Author: Mona Ramsey
Summary: Methos meets Louis one starry night in New Orleans.
Series/Sequel: First in the Wordsworth series.
Web Page: http://www.geocities.com/monaram/
Disclaimer: Not mine, no money being made.
1995 - New Orleans
The young girl straightened her skirt and checked her lipstick in the glass-front cabinet before pushing the cart full of books into the main research room. Perhaps *this* time would be the one that he would finally notice her.
The half-dozen leather-bound books landed on the table with a sharp slap. "I believe these are the books you asked for."
The girl smiled, trying to catch the young man's attention. "Are you going to be working late again tonight?"
Sighing and realizing that he was too engrossed in his books to notice her flirting, the young woman turned on her heel and left, missing the slightly bemused smile that the man threw in her direction after her back turned. He'd taken pains not to encourage her attention over the past several weeks, but she wasn't taking the hint. He thought perhaps he would have to take her out and show her a really terrible time before she showed any signs of discouragement.
It wasn't that she wasn't lovely, it simply was that he didn't have time for her - or for anyone else, as it happened. He was far too busy with his 'research' to pay attention to anything else.
He'd spent almost all of his time since arriving in New Orleans in this very room - quiet, thickly-carpeted, filled with subtle lighting and long oak tables - alongside the other researchers, reading, writing, stepping out only for the occasional meal or few hours' sleep. Never had he imagined that there would be such a wealth of information available here - although this particular archive had been open for nearly three hundred years, books far more ancient than that from all over the world had found their way to this very library. It was a motherlode of history, ancient and modern, available to only a select few.
An hour later, he rubbed his eyes. It had been a long day - a glance at his watch proved that it was another *thirteen-hour* day. He considered getting a bite to eat in the cafeteria on the bottom floor and going back to his rooms - housed in the east wing of this very same building - for some sleep, and then realized that he'd been in New Orleans for weeks and had seen nothing except the airport and the building that he was in. He felt the need for some fresh air, for some exercise, even, and decided to treat himself to a late dinner and a walk before he turned in.
He stood, putting his legal-pad scribbles into his leather backpack. The rest of his books he left on the table, knowing that they'd be there when he returned in the morning. He walked soundlessly through the room, relieved that his female admirer had already gotten off work. Another confrontation on the way out was the last thing that he needed. A beer and a seafood platter would just hit the spot.
It was past midnight before he left the restaurant, finding to his surprise that it not only offered food and drink that was above-par for the price, but also a jazz combo with a female singer who was surely one of the city's many untold treasures. He lingered longer than he'd intended, finally pulling himself away from the table, slightly intoxicated from the beer, more so from the fact that he was tired. Perhaps he'd treat himself to a late morning lie-in in bed before hitting the books once again. A few more weeks here and he'd be through everything that could be of help to him, and it would be back to Paris, or maybe London, or perhaps another city in another country that held some keys to the past.
The restaurant wasn't far from where he was staying, so he paid little attention to where he was walking and more so to the ambiance of the night. There were relatively few people out - the weeknights were always less busy than the weekends - and the night was cooler than the season usually allowed. Suddenly, he was uncomfortably aware that he was being watched, sensing the presence of another before he could look around. It wasn't what he wanted - this type of confrontation even less welcome than the one with the young lady in the library. He glanced at his surroundings, then ducked down a convenient alley, intending to double-back and lose his unwelcome suitor.
Almost instantly he was confronted with a young couple, deep in the shadows of the alley. He stopped short, embarrassed that he'd stumbled on to such an intimate encounter - the two men appeared to be necking, the man closest to him lithe, with long, dark hair, the other, less visible man back against the wall, holding desperately on to his companion. There was a low hiss and the dark-haired man turned, looking directly at the intruder.
The young man stepped back, trying to lose himself in the shadows. Too late he realized that it was not an amorous situation that he'd come upon, but a deadly one. The dark-haired man looked at him with eyes that seemed to cut right through the alley's darkness, and, before the young researcher could even react to his blundering intrusion, the attacker had dropped the man that he had been - feeding from? - and was atop him.
The last thing he heard was 'forgive me' - but whether it was a whisper or whether he dreamed it, he could not say. Then, as the delicate fangs slid into the flesh of his neck, the world went black.
