Wow, haven't been on this site in ages...there's so much dust!

Anyways, I'm back with a new story (that I actually intend to finish this time!), this one's about vampires. But here's the thing: I don't like vampires. The latest craze has all but killed any interest I had in them, but for some reason, the idea for this story popped into my head, and I'll be damned if some personal challenge is going to get the best of me! So here we go!

WARNING!WARNING!WARNING!: This story will contain slash. Which means gay. Lots of gay. Don't like it, don't read it!


Nosferati

Chapter 1



The room was cold and silent. The screams of the dying had finally stopped, their bodies strewn on the concrete floor. The smell of blood hung in the air, so thick that it would have gagged any normal person.

But then, he wasn't a normal person.

Even so, he found the smell quite overpowering, and the sooner he could get out of here the better.

Sar put his gun in the holster hanging from his belt, wondering how much this shootout was going to cost them. More than they had paid for the actual bullets, he guessed, since the contract had specified that only one casualty was acceptable—their target's. The man himself was still sitting at the table, leaning back in his chair, unseeing eyes focused on the door that had suddenly slammed open during their poker game. The hole in his forehead was a testimony to his assassin's accuracy.

Sar shook his head and whipped out his digital camera, quickly snapping a series of pictures of the victim from several angles. The employers demanded photographic proof, and that was what they were going to get, no matter how stupid it was. Evidence like this had a tendency to pop up in murder trials. They might as well have asked for Sar to bring back the mark's head.

Sticking his camera back in the pocket of his coat, Sar became aware of the slurping sound behind him, coming from the hallway outside the room.

"Laer," he said loudly.

The sound stopped, and Sar heard the unmistakeable thump of a body hitting the floor. Then Laer's face appeared in the doorway, poking his head through. His hair, which had come loose from his usual ponytail, almost obscured his face, something he didn't even seem to notice.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

"No, but I think it's time to leave," Sar explained, gesturing around him. "We made quite a mess, and we don't want to be caught by the cops surrounded by bodies."

Laer nodded, the rest of him appearing in the doorway. His black, buttoned overcoat seemed to hang off him. It was like watching a stick figure trying to dress up. He wiped the corners of his mouth with a white handkerchief and tied his blond hair back with an elastic band. He was swaying somewhat and almost stumbled when he stepped forwards. Sar moved to catch him, but Laer shook him off with a scowl.

"Did you have your fill?" Sar asked worriedly.

"Don't treat me like a child," Laer said warningly, glaring at him. "I'm older than you."

"I'm not the one who's swaying with blood thirst," Sar said. "You drew too much, didn't you? Christ, Laer, you've got to stop starving yourself like this!"

Laer tried to draw away when Sar stepped forward, but he was still weak and was unable to stop Sar from seizing his chin and forcing him to look into his eyes.

"I know you made that oath, Laer, but you're going to kill yourself if you keep doing this. What happens if we go a few weeks without a job, huh? You're going to die!"

"We won't go weeks without a job," Laer said, smiling lopsidedly. "You wouldn't let me starve."

"If you keep screwing up like you did tonight, I just might," Sar said, huffing. He let Laer go and headed for the door. The hallway in the condemned apartment complex was empty, save for the remains of the guard. His throat was slit, but there was no blood to seen anywhere except for a few drops on the collar of his shirt. Reckless as he might be, Sar had to admit that Laer cleaned up after himself.

"What about you?" Laer asked, coming up beside him. He had a look of shame on his face now, knowing that he had angered Sar once again. "Have you eaten?"

"I caught a few rats earlier today," Sar replied, not looking at him. He made sure that there was nothing incriminating lying around and walked towards the staircase, wishing Laer would shut up. Something didn't sit right with him about this job. It had been too easy.

"And?" Laer asked, running up beside him.

"I'll be fine 'till tomorrow."

"You keep complaining about my eating habits, yet you don't see any problems with yours? Hypocrisy, thy name is Sar." He was perking up now, the blood giving him back the energy that had drained away, and was practically bouncing around Sar. Sar noticed that Laer hadn't even fired his gun.

