Warning: this story contains language, male/male romance, unconventional relationships, threesome potential (I'd say that's right along with 'unconventional relationships' though), and a completely skewed view on vampires. Not your typical stereotype in any shape of the word.

Dusk and Daylight

"Shit!" David ran harder, navigating through open-alleys in the longest short cut of his life. Overtime had been more like "stay here all night and then some" and now he had not even an hour before visiting hours at the hospital were over and he'd have let Alyssa go another night without him there. "Damn it!"

He leapt over a broken-down fence and dashed another block before skirting into another alley. One more block to the hospital. He would make it. It would be a painfully short visit, but at least he'd get to see her.

Still caught up on the time, David glanced at his watch as he continued to run through the alley, looking up just in time to register something in front of him before he crashed right in.

The whatever-it-was in the way ended up being another guy, who was at least quick on his feet for all that he was a dope for just standing there while someone barreled into him. The arms that caught him loosened and David pulled away with a muttered "thanks, sorry" before continuing his mad dash.

Or at least he tried to, before having to stop after taking three steps, because someone else was blocking his way out.

The man was tall –the stranger had an inch or two on him, anyway, and as David was five ten he tended to think of anyone he had to look up to as tall- darker skin; he had a definite tan going, with dark brown hair to match, though it was pulled back in a tail. Plain black pants, plain red shirt, though he was wearing a rather ornate necklace, and… he was smiling at him. David thought that was just a little obnoxious because he really didn't need this right now.

Just to make sure, he turned his head to look behind him. Yup. Guy he had crashed into was there, smiling, blocking his other way out. Guy he had crashed into also looked like he probably was connected to Guy who was blocking his way to the hospital, since he was wearing a matching necklace, though his shirt was green. This guy was also pretty tall, though his skin was a little lighter than his friend and his hair was dirty blond and loose. And damn if they weren't both grinning at him like he was a late afternoon snack. Which he probably was. Damn.

He jumped sideways and around so that his back was to the wall. Usually it sucked to get corned, but there were two of them, he didn't exactly carry weapons, and he wasn't that much of a fighter so back-to-the-wall really was the best strategy he had, and he needed to see them if they started talking to him. Thank god it was still light enough that he'd be able to do that at least.

But damn it, he only had forty minutes left and he really, really did not need vampires keeping him from Alyssa.

"Look," he said, holding up his hands as the two moved closer. "I really don't have time for this. If you're stable and can understand me you know you're not allowed to drain me dry and I don't have time for feeding you anyway. Find someone else. They're loads of people who come out for night prowl specifically so they can feed Stables. Go find them."

…damn it but those smiles were grins now. Great. Ponytail on the left opened his mouth and David instantly gave him his full attention. Lip reading was hard, especially when you've only been at it a month.

"We know we can't drain dry." He was saying. Or at least, that's what David could make out, and it made sense, so he figured he had got it right. "Not that we would want to." The grins got wider if anything. "We were hoping for dinner and entertainment."

"Absolutely not." Was his immediate reply. "Find someone else. I don't have time for you and I definitely don't want to be an extra on the side. There are willings out there, go to them."

It took him a moment before he realized that Ponytail wasn't talking anymore, so he was behind when he started paying attention to Blondie.

"…want to come with us?" They both took another step forward and David was pretty sure that they were doing that vampire seducing-coax-you-know-you-want-it thing to their voices. Well too bad for them he was immune.

After all, if you can't hear, you can't be pulled in.

Being deaf can make you sort of lucky I guess he thought to himself as he inwardly grinned. Stables, vampires in their right minds and aware of the rules, weren't allowed to feed off the unwilling. And if they couldn't convince him, he was unwilling. And he had wasted too much time already.

"Yeah, sorry, but no. And I have to leave. Move, please." They were still vampires and sometimes vampires liked to break their own rules—nothing wrong with being polite.

The two were obviously shocked enough by his refusal that they didn't have any comeback. Which was fine, because David was already past them and if he couldn't see them he couldn't 'hear' them either. Not giving the vampires another thought, he raced down the rest off the alley and took off for the hospital. If he booked it he'd still have half an hour for 'lyssa.

The two he left behind stared after him, bemused.

"Well, that doesn't happen very often." Beral grumbled, running a hand through his loose, messed-to-be-sexy hair.

"Obviously the guy was in a hurry." Alaster replied absently. "Probably nulled some of the coerce effect." He glanced slyly at his partner. "And you were laying it on rather heavy, weren't you?"

"He was cute." Beral snapped back. "And we haven't had someone refuse us in ages!"

Alaster was more amused than annoyed. "So tonight we got one-upped by something that was important. It's not a big deal. He was right—there are plenty of people out now to feed on."

"Don't give that easy-going attitude. You're just as curious as I am as to why he walked away without even flinching."

"Yes, but I'm also hungry." Alaster wrapped an arm around Beral and started them walking. "Come on. We can think about it after we eat." He grinned. "Maybe you're just losing you're touch.

Beral snorted but didn't move away from the arm. "Right. And maybe your hair turned purple."

Alaster pulled the tail around to check. Beral hit him.

"Let's go." He said. "And if you're so sure I'm losing my touch you can convince dinner."

Alaster smirked "And entertainment?"

Beral shrugged. "If you still want."

Alaster looked at him, then towards the end of the alley where their potential playmate had taken off, then back at Beral. "Eh. Just dinner sounds good for now."

The two nodded at each other and headed back out the alley.

"Yes!" David pumped his fist as he entered the room, grinning down at the small girl lying on the hospital bed. "I actually made it!" He ruffled the girl's hair and sat down. "Sorry I'm late 'lyssa. I ran as fast as I could, promise."

"I can tell." Alyssa said, grinning back at her brother. "You looked tireder and messier then usual, and you're breathing hard."

David quirked an eyebrow. "I look what and messier than usual?"

"Sorry." Alyssa said, grabbing a dry-erase board from the table by her bed and writing on it in big, somewhat sloppy letters, holding it up for David to see once she was finished. "Tireder. More tired."

David sighed. "Geez 'lyssa. You couldn't wait to go back to making up words until I've gotten a little better at this lip-reading stuff? I've only been deaf for a month—cut me some slack here.

"Sorry…"

David rolled his eyes and ruffled her hair. "Hey now, don't get glum on me—I've only got like fifteen minutes left and you're not wasting it being mopey. The accident was a month ago, I lost my hearing, I can deal." He poked her in the cheek. "You're the one still bedridden. And anyway," he grinned, "the hearing loss thing came in real handy today too. So I'm not complaining one bit."

Alyssas eyes lit up. "Ooh, what happened?"

"I'll tell you after you tell me about your day. I'm sorry I missed out on helping with your therapy again…work ran into overtime."

"Overtime for you means staying all evening and locking up as the last to leave," she replied matter-of-factly. "I know you have to and it's important. I don't care."

David smiled at her and stroked her hair. God, he was lucky to have Alyssa. They lost their parents in the crash, he had lost his hearing, and she was in the hospital still because of her legs, but they were managing. He had been able to learn to lip-read in less than a month because of her, as well as still have the drive to keep going for everything else. "Yeah," he said softly," I know you don't. I'm sorry anyway. So tell me about your day."

Alyssa grinned up at her brother. "I can curl my toes!"

Forty minutes later, after the nurses finally kicked him out, David was on his way back home. He was looking forward to collapsing into bed, even though it would probably be a good idea to fix some dinner first. Though tired as he was, he wasn't sure that he should try it. Might end up burning the house down, and that would just mean more bills. He had Alyssa had gotten a decent sum of money from the crash even with the lawyers, and thank god for fantastic health insurance because that was helping a lot with his sister's bills, but he had decided to keep the house, at least until 'lyssa was well enough to go through things with him, and payments did add up.

He yawned and turned another corner, then stopped dead. Two familiar faces looked back at him, their attention suddenly no longer on the necks of two rather dazed but happy looking young men.

David took a step back and held up his hands, wishing that it wasn't quite so dark. If they said anything to him he'd hopefully be able to make it out, but this was a squinting situation. Figures he'd interrupt a feeding when he was about dead on his feet. "Sorry." He said. "Didn't mean to interrupt."

Ponytail licked his lips and grinned. "Don't worry, you didn't."

