“Sorry,” Victor murmured. “It’s been a long time since I’ve fed from someone who’s...conscious.” He loosened his grip on Rory’s wrist and looked up, eyes darting between the redhead’s brown ones. “Are you sure about this?”
Rory nodded, but swallowed. His heart was pounding, seeing Victor’s mouth so close to his flesh. Even though the man looked nervous himself, Rory was afraid. Everything in him was telling him to pull his hand away from the vampire’s loose grip, to run for the door, or simply to scream out for someone to help him. But Rory just sat incredibly still, and incredibly stiff, as Victor slowly brought the tender underside of Rory’s wrist closer to his mouth. Rory watched Victor’s face as he seemed fixated by the veins underneath his skin. He could see those verdant eyes under blond lashes tracing the blue lines just beneath the surface. That green gaze flitted up to Rory’s ochre one and Rory released the breath he’d been holding.
He couldn’t watch, he realized, feeling faint as his mind imagined fangs tearing into flesh, blood dripping from a wound, and Rory had to turn his head away. His trailing vision focused on the potted feather cactus on the end table, studying the way the white fluff that coated its exterior broke in certain places to reveal the bright green underneath. The redhead tried to imagine what that soft white fluff would feel like under his fingertips, but then he thought about how it was just a defense mechanism, acting as camouflage for the painfully sharp spines underneath. He imagined catching his fingertip on one of those spines and he felt faint again.
A soft, low noise escaped Victor and Rory looked back quickly, a bundle of nerves, realizing that the vampire was already latched onto his wrist. He couldn’t believe he hadn’t even felt the bite. A phantom shiver spread up Rory’s arms to his chest like an icy highway as he stared wide eyed at Victor’s form hunched over his outstretched arm. The vampire’s eyes were very nearly closed, but the redhead could see those blond lashes fluttering eerily against the rolled back whites that were just crescents. It was a look of pure ecstasy, Rory realized. And the second soft moan that escaped from Victor had Rory’s cheeks burning with the feeling that he wasn’t supposed to be watching this. It felt too damn intimate.
Victor’s eyes rolled back down for a moment and locked onto Rory’s, making the redhead release an embarrassing noise and dig his fingers into the scratchy fabric of the sofa. The vampire’s own eyes widened and he seemed to shift away from Rory’s gaze a bit, blocking the view with his shoulder. There was a wet sound of lips parting from flesh and the vampire’s free hand came up to his face, which Rory couldn’t see now.
“Sorry,” came the muffled apology as Victor wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, although it came away clean and Rory noticed there wasn’t as much blood on his wrist as he’d expected. In fact, there was no indication he’d just had an overgrown human-shaped leech sucking on his arm other than two little red dots that were quickly fading to pink, and then finally vanishing altogether. Victor’s already gentle grip loosened completely and he offered Rory his arm back, which the redhead obliged and brought back to the safety of his chest. He ran his shaking fingers over the area of the bite and didn’t feel any discomfort, although there was a feeling akin to when the numbing agent they use at the dentist’s office was wearing off.
“I’m...embarrassed to be seen that way,” Victor said sheepishly.
Rory’s shoulders relaxed. “...It’s fine,” he said. “Really, it’s...fine.”
Victor stood now turning fully toward Rory and the redhead could see that the vampire’s face seemed a little less ashen now. His russet skin had become more saturated, more warm, and his expression looked a little dreamy.
“How do you feel?” he asked, sounding out of breath.
Rory rubbed his wrist and took a deep breath. “I feel...okay. It didn’t hurt at all.”
The vampire smiled a little, his fangs still visible when his mouth opened. They were flashing hazard lights in the dim lighting. “Good. Just sit tight; I’ll get you some water.” He turned away and moved out of view from Rory. For a good moment, the redhead had the strong urge to get up and quietly move for the front door, but he didn’t. There was the sound of a glass clinking against Victor’s ring and the fridge rumbling to life before a stream of water hit the bottom of the glass. Rory’s tongue felt dry and sticky in his mouth.
“Here,” Victor said when he reappeared by the sofa, handing the glass directly to Rory. “I want you to take it easy for a few minutes. To make sure you’re fine.”
Rory took the glass from Victor and nodded, the motion making his head swim. He wasn’t sure if it was still the jitteriness of being so close to a vampire that had just been drinking his blood or the blood loss itself, but he decided it didn’t really matter as he took two big gulps of the refreshingly cool water. It sat heavy and icy in his stomach.
“It’s a little like donating blood at the hospital, in a way,” Victor explained, sitting on the other end of the sofa. He rubbed the back of his neck. “Sometimes people don’t realize they’re so lightheaded until they faint.”
Rory nodded again weakly. He definitely felt lightheaded. The back of his mind was still yelling at him to move for the door, but he didn’t feel quite so terrified as he had been before the bite. Victor was right; being shown how the process worked brought it into perspective a little. It wasn’t some mysterious and bloody act of violence that took place only in the dead of night on poor unsuspecting victims. But it was still an incredibly uncomfortable thought that he had just ‘fed’ this man sitting near to him. That predator-prey relationship was impossible to look past.
“Thank you, again,” Victor said with a twitching smile as he looked hard at the drawn curtains. “I know you’re still scared of me, but I want you to know that I’m...very grateful that you let me feed from you.” His expression shifted slightly and looked over at Rory. “And that you’re going to keep my secret.”
Rory stiffened and almost choked on his sip of water. The tone had been amicable, but it almost sounded like a threat. Like there was a subtext of ‘now that I’ve tasted you,’ or, ‘now that you know I don’t leave any marks.’ But Rory simply nodded and set the glass down, a little harder than he’d meant to.
Victor suddenly chuckled. “I feel like I should cook you dinner, or something. It’s only fair. Do you want anything?”
Rory shook his head. “No, no thank you. I’m fine.” Heart still pounding hard, he sat forward and the full reality of where he was and what was happening hit him hard. He was alone with a man he knew to be a vampire, that he barely knew, and he had fed that stranger his blood. Rory braced himself to push off the seat. “I-I think I should go home now.”
Victor’s smile faded, and he stood, holding his hands out. “No! Please, sit.” He moved to stand in front of Rory and the redhead shrank back, reflexively holding his arms close to his chest. Victor noticed and backed up one step, still holding his hands up in a disarming gesture. “I just think you should stay for fifteen minutes, alright? You look pale.”
Rory was shaking slightly now. “I-I want to go home…” He swallowed before adding, “Please.”
Victor’s brows knit together. “I’m not trying to keep you here, Rory. I swear. I just...you need to understand how important it is that you don’t tell anyone, okay?” The vampire’s intense mossy gaze bore deep into Rory’s eyes. Rory gave a frantic nod, feeling the pricking of tears stinging behind his vision. Victor didn’t move and just stared at Rory for what felt like a long time before he released a deep sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger. He stepped to the side. “I’m trusting you, Rory. Please don’t make me regret that.”
Rory tried to say, “I won’t,” but no sound came out, so he just nodded once more before rising unsteadily to his feet and shambling to the door, not daring to break his gaze away from that portal to freedom.
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