Littermates, 42/?

by Fannie Feazell (Scribe)

Chapter Forty-Two


Clyde had told the truth--it wasn't like going into the fog. There had been similarities near the end. The world seemed to gradually fall away, becoming dimmer and less substantial. Then it was gone, but instead of the soft, warm, comforting grayness there was blackness. Utter, unrelieved, cold blackness. Nothing. Later Nareesha would describe it as being less than a vacuum.

She was completely unaware of anything but the darkness she was immersed in. It was like being suspended naked in mid-air, but she didn't even have the sense of a distance below her. She thought that she was drifting, but she couldn't be sure. With no points of reference, and no ability to feel air moving along her body, she just couldn't tell. She felt nothing but the cold. She didn't even sense her sisters near her, and that frightened her more than anything had in her life. But she remembered that Clyde had warned her that they wouldn't be able to communicate, so when panic threatened she grimly fought it down. She had to trust that the others were all right. But what if they're going through the same thing I am? Milda is just now coming back to us--this could drive her away again. And Kitten--what about Kitten? She's a brave little girl, but this...

She knew that it did no good to worry, but that didn't stop her.

There was no time. She could have been there minutes, or centuries. Clyde had said three days, and again she trusted him. She was wondering again how much longer she'd have to wait when she heard the faint voice, calling her back. Telling her that it was time to awaken.

Then she WAS moving. It was as if a wire had been hooked to a point deep in her belly and she was being dragged upward, rising swiftly through the dark, and then there--there was a spark of light high above, getting closer by the second, growing, expanding. Now she could feel. She felt the weight of clothes on her body. She felt a hand Large. Strong. Male. holding her own hand. She felt the warmth of a body nearby, and she marveled at that. I never before felt body heat till I was actually touching someone. The cold isn't going away...

Then the light above her spread abruptly, and it was like she was bursting through the surface of water, up into sunlight and air. Her eyes snapped open and she drew a deep, whooping breath, as if she'd been starved for oxygen. But all the indrawn air did was make her feel a little pressure inside her chest. There was none of the usual feeling of a mortal need fulfilled. She sat up abruptly, looking around wildly. Immediately firm hands clamped on her arms, holding her, and a ferociously gleeful voice was crowing, "There she is! Happy birthday, girls!"

Panting, but feeling no physical satisfaction from the act, Nareesha looked around wildly. Yes, she remembered. She was still on the bed where she'd lain with Clyde to recieve the Embrace. Nana was hovering by the bed, clenched fists in front of her mouth, tears running down her face, but smiling wildly. Nareesha swallowed. Her voice was raspy as she said, "I--I made it... WE made it, didn't we?"

Clyde shook her lightly. "You certainly did. It was as neat a resurrection as any I've ever seen." He cocked his head and said curiously, "Anything to report from the other side? Bright lights? Waiting relatives? Heavenly chiors?" She snorted. "Thought not, but if I didn't ask, I wouldn't know." Nareesha was trying to swallow again. "Pretty dry, eh?"

She sounded hoarse. "Like I've been eating spoonfuls of plaster dust. She bent over slightly as she felt a cramp in her belly. "Ow! Clyde..."

"And you're hungry. Just about starving, I suppose. You're like a newborn who hasn't had their first meal away from the placenta. We can take care of that. I have to ask you though." He bent his head to peer straight into her eyes. "This is important, Nareesha. Answer me honestly. Are you in control?" She stared at her. His fingers tightened, till they bit into her arms. "I'm not going to risk Joel unless you're in control. If you tell me you are, I'll believe you." He squeezed even more, and his voice had none of it's usual humor. "If you're not, and you hurt him... I'll deal with you." Nana made a soft, snarling noise, and Clyde shot her a quick look, lips wrinkling back to show fangs.

"No, Nana!" said Nareesha. "He's right. I wouldn't deserve to live if I hurt Joel because I tried to feed from him when I wasn't in control of myself. It would be worse than killing someone while driving drunk. I'm all right, Clyde--now. I can't swear how I'll be if I have to wait much longer." Nareesha suddenly felt warm, loving precenses in the back of her mind, and smiled, then whispered, "They're here. Thank to whoever's in charge--they came back with me."

Clyde released one arm and stroked her hair gently. "I'm so glad. I'd hate to lose any of you. We need to get you fed now. Joel, sweetheart?"

Nareesha turned to see Joel sitting on the other side of the bed. He smiled at her shyly, and gave a little wave. "Hello, Reesha."

Despite the pain in her belly and the burning in her throat she couldn't help returning the smile. "Hello, Tiny Dancer."

Joel giggled, then said, "Clyde? She doesn't have fangs."

"She will," Clyde assured him. "When she gets a little closer to feeding, they'll show up. Speaking of which, go on."

Joel scooted up on the bed, turned a little, then leaned back against Nareesha. A little surprised, she brought her arms up around his torso, till she was cradling his upper body. His had rested on her right shoulder. He'd opened the collar of his shirt, and now he tugged it aside, exposing the side of his neck. "If you can't figure out where to bite," he said helpfully, "Just use the marks Clyde left."