Not sure that he had gotten the words right, David ran them through his head a few times before figuring that is was the best he had. "…okay then. Have a nice…dinner." He walked past them, making a face at himself once he was clear. Have a nice dinner? Okay, really tired. Bed. Now.

"Are you sure you don't want to join us?" Alaster called after him. "The offer's still open you know. These two are just snacks. Not entertainment."

The man didn't turn around, just kept walking until he was out of sight. Alaster frowned. Usually there was an acknowledgement at least. Not this walking off as if the man hadn't even heard what he had said!

A voice by his ear spoke up. "Unless this means you're admitting to losing your touch, I'd say you're even more curious than I am now."

"Shut up, Beral." Alaster muttered without malice. He was curious now. He was curious before, but that was twice their stranger had just…walked off, without even a shoulder twitch to show he was being affected. At all. This was just…discerning. And, to tell the truth, a bit…arousing. It had been years since he and Beral had enjoyed an actual wooing game; it was easy to just take the coercing trick for granted and get your prize that way. With Coercion not working they'd need, well….real coercion.

"Ha." Beral grinned and tugged Alaster's ponytail. "You're thinking about it now, aren't you?" He leaned in and whispered, "told you he was cute."

"I never said that he wasn't." Alaster murmured back. It would have been a surprise to the both of them if he really had disagreed. Their tastes were almost identical, as far as partners went. Fitting, as they shared.

And the interesting stranger certainly appealed. Just a little shorter than they were with dark hair, dark eyes to match, and a lean, well-sculpted body. Not that he was surprised on that note, considering how the man ran.

"So?" Alaster asked.

"So we finish dinner." Beral said matter-of-factly, petting the face of the man leaning against him. "We've neglected them long enough, don't you think?"

"And then?"

Beral grinned. "He's interesting and cute. I want to see if he's tolerable on top of that. He might be worth more than just entertainment."

Alaster matched the grin. "I like those thoughts."

"Foodfoodfoodfoodfood…." David chanted to himself as he dashed up the block to the bakery. He was starving. After he had gotten home he had practically dived into bed and stayed there till it was time to get up for work. And he really was in the mood for fresh and warm, so he skipped cold cereal at home in favor of muffins at the bakery right near the bookstore he worked at.

The place was empty this early in the morning, so he made a beeline for the counter. "Hey, Nick."

Nicholas turned from fiddling with the coffee pots and gave David a smile. "Morning." He replied. "You're here early, even for you."

David shrugged. "I wanted time to enjoy a nice breakfast."

"Fair enough. And your order would be?"

"Two blueberry muffins and a small coffee."

"Right away!" Nick saluted. "Though you're going to have to wait for the coffee—the machines just got turned on…oh, about now."

David shrugged. "Hey, at least it'll be fresh. I'll have one of my muffins while I wait."

Nick handed him said muffin. "Sure. Hot, fresh from the oven. I'll throw something at you when your coffee's ready."

"You could just tap me on the shoulder like a normal person, you know. Just because I can't hear you calling me doesn't mean you have to lob an oatmeal cookie at my head."

"You ate the oatmeal cookie."

David grinned. "So I did."

"You just hope I throw something tasty at you this time. Go eat. Your coffee'll be ready in a couple of minutes."

David nodded, paid, then grabbed his muffin, going over to one of the tables that looked out into the street. It was pretty early; there was only the occasional car, and no hint of people yet.

Someone poked him in the back, and he swallowed his bite of muffin and swiveled around. "That was fast Nick. Thought you said I had a wait, and you didn't…throw…" He turned completely around, facing down the rather bemused looking vampire. It was the one who kept his hair in a tail. What the hell was he doing here? "…What?"

"When people say good morning to you, do you always pretend not to hear them?" The vampire asked.

"When people you don't know are enjoying their breakfast, do you always sneak up on them and engage them in random conversation?"

The vampire looked put out. "Hey now, I didn't sneak up. I was perfectly polite when I said good morning. It wasn't my fault just talking to you doesn't get your attention."

That's because I have to be looking at you, David kept himself from replying. It wasn't as if the vampire knew he was deaf and generally it wasn't good idea to let random strangers know –especially random vampire strangers- that you had a very easily exploited situation. It tended to get you bitten on the neck by Unstables and, while this guy and his friend had backed off the first time, if they were following him around, who knows if they stuck to all the rules.

Instead of saying anything, he just shrugged and took another bite of muffin, though his eyes never left the other man's face.

"Hey now, you don't have to be all unfriendly." Alaster replied, pouting. What was with this guy? Completely ignored till you get him to make eye contact and then if he was any more intent on what you were saying it was almost weird. Definitely interesting. "Come on," he continued, putting up his hands. "I'm not here to threaten you or anything. Just saw you in the window and stopped by to say hello."

"…uh-huh. Right."

"I can't at least get a name?" He asked plaintively.

David just looked at him, opened his mouth to reply, and was cut off when a piece of biscotti hit him in the side of the head. He caught the treat before it fell to the floor then turned around to glare at the thrower. "Damn it, Nick!"

Nick just grinned cheekily, though his eyes flickered to Alaster. "Well it got your attention, didn't it?" He plopped a cup onto the counter. "Coffee's ready."

Muttering, David got up and went to the counter to get his coffee and second muffin. Alaster followed him. "Does he always get your attention like that?" the vampire asking, teasing. "Is that what I have to do then, throw pastries at you?" Once again, he was completely ignored.

Annoyed, Alaster grabbed his shoulder. "Hey—" He didn't even get the second word out before David had whirled around to face him, glaring.

"What?"

Alaster raised an eyebrow at the glare. "What do you have to be upset about? Or do you always just decide to ignore people when they're talking to you?"

An expression that Alaster couldn't place flickered across David's face. "Look, you have no reason to be talking to me. I'm not interested in being a snack in any sense of the word. You found some willings last night so I really doubt you're desperate for new blood, so to speak. Leave me alone. Nick," he said, speaking to his friend, though his eyes never left the vampire, "I'll have the rest of my stuff to go, please."

Nick looked from David to the guy hovering over him and back again and got the stuff ready, tapping David on the shoulder when it was done. When he turned around Nick handed him his order. As an afterthought he looked to the vampire.

"Hey," He said, "You're not going to cause any trouble right? Because you're to coherent to be unstable, and I doubt any hunters really want to be called here this early to deal with a stable who wanted to let loose for a day."

Alaster waved a hand. "No worries, I'm behaving." He looked at David. "Though I'd behave more if I'd at least have a name instead of having to address you in my mind as "that guy with the cute scowl who likes to ignore me." He smiled endearingly, oblivious to David and Nick's frowns. "Well?"

"Oh for the love of—" David grabbed at his hair. "Look, if I tell you will your curiosity be sated?"

Alaster smiled winningly. "Of course."

"God…" he muttered. "It's David. Okay? Hi, I'm David. Now back off."

The vampire did exactly the opposite, instead grabbing David's hand and holding it in an uncomfortably strong grip. "Nice to meet you then David. I'm Alaster. My partner, who is currently not here, is Beral. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

"Fine!" David almost-yelled, fed up. "Now leave."

Alaster let go of David, who jerked his hand back, bowed to both him and Nick, then left with a little wave.

Nick and David stared at the door for a good minute before looking back at each other.

"Okay man, what the hell?"

David let out a breath of angry air. "I've got no idea Nick, I really don't." He rubbed at his face and grabbed for the coffee; it seemed too early to have to deal with this. "I ran into him and his friend yesterday on my way to visit 'lyssa, then managed to bump into them again on the way home. I think they got ticked off when I 'ignored' them or something, because there's no way this little meeting just happened by accident."

"No kidding." Nick glanced towards the door again. "He doesn't know you're deaf then, huh?"

"You think I'm stupid? I don't waltz around with a big sign that says, "hey all unstables and all other things that go bump in the night—I can't hear you sneaking up on me!" He opened the bag on the counter and attacked his second muffin, swallowing before continuing, "why? Was he doing the voice trick thing again?"

"Yeah. I swear man, he was laying it on so thick I was noticing and it wasn't even aimed at me. You only can resist those things without twitching if you're completely uninterested or deaf!" David just looked at him. "Oh. Yeah."

David finished his muffin and signed. "Anyway, I've got to go. Books arrive early and all that."

"Think you'll be okay?"

"Yeah, should be. Looks like the whole big deal was just on my name anyway and to check for sure if I really wasn't interested. Figure I made it clear enough."