It was still dark when he awoke. He moved heavily, even more tired and dizzy than he had been from the night's drinking, and sat up. A powerful stench surrounded him, and he was disgusted to realize that he was in a dumpster. Next to him lay the still, rapidly chilling body of the young victim he'd been too late to save.
"Pardon me," he said, unable to suppress his voice's wry quality, and stood up, somewhat unsteadily. Apparently being drained of blood was somewhat akin to a drunk. There were far more unpleasant ways to die, certainly. He pulled himself over the side of the dumpster and dropped to his feet, trying to brush off some of the garbage from his clothing before walking down the alley.
He was nearly at the street end when he realized that his backpack was missing. "Dammit," he swore, under his breath, then began a quick but thorough search of the alley, having to stop more often than he liked to regain his balance. When he turned up nothing, he climbed up again with distaste to the dumpster and peered around inside. Unfortunately, all that he found there was his companion and piles and piles of garbage. No backpack, no nothing.
Apparently the vampire had taken more than his blood.
He stopped, shivering, letting the full impact of his thoughts wash over him. Vampire. He'd been attacked by a vampire. A powerful one, too - he was the *second* victim in very few minutes. Although, never having encountered a vampire before, he really wasn't in any position to judge relative power. Sighing deeply, he dropped down to the ground and walked to the mouth of the alley once again.
The only thing that offered him some relief was the realization that he no longer felt the Presence of another Immortal anywhere near.
At least not the type of Immortal that he *could* feel.
He slept late - far past his usual hour to rise. He couldn't even quite remember the walk back to the large, well-gated building, nor that to his rooms within. When his eyes finally opened and he looked at the clock, it was mid-afternoon.
"Becoming a vampire myself," he chuckled, and walked to the bathroom. He flicked on the light with a small flinch at the sudden ambient brightness. He craned his neck to one side, looking for the puncture wounds that he knew would have disappeared long ago. He tried to believe that he looked paler today than he had yesterday, but it wasn't discernible, and it probably wasn't true. The blood he'd lost would have completely regenerated during the night. He was the same, utterly the same as he had been twenty-four hours ago, at least physically.
He made the shower as hot as he could stand it and stood underneath the spray for a very long time, scrubbing at his body with the soap and only rinsing it away when the water turned cool. A few plush towels warmed him again, and he dressed, combing his hair in the steamy mirror. It was getting long again, falling nearly into his eyes - it would be time soon for another trim.
He was hungry, his stomach growling out a protest at a missed breakfast, and he once again eschewed the dark cafeteria in the building for the outdoors. He knew that he would be missed in the research room today - if not by his fellow similarly-engrossed researchers, than by the pretty young assistant with the push-cart. But he couldn't think about another day spent inside, buried in books. Without his notes, the last few weeks of work were gone and he'd have to start over again, and while that wasn't a setback that he was unaccustomed to, he felt somehow that he might be able to retrieve those notes. All he had to do was find a dark-haired, green-eyed vampire somewhere in the city of New Orleans.
He ate a large, late lunch at the same restaurant he'd visited the night before, lingering the few remaining daylight hours away over a book he paid no attention to, turning pages by rote. It was ridiculous to think that anyone would be so predictable, but when the sun had sunk in the sky and it was fully dark, he returned to the same street, walked the same direction back to his rooms, paused at the same alley, and ducked inside, swallowed up in shadows.
It would be absolute blind luck if anything other than an attempted mugging were to happen to him, but he didn't fear that type of nocturnal visitor. Nor did he fear the return of the vampire - although the possibility that there might be others in the city did cross his mind. Covens existed in myth for thousands of years, almost as long as...
A barely-discernible whisper of sound made him turn his head. It couldn't be. No-one was that lucky.
He stepped out of the shadows, facing his companion. "I believe you have something of mine."
Incredibly, there was a flash of *fear* in the vampire's eyes - genuine fear. Although, thought the young man, perhaps coming upon a regenerated victim was a rather unique situation to the night-predator.
"A backpack," he continued. "It doesn't have anything of value in it, to anyone but me. Just my research notes."