Nareesha saw the marks he meant. They were two small circles of scar tissue, parallel and an inch-and-a-half, two inches apart. The scars were pink and shiny against Joel's pale skin, showing that they were recent. Looking at the scars, feeling the warmth of Joel's body, smelling his clean, young scent... It was making Nareesha's teeth ache. She absent mindedly ran her tongue over them, and hissed slightly when she received a tiny cut on her tongue from a needle-like point.

"I should have warned you," said Clyde. "You're going to have to be careful about that till you get used to the fangs." He chuckled. "I haven't known a fledgeling yet who doesn't bite themselves occasionally. Just remember--you can deliberately show the fangs, but unless you have real control they'll show up spontaneously in some circumstances."

"I know what you mean, darling." Nareesha stroked Joel's throat tenderly, and the boy shivered at her touch, but his expression was pleased. "We have the same sort of trouble with our other condition. Have to watch the nails and teeth when we get angry."

"Well, then, you've already learned part of what you need. Another lesson," he said pointedly, "is to not put off feeding for too long."

"Yes." She looked down at Joel again, and again her teeth ached. She felt two pricks at the inside of her bottom lip. "I... I'm not sure I can."

Surprisingly enough it wasn't Clyde who answered this reluctance--it was Nana. "None of that nonsense, young lady," she said firmly. "It isn't as if this is some sort of frivolous whim--you NEED this--need it to survive. And you are NOT going to sit there and refuse the generous gift that this beautiful, sweet boy is offering you." Her voice softened marginally, and there was a hint of humor in her tone. "You don't think I'd let you get away with eating nothing but cake and refusing vegetables, do you?"

Nareesha looked back at Joel. He smiled up at her. "It's okay, Reesha. I know you'll try not to hurt me. I don't mind the little sting." He wiggled. "And it feels GOOD, too."

Nareesha chuckled. "I'll try to make it easy for you, darling." She kissed his forehead, and his skin was very warm against the coolness of her lips. "I'll never forget this, Joel." Joel turned his head invitingly, and Nareesha bent down, pressing her face to the side of his throat.

She licked Joel's throat, feeling the velvet texture of the skin, feeling the heat and throb of blood so close, so close... She didn't need to search out Clyde's marks. She instinctively chose not the spot where the pulse beat most strongly, but the second strongest pulse point. She didn't want to risk wounding Joel too deeply, because it would be very easy to bleed out for a wound to the throat. She opened her mouth and set it against the pale column of Joel's throat, and she realized with a little surprise that her teeth met the barrier of flesh sooner than she'd anticipated. That meant that her eyeteeth had lengthened appreciatively. She closed her eyes, hoped that it wouldn't hurt Joel too much, and exerted pressure.

She felt the skin break, and then her teeth were sliding in, slipping in till her lips were sealed tight against Joel's throat. The moment that her fangs pieced him the blood welled out, filling her mouth with the most astonishing heat and flavor she'd ever experienced. She gulped instinctively, and moaned as the heat coursed down her throat, soothing rather than contributing to the rasping burn she'd been feeling. It hit her belly, and the cramps eased immediately.

Her eyes drifted shut in bliss. Clyde was watching closely, and he saw her fingers flexing rhythmically on Joel's arms, like a kitten kneading its mother's belly as it fed. Joel's head had dropped farther back. His eyes were fixed on Clyde, and he was smiling faintly. Clyde reached over and caressed his cheek, sharing the experience with him. The he reached down and rubbed the boy's crotch, massaging his incipient erection. Joel had never been taken any way but gently, and only by Clyde, whom he knew cared for him. He had no negative associations with the act, and found pleasure in it. The only thing that gave Clyde even a moment's pause about increasing his lover's enjoyment was... Clyde glanced back at Nana. No shock. No disapproval. She just smiled at him. This young man was providing a great service for her girls, and she wanted him to be as happy as was possible. Satisfied that there was no trouble, Clyde said, "Nareesha, take one or two more sips, then stop. Our kind need to be careful not to overeat. Believe me, glutting yourself on a regular basis is bad for you. It makes you slow and stupid. Besides, right now you're like someone who's been starving--eat too much, too fast, and you'll sick it back up." He rubbed harder, and faster, wanting to bring Joel to completion before Nareesha finished. Joel moaned, his hips giving little jerks.

Nareesha took one more deep pull, then threw her head back, needing to make the end quick. She twisted slightly when she did so, and Joel yelped. There was pain in his voice, but it was also a cry of fulfilled passion, as Clyde felt the sudden, warm dampness beneath his palm. Despite that physical evidence Clyde sat forward, expression hardening, but Joel said quickly, "It's all right!"

Nareesha was panting harshly. "Oh, God, Joel. I'm so sorry."

"You didn't mean it." Joel struggled up into a sitting position, hand going to his throat. "It's already slowing down." Nana handed Joel a wad of tissues, and the boy smiled his thanks at her, holding it to the wound. "Next time lick the bite," he told her. "That helps."