"Okay, well…be safe and all that."

David waved and turned to go. "Yeah, thanks. See you."

He was out back unloading the latest delivery—trudging back and fourth between the loading door and the stock room when he stopped dead, almost dropping the load he was carrying. Damn it.

"What?" He said, putting the box down and glaring. "Are you both stalking me now? Is that what this is?"

The vampire—what did the other guy say his name was? Beral, or something that looked like it, raised an eyebrow. "But I haven't seen you yet today."

"No, but your friend did and he said you two'd push off. So go away." So saying, David picked the box back up and sped into the stock room.

Beral promptly followed.

Not noticing that he had a shadow, David carried the box into the room, set it down for unloading, then turned around to get the last box and ran smack into Beral. "Gah!" He pushed away and scrambled backwards, eyes locked on the other man's face. "Don't do that! What is with you two and sneaking up on people?! Some sort of hobby, along with stalking?"

"I guess it would be a hobby in the way the world ceases to exist once you turn around is a hobby." Beral responded, amused. Alaster had filled him in a little of how David acted and honestly, he was only more intrigued now that he knew the man wasn't just doing it to them. Made it a lot easier to keep from being annoyed.

And the fact that David blushed an angry, embarrassed red was a bonus too.

"Look," he huffed. "I have work to do. Don't bother me." He started to move forward, intending to head back outside again, but then hesitated. It probably wasn't a good idea to turn his back on Beral again. "Leave. You're not allowed back here anyway."

"What if I want to buy a book?"

"Then you go to the store. This is stock. I don't work up front, I don't do customer service, I work with inventory." He used to—was actually pretty well-liked by a lot of the regular customers, but if you're stocking a shelf and don't know a customer is behind you asking a question, well…he was lucky he had kept the job at all. "Even if you really do want a book, you can't be here. Go away."

Beral just stood there and smiled. And he was blocking the door out now and that last box was sitting there completely unprotected and damn it all.

David sighed. "Look. What do you want? I really have work to do and I can't deal with you right now. If you and your friend have to bother me, do it on off hours."

"When do you get off then?" Beral promptly asked.

Oh for— "You can't seriously mean you're planning on continuing this."

Beral just looked at him. "Why not? We find you interesting."

Wonderful. A pair of vampire crazies found him interesting. Great. "And for the last time I'm not interested. So stop bothering me and let me go back to work and you two can go off in search of someone who is interested. You found two last night—they're not hard to find!"

"Yes, but we did need two." And oh damn, that grin was more of a leer, wasn't it? "We prefer one. We like to share. But one who can keep up with us are painfully hard to find. You're very rare you know."

"I'm rare—what. Okay, no!" David grabbed the first heavy object his hand found –an English-Swahili dictionary- and brandished it. "Get out! Don't follow me again-don't pursue me or whatever you two think you're doing! I'm not interested, I'm not going to be, and if you come near me again I'm putting the most over-the-top hunter I know on speed dial!"

"Figures the first time in ages we find someone feisty and cute he has some sort of complex." Beral muttered under his breath. David squawked.

"I do not have a complex. Just because I'm not baring my neck to you doesn't mean I have a complex!"

Instead of responding to that outburst, Beral just looked surprised. He peered intently at David. "For someone who ignores the world so easily once his back is turned, you sure have some powerful hearing."

Oh shit. The vampire hadn't said that out loud? What, had he just mumbled it or something? Shit! How was he supposed to know something like that?

"What will it take to get you to leave and let me get back to work?" He forced the question out through gritted teeth.

Beral tucked the information of David freezing up after his teasing about super-human hearing away for later and asked again, "What time to do you get off?"

David glared. "Why?"

"So that we won't keep you during work."

"I am not letting you know when I get off just so you can come after me then."

"Fine then," Beral said, taking another step into the room. "Then I'll just stay here and keep you company now."

"You stay away from me!"

Beral held up his hands. "This is as far as I'll come, but I'm staying."

David glared at him and did some quick calculations in his head. He was working a double shift today to get a good start on the new inventory so that he'd be able to get off at six. He'd planned to get dinner and eat at the hospital with 'lyssa and spend a good few hours there. But if the bastard vampire was asking for times, chances are they'd actually show up if the morning was anything to go on.

"…eight?"

Beral raised an eyebrow. "Are you not certain when you get off?"

"I have things to do after work. The earliest I'm free is eight. I don't see why you should care anyway. There, you know a time." He jabbed at the door. "Now leave."

Beral nodded. "Until eight then, David." He did some sort of half-bow thing, then turned and strolled out of the room as if he hadn't had a care in the world. David pelted after him, grabbed the box that was still there, thank god, and ran back inside slamming the door and locking it behind him.

Eight. Wonderful.

As he started opening boxes he tried to work this out in his brain—if he skipped lunch and ran hard he'd probably be able to manage getting off at five and having an early dinner with Alyssa. Then a few hours with her and if he booked it he should be able to be home by eight. The vampires didn't know where he lived at least, so they couldn't follow him home.

Damn it! Why'd they have to latch onto me anyway? He so completely did not need this. Exhaling angrily and trying to push the aggravating vampires out his mind, he attacked his work.

"Eight o' clock, hm?" Alaster mused aloud. "He really likes late work."

"He said he had something to do after work."

"Hm. Did he say what?

Beral scowled. "I barely managed a time, I don't think he was planning on elaborating any time soon. Stubborn. I don't see why he resists so much. It's not like we'd do anything he'd dislike."

Alaster wrapped his hands around Beral and rested his chin on his shoulder. "Yes, but it looks as though we're going to have to convince him of that."

"Mm. But he really is stubborn about it. It's possible that he's already got someone he's attached to. Attached enough that he can resist us, anyway."

Alaster shook his head. "I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"Did he mention even once to you that he had someone else waiting for him? Because he didn't tell me a thing. And that's usually the first thing someone attached will say. Stables aren't allowed to Coerce those already attached if it's mentioned, remember?"

"True. That's a point." Beral moved away from Alaster and sat down, Alaster following him down onto the couch, leaning over until his head once again rested on Beral's shoulder. "Then what do you think it is?"

Alaster thought. "Well, it is possible that he truly is completely uninterested in us."

Beral frowned at that. "No, I don't think so."

"Oh?"

"He was too desperate. Yesterday when we met he was in a hurry, that much was obvious. Today he just wanted us gone, as quickly as possible. We've dealt with the truly uninterested before, haven't we? Blows to the ego aside, if we don't leave all they do is happily ignore us. He didn't. He gave us his name in an attempt to get us to leave. Not the usual way to deal. If he were truly uninterested he would have just gone on ignoring us to prove his point. But have you noticed? As soon as you do catch his attention he's so intensely focused on what you say…" Beral smiled slightly. "Quite enticing, actually. That aside, he's hiding something."

Alaster nodded. "Yes. Yes, we just don't know what."

They looked at each other and soon wore matching smiles.

"What do you say we show up a little earlier then eight, Beral? Just to see that he gets to his appointment safely before meeting with us?"

"Oh, I'd say that that's a fine idea."

David checked his watch as he turned a corner. Seven-thirty. Perfect. He'd managed two hours with 'lyssa including her physical therapy—she'd be walking again, no matter how long it took. They were both stubborn and intent on living their lives. For 'lyssa, that included walking.

He smiled to himself as he picked up the pace. It was still a little soon to think about moving her out of the hospital, but he could begin rigging things up at home anyway, just to start…making up the den into a bedroom, re-arranging things a little so it would be easier for her, yeah…and there was plenty of room for physical therapy on the floor if he just moved around some furniture…

He turned another corner and stopped, realizing that with his mind on autopilot he had taken the same route he normally used. Which was all well and good, and it was shorter than any other route, but waltzing through alleys after dark was just kinda stupid. He turned around to back track and get back onto a main street when the least welcome thing possible stepped into view, effectively blocking his way out.

"God," he muttered to himself, trying to get a good look at whoever was there. "I do this for two years and never have a lick of trouble and now suddenly I'm cut off in an alley two nights in a row." He squinted, trying to see better but it was tough; the sun was close to set, there wasn't a lot of light, and Annoyance was wearing enough black to blend. A shock of blonde hair helped to see where the guy was, but if David was going to be able to see if the guy said anything, he'd have to be closer.