Finally the vampire was able to speak. "How...what are you?" The voice was soft, and the young man recognized it from the whispered plea from the night before - gently accented with French, it suited him perfectly.
"Just a guy," the young man smiled. "Someone it is slightly more difficult than usual to kill."
"You're not a vampire - I cannot feel you."
"No, I'm not a vampire. Can you feel all of them?"
"Telepathically. Other than..." The vampire cut himself off, shaking his head. A few strands of black hair fell free from its clasp, into his face. "Forgive me. I find that I do not understand this. You seem to have me at a disadvantage."
"Not one of my making, I assure you."
The green eyes fluttered shut, the head bowing slightly - almost, the young man felt, in embarrassment. "I have had dreams about this - nightmares," the vampire said, "about being confronted by one of my victims. Somehow, I'd always assumed that it would happen only after my own death, on my day of reckoning."
"A vampire who believes in God?"
"Don't we all, in some way? Even those who renounce God must believe that there is something to renounce."
"True." The young man shivered. "Look, I don't particularly want to discuss philosophy and theology in a dark alley in the middle of New Orleans. I'm sure there are safer and far more pleasant places we could go."
"You *want* to talk to me, after what I did to you?"
"Why not? I'm sure that there are many things that we could learn from each other. And I am still interested in retrieving my notes, if you have them."
The vampire nodded. "I do. At my home."
"Then perhaps we should go there."
"Yes. Of course." They walked to the mouth of the alley. "You know, I don't understand any of this."
"That's not a unique situation, believe me. Yesterday, *I* didn't believe in vampires."
"I don't know why I kept them," the vampire said, leading his way through the house. It was dark even inside, heavy curtains and double- blinds over all of the windows, with muted lighting and even a few oil- lamps and candles scattered about. Properly gothic for such a gothic creature. "I don't usually take a 'souvenir', although others have been known to. It always seemed rather gruesome to me - a reminder I'd rather not have. The memories are usually enough for me."
"Perhaps you knew we'd meet again."
"I don't think so. That only happens in my dreams."
"Well, maybe I'm the man of your dreams."
To the young man's surprise, the vampire started, and then laughed. It was a glorious sound. "Perhaps you are."
They arrived in what seemed to be a living-room, with antique furniture and a fireplace, and many, many books scattered about. "I'm sorry it's such a mess," his host apologized. "I'm here alone, and I'm rather haphazard about cleaning when there isn't anyone else to think about."
"You share this house?"
He nodded. "With - a few others, sometimes. But they're both out of the country at the moment, and I don't - I don't know when they'll return. Or even *if* they will." He sat down in a chair close to the fireplace. "I shouldn't be telling you these things - I don't even know why I am. People aren't supposed to know about us - we're supposed to be the stuff of myth."
"But I'm not 'people'."
"No - you're immortal, aren't you?" he asked, suddenly.
"But not a vampire."
"And there are others like you, as well?"
"Yes. But we don't share friendships - at least, not often. It's - difficult."
"I can understand that."
"I suppose you can. You gather together because you want to, and because you can - we gather to kill each other."
"I thought you couldn't be killed."
"By another Immortal. With a sword." He stood and displayed his own, from under his coat. "It's rather barbaric, actually."
"That's what we've been told."
"Your bag." The vampire stood and went into another, adjoining room, returning with the leather bag which he handed to the Immortal. "I didn't even open it. As I said, I don't know why I took it."
"I'm glad you did. Better you than a common thief, who would have no respect for it. There's nothing valuable in it, and everything probably would have been tossed into another dumpster, and then I never would have found it."
The vampire winced. "I'm sorry for that. I'm not usually so careless, but you startled me. You're good at that," he said, rather wryly.
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"As well you should." He paused. "You know, I don't even know what your name is."
The Immortal hesitated, and then reached out a hand. "Adam."
His hand was clasped, firmly. "Adam. I'm Louis."
"Nice to meet you, Louis."
"I'd like to talk to you, Adam. Are you - could you stay? I would really like to talk to you some more."
"I don't see why not. I believe that I wouldn't be able to think about anything else but you even if I did leave."
"Then stay. Talk to me. I promise that no harm will come to you."