They emerged into the cool evening air, the satisfaction of a job well done washing over them both. They both heard the police sirens in the distance, but they were from all the way across town. By the time someone realised what had happened in the building they had just left, Sar and Laer would be long gone.

"So, time to head home?" Laer asked.

"Yeah."

"Let's go, then."

Sar's outreached hand stopped Laer from climbing up a drainpipe. "Wait," he said.

Laer furrowed his brow and let go of the pipe, stalking up to Sar with a suspicious look. "What?" he asked.

"Let's just…walk tonight," Sar said.

"Why?"

"No reason. Just feel like walking, s'all."

Laer looked at his watch. Plenty of time until sunrise.

"Alright," he conceded and fell into step beside Sar, who was lighting up a cigarette. Laer wrinkled his nose. "A filthy habit. No wonder your growth is so stunted."

"I think that has more to do with the fact that I'm dead," Sar replied, grinning. He offered the cigarette to Laer, who refused. "And it happened before I hit my last growth spurt. Funny how things happen like that." He glanced up at Laer, who was at least ten centimetres taller than him.

They fell silent. They could hear the sounds of people sleeping in the buildings around them as clearly as if they were standing right beside them. Their snoring. Their breathing. Their...heartbeats. It was such an inviting beat…it made Sar want to jump up and climb into someone's room…just for a little nibble…

He shook his head. He was not the slave, he was the master! He focused on the job, the dead man with the hole through his skull back in the apartment complex. It had been too easy. A single guard outside, three men plus the target inside the room itself. All armed with handguns, but not a skilled shot between them. Those had been a gang muscling in on someone's territory? It didn't make sense… He threw the half-smoked cigarette away, already tired of it.

"What are you thinking about?" Laer asked, stopping Sar and leaning forward. His icy-blue eyes stared into Sar's own. "I know that look. You think something was wrong, don't you?"

"Just theorising," Sar answered, feeling Laer's hot breath on his face. If he just leaned a millimetre forwards…

"About what?"

Sar sighed inwardly. "Nothing, really. It just seemed too easy, that's all." He continued walking, leaving Laer to stare at the empty air for a few seconds before the taller vampire hurried after him. He waited for Laer to catch up to him before continuing. "They said they were highly dangerous mobsters, but the only one who could handle a gun…well, you left him quite drained."

"Heh." Laer chuckled. "You're overanalysing again," he said, patting Sar on the shoulder, leaving his hand there as they walked. Sar didn't shrug it off. "Mobsters don't necessarily have to be master marksmen. That's why they have henchmen. One of which I left…quite drained, as you said."

If only you could take things more seriously, Sar thought, glancing at Laer. "I could waste my time explaining why I don't think this job made sense, but I know you're just going to make fun of me anyway, so…"

"I'm not making fun," Laer said, pretend-hurt seeping into his voice. He snaked his arm around Sar's shoulder completely and drew him close. "I just know when to gently attempt to derail you from your train of thought. Speaking of which, aren't you hungry?"

Sar, having been quite content with Laer's arm around him, drew away now, scowling.

"I said I'll be fine until tomorrow. I'll find something to eat then."

"You're pale."

"We're supposed to be pale, Laer. We're dead."

"Paler than usual, then."

Sar groaned.

Laer grinned, chuckling. "Alright, alright, we'll find you something tomorrow."

A few steps later, Sar said quietly, "Thanks."


*MAX*


His eyes felt like they were glued shut when the blaring alarm clock finally woke him up. Judging by the volume, it had been trying to do so for at least a few minutes. Cursing the world in general, he vaulted out of the bed, hissing as his feet hit the ice-cold floor. He didn't open his eyes until he was well into the bathroom. Squinting, he looked at his reflection in the slightly cracked mirror. A sixteen year old boy squinted back, his green eyes trying to get used to the light.

His morning ritual was quickly taken care of with an ice-cold shower. The apartments on this floor had never had warm water, and the landlord wasn't about to fix it any time soon. He tried to fix his hair, which refused to cooperate at every turn and actively tried to sabotage any attempt at making it look less like a shrubbery, but the dark brown strands held their ground, sticking out at odd angles, making it look like he had gotten electrocuted.