The stranger obliged, stepping forward faster then David had seen in a while and leaning in close. David stumbled back I didn't mean it! but not before he saw the fangs, bared in a leer, or the faint glow in the vampire's eyes. Shit! Vampire's eyes only glowed when they were really angry, or really hungry, and this guy looked too pleased with himself to be any kind of upset.

David held up his hands and started to back away, keeping his eyes on the vamp. "Not interested. Find someone else."

The vamp grinned and moved forward again, this time stopping only when his nose was a few inches from David's. The glow in his eyes was really, really bright, and his fangs were really, really obvious. He stepped back again, only to have the vampire reach out and snag his arm. David glared. "Didn't you hear me? Not. Interested."

"Don't care."

Well, fuck.

David stared at him. "You're not an Unstable. This is major breach in rules. Just let me go and we can both walk away."

The grin grew wider, if possible, and David's only positive thought was well, at least there's enough light and he's close enough that I can understand what he's saying though that wasn't much of a comfort, considering the vampire had just said something along the lines of no.

He took a deep breath, one last try…"Really, you can get anyone interested in a block—there are willings all over the place. You don't have to get yourself in trouble with hunters just because the first guy you found wasn't interested."

"Ah, but you have been with the Jayce's. This changes things."

"Who the hell are the—" Another ridiculously fast movement from the vampire and something was shoved into his mouth. Without even thinking he bit down and inhaled, coughing so hard on the juices of whatever the thing was, that the vampire actually let go so David could sink to the ground and hack out a lung. The vampire seemed patient to wait while he did so.

"What…the hell…was that?" David choked out when he finally was able to get some of his breath back. He glared up at the vampire. The sun was almost gone—this was probably the last answer he'd get.

The vampire just crouched down to his level, settling his hands on David's shoulders. David just barely kept himself from pushing them off; he needed an answer first and for that, in this light, the closer they were the better. But as soon as he got an answer!

"Just something to make you interested."

"What—" He was cut off by a mouth crashing down on his own, hard and bruising and not the least bit welcome. David twisted away and tried to stand but the movement just made him dizzy, and then the vampire was at him again, yanking him down and pushing him to the floor and David felt gratified that he at least got a punch in before the vampire descended again, and oh lovely, his fangs were bared this time and he was probably aiming for his neck now wasn't he, and why did this have to happen now; it couldn't have been last month, when 'lyssa wasn't depending on him?

There was a flurry of movement and suddenly the vampire was flying halfway across the ally and someone else was behind him, helping him sit up and draping an arm around his shoulder. Which was nice—the vampire across the ally because it meant that he didn't have to deal with him anymore, and the arm because David rather thought that he'd fall over if it wasn't there. Whatever the damn vamp had fed him, it worked fast. He was already feeling hot, and sort of weak, and things were sort of blurring in front of his eyes. He felt puffs of air near his ear, which he assumed was his rescuer telling him something.

"Thanks." He said aloud. More puffs, but David's attention was taken by the vamp, who had stood up. He leapt, fangs bared and claws out, only to be stopped by a dark blur. The vamp slammed into a brick wall and crumpled down, not moving. It looked like he'd stay that way for a while.

The man who had taken out the vampire stood and walked over to David and…whoever, finally coming into full view even with the drug-induced blurriness. And if David was in his right mind, he would have said that he was only mildly surprised. "Beral." Meaning the guy behind him was, "Alaster. Thank you. I think."

Beral came closer, also kneeling down to David's level. His mouth was moving, David could make that out, but it was too dark and his mind was too busy to try and figure out what he was saying. Oh well. Guess there really wasn't anything left to lose.

"Thank you. But I can't hear you. I don't know what you're saying."

Beral got a confused expression on his face and he looked behind David, probably to exchange glances with Alaster. David sighed,

"I mean it. I can't hear you." He squinted. "And it's getting blurrier too. Great." A hand ran through his hair and David jumped as much as he could while being embraced from behind. "Don't do that! Ugh…" He groaned. "It's really…hot…"

Beral's face—what he could make out of it anyway, took on a look of concern, and he leaned forward and gently grasped David's chin in his hands. David jerked back, narrowly avoiding hitting Alaster in the nose. "Don't…touch me…too hot…" He gasped and gave up, closing his eyes. Dark and silent. Okay. He could deal. Just concentrate on breathing and get your head back together. He could deal…

Alaster shook David's shoulder. "David? David, come on!" He fixed Beral with a nearing-frantic look. "He's still awake but he's not responding at all."

Beral stared at David and felt his forehead. David flinched but did nothing else. "Damn it! He's warm. Really warm, and if he was this was warm before that bastard Neil found him I'll eat my shoes." David's breath was coming in ragged pants now, and the man was leaning against Alaster almost bonelessly. "Oh, this is not good."

"Well?" Alaster demanded. "It was a drug, that's obvious! You're better than me at recognizing symptoms—what'd he give him?"

Beral reached out a hand to smooth out David's bangs, then snatched it back. "Considering how fast it worked, that he feel's so warm, the addling of sense, that he's reacting to touching…God's that don't exist—probably fenta. Ripe. Bastard probably shoved a whole fruit into his mouth."

Alaster's eyes flashed. "I'll kill him."

Beral matched the look. "Yes. But later. We need to get him home." He snarled and stood up, watching carefully as Alaster stood with David, holding him bridal-style. "Fuck if this isn't just a fine thing to happen."

Alaster carefully adjusted his hold on David –the man was well and truly gone now- and nodded to Beral. "Come on. Let's get him home. We should…hurry."

David groaned and sat up, pressing a hand over his eyes. God, that drug must have really screwed him over; he didn't even remember getting home. And his head hurt, and it was still too hot, and…this wasn't his bed.

His eyes popped open and he took in his surroundings in one panicked room-sweep. The room was huge, and the bed he was in was just as big. He was under a thin sheet, not wearing a shirt and it was still too hot damn it, but his pants were still on at least, and there were two chairs and a table pushed up right next to the bed, as if someone had been sitting monitoring-level close recently.

A door on one side of the room opened and Alaster walked in, carrying a bowl and a towel. Beral was behind him, holding a tray. David eyed them both warily s they came closer, but he had to shift most of his attention to their mouths; his head was pounding and if he didn't concentrate hard, he'd miss anything they said. Speaking of which…

"Where am I? What happened?"

The two set their burdens down on the table then stood back. It was Alaster who opened his mouth.

"You're in our home, in one of the guest rooms. You're here because the bastard that attacked you," his eyes took on a light glow, "was idiot enough to feed you ripe fenta."

And if that wasn't an unfamiliar word. "…ripe what?"

"Fenta." Beral said. "It's a fruit that's juice acts as a…acts as a very strong aphrodisiac. It's specialized, making the drinker almost completely compliant."

"What?" David yelped. "But—but nothing…I mean…" He focused very, very intently on the vampires. "What happened?"

Alaster held up his hands. "Nothing. He didn't touch you." Neither did we. "We beat him and we're going out again as soon as you're all right, to finish the job." His eyes flashed again. "He broke the rules. Big time."

"But…what happened? I don't uh, I don't feel that different. Aside from a headache. And you're sort of blurry. And it's too hot."

Beral nodded. "Fenta, especially ripe, is very strong, but it needs time to be absorbed into the body and only works on trigger. Skin-to-skin contact. Since we got you settled, we've both been careful not to touch you. As long as you don't have a trigger, the symptoms and the rest of the fruit's poison will pass within twenty-four hours."

"Oh. …okay." David hesitated and then asked, "and what happens after it's triggered?"

Beral and Alaster exchanged looks. "The body begins to react almost immediately after the trigger happens," Alaster replied carefully. "Coherent thought is usually impossible after the first few minutes. It's that bad. After that it doesn't matter what the situation was or who the other person is, you will consent. If the answer isn't yes during the first three or four minutes after the drug is triggered it will be after the fifth. That's why it's so popular and so dangerous, especially if it's ripe; the drug leaves the system pretty quickly, but while it's there it's very potent. After everything's over it's your word against your attacker's over whether it was consent or not."

David winced. "I see. Is…there anyway to negate the symptoms, once the drug is trigged?"

"…not really. A victim's best chance is to get as far away as possible or to get to someone who'll listen while he's still coherent. Once you start feeling the affects of the drug though…"

"If you don't want to have sex at all, with anyone, getting away from people in general is your best bet." Beral finished. "And then, well…at least you're on your own."

