Thomas awoke from a fitful sleep to realize he was not alone in the room. The scent was familiar. A shadow moved from a nearby easy chair.
Thomas sat up. “Benjamin?”
“I’m sorry, Tommy. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Don’t apologize, baby. Just get your ass over here so I can give you a big old kiss.”
Benjamin got up and walked to the bed. Thomas got on his knees on the bed and wrapped his arms tightly around his lover and plunged his tongue down Benjamin’s throat. He breathed deeply as he inhaled Benjamin’s scent in, reacquainting himself with the distinctive aroma that allowed Thomas to locate him from far away.
“Why didn’t you call me and tell me you were coming home?” Thomas asked. “If I’d known, I would’ve stayed up for you.”READ MORE
Benjamin pulled away and looked at Thomas with a fearful expression. “My homecoming wasn’t exactly planned. You know how we have occasional crises pop up in our lives?” Thomas nodded. “Well, this is the granddaddy of crises. Signs that the end times are coming have started making an appearance.”
Thomas got out of bed. “Let’s go make some coffee, and we can talk about it. I’m just glad you’re home. You can’t believe how much I missed you, especially tonight.”
“Tommy, I’m so sorry I couldn’t be there for your grand re-opening,” Benjamin said as he and Thomas walked to the kitchen. “Was there a big turnout?”
Thomas grabbed the coffee can. “Huge. Everyone was so excited, right up until Lord Draca spontaneously combusted in the middle of the club. You’d think those folks had never seen a demon burst into flames before.”
“Considering his bad temper, I’m surprised someone didn’t light him on fire sooner,” Benjamin said as he took a seat at the kitchen island. “Was anyone else hurt?”
“A couple of Gakna demons were trampled as everyone made a beeline for the door, and Kit was knocked unconscious by one of Draca’s flying limbs. Oh, almost forgot; all of Draca’s groupies committed ritual suicide, basically making a mess of my club. Of course, it sounds like you had more of a horrific time than me, Benjamin. Are you going to tell me about it?”
“Well, I got to see a four-thousand-year-old monastery go up like the Fourth of July.” Benjamin paused and shuddered. “And I sent a ten-year-old boy to his death.”
Thomas set down the coffee pot, which he had been feeling with water, and walked over to Benjamin. Benjamin leaned his head on Thomas’ shoulder as he whimpered while tears streamed down his cheeks.
“I… I was going to find this seer, and while I was in her sanctuary, a tremor knocked me into her pool of vision, and… I saw the monastery burning. By the time I got back to L’Pan, most of the building was gone, and there was nothing but charred skeletons. Only one of the monks was still alive, and right before he died in my arms, he told me, ‘The end has begun. Prepare.’”
Thomas stroked Benjamin’s shaggy red hair as he kissed him on the forehead. “That’s terrible. I wish I could have been there with you. But what were you saying about a ten-year-old boy?”
Benjamin sniffled. “That’s the worst part. This orphan boy that I got to know was following me up the mountain. I didn’t know what kind of danger I’d be facing on my trek to the seer, so I teleported him back to the monastery.”
“That was wise, in light of the unknown path you were walking. You had no way of knowing what was going to happen. Ancient monasteries were built on hallowed ground. They are protected by sacred magicks. For something to destroy a place like that, a lot of power would need to be built up.”
“It still doesn’t erase the fact that I sent him back there to be incinerated. He was an innocent boy. All he wanted to do was tag along with this new and interesting person who came into his life, and I just waved my hand and signed his death certificate.”
Thomas sat down next to Benjamin. “Listen, baby. I know you’re hurting right now, and what you witnessed was more than anyone should ever have to see, but that boy’s death was not your fault. You didn’t set him and his home ablaze, and if you knew then what you know now, I know you would have never sent him back.”
“I wish I could believe that, Tommy, but there’s more. Morgan, the seer, has confirmed that I’m the one who brings about the end of the world. Yet, I also apparently save it.”
Thomas raised an eyebrow. “Okay, honey. You’re going to have to explain that one to me.”
“That’s just it. I can’t. I was trying to press Morgan for answers when that tremor happened. After that, I booked it until I was outside Morgan’s protective barrier, and then I teleported back to L’Pan, or rather what was left of it.”
“So you’re right back where you started.”
“And that’s not good if the end times are on their way. We need to figure out how to stop this.”
“It’d be nice if we could translate the scrolls fully. Kenda’s been trying to get her hands on whatever reference material she can to figure out the rest of the symbols, but she’s still only got half of it translated, and it’s the half that doesn’t say shit about your role in the end times.”
Benjamin gave a half-smile. “Remember the good old days when all I had to worry about was pushy photography subjects and the worst thing you dealt with was the occasional drunk Hessican? Why can’t we just go back to that?”
