Back in his room, James laid down on his bed and stared at the ceiling.

Fuck's sake. He'd made out with a guy. Getting jerked off was one thing,

but kissing a guy, licking and sucking on his bare skin, letting him nibble

your ear. 'What am I thinking,' he wondered, 'not a guy, a fucking

vampire....' It couldn't be real.... He was going to wake up and the

nightmare would end and he could go about.... What exactly? Go about his

life of playing pretend? Doing everything for others, not really being who

or what he was? Back to trying to deceive himself into thinking that his

feelings for guys was just a phase? More than once, he'd looked into the

mirror and contemplated his own end.... Was that what he was so eager to

get back to?

That night, he had a dream in which he was standing on a vast plain of

green grass surrounded by mountains on every side, and Sebastian stood

facing him in a suit of blackest armor, his black hair blowing in the

breeze, his eyes as dark as empty space. 'James,' he said.

'Where are we, Sebastian?'

'One of the many homes I have known.... I need to show you.... THIS

is what I am,' waving his hand across James' field of vision. Suddenly the

plain was filled with carnage, the stink of blood and rot. Ravens picked

the flesh from destroyed bodies. 'Across the vast expanse of time, THIS is

what I will be....'

Again he waved his hand, and they were in a modern city. Sebastian

stood by him, but he could see a much dirtier Sebastian standing at the end

of an alley, luring an older-looking teen into the shadows. 'Our methods

may have become less ... murderous ... but no less brutal,' he observed as

he watched himself set upon the strong lad with the viciousness of a beast.

When he was finished, he waved his hand across the wound and obscured it,

sending the boy out in a daze.

'Is that what you did to me last night,' James asked in his dream.

Sebastian smiled at him, but, at last, said, 'No.... It was my

intention, but ... no....'

'Why not?'

'Because ... of all the souls I have searched, yours is the first to

arouse in me an old emotion....'

'What does that mean?'

'I don't know.... And that is exhilarating,' the boy said with a

bright smile, uncovering his sharp fangs.

James leaned in. Despite what he had seen, he was inexplicably drawn

to the boy, and he leaned in to kiss him. Not knowing why, he purposefully

nicked his lip on the protruding fang, and felt Sebastian begin to suck

passionately on his lip. The feelings were intense, and he felt his orgasm

rising, and he sat up in bed, his eyes snapping open, as he creamed his

briefs. 'Shit,' he muttered, crawling out of bed and using the underwear

to wipe himself clean, before pulling on a fresh pair. It was just after

three. Short of breath, he sat at his computer and got on the net. He

answered a couple of emails from friends he had met in some of his travels,

and then got drawn into some research on vampires. Not much, mostly movie

shit, but it reminded him of things he wanted to ask Sebastian. Without

thinking, he ran his tongue across his lips and winced. There was a little

scratch, just where he had dreamed. He looked around closely, but he was

alone. Peculiar.

He couldn't sleep so he did some homework and listened to music until

morning, got dressed and went downstairs to eat some cereal. 'You look

terrible,' Maureen said, as she came into the kitchen.

'Couldn't sleep.... Woke up at three...,' he answered between bites.

'Well, get plenty of sleep tonight. You have a game tomorrow,' his dad


'Yeah.... I'm going to Sebastian's house tonight after practice so

I'll be home a little later....'

'Should I keep dinner....'

'No, I'll eat with him, if you don't mind....'

Later, on his way to school, he remembered he really had little idea

where Sebastian lived, except for a street. But it was a short street.

And he had a feeling Sebastian would know he was on his way.

At school, he was distracted, and his friends noticed. Peter sat down

next to him at lunch and said, 'What's up with you, man? The last two

days.... Who is she?'

James looked at him and shook his head. 'It's not like that.... I

... just, I'm....' Unable to finish the thought, he shrugged and stuffed a

few fries in his mouth. Chris, who'd been only a few steps behind him,

gave James a funny look, almost a look of recognition, that gave James

pause. 'You've got something to add, little man,' James asked him

directly, more gently than normal. Chris averted his eyes and shook his

head. Later, when Peter was gone to the bathroom, James leaned over to

Chris and said, 'I'm sorry, I haven't always been nice to you....' Chris

smiled weakly. 'You didn't deserve that....'