The two vampires looked at David while he took this all in, hoping he wouldn't have too badly of a reaction. What they got was…surprising, to say the least.

"Okay." He said, nodding. "I got it, I guess. As long as I don't touch anybody, I'm good." A pause, then, "Thanks."

Beral's eyebrows shot up and before thinking the question through, he blurted out, "you aren't worried that we might try something? I mean…ah…" he stumbled, trying to save the outburst, "…you know there's interest."

David shrugged. "Not much I can do about either way." He said. "At least I don't have to be somewhere now. Though I'll have to call in sick from work if this will take a full day to pass. Besides, you haven't done anything yet and I can either assume the worst and figure that you were just waiting for me to wake up, or I can hope for the best and go with the idea that you're both nicer than that. I'm going with the latter."

"That is an awfully…unique way of thinking." Alaster said, carefully.

David shrugged again. "What can I say? I'm an optimist. Life is beautiful and full of possibilities and all that. The Remedy is my theme song. S'gotten me through some rough times. Still is." He gave them a wry grin. "My sister's the same way. Believe me, you can't be going through what she is right now and not have an unique way of thinking."

Beral and Alaster exchanged looks; we're asking more about this later. They then turned their attention back to David. "All right." Beral said. "You're lucid, so that's a good sign. We're going out to…deal with Neil."

"The tray has food, if you're up to it." Alaster added, gesturing to it. "And the bowl's just got ice water in it."

Which will feel really nice. David smiled at them. "Thanks. I really appreciate it." He hesitated, then added, "You really didn't have to do this. Thank you."

Beral's eyes flashed. "What?" He demanded. "You think we'd just leave you?"

"Plenty of people would have." David pointed out matter-of-factly. "I'm an optimist, not stupid. You guys didn't. Considering that I've been less than friendly, you didn't even have reason to, but you're helping me out anyway. So I'm thanking you."

Alaster considered this and smiled. "You realize, of course," he teased, "that we're going to use this opportunity to worm our way further into your life."

David eyed him, then waved a hand. "I've had two minutes, and you both seem fine when you're actually being down-to-earth and not treating me like a late night snack. Can't say I can see why you want to bother with all that, considering you really aren't that desperate for new blood in any sense of the word, but eh. It'll pass eventually I figure, and maybe we can end up as friends after that, if you're interested in it."

He got matching looks from the two that he couldn't identify.

"Um." Alaster said. "You seem like you will be fine by yourself now, yes? We really should go deal with Neil now."

"All right." David replied. After a moment's thought he added, "be careful."

For that he got another intense look, then they both nodded and left the room.

David exhaled, wondering just what he had gotten into and how far in it he was, and reached for the ice water.

Alaster and Beral began talking as soon as they left the room and began to head into the night.

"I don't believe it." Alaster said, shaking his head. "No one could possibly be that endearing and be completely unaware of it. He tells us that he can't understand why we would be interested in him as more than a meal and then he tells us to be careful? Does the man not listen to himself when he talks?"

"And we can't even touch him tonight." Beral grumbled. "Or tomorrow. Not even to brush back his bangs or put a hand on his shoulder, not until the fenta wears off. Neil is going to be so very dead."

The conversation continued once they reached the streets. They weren't worried about finding their target, no…Neil would certainly be out there. It was just a matter of how long it would take and then, how quickly it would be over. In the meantime, while they searched, David continued to dominate the topic of conversation.

"He did say he was getting through something difficult." Beral was saying. "And from what I have seen, it does appear that he's usually rather easy-going." He grinned. "We've just been lucky, catching his temper these past few days."

"That might be why we were catching his temper." Alaster observed, a little softer. "Perhaps the difficulty stemmed from unwanted attentions. It is very possible our actions reminded him of something unpleasant. He's beautiful and has a personality to match. I would not be surprised if Neil was not the first to approach him."

Beral's eyes flashed yellow and stayed that way. "If anyone else ever tries anything ever again, they're going to end up just like Neil will."

Alaster's eyes matched his own and he nodded towards the opening of an alley small sounds were floating out of. "Yes."

Neil looked up from the woman he was drinking from, his eyes widening slightly before narrowing. "You two."

Beral's eyes slid to the woman. She didn't curl towards Neil when the vampire moved from her; that was a good sign. She was probably just a willing then, that he had gotten to provide a meal. "You aren't involved." He told her. "Leave now."

The woman took a second to register what he was saying, but her eyes quickly slid from Beral and Alaster to Neil and back again, and she got up, leaving the alley as fast as she could without running. Beral nodded to Alaster. It was good she knew not to get involved.

Neil hadn't moved while the woman left, instead staring coolly at Alaster and Beral. "What do you want," he asked.

"You broke the rules, Neil." Alaster replied softly, taking a step forward. "That was very wrong of you."

Neil swallowed, but glared. "He was willing."

"No." Beral replied, also taking a step. "No, he was not. Any fool could see that, even with the fenta. Which, by the way, is also very against the rules."

Neil's eyes darted back and forth as he tried to watch them both at the same time.

"What I don't understand," Alaster continued, "is why you would be stupid enough to do that. You were aware of our interest in him."

"He hasn't been claimed by you yet!" Neil exclaimed, defensive. "I did nothing wrong!"

"Ah. That was your game, was it?" Alaster showed his teeth. "To claim him before we could? For what Neil? To get back at us over a petty argument? That's why you not only fed ripe fenta to an unwilling, but an unwilling who is ours, claimed or not?"

"That's—"

"Neil." Beral said, more growling than speaking. "You broke several major rules, and worse than that was your reason for doing it. We are allowed to deal with you, especially since your victim takes our side." His eyes narrowed, then surprisingly, he smirked. "You are very, very stupid."

Neil fled.

They followed.

The two cleaned themselves up a little before they went back in to check on David. In all honesty they were really hoping that he had fallen asleep. They opened the door and peeped in, however, to find him still sitting up in bed, gazing towards the far end of the room lost in thought. He didn't even turn his head to acknowledge them when they entered.

On the way back the two of them had talked more about the situation they were in and just how they planned on relating to David. Both, while they were not adverse to his temper, very much enjoyed the easy-going, down-to-earth attitude they found in David when he wasn't feeling threatened.

And on top of that, they liked the idea of having lover who could actually engage them in conversation without loosing focus, as most willings did. Except David wasn't a lover yet, technically wasn't even a willing, and didn't understand just how rare he was to them. Vamps normally didn't take long-term human lovers; it was easy for the human to mistake coercion as more-than-just-lust attraction, and it was just as easy for a Vampire to continue for the meals

But David was different. He didn't even respond to coercion, not even to resist it, much less look like he could mistake it for something else, and they had no reason to look to him for simply a meal when there really were so many willings in the world who would do just fine. And David was…different.

David was also there, in front of them, sitting up in bed without a shirt, the covers pooling around his waist, and making no move to show that he even knew they were in the room with him.

Alaster licked his lips and Beral whispered, "we're just here to wish him goodnight" more to himself than to Alaster, as if for personal reassurance. And it was odd, both wanting something and not being able to have it, but also feeling such a strong pull to another but knowing why they were exercising this restraint. They wanted time. Time to see if he really could be one to stay for good; to be sure that they really did want him that much, on more than just first-lust physical, though even after only two days almost three they were becoming more and more sure. And if the feelings could be returned…

"David?" It was Beral who spoke. "We're back. Just wanted to wish you good night."

No response.

They exchanged a look. "…David?" Nothing.

Puzzled, but not completely surprised as they were sort of getting used to this behavior, the two approached the bed and Alaster waved a hand in front of David's face. David jerked back, then blinked and turned to the two of them immediately.

"Sorry." He said. "I didn't…hear you come in."

Alaster grinned, teasing. "That much was obvious. You looked very focused."

David ran a hand through his hair, missing how both Alaster and Beral followed the motion. He took a deep breath. "No. That's not what I meant. I really didn't hear you come in." Beral opened his mouth to say something but David cut him off, pushing on. "I mean, I can't hear. I'm deaf."

Their eyes widened. Alaster was the first to recover. "But…you speak. Um." He stopped, unsure of how to continue.

"I lost my hearing in a car crash a little over a month ago, so I've got speech down. I've been learning sign, and how to lip-read, but I'm not that good at it yet, and I have trouble with words I'm unfamiliar with, and names. Speaking of which, have I been pronouncing yours right?"