"Are you REALLY all right?" asked Nareesha.

Joel nodded, and smiled at her. "Don't worry so much. It felt good." He blushed a little, and tipped his chin toward his lap.

Nareesha glanced down, saw the still visible bulge and damp patch, and laughed. She hugged him, rocking a little. "Oh, if you didn't belong to Clyde, I'd want to keep you as a pet."

Joel started to stand up, and Clyde said sharply, "You just wait!" He came around the bed and took hold of the boy's arm. "Now, stand up." Joel did, with Clyde supporting him carefully. "Any faintness? Dizziness?" Joel shook his head. "Are you sure? I don't want you trying to walk and falling. There's no carpetting upstairs, and you might knock your precious, addled brains out."

"I'm fine," Joel assured him. "She didn't take all that much, and I'm still strong from what you gave me."

"All right, then." Clyde swatted Joel's butt, then gave it a squeeze. "Go down to the bathroom and get yourself cleaned up."

"Okay." Joel started for the door, then paused just before he went out into the hall. "Will I be able to talk to Kitten before we go?"

"I think so," said Nareesha. She cocked her head as if listening. "She's a little confused right now, but Milda and Casey are talking to her. I think it would do her good to see you. But run along and do as Clyde said. It would hardly be appropriate for you to talk to my baby sister with come stains on your crotch." Joel didn't just blush--he FLAMED as he hurried away.

Clyde chuckled. "I guess that proves that you didn't take too much blood."

"Clyde?" said Nareesha, sounding puzzled. "Clyde--I'm panting. Why am I panting?"

"Well, it was quite an experience for you."

"No, I mean WHY am I panting?"

"Oh, you mean why are you BREATHING. Habit." He shrugged. "You've been doing it for eighteen years. The rest of your body might be dead, but your brain and your nerves are still alive. You still feel. Your nerves are used to making you breathe because you've always needed it. It may take awhile for them to realize that there's no rush to get oxygen around. You may NEVER reach that point, though that's really rare. It can come in handy, though, if you deal with humans a lot. You really need to try to remember to breathe around them. You have no idea how suspicious they get if they're around you for a couple of hours and suddenly realize that you haven't taken a breath during that entire time. That's one of the major dangers of being discovered--right up with being caught in front of a mirror by the wrong person." He walked to the door, then grinned at them. "I think I'll go and see if Joel needs any help getting clean..." He stepped out, muttering, "or getting a little more mussed."

Nana sat on the bed beside Nareesha, and Nareesha said, "I think he wanted to give us a minute or two alone."

"Yes," said Nana, "Though I've no doubt that he also wants to give that boy a good cuddling." She took both of Nareesha's hands in hers and squeezed them. "You're not as cold as you were, dear."

"I think I stole a little of Joel's warmth," said Nareesha.

Her eyes flickered, then Acacia said, "Nana, I've been through some weird shit in my life, but THAT was a real circus."

"I'll bet." Nana hugged her. "Oh, but it was worth it, wasn't it?"

"Yeah. Yeah, it was." Acacia grinned, and it wasn't just her eyeteeth that were sharp. "I feel STRONG, Nana."

"You've always been strong, baby. You'd have died before you hit adolescence if you weren't. Casey... Casey, did Milda and Kitten come through all right?"

Acacia wasn't at all hurt that Nana would ask after the other two. She knew that Nana loved them all, but Kitten, and especially Milda, held a special place in her heart. "Brace yourself, Nana. Kitty?"

Kitten threw herself on Nana, hugging her enthusiastically. "NanaNanaNana! It was cold an' dark but I wasn't scared."

Nana hugged her back. "I know you weren't. You're my brave little girl."

"I was 'lone. I ain't never been 'lone before." She frowned. "I don't like it."

"You'll never be alone again, sweetheart."

"Joel's here, i'nt he?" She giggled. "Reesha kissed him on the neck, an' Doctor Clyde petted him, an' he liked it!"

"Yes, but little girls don't need to talk about things like that."

"Okay. When I get older?"

You never will, you precious child. "Perhaps."

Kitten blinked, then smiled, looking to her right. "Okay, Milda." When she looked back at Nana, there was something more mature, more settled in her expression, and Nana embraced Milda. Milda sighed, stroking the old woman's back. "It's good to be home." She was silent, then said, "I didn't really die, Nana."

"But dear," she said gently, "you did."

"I think there are different sorts of dying. You know how they say that people who will never think or move on their own again are brain dead? And they talk about someone sleeping deeply being dead to the world. And then there are the people who have been hurt so much that they're dead inside. I think I was one kind of dead, but not the true dead." She smiled sadly. "I didn't see Colin. If I'd truly died, I know he'd have been waiting for me, to make me welcome and help me along."

"Yes, dear," said Nana softly. "I believe that, too. But Milda... You can't go looking for that other kind of death, no matter how attractive it might seem."

"I know," she said quietly. She glanced from side to side, and Nana knew she was seeing her sisters. "After all, I can't be so selfish."