'Are,' Christ began hesitantly. 'Are you alright?'

'Yeah,' James said with a laugh. 'Just ... sort of weirder out....

I've sort of been talking to someone, and I just don't feel like talking to

Pete about it, you know? Of course you don't.... I bet you tell him


'Not everything,' the boy mused quietly, mostly to himself. His eyes

widened when he saw James had heard and nodded with gentleness.

'I suppose not,' he almost whispered. Surprising himself, he put a

hand on the boy's unexpectedly firm shoulder and sort of squeezed, earning

a shy smile from Chris.

'So you know?'

'I think so....'

'And its ... you aren't going to tell,' he asked with terror.

Smiling, James said, 'Now I know I know.... And no, I won't....'

Chris looked at him with curiosity, and asked forthrightly, 'Why not?'

'I know I've given you the cold shoulder, but I know you're a nice

guy.... I don't want to hurt you....'

Suddenly, Peter reappeared and gave them a funny look before planting

himself between them. But after lunch, before they separated, James

carefully handed Chris a piece of paper with his email and phone number,

nodding a silent goodbye.

After practice, he sort of slipped out ahead of the rest of the guys

and began the walk toward Mulberry Street, which was as far from school as

his house, but east instead of north. Standing at the head of the short

street lined with the houses of the affluent, he wondered, 'What am I

doing?' Even from a distance, he knew where he was going. In the

distance, there was a regal looking house sitting on a lot nearly three

times the size of the the rest, though the house was no bigger than the

others. It was surrounded by a rock wall with a wide gate at the driveway

and a smaller gate for foot traffic. On the gates were emblazoned in

intricate letters, van der Meer. At the gate, he pressed a button.

'Who's calling,' a man's voice with a light British accent asked.

'James Barton,' he responded and the box buzzed. He opened the door

and walked up to the door through the immaculately kept front garden. He

lifted the old knocker, but the door swung open.

A man in his early thirties, but still handsome and trim, held the door

open and waved him in. 'May I take your bag?'

Unsure, James handed his heavy school bag to the man, who placed it in

the closet beneath the stairs. Hearing footfalls, James' eyes were drawn

to the staircase, where Sebastian was descending rapidly, wearing a nice

pair of jeans and a white shirt. 'Nice house....'

'Thank you,' the boy said. But reminding James he was no boy, he

added, 'It is much improved since I first built it....' Seeing the

question in his face, not reading his mind, Sebastian smiled. 'The

original parts of the house were built in 1817.... Would you like a tour?'

James nodded, and Sebastian took his arm and led him through the sitting

room, the library and office, the formal dining room, the large kitchen.

Pointing out the back window, he indicated a smaller cottage as the

servants quarters. 'There's also a guest house above the attached garage

with its own private entry and kitchen....' Then he led James upstairs,

where there was an entertainment room, with pool table, chess table, even

some video games, two guest rooms, and then the master bedroom, which was a

sprawling room with huge open windows. There was a huge walk-in closet and

bathroom with jacuzzi tub and a standing shower big enough for two or three

or more.

'Wow.... This is ... amazing....' Walking back into the bedroom, he

sat on the edge of the bed, which was covered only in black sheets.

'Silk.... Very nice....'

Sitting next to him, sliding an hand onto James' knee, Sebastian said,

'My senses are very acute.... Even fine cotton can be

... uncomfortable....' Looking at James staring off, he asked, 'You have a


James waved his hands at the windows. 'I thought sunlight would kill

you guys....'

Sebastian laughed. 'Not at all, though it is, like rough material,

somewhat uncomfortable.... It also dampens some of my abilities.... It is

harder for me to read people, to influence people, and I'm not nearly as

strong... Though I could still manhandle a football star,' he added with a

laugh. 'Besides,' he added, picking up a remote and clicking one of the

buttons, obscuring the outside completely, 'this is very special glass....

Between the panes is a gas that turns very dark when it is properly

charged. It blocks a lot of the rays, but I can still see out in the

daytime....' Pushing it again, he brought the night back into view.

'So, do you have a basement?'