"Believe me, Louis, if any harm did come to me, it would not be anything that you could prevent." He sat down in a couch opposite the chair that held his host. "So, what shall we discuss?"
They talked late into the night - so late that it was nearly morning. The clock on the mantel over the fireplace chimed the hours, but was ignored, at least until it struck five. Louis looked at it with some alarm. "I've kept you here far too long," he said, rising gracefully. "You must be exhausted."
"I'm not," Adam admitted. "I slept *very* late yesterday. But I must be keeping you from - "
Louis peered around one of the heavy curtains, immediately shrinking back. "It's too late. The sun is already coming up. The blood-sleep will be coming over me, soon. I will be unable to stay awake any longer when it does."
"Did you have a chance to - feed, last night, before I interrupted you?"
Louis shook his head. "It's all right. I can go several nights without feeding. I only regret that I have to cut our conversation short. Although," he added with a smile, "it's been rather long already, hasn't it?"
"Not nearly long enough." Adam shook his head when he realized that he'd spoken his thoughts aloud. Truly, this creature in front of him was more than breathtakingly beautiful - he was also intelligent, interesting, even, to his great surprise - friendly. Astonishing for someone capable of such ruthless brutality as he'd shown in the alley the night before. Although, 'brutality' was certainly a relative term, as the Immortal himself knew only too well.
"You could stay here. I have room, if you wanted to. There are several free rooms upstairs. You're welcome to any of them."
"I'd like that."
Louis smiled. "Good. I want to talk to you some more. I feel as though we've only just begun to scratch the surface, as the saying goes. Although, you do know practically my entire life story already."
"You haven't lived that much yet to tell."
Louis looked astonished. "More than I should have, I think sometimes."
Adam shook his head. "You're a child."
"You've lived that long?"
"Yes. But you're tiring."
"I should go to bed. Come," Louis held out his cool hand, grasping Adam's and pulling him forward. "I'll show you the spare rooms."
The sun was rising quickly in the sky. Louis' steps were getting heavier and he leaned on Adam for support getting up the stairs. Even just reaching the top stair, he was exhausted. "Forgive me," he managed to say, quietly.
"Which room is yours?" Adam asked. Louis pointed, and Adam was just able to catch him before he fainted. The Immortal carried the young vampire into his room, and placed him down on the bed. He was asleep even before he hit the mattress.
Adam hesitated, and then removed the sweater and pants the vampire was wearing, turning him gently and covering him with the blanket. He thought that he *should* leave, go back to his rooms and then perhaps return here the next night, but he found that he really didn't want to - didn't want to leave his new friend, and more precisely, didn't want to leave him alone. Something strangely protective came over him; something he hadn't felt, hadn't even *allowed* himself to feel, in hundreds of years. He was obviously alone in the world, his friends - or was it lovers? - had left him alone. Adam couldn't imagine a lover who would be so hard-hearted as to leave such an astonishing creature alone, even for a minute, then berated himself for his sentiment. It was aloneness that kept him separate from others of *his* kind; perhaps it was the same for vampires, as well. Although, from what Louis had told him, they didn't spend *all* of their time trying to kill each other.
He sighed and walked out of the room and back down the stairs. Not surprisingly, there wasn't a bit of food in the kitchen; surprisingly, there was both coffee and wine. He poured himself a glass of burgundy liquid and drank it straight down, hoping it would help his mind stop whirling through the events of the past two nights. Meeting a vampire, befriending him, feeling - *something* for him. It was unreal. A miracle. A portent of doom. It had been millennia since he'd encountered anything so unexpected. It was invigorating.
Finally the wine affected him, or his brain began to slow from the early hour, and he yawned. He'd find himself a bed and get some sleep. There were several closed doors upstairs; he fancied himself a modern-day, dark-haired, male version of Goldilocks. "Minus the porridge."
The first bedroom he tried looked as though a hurricane had been through it. Clothing was strewn everywhere - clothing that seemed an odd combination of 'rock star wanna-be' and what could only be described as 'vampire chic'. Black leather pants, exquisitely tailored gray and black suits, multi-coloured silk shirts, all lay together in jumbled piles. "I wonder what he took *with* him," Adam mused, then decided it would take far longer to clear a path than it would be worth.