Breakfast was non-existent. He had forgotten to get any groceries due to the extra shifts he had picked up all week. I'll just pick up something on the way to work, he thought as he glanced at his clock again. Barely half past five. Plenty of time. He tried to ignore the flashing light on his answering machine. He had noticed it before crashing on his bed the night before. There were two messages. He knew exactly who they were from and what they were about.

His finger hovered over the delete button, but something compelled him to press the play button instead. He regretted it immediately.

"Hey Max, it's Darren. Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up…alright, I guess you're not there. Listen, I'm gonna be out of town for a couple weeks, leaving on Friday. I was wondering if you wanna get together and just grab something to eat or somethin'? Y'know, just so we can catch up. I haven't seen you in months. I miss you, little bro. Gimme a call when you get this, yeah? Alright, I'll talk to you later."

Max smiled despite himself. It was touching how Darren kept trying to repair the damage that had been caused. He frowned as the second message began to play, knowing what was going to happen.

Breathing. False starts on sentences. More breathing. And then the caller hung up.

"Nice try," Max muttered.

He turned away from the machine, grabbed his jacket and bag and left the apartment. The building was slightly run-down. Slightly was an understatement, but he tried to think positive, despite the paint peeling from the walls, the skittering sounds of cockroaches, the elevator that hadn't worked in years and the threatening creaking sounds coming from the staircase. You had to be optimistic, after all.

The trip to work was slow, as usual. The subway was delayed, citing an electrical fire on the other side of town as the reason. There was always an electrical fire. Or malfunction. Whatever.

By the time he emerged from the underground, he was ten minutes late for his shift. Cursing under his breath, he jogged towards the diner, a tubular, silvery-coloured hunk of metal underneath a busy highway overpass. A big neon sign with the words DAVE'S was flickering in a window, dying slowly. There didn't seem to be any customers yet, but Max knew what was coming when he stepped inside.

Just after the bell above the door stopped ringing, a voice bellowed from the kitchen, "You're late!"

"Sorry!" Max yelled back as he went into the bathroom to change into his work clothes. Two minutes later he was behind the counter, punching his clock. "Fire in the subway!" he yelled, feeling the need to explain why he was late.

"There's always a fire in the subway!" the voice from the kitchen said. "Start leaving home earlier."

"Come on, Dave, I was here until two AM last night! I needed sleep!"

"Hey," said Dave, his bald head appearing at the hotplate. The aging face was scowling at him. "If you stopped signing up for all the extra shifts, then maybe you'd have more time for sleep. And school, even!"

"I need the money," Max replied. "And I do go to school…when I have time."

"Bah," Dave scoffed, disappearing again. Max heard the sounds of pots and pans slamming against each other as his boss arranged them haphazardly all over the kitchen. Dave was not a big fan of organisation. "Kid like you's got no business being on your own!"

Max sighed, deciding not to get into this discussion again. They'd had it when Dave hired him, whenever Dave felt like being annoying and so on and so forth. "I don't see why you're so fixated on me being on time, you've got no customers at this time of day anyway."

"It's the principle of the thing, kid. Punch in, punch out, always on time, never late…but you just don't care, do you?"

"Not really."

"I oughta fire you."

"But you won't since you know that no one else is gonna hire me."

And that was it for the morning pep talk at Dave's Diner. Customers didn't actually start coming in before noon, so Max kept himself busy by cleaning the diner. By the time the time the first meagre collection of customers came in, it was spotless.

It was a slow day. Not even ten customers, and Dave didn't talk at all except to confirm orders and announcing that dishes were ready. There wasn't even any proper work to be done to kill time. Instead, Max tried to distract himself by doing some sketches in his notebook, though his heart wasn't really into it today.

Nine PM rolled around, and he punched out just as the evening shift employee punched in, barely exchanging greetings with her before announcing his departure to Dave. He had barely gotten to the crossing by the diner when the door suddenly opened and Dave came running out, carrying a plastic bag. He caught up with Max and held out the bag.