Sebastian laughed. 'So you want to see where I keep my dark secrets,'

he asked, raising his eyebrows with a laugh. Grabbing James' hand, he led

him downstairs and to a door off the kitchen. They walked down farther

than James had expected and Sebastian flipped a switch, lighting an

enormous subterranean space, mostly finished. At the far end in the

unfinished space was a wine cellar. Pointing, he said, 'Seven thousand

bottles of wine, collected over the last few hundred years.... I also use

the space as a root cellar....'

'Root cellar?'

Sebastian laughed. 'Old houses used to keep root cellars -- dark cool

places to keep their root vegetables during the off season.... You've seen

potatoes growing in the bag? Root cellars prevented that.... But, because

we have year 'round grocery, that's not the kind of roots I keep down

here.... Mandrake, ginger, dried herbs, and other things.... Tarantulas

and scorpions,' he began, dragging James toward the extensive shelving,

covered with jars and cages.

'What is all this for?'

'Over the ... years, I've had a lot of time to explore -- mysticism,

magic from the darkest dark to the brightest white.... I've seen things,

my darkness, have I seen things.... This is my ... laboratory....'

James shook his head and walked around. 'There's so much.... Magic,'

he asked, turning to face Sebastian in awe. 'Magic is real, too?'

'He asked the vampire,' Sebastian shot back with a laugh. 'Magic,

yes.... Werewolves, ghosts, demons, angels, goblins and elves....

Everything that you ever heard goes bump in the night ... has some truth

behind it....'

'And you just ... live your endless lives....'

'Some of us, yes.... Others make trouble while they can....'

'While they can?'

'The only law of the hidden world is ... don't draw attention to our

world.... Failure to abide by that rule is punishable by death.... We

have an alliance and a loose government.... I am responsible for

overseeing the law in our region, with a number of state and more local

figures beneath me....'

'Does this ... violate that law?'


'This thing between us....'

Sebastian smiled coyly. 'It could, if I thought you'd tell.... But as

I said, if you did, I'd have to clean up after you.... I just don't

believe you will....'

'So, there is a way to kill vampires?'

'Of course.... It's just not something we talk about....'


'I love Italian food....'


'An irritant if it penetrates our skin....'

'Holy water?'

'I have a gallon on my shelf here.... It bothers demons.... Crosses

too.... But enough of this.... Come with me,' he said, again softly

taking James' hand and leading him to the far end of the basement. There

was a door with a key pad on it. Sebastian typed in a long series of

numbers, causing a panel to open revealing a palm scanner. 'I have never

showed the inside of this room to a living person,' Sebastian said, looking

over his shoulder with a positively sweet smile. 'But given your love of

music....' The heavy door swung open. 'This room is completely fireproof,

waterproof, and soundproof....' They stepped inside and a soft light came

on. The room was much larger than it appeared from the outside. The

basement was a full basement, and this room was over half the size of the

house's first floor. The carpet was soft beneath their feet. The walls

were lined with bookshelves filled with truly ancient volumes, even some

scrolls and stacks of papyrus, as well as what looked like journals. Along

the walls, musical instruments were hung for display, and larger

instruments stood in the corners. A soft couch sat at one end and a

massive desk sat at the other.

'Do you play anything besides the guitar,' Sebastian asked.


'A shame.... I never collected guitars.... I am partial to


'I can tell,' James laughed, seeing at least twenty of the fine

instruments. To his eyes there was little difference. Sebastian took a

beautiful instrument from the wall and picked up a bow. As the bow began

to dance across the strings of the ancient instrument, it emitted a

haunting tune that caught James' breath in his throat. He watched as a

smile softened Sebastian's face, he his eyelids fluttering over closed

eyes. The rhythmic movements of his upper body were like those of a dancer

lost in his music. But the music and the dance united here. James was

still lost when the music tapered off and Sebastian's eyes opened, looking

to him expectantly. 'That was beautiful....'

'You think so? Hmmm,' he mused, hanging the instrument in its place.

'No one in the world alive today but you has ever heard that music.... I

found it in the room of an old friend, a composer, shortly after his

death.... Perhaps I should have left it to be discovered by history....

But he was a dear friend to me at a very important time, and I took it....'

Looking back to the wall, he added, 'It was he who gave me that instrument,

made by a man I had once met.... Nicolo Amati....'

'How old is the violin?'

'That one? Nicolo made that violin in ... let's see, 1631?'

'How old are you?'