Thomas went back to making coffee. “I wish I had the answer to that. It bothers me to know you’re terrified, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Benjamin fidgeted. “I can’t help but wonder, if I hadn’t been so gung-ho about trying to cure your vampirism a couple of years ago, we might have never known all this shit was coming down the pike.”
“Ah, the ignorance-is-bliss approach. The problem is we don’t know that we wouldn’t have learned about this some other way. What if we’d never met? What if I’d never become a vampire? What if you’d never developed your powers? We can wish all we want that we could turn back the clock, but the reality is that we’re here, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about you after all these years, it’s that you refuse to just lay down and die.”
“I just feel so responsible. Part of me knows I shouldn’t, but we didn’t have to deal with things like this when we first got together.”
“Things change, lover,” Thomas said as he started the pot brewing. “I’d like to think a lot of those things are for the better. I’ve seen you blossom into this powerful magic-maker. I see where you were, and then I see what you’ve become, and it makes me proud.”
Benjamin finally cracked a smile, a sincere smile. “How do you do that?”
“I feel like my whole world is crumbling around me, but you give me hope that everything is going to be just fine. Anyone else, I’d still be squawking, ‘The sky is falling! The sky is falling!’ Not you, though. You make me feel safe.”
Thomas put his arms around Benjamin, who wrapped his arms around Thomas’. “You are safe, Benjamin. You’re here with me, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a vampire who is madly in love.” Thomas stroked Benjamin’s hand with his thumb. “You have no idea how much I worried about you these last four months. Not knowing for sure where you were. Not certain what kind of danger you might be walking into.”
“Or teleporting into.”
“Or teleporting into,” Thomas repeated with a chuckle.
Benjamin sighed. “I know I worried you, but I couldn’t let you come with me. After what happened to that tree in the forest, I was so scared that I might kill you with just a touch. I’m always scared of what I’d do if I ever lost you, but if your death came by my hand, I’d never be able to forgive myself.”
“So it wasn’t you trying to be all masculine and brave and lone-wolfish?”
“No! I was genuinely freaked that I’d turn you into a pile of ash! You might be an immortal bloodsucker, but you’re still pretty fragile.”
Thomas rolled his eyes. “Thanks for not emasculating me too much.”
“I’m serious, Tommy. When I manifested teleportation abilities, the worst I had to worry about was rematerializing inside a brick wall. This energy absorption power was incredibly raw, and it was like there was something inside me, a powerful id trying to claw its way out. There are times I still feel that way.”
Thomas kissed the back of Benjamin’s neck. He was elated beyond belief that Benjamin was home, but at the same time, he knew there were some scary things going on in his lover’s head. All he wanted to do was make Benjamin feel safe. Still, he knew Benjamin wouldn’t really settle down until whatever was coming got here.
“I know you’ve got these ancient scrolls hinting that you might be bad, but I think it’s wrong,” Thomas said. “We shape our own destinies. Most vampires are destined to be these evil creatures, but you’ve helped to make me a decent person. Your love makes me want to better myself.”
Benjamin turned to face Thomas. He stroked Thomas’ cheek and stared longingly. Thomas felt Benjamin’s other hand reach into his track pants and move down to his cock. Thomas’ body started to tingle as he familiarized himself with Benjamin’s touch once more. He could tell Benjamin desired more than to hear him coo comforting words. Thomas knew this because he desired Benjamin, too. Four months was a long time not to make love to a person who meant more to you than life itself, and Thomas wanted to make up for lost time.
Benjamin gasped and pulled his hands back, looking at Thomas with guilt. “Should we be doing this? I mean, we’ve seen some incredibly freaky shit, both of us, and it almost seems wrong taking our carnal pleasures right now.”
“Well, do you think the end times are going to occur tonight?”
“Probably not, but…”
“But nothing. We’re partners, we haven’t seen each other in months, and I’d rather take comfort and solace with you in my arms than spend hours worrying about what might be lurking behind the next corner. If that makes me bad, then I’ll just be as bad as I want to be.” Thomas scooped Benjamin in his arms and started for the bedroom.
“What about the coffee?” Benjamin protested.
“That coffeemaker has an automatic timer. Everything will shut down once the coffee has stopped brewing. Relax, baby. I’ll be gentle since it’s been a while.”
“But I haven’t even had a shower yet. I probably smell incredibly funky.”
Thomas licked his lips. “I love smelling your scent, baby. I wish I could bottle it up and sell it on eBay.”
“Oh, Tommy. I love you so much.”
Thomas set Benjamin on the bed. “I cannot put into measurements how much I love you.” He pulled Benjamin’s hooded sweatshirt and t-shirt over his head. Thomas looked at Benjamin’s bare chest and whistled. “I never get tired of looking at that.”COLLAPSE