"…yes."

David smiled. Alaster and Beral stared. It was a….nice…smile. "Great! Means I'm improving. Anyway, yeah, that's it. I'm learning to lip-read but if I don't focus, or it's too dark or I'm not looking dead-on at the person's mouth, I have trouble. That's why I don't notice people even when they're right behind me, and why I'm jumpy sometimes, especially with people I don't know. But I figured, considering the situation, you two should probably know. Normally I don't share it with people I meet on the street, for obvious reasons, but I wouldn't call you strangers anymore, and after all this, you have a right to know why it looks like I'm ignoring you sometimes."

"…oh." Neither Beral nor Alaster knew what to say.

"You don't have to be weird about it." David continued. "I mean, you don't have to worry about offending me if you find it weird. I won't care. Promise."

"No. No, it's, it's not that." Alaster said. "Just that that is very…amazing of you." He started to reach a hand out David then remembered the fenta and snatched it back. Later. "You are very strong."

"Please." David rolled his eyes. "This is nothing, believe me. You should see my sister, Alyssa. Our whole family was in the crash—parents, 'lyssa, and me. I got off easy. Lyssa's still in the hospital. Her legs…she's still working on getting use of them again. The doctor's said she'd never walk again, that she'd never even be able to move her legs at all, but she's more stubborn than I am—she's working from the toes up. Say's she'll be able to walk at least a few steps by the time she turns twenty, if she keeps at it."

"How old is she?" Alaster asked softly. "If you don't mind my asking?"

David smiled sadly. "Eight."

They talked for a little longer before David actually started to drift off, the other two then excusing themselves so he could rest.

When they were back in their own room, yawning and changing into nightclothes Beral broke the silence with a light, "it really is amazing how little people know about Vamps, even though we're so integrated into society." It had occurred to David about halfway through their conversation that not just one but both of them had not only approached him that day during, well, daylight, but that they also kept a relatively normal schedule. Alaster had smirked and gone on to explain how most Vamps really were just like Normals with the exception of needing blood as an added sustenance. It was just that their fangs emerged at night, as opposed to the daylight, where the fangs retracted unless needed.

"Mostly it was an evolutionary advantage." Beral had explained then. "People came to expect Vampires at night, so we kept out of sight then, keeping normal hours, feeding on people who knew what we were and thought the racism was unjust. I think the vampire who started the can't-go-out-in-sunlight rumor did it just to make it easier for us to hide." He had grinned then. "Also we have reason to believe that he burned very easily."

"That makes a lot of sense." David had replied. "I mean, I always knew about vampires, and I know how you guys happened and all that—basic school stuff, you know? But after that I didn't know much, only that they were around and I didn't plan on getting caught by one. Or two."

"If you don't mind my asking," Alaster had cut-in, "why are you so averse to… that?"

"I'm not, really. I don't see a problem with feedings at all. You need it, and if you get it from willings, it's not any of my business."

"Then…?"

David had raised an eyebrow. "It would require letting someone bite my neck. Some people are comfortable with that. Me, not so much." The other two had nodded in understanding and the subject had been dropped.

"Mm." Alaster replied, letting Beral know he'd been listening.. "It's almost silly how little everyday people know. Still, it gives us an advantage, so I'm not complaining too much about the ignorance. And it's not as if it really matters to them, one way or another." He smiled and shook his head ruefully. "I still almost can't believe he's deaf."

"At least it explains why he acted to funny when we tried to talk to him before." Beral replied. "And no wonder coercion didn't work! He couldn't even hear us! Though…" he shook his head. "I get the feeling that even if he was able to hear, coercion wouldn't have taken affect."

"Yes." Alaster agreed. "I don't know why, but I feel the same way." After some fussing, he finally took off his nightshirt and flung it aside. It was a warm enough night not to need it. Besides…

Beral didn't even have that decision to make, being that he never wore shirts to sleep. He had already slipped into bed while they had been talking and was staring expectantly at Alaster.

"Impatient?" Alaster teased gently, as he climbed into the bed.

Beral reached out to stroke Alaster's face. "Holding back just from one person is difficult enough, but two?" His hands left his lover's face to tug him closer. "Normally we don't have to behave when we're trying to woo someone."

Alaster shifted around until he was facing Beral and pressed a kiss to his lips, moving down his chin to his shoulder, collarbone, chest. "The point is that we are wooing," he said between kisses, "and not preying." He looked up at Beral, eyes hot. "Though I agree, taking it slow is a strain, especially when it means I can't touch you either."

Beral moaned and pulled Alaster up, claiming him with a kiss of his own before saying, "I think tomorrow we should let him know. About us, at least. See how he reacts."

"What if it's badly?"

"Do you really think he would?"

Alaster shook his head. "No. But there is always the possibility." The vampire leaned forward and buried his face in Beral's neck, speaking his next words against his lover's skin. "We don't have to be blunt. Just small, affectionate touches. He's smart. He'll figure it out on his own and then we'll get to see his reaction without outright saying anything. There's a difference between being uncomfortable because you're close-minded and being uncomfortable because you just aren't sure how to react to something."

Beral dragged his hands through Alaster's unbound hair. "At this point…I'm more uncomfortable for an entirely different reason."

Alaster grinned.

"Breakfast!" Alaster cried, opening the door with one and while he balanced a tray in the other. A quick glance revealed that David wasn't in bed. Alaster set the tray down on the end table, starting to call out David's name before he stopped, remembering that David wouldn't be able to hear it. "I wonder how people get his attention." He muttered to himself, before remembering the bakery incident where the man behind the counter had literally thrown something at David's head. The vampire grinned at the memory, though he still wondered where David had gotten to.

Another door at the other end of the room opened and David stepped out, waist wrapped in a towel, effectively answering Alaster's question and shorting out his brain. David didn't notice.

"Morning." He said, looking at Alaster. "Sorry, I know I didn't ask in advance or anything, but I wasn't sure if trying to wander around your house was a good idea."

"…what?" Alaster replied dumbly.

"The shower." David elaborated. "And I'd be better dressed, promise," a grin, "but I didn't hear you come in."

"Oh, uh, no-no, that's quite all right." Alaster smiled. "Glad you found it and used it and everything. Are you feeling any after-effects of the fenta still in your system?"

"Not really, actually," David replied, as if standing around in a towel having a conversation was a perfectly normal thing to do. "A few head rushes here and there, but for the most part I feel fine."

Alaster nodded. "Good…that's good. You're recovering really fast then, though I do recommend you take it easy for the rest of the day anyway."

David shrugged. "I'm not complaining about taking it easy for a day. It'll be nice to slow down for a little while—haven't done much of that lately. But…could I borrow a phone, to call in to work?"

"Of course you can," replied Alaster. "After you eat, I'll bring you a cordless. And, ah, Beral is getting you some clothes, so…" His eyes flickered over David, "you, um, can get dressed."

David smiled. "That'd be great. I wasn't looking forward to changing back into my own things anyway."

Alaster nodded. "Yes, he should be here any—"

"Alaster? David?"

"—minute now."

Beral barged into the room, arms full of an assortment of clothing. His eyes quickly found Alaster and David near the door of the bathroom and he walked over to them, speaking to David, "I wasn't certain of what sort of thing you like, so I grabbed a variety of things from our clo…sets…" He stopped dead, finally taking in just exactly what David was wearing at the moment. Or wasn't wearing, rather.

"Thanks a lot." David smiled and held out a hand. "Just toss me anything—I'm not picky."

Beral fumbled with his bundle before handing David an outfit, which David took gratefully and disappeared into the bathroom with.

Beral rounded on Alaster and stared at him. Alaster held up his hands.

"If I tell you I had something of a similar reaction when I first came in, will that make you feel any better?"

"Only mildly." Beral threw the rest of the clothes he had brought down onto the bed then turned to face Alaster. "So what are the plans for today?" He asked.

"No idea. We got up to discussing that he wanted to call in to his work, though…" Alaster paused. "I wonder how he'd go about doing that. He can make the phone call fine, but he wouldn't be able to hear what the other person is saying."

Beral shrugged. "No ideas here."

"Huh. Well…I'll be right back—going to get a phone."

"Kay."

David came out of the bathroom just as Alaster left the room. Beral took a minute to appreciate. It wasn't nearly as nice as him practically naked and dripping, but David clothed still made quite the picture.