Sebastian put a hand on his built chest and sighed, 'Shall we simply

say that ... I was beginning to feel too old....'

'Beginning? Something's changed?'

'Maybe,' he said, leaning in and putting his head where his hand had

been, sighing as he felt James' hand in his hair. 'Mmmm.... Are you


'Starved,' James laughed, and Sebastian locked up and led him upstairs.

They walked into the dining room and Sebastian stuck his head into the

kitchen. 'We're ready for dinner, Robert....' He sat at the head of the

long table and motioned for James to sit next to him. The man Robert

silently served dinner and retreated.

As they ate, James asked, 'Can I ask you something?' Sebastian nodded.

'Did you come back to my house last night?'

'No,' Sebastian said, looking over at him, interested. 'Why?'

'You don't know?'

'Know,' Sebastian asked, raising his eyebrows. Then he smiled. 'No, I

stopped peaking into your head.... It didn't seem polite....'

James laughed. 'I had a dream last night ... about you....'


'Really,' James said, laughing at his curiosity.

'Was it a nice dream? Want to tell me about it?'

James averted his eyes quickly and took a drink. 'I saw you for what

you were,' he said, recounting the visions of Sebastian in the field and

the carnage, then the attack in the city. Sebastian looked ... mortified.


'I asked you if you fed off of me, which is why I can't remember that

night we met....'

'I didn't,' Sebastian began, but James cut him off.

'I know.... I asked you why, and you told me that I was the first

person you'd met who aroused in you an old emotion.... At which point, I

kissed you.... I cut my lip on your fang on purpose.... We kissed and it

was so intense, I woke up with ... a mess....'

Sebastian put a hand on his, and looked into his eyes. 'Amazing....

You don't think me revolting?'

'I think you're the most beautiful person I've ever met....'

'Beauty ... is skin deep....'

'Despite what you are, you cling to hope.... You love music, you seek

knowledge, you desire to feel.... Despite the centuries of chaos and

blood.... That is amazing....' Sebastian squeezed his hand and leaned

over, kissing him softly on the jaw, inhaling deeply.

Then he leaned back. 'The scene you described is no metaphor, dear

James. It was the aftermath of a battle in the western territories of

Romania in 1438.... I'm not pleased to say that it was only the last of

the most brutal and destructive acts I took part in.... I may have killed

a thousand ... or more ... during those campaigns.... I was never

notorious like the infamous Vlad the Impaler, but I was thirsty for power

in those days....'

'How old were you then?'

'Always the question, isn't it? Old enough to know better.... It was

a hundred years later, in the wars of religion, that I finally turned from

worldly power to seek knowledge and to again study the mystical aspects of

our natures in earnest....'

James put his fork down and stared at his plate. 'What could a person

like you, who has seen so much, who knows so much, see in me? I'm just an

average teenage boy....'

Sebastian lifted his face by the chin with a finger. 'That ... is not

true.... I've read a million hearts and none of them has ever elicited so

much as mercy, much less ... interest ... in my cold heart.... And ... if

I may ... I don't find it is a normal gift even in our world to see truth

so clearly in dreams.... I think that you are much more than anyone could


They got up from the table and Sebastian led him back upstairs to the

recreation room, and they played pool for a while, just talking. 'I still

don't understand ... the football,' Sebastian smiled up from his shot. 'Do

you even like it?'

'Not really, sometimes.... It keeps me in shape.... And I've made

some good friends, and I get to see some cute guys naked,' he added, and

they both laughed. 'But my dad.... When I was little, he always talked

about how important it is to be a man's man, to be strong.... He pushed me

into sports, and it turned out I was good at football....'

'What about music?'

'I learned to play the guitar from books, from internet lessons....

That kind of 'sissy stuff' didn't get his support....'

'It's a shame.... I could teach you....'

'Yeah? What?'

'I can play every instrument you saw in my vault, so its really your

choice.... I'd love to see you play guitar some time....'

'I'd like to try the violin.... Maybe a model a little more


Sebastian laughed. 'I'll order one from an old friend, a nice

beginner's model, shouldn't be more than a few thousand....'

'I can't afford that,' James exclaimed.

'Look around,' Sebastian said. 'I've accumulated ... over the

centuries, and I have nothing left to spend it on.... Nothing I want,

except you....

