the song ended, the glow faded, and I was left with only lingering feelings of the other. And of Jamie. I felt a thread between us now, experienced and observed.
Jamie looked at me with a dazed expression on his face.