"Where's Alaster going?"

"Hm? Oh, to get the phone. Eat your breakfast."

David went back over to the bed and took the lid off the tray, revealing a very nice breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, sliced fruit, and juice. He looked over at Beral.

"Did you two—"

'We ate already." Beral replied, shrugging.

"Ah." David nodded to himself. "Thank you, then."

The two didn't speak much as David ate, Beral forgoing talk in favor of watching and thinking and David forgoing talk for food. Alaster came in a few minutes later carrying a phone and stopped near David, looking rather bemused.

"Hm?" David asked, looking up.

Alaster held up the phone. "I brought it like you asked," he said, "but I can't for the death of me figure out how you're going to manage it."

David stared at the phone for a full minute before that sunk in, and then he smacked his forehead. "Man! I completely forgot! Sorry-I can't believe it didn't even cross my mind until now…" He looked apologetically to Alaster. "I usually have a cell phone—text messages, you know? But the only time I've actually spoken into a phone since the crash, it's been more of a three-way thing."

"What do you mean?" Beral asked.

"Um. I've only done it a few times. I dial the number and someone with me listens until the other person picks up. After someone answers the other line, the guy with me would basically just tell the person to hang on, and pass me the phone. Then I get it and tell the person I called everything all at once, passing the phone back to my friend after I'm done so they can tell me the person's reply." David rubbed his neck. It's annoying for everyone and can get kind of confusing. But I don't have my cell on me either—the battery completely died yesterday so I brought it in with me to work and I left it charging there. Only realized I left it after I reached the hospital, and I figured I could just get it today. Damn." He sighed. "Oh well. I guess one no-call in day won't kill me. I've got a pretty good record. They'll believe me if I say I was too sick to call…"

Alaster raised an eyebrow. "You realize that it really wouldn't be any trouble for one of us to help you with the phone, right? Please tell me that that at least crossed your mind."

"Um…"

Beral rolled his eyes. "Honestly. Thanks for thinking of us. We're only right here."

"Look, it didn't cross my mind, okay?"

"Obviously." Alaster held up the phone. "Who am I calling?"

David rattled off the number and, as an afterthought, asked Alaster to get the name of whoever picked up. Then he waited not quite apprehensively as the phone rang.

"Hello?" Alaster said. "Hi. Who am I speaking to please?…Hi Mary-Ann. Look, I'm a friend of David's and….yes, I know he left his phone there, that's why we're doing this….yes. Just a second, okay? I'm putting David on." He passed the phone to David, who took it and took charge.

"Hey Mary-Ann, yeah, it's me. I know I forgot my phone—realized it after I was half an hour away. Anyway, I'm sort of sick and I can't come in today. Came down with it really suddenly, but I'll be in tomorrow. Just be sure to save the top fifteen list for me for tomorrow, okay? I can figure that out before I start the next day's work. Here—I'm giving you back to my friend; uh, his name's Alaster by the way." He handed Alaster the phone.

"Hello? It's me again…yes, this is Alaster….uh, why thank you." He shot David a puzzled look, but went back to the conversation before David or Beral could ask what it was for. "Yes, he's staying with us—me…okay, I'll tell him. Thanks. You too." He hung up, his next sentence addressing David. "You've got interesting coworkers."

David raised an eyebrow. "What'd she tell you?"

"That she'll make sure to let the right people know, that she hopes you're feeling better soon and Tammy sends you well-wishes also, and uh…that I sounded nice. But not nice in that I sounded like a nice person, I don't think. I think she was talking about my voice."

"Oh." David grinned. "Mary-Ann's a linguistics nut. It's second nature for her to tell people that she likes their voice or the way they sound or something. You've probably got some way of speaking or some accent that she likes. Not that I'd know, but I'd take her word for it."

"Ah. Well…thank you, then."

Beral snatched the phone away and set it down on the table. "Now then, you've called in, you've got the day free. How are you feeling?"

"Fine, actually. Completely fine." He looked at Beral. "Are you sure I have to stay in?"

"It's better not to risk it." Beral replied. "The stuff should still be in your system for about twelve more hours, and with it still in your system if you accidentally touch anyone…" He trailed off, peering at David. "Though this is the fastest recovery I've ever heard of—usually fenta at least leaves headaches or problems with temperature; being too cold or too hot or something like that. And you don't have any problems?" David shook his head. "Hm. Well there's no reason for you to be on bed rest then."

"We've got a pretty good entertainment system, and a good movie selection." Alaster cut in. "And a small personal library that's got a bit of everything, so if you're interested in that…"

"Um, not that it's any of my business, but…are you guys doing anything while I'm here? I mean, I hate to keep you from work or something also, but I'm going to feel pretty weird just taking over your house for a day."

Alaster waved a hand. "If it was any trouble, we'd let you know. We're both photographers actually. Freelance for the most part, though we've got an ongoing understanding with a company in Italy, and we're working on a tentative contract for a magazine right now. Our studio's in the basement and we'll be down there, so you wouldn't be alone or anything." He grinned. "Normally photographers travel to set, and we do do that, but for this particular project we get the stuff shipped to our studio so we can set everything up exactly as we want."

"What sort of things do you shoot?" David asked, interested. "Is it all commercial, or…?"

"I'm sort of everywhere." Alaster replied. "I was really into nature shots for a while, mostly for magazines, then I focused on people…now I just sort of work for whoever's interested in my stuff. Beral's the one who's specialized."

"I shoot vehicles." Beral said, a touch of pride in his voice. "The Italian company sells motorcycles and the like. I've got a vespa in the basement studio right now. Just got it a few days ago."

"Would you guys mind if I watched?" David asked. "It sounds really cool."

"Uh, sure, if you really want to." Beral answered. "It's really not all that interesting to watch though."

"I'd like to." David said. "It'll be all behind-the-scenes-y."

"Okay, if you want to." Alaster motioned towards the door. "Come on."

Hours later the three were all seated in the living room, Alaster and Beral together on the couch and David lounging in an easy chair, watching a terrible old horror film about, ironically enough, vampires. Subtitles on, of course. Beral found the old portrayals hilarious, collected bad vampire media, and Alaster couldn't help but acquire a taste for them too.

"Oh, come on." Alaster was saying to the characters onscreen. "If people actually did go into old, abandoned warehouse places "just to explore," then they deserve anything that happens to them if they don't, oh I don't know, run away when a random stranger materializes out of nowhere in front of them."

David was warily eyeing the random stranger. With his white-blond hair, yellow eyes, and ridiculously prominent fangs, "...is it just me, or does he look kind of like that Neil guy?"

Beral and Alaster both stared at the screen for a second, then burst out laughing.

"Gods he does." Beral said, still chuckling. "Can't say I ever thought of that before."

"Yes well, you didn't have a close encounter of the unwanted kind," was the reply. David leaned back to watch the first of, what Beral said, would be many chase scenes. It was almost Scooby-doo like, the way the characters ran around the warehouse, climbing up and down stairs, diving into rooms, and giving the vampire the slip in the most ridiculous manners.

"Hey," he asked. "What's the music playing right now?"

"Um." Alaster thought. "Sort of old-y dramatic I guess?" He eyed the one of the girls who was hiding in a room that the vampire, unbeknownst to her, was approaching. "Trying really hard to be suspenseful."

"Ah." David sighed. "Drat. I was hoping it was something upbeat and catchy."

"…what?" Beral said.

"You know," he waved his hands vaguely in the air. "Like in that Scooby-doo cartoon. They'd come upon the monster, a chase scene would ensue, and there was always this upbeat music that somehow described the chase. This movie would be so much better if they released some of the tension." He yawned. "Not that it matters much—you know how less scary everything is without sound?"

Alaster shook his head as the vampire popped up out of nowhere in front of one of the main characters, only to have the 'victim' duck and manage to escape again. "I don't know," he said. "This movie doesn't have that much tension anyway."

David yawned again. "What time is it?"

Beral checked his watch. "Twenty past eleven."

"Damn, really?" David sat up abruptly in his chair. "I should go then—the effects should have worn off by now, right? And I've got to be in early to work tomorrow to get started on everything I missed today."

"You don't plan to go home now!" Alaster exclaimed.

"…what's the problem?"

Beral glared. "Don't be stupid. It's late. You might as well just stay another night. And we can drive you to your bookstore tomorrow."

David looked torn, then nodded, "all right…if you're sure."