James wrapped his arms around Sebastian from behind, warming the

smaller boy's body and causing him to pur, 'Mmmmm....'

'I never thought....'

'... you'd be hugging a bloodthirsty monster?'

'... that I'd ever get to hold another boy in my arms....'

'I'm here,' Sebastian smiled, putting his cool hands on James' muscular

arms, 'whenever you like.... But I'm afraid ... its getting late....'

James looked at the clock and said, 'I have to be home in about fifteen

minutes.... And I have my game tomorrow night....'

'Can I ... see you this weekend?'

'I have practice on Saturday morning, but otherwise, I'm free....'

'Good.... I'll have Robert drive you home....'

Sebastian walked him to the door and kissed him, before ushering him

out to the car. It was a short ride home and he made it just before his

curfew. 'Have fun,' Maureen asked, as his dad casted a disapproving look.

'Yeah, Sebastian's cool....'

'A little femme, isn't he,' Phil asked.

'Honey,' Maureen exclaimed.

'Actually, he's very strong, and.... Never mind....'

'What's wrong with your other friends?'

'What other friends, dad?!'

'Your teammates.... Kids in the neighborhood....'

'I don't have anything in common with most of the meat heads on the

team, and I've lost most of my other friends because I'm on the team....'

'Well, you don't have to pal around with a....'

'With a what, dad?'

'Well, he's clearly a fag,' Phil said, exasperated.

'Why are you being such an asshole? If you weren't my father, I'd....'

'You'd what,' Phil said, standing up, angry, Maureen grabbing his


'I'd take you out into the yard and kick your ass....' James took two

long steps toward his father menacingly. 'But don't pressure me.... Don't

say anything about him again....'

Suddenly Phil laughed. 'I should have known.... Ever since you were a


James' face turned red, and said, 'Everything I've ever done to prove

myself to you, hasn't meant anything, has it.... It all comes down to

this, and the fact that I've wasted my time for years playing football,

making quarterback, it doesn't mean anything because of this one thing,

does it?'

'What,' Maureen asked, entirely lost.

'You're son's whining that daddy doesn't like the fact that he's a


'You're gay,' Maureen asked, sounding confused again.

'Yes, mom! I tried to hide it, but.... I don't have to explain myself

to you guys.... I'm sorry if this upsets you, but its who I am.... I'm

going to my room....'

'You're,' Phil began, but Maureen was on her feet in a second and

though his back was to them, James heard the crack of her hand against

Phil's face.

'Shut up, or pack a bag,' she said with a deadly calm voice. The man

stormed out of the room, and a few minutes later he stormed out the door

with a bag in hand. James came back to the living room and sat next to his

mother who cradled her head in her hands.

'I'm sorry mom,' he said, unsure of what to do.

'It's not your fault, honey,' she said, looking over at him. 'I wish

you'd told me a long time ago....'

'I was worried about ... this.... I was trying to make dad happy....'

'James, I've been trying to make your father happy for twenty years.

It isn't possible.... He's a miserable bastard, and I just needed a


'Well, I'm still sorry....'

Maureen put her arm around him. 'SO.... You and Sebastian?'

James shrugged his shoulders. 'I like him, but it's ... complicated?

He's going to teach me to play the violin....'

'That's wonderful.... He's very ... cute....'

'He's beautiful, mom....' James got up and walked upstairs, laying on

his bed, wondering what he had just done. He had gotten so angry when his

father criticized Sebastian. A creature who was older than this country

and had done so much evil. And yet James felt protective of him....

Shaking his head, he knew he wouldn't solve that tonight, so he got online

and checked his email. He had a message from Chris.

'Hi, James. Thanks for today.... I hope you don't mind but its nice

to have someone to talk to about stuff.... I just ... its very frustrating

and I know that he thinks of me like a little brother, and well, you know

how I feel.... Thanks for not judging.... Chris.'

James shook his head and smiled, writing, 'Dear Chris, I think you're

eventually going to have to move on.... Pete ... isn't going to come

round, I think.... I know that its especially hard, since you don't know

WHO to move on to, but.... I don't know anything for sure, but do you know

Steve Lewis? He's a really nice guy, and I sometimes get the feeling he

might be ... receptive.... If you're interested, I could feel him out for

you.... James.'



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