The second bedroom was obviously where Louis had intended that he stay. It was neat - anally neat. The bed was tucked into hospital corners, the books - on telepathy, ghosts, vampires - all neatly stacked and freshly dusted. It screamed 'English' to him - whoever *this* vampire was, he and the 'rock star' were probably having fits if they were travelling together. Or maybe they just liked it that way. Opposites did, on occasion, attract.
He dropped his coat on the bed, and lay down, on top of the covers, arms folded under his head. It was comfortable, but - something was missing.
"Or maybe someone."
He lay there, staring at the ceiling, relieved it didn't stare back down at him, as the mirrors on the ceiling of the 'rock star' bedroom had done. He lay there for more than an hour, unable to sleep, pretending to himself that he wasn't going to do exactly what he finally, after arguing back and forth with himself, got up and did.
Louis didn't stir when the door opened. Of course he wouldn't, Adam thought to himself. Blood-sleep. He looked strangely vulnerable in the middle of the bed, dark hair splayed across the white sheets, not moving, not breathing. For all intents and purposes, he was dead.
It made Adam shiver, as he stripped away his clothing and crawled into the bed beside him, wrapping a long, pale arm across the chest of the chill and even paler vampire. He was *too* beautiful, too beautiful to be left alone in this house like this. How could his friends not see the desperate loneliness that even a beautiful smile could not hide? It was unthinkable.
He fell asleep against Louis, whispered curses fading in his mind.
When his eyes flew open that night, he was staring directly into deep green. To his relief, Louis was smiling at him.
"Evening, rather. How did you sleep?"
"Well. Better than I have in a long time. You?"
"Perfectly." Louis' smile fell a little. "You shouldn't have stayed in here last night. It wasn't safe."
"I didn't want to leave you alone."
"I'm quite safe when I'm asleep. Anyone who might wish me harm would be caught by the blood-sleep, as well. And, sometimes when I awaken, I forget myself, where I am, even *what* I am. To be so close to you - I could have fed on you again, without even waking you up."
"I wouldn't have minded."
"But *I* would have. I don't want to - kill you, again." His eyes closed and he winced at the words.
Adam reached a hand out, cupping the vampire's smooth cheek. "You can't hurt me. If I die, I always come back."
"But I don't want to do that. I wouldn't want to watch you come back to life, knowing that I had caused your death."
"It's difficult for anyone." Adam moved forward, intending to capture the young vampire's mouth with his own, but Louis pushed him back.
"Don't. Please, it isn't safe."
Adam looked at him with narrowed eyes, surprised. "Are you unable to..."
"Make love? No...that is, I mean, yes, I can." Louis laughed, embarrassed. "But I don't want to hurt you - despite what you say, it *must* hurt, even a little, to die. Passion makes the blood-lust that much stronger, you see."
"Could you not just taste me, Louis? Without draining my life completely?"
"It's possible, but I have never..."
He was cut off in what he was saying by Adam's mouth, and he struggled no more, finding that he didn't want to. It had been a long time since he'd had a lover, other than - He closed his eyes, feeling the kiss, parting his lips to Adam's tongue, feeling that tongue flick gently over his teeth, snagging sharply on a pronounced canine. He gasped as his mouth filled with his friend's blood, and he was helpless to prevent himself from sucking on the life-essence escaping from that tongue.
As quickly as it had happened, the flow of blood stopped. Louis broke the kiss. "Your tongue..." he said, a half-articulated question.
"Healed," Adam said. "It happens quickly, especially if the wound is shallow."
"So I could..."
"Do anything you want."
Adam pulled Louis over into his arms, so the vampire was on top of him. Louis gasped as he felt Adam's erection brush against him, his own penis hardened just from the few drops of Adam's blood that he'd tasted. Finally giving in, he kissed Adam, deeply, their tongues warring in each other's mouths, their hips grinding together, ever-faster. It all happened fast, too fast, kissing and rubbing together like a couple of teen-aged boys. Adam's hands were roaming over his body, sliding from his back, pushing away the silk boxers he still, amazingly, wore. He wriggled them off, then rose and stripped his friend to bare skin, settling against his body and kissing him deeply. He didn't think he could ever get enough of these intoxicating kisses.