"We are."

"Okay…" David turned to go. "Good night."

"Wait—" Beral started to follow, put Alaster stopped him with a hand. David, who's back was to them, didn't notice and he left the room.

Beral turned to his lover. "Alaster—"

"Let him sleep. It is late. And probably not the best time for starting anything—he does have to get up early tomorrow."

Grumbling, Beral sat back down. "You're right. It's just—restless, yeah? It was just interesting before now it's…he's so comfortable."

Alaster wound an arm around Beral and moved closer. "Easily adaptable and content with who he is. Yes, I see why things changed. But one more night won't kill you."

"Don't talk like I'm the only one in this situation."

"Why not?" Alaster grinned. "You're the only one reacting."

"No, I'm the only one reacting outwardly."

"I will allow that on the grounds that you're right. However," Alaster turned his head and nipped at Beral's neck. "I think we can come up with a suitable distraction for the time being."

When they went to David's room to see if he was up and in the mood for breakfast, they were greeted by the sight of a neatly made bed, a folded piece of paper atop the little table, and a very, very empty room.

Beral dashed over and snatched at it, reading aloud for Alaster's benefit, "Beral and Alaster, thanks a bunch for everything. Sorry I left without saying good-bye but I really needed an early start today and I just didn't think it was fair to wake you guys up for something like a ride. My legs still work fine, so. Feel free to swing by the bookstore later if you want, but don't feel obligated. Yesterday was great, and I appreciated it, but don't feel like you've got to keep anything up. Thanks again, David."

He looked up from the letter and stared, wide-eyed, and Alaster. "He just left?" He cried, not believing it.

Alaster took the letter and read it over again. "Looks that way," he said, narrowing his eyes.

"But we didn't-! We haven't even-!"

"Mm. Well. It's still quite early. I doubt the store is going to be very busy." Alaster met Beral's eyes. "I think we should pay him a visit, hm?"

They made it to the bookstore in half the time it would normally take, and Beral led Alaster around back to the employee entrance he had met David at two days ago…it felt like they had known him so much longer than that.

The door wasn't locked and they went in without a second thought. David, who was sitting at a desk facing the door looked up in surprise.

"What—what are you two doing here?" He asked, an odd hitch in his voice.

Alaster brandished the note. "You mentioned that we could swing by, if we felt like it."

David raised an eyebrow. "When I said that I didn't mean now." He muttered to himself. Louder he said, "You're not…uh, really allowed back here. If you want I can—"

"I'm sure you can make the exception just this once." Beral interrupted smoothly, waving a hand and walking further into the room, Alaster right behind him. "Just don't be noisy and nobody will notice."

"Don't be noisy?" David repeated. "What's that supposed to—" Beral interrupted David this time by stepping close-too close and covering the man's mouth with his own.

Hands came up to push at Beral's chest, but the vampire would have none of that. He held on to David and deepened the kiss, pleased when the hands stopped pushing and fisted instead, though it was a short-lived pleasure.

Beral was kissing him and even though it felt nice Alaster was watching and even if he wasn't this wasn't fair and hadn't they gotten past the silly we-want-to-bite-your-neck mindset and if not why was this happening and if so why was this happening and

David broke away and glared. "What was that?" He demanded, and then pointed violently at Alaster. "He's right there."

"I am," Alaster replied, a little puzzled by the reaction, mostly aroused by the kiss. "What's the problem?"

David goggled. "It-you—he—you don't mind? He's your lover!" He rounded on Beral, who's face looked suspiciously amused. "Stop smirking!" David said hotly. "I don't care about preference but I am not about to participate in some sort of weird half-and-half relationship thing."

"David," Beral began, "haven't you been listening to us?"

Exasperated, David replied, "yes, I know, you mentioned—share and share alike or something. Which is sort of weird and unconventional but there are worse and weird things that could go on in a relationship. Like having a relationship where one person moves between two people. Which I don't think is worth supporting.

"Wait, hang on." Alaster said. "What in the world makes you think it wouldn't be an equal situation?"

David opened his mouth, blushed hotly, and closed it. He looked anywhere but at Alaster when he mumbled, "…cause usually for stuff like that to be equal, the second person has to have an interest in the newcomer too."

Beral shot the astonished Alaster a look that seemed to convey both a smug It looks like outward restlessness isn't all bad and a frantic so do something at the same time.

And suddenly Alaster was in front of David and lifting his head just so, murmuring, "I apologize for making you think you were unwanted" before capturing David's mouth in a kiss every bit as devastating as Beral's was, more so, maybe, because it was less expected.

When Alaster broke the kiss and stepped back to give him some space, all David could do was look from him to Beral and back again.

After a few moments he cut the silence with a mostly calm, "…okay. I'm confused."

They waited for him to elaborate. He sighed and raked a hand through his hair.

"Okay, look, I know this all started with a chance meeting in a ally. And then a not-so chance meeting in the bakery. And here. And I highly doubt the next ally-meeting was chance. But after that, with Neil and the fenta and the being sick or something…" he exhaled, frustrated. "We started getting along pretty well, I thought, and I figured that the interest or whatever sort of was a passing thing. Friends seemed nice, you know?"

Alaster and Beral exchanged a look.

"But you don't seem…uncomfortable with what just happened." Alaster tentatively began. "Just…" Confused? Unsure?

"I didn't even know there was interest anymore!" David said, throwing up his hands.

"And now," Beral cut in, "that you do know. Is there a problem?"

"But—you-why?" He gestured vaguely at the two of them. "You guys make a great pair. I got to see that first hand yesterday—you bounce off each other and work well together, and you banter, and why in the world would you want to bring someone into that?" He crossed his arms and said severely. "That's got bad potential all over it, you know."

They goggled at him.

"Are you…" Beral started, stopped, began again, "Aside from that, do you have a problem with the idea of being with us?"

"Aside from that?" David asked incredulously.

"Yes. Aside from that."

David thought. They actually could see him thinking about it. And that he was giving them so much genuine thought so readily, especially with all that had been thrown at him in such a short time…

"Please," Alaster breathed. "Say—"

"No."

And he was looking at them as he said again, bluntly, "No. No, aside for the obvious intrusion it would be…I don't have a problem with. You're both pretty nice after you got past bite-his-neck mode and you're, ah, not bad looking, and being in a three-way relationship is sort of unconventional but then again I'm sort of unconventional and…" he trailed off and shrugged. "I still think it's a bad idea though. You're making a mistake."

Suddenly though, he had a vampire on both sides and Alaster was kissing him only releasing him so another mouth could claim David's own and fingers were running through his hair as Alaster again devoured his mouth while Beral moved to his neck and David tensed but there was no bite, only hard kisses, and when the two pulled away, grinning, David was well and truly breathless.

He had somehow been walked backwards and was now sitting up on the desk he used to catalogue, Alaster and Beral on either side of him. Beral was still running his fingers through his hair, and Alaster held one of David's hands, tracing shapes into the palm.

"I like this." Beral murmured when David looked at him. "You have no idea how hard it was to keep our hands off of you yesterday."

"Um," was the eloquent reply. "You both don't really…"

Alaster made sure David was looking at him, then replied, "How about if you let us decide whether or not this is a good idea, hm?"

"But—"

"No buts." Beral interrupted. "What time are you off work today?"

"If I actually start getting work done, probably around five." David replied automatically.

"Good." Alaster answered. He leaned for another soft kiss before sliding off the desk and getting to his feet. Beral ran a hand down the side of David's face before doing the same.

"We'll meet you at five then." They said, and turned to go.

"But—hey, wait!"

The two turned and waited expectantly. "Yes?" Alaster asked.

"Can we…uh…that is—" David sighed. "I'm not agreeing to anything but talking is probably good. But. I mean, I have to see Alyssa today—I missed yesterday, and I've got…um." He dragged a hand through his hair and finally suggested, "… 7:30 at the bakery instead?"

Wearing matching grins, the two nodded. "That sounds fine." Beral said, pleased.

"Right. Okay." David said. "Uh, 7:30 then."

"Yes." One last smile, and they were gone.

David stared after them for a moment, watching the doorway almost warily before exhaling and going over to sit at his desk. He slumped into his seat and pulled over yesterday's files, needing to get to work now.

Fifteen minutes of quiet, albeit agitated work passed before a thought struck him.

"Damn it! What's Nick going to think?!"