"Here," the older man said.

"What is it?" Max asked.

"Food, of course, you dumbass," Dave said, rolling his eyes. He interrupted Max before he could speak, "You haven't been eating lately. You're wasting away, and I can't have my waiters looking like skeletons. It's not good for the diner's image."

Max looked into the bag, seeing a lot of vegetables and unidentifiable types of meat. Some of the stuff didn't look too cheap, either. He tried to give it back.

"I can't take this, Dave, I—"

"I ain't taking it back," Dave said, shaking his head. "Go home, eat, get a good night's sleep and go to school tomorrow, you hear me?"

"But I've got the midday shift tomo—"

"Nope, you don't. I switched you with Karol. And you've got Friday off as well."

Max wanted to groan, but knew that would be childish. "Come on, Dave, you know I can't afford missing two days of work in a row."

"Don't worry about it," Dave said, sticking his hands in his pockets. "You can make up for it on Saturday. That's when they rush in, after all. S'gonna be hectic." With that, he turned around and headed back inside the diner, leaving Max with the bag of food.

He wanted to throw it away. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate Dave's concern, but it felt too much like pity for him to accept it readily. And Dave wasn't doing himself any favours by just giving his foodstuff to his employees either, as the diner was already slowly sinking into debts that he couldn't possibly hope to pay off unless an entire legion of hungry customers decided to pay a visit every day for six months.

But the idea of a real meal didn't sound too bad now that he felt his stomach growling. He had forgotten to pick up something to eat on his way to work due to the delay. And he had not taken lunch.

"What's wrong with me…?" he asked himself as he headed down to the subway, the skies already dark.

He made himself a quick dinner when he got home, ignoring the sound of a squeaking bed in the apartment above him. Dave had seemingly plundered the kitchen, giving him all kinds of ingredients. He settled on fried chicken breast with a side of vegetables, which was delicious.

He was feeling slightly dizzy when he sat down to eat, though it passed quickly when his stomach got something to work with.

The answering machine was flashing again.

"Hey, Max, it's me again," Darren's voice said, sounding concerned. "Listen, I was just wondering if you got my message last night. I know you're probably working your ass off with the diner and school and stuff, but you could at least give me a call, right? Please…I know you're angry, but…give me a chance…give me a call. You have my number."

Max deleted the message, but hesitantly picked up his phone. He couldn't afford a cell, but the phone bill was automatically added to his rent along with plumbing and electricity. If it wasn't for that, he wouldn't even have a landline. He dialled the numbers he had memorised long ago but never called and put the receiver to his ear.

Why am I doing this? he wondered. It's just going to end in tears…

"Hello?"

"Darren?"

"Max? Is that you?" Darren sounded tired.

"Yeah, it's me."

"How are you? Did you get my messages?"

"I'm fine, Darren, and I did. You…" He took a deep breath, trying to steady his voice, which was quivering. He hadn't expected it to be this hard. "You said something about…hanging out?"

There was a quick intake of breath on the other end, Darren becoming excited. "Really? You want to?"

"Sure…I've got the day off anyway."

"That's great! Is there any specific place you want to go, or…?"

"Anywhere that's not Dave's," Max replied, feeling like he was about to lose it. Talking directly to Darren again was…difficult.

"How 'bout that Italian place up on Fifth? I hear they've got great pasta…"

"Alright, sounds good."

"Great, I'll pick you up! Around four, five?"

"Five would be good."

"Awesome. I'll see you, then."

"Yeah."

"Alright. Good night, little brother."

"Night, Darren…and thanks."

"No prob."

Max was sweating when he put the phone down. He felt ridiculous. He thought he'd be able to handle it by now, but his brother's voice brought the memories right back. At least she hadn't tried to call him tonight. He finished his chicken, washed the dishes and collapsed on his bed, the day's work and exertion of the phone conversation having drained him of pretty thoroughly. He quickly fell asleep, though a tiny smile curled his lips.

To be continued…


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