Louis pulled away at the cusp of orgasm, his eyes wild. Adam slid a hand around his neck and pulled him back again, whispering in his ear, "Do it," punctuating the request with a quick thrust of his hips. He lost all of his resolve and slid his fangs into Adam's neck, tasting the full rush of blood. The earlier drops had been a tease, but this was a feast, the vein opening to his teeth, the blood pouring forth into his mouth. He told himself he would only taste and then release him, but he felt the rush of blood at the same time as the rush of his triggered climax, which, in turn, triggered Adam. They were both spattered with blood- tinged come before he could remember himself enough to stop feeding and pull away, aghast, fearful that it was already too late.
Adam was unconscious, but Louis laid his head against his chest and was relieved to hear his heart still beating and the shallow breath in his lungs. He allowed himself to relax, finally, and licked at the wounds on Adam's neck, amazed that they were healing already, in front of his eyes. Within a few minutes, Adam's eyes opened, and he smiled.
"I told you you could do it," he whispered.
Louis' eyes glowed. "Are you..."
"Fine. Wonderful." His eyes closed again, then opened. "Hungry."
Louis laughed, delighted. "I don't have anything to offer you, I'm afraid."
"I noticed. We'll have to go somewhere. Unless it bothers you."
"Being with you could never bother me," Louis said, softly.
Adam's eyes went dark. "Don't be too sure of that," he warned, but at Louis' questioning glance, merely shook his head. "Another time. Now, we need to get cleaned up and somewhere I can eat three or four entrees. You know, I did the exact same thing yesterday. I'm going to have to increase the iron in my diet, I think." Louis turned away, but Adam gripped his chin and pulled him back. "If we are going to be together, Louis, you'll have to learn one thing."
"What is that?"
"I have a terrible sense of humour. Always have. And I think that I'm entirely too old to change now. Can you live with my horrible secret?"
Louis smiled. "I think so."
"Good." They kissed again, pulling away before it became too involving. "I need some clothes, though. Maybe I should go back to my rooms and change."
"I think David's clothing would fit you," Louis said, looking at him critically. "You're just about the same size, and I know that he'd be happy to lend them."
"He's not the rock star, is he?"
Louis was instantly flustered. "He - no. What - how - ?"
Adam grinned, a little uncomfortable at his revelation. "I snooped a little last night, looking for somewhere to sleep. One of the rooms looked like a cell in an English boarding school, and the other as though a hurricane or a twelve-year-old boy had gone through it in a hurry."
To his surprise, Louis burst out laughing. He turned over on his back and laughed and laughed, until he was gasping and the blood-tears were rolling down his cheeks. Finally, when he caught his breath, he said, "I'll have to remember to tell Lestat and David both what you said. On second thought, perhaps I'd better not. But you gave a perfect description of both of them." He sighed, still chuckling.
"Lestat is your lover?"
Louis nodded. "He was. I'm afraid he's rather bored with me at the moment."
"He's a fool."
"Oh, Lestat is many things - many of them unflattering - but a fool is *not* one of them."
Adam shook his head. "I can't think of another word to describe someone who would run away from such a beautiful man as yourself."
"Beautiful or not, he can only stand to be around me for short periods of time, and then he has to go away somewhere, and do something else than just be in this house all the time. Me, I could stay here forever." He shrugged, although Adam could tell that the nonchalance of his tone hid a lot of hurt. "He always comes back, eventually."
"And you always let him."
Louis nodded again. "I think I remind him of things he'd rather not think about. He stays with me as long as he can, and then he leaves. It's just the way that he is."
"I think can I understand that."
"Yes, I think you do." After a moment, Louis sat up on the bed. "Come. Let's get you washed and dressed and fed, and we'll discuss these lives of ours." He pulled Adam up beside him.
"I should tell you," Adam said, as they headed for the bathroom, "there's always been this little part in the middle of my back that I have the hardest time reaching..." He trailed off, grinning.
"Perhaps I could be of some assistance."
"I was hoping you'd say that." Just before the bathroom door closed, he added, "You know, Louis - I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship..."
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