If he was aware he was being watched, he gave no indication as he searched the well stocked shelves filled with classics and pulp junk alike. While he often humored Lestat by wearing the finery bought for him, he still preferred worn sweaters and tattered trousers. The cuffs of his sleeves were frayed and his pants were baggy and soft, something he must have stashed away and wore when alone.
Lestat couldn’t help the smile as he watched Louis pluck a thin paperback from the shelf and toss himself into a plush armchair. A picture perfect moment of thought and calm.
“I’ve been praying for you.” Louis said, not looking up from his book, startling Lestat from his place in the door way.
“Oh? Since when do you pray?”
“Occasionally, when there is something of significance to be concerned about.”
Lestat walked to the other armchair and plopped across from his lover.
“And what,” he rested his elbow on the arm of the chair and chin in palm, “are you concerned about?” He almost laughed at Louis’ raised eyebrow.
“What don’t I have to be concerned about with you?” he allowed a small smirk over the top of his book.
Curbing his giggles, Lestat rested his head in his palm and asked, “who do you pray to?”
Louis idly flipped a page, “no one. I just,” he struggled to put it into words and flipped another page, “talk to the universe. A basic plea to whatever there may be for peace.”
Lestat pondered, “does it ever talk back?”
Louis shrugged, “no. I just like to do it. Like when a person repeats please when playing a game of chance. They aren’t really talking to someone and no one is listening, but they do it anyway.”
“And you do this for me?” Lestat pulled himself out of his chair and slid over to Louis, kneeling at his feet, crossed his arms and rested them on the other’s lap. Louis pretended not to notice Lestat though he did smile.
“Occasionally,” he let one hand fall off the book and into Lestat’s hair, “especially when you refuse to behave.”
Lestat snorted, and tilted his head to get more of Louis’ fingers against his scalp.
“I know, I can be just awful sometimes.”
He could feel Louis sigh and made a point to exaggerate a pout when Louis finally looked down, earning a laugh and a tug to his hair.
“Yes, you can be an outright bastard sometimes.” Louis regarded him before cupping his cheek, “but you try.” He bent at the waist and place a tender kiss to Lestat’s forehead.
“Ah, beautiful one, thank you for loving me anyway.”
“Just so, one loop over the other, then under and through…” he said, the laces of Claudia’s shoes forming into a bow under his nimble fingers. “And pull tight, ma chérie. Simple as that.” Without a moment’s hesitation, her little fingers tugged the laces back open and tried now, for the very first time, to tie them on her own.
They sat on the carpet, her body curled forward in concentration, whispering the directions again to herself as he smiled down above her. He reached out and tucked a stray golden curl behind her ear and she spared him not one bit of attention.
In the warm light of the lamps, I watched them from across the room. We had been together now for some four years, Lestat and I. In that time, I had rarely seen this expression on his face. When he seduced his victims it was with rapt attention, his tongue flicking at his fangs imperceptibly to them, so vulgar to me. He would slink towards me catlike after killing and it was similarly intoxicating. I would let him take what he wanted, and there was lust for him, his wandering hands and whispered praise, but was that love? It left me satisfied, guilty, confused.
This was new, he was patient with the child, embraced her not to consume but with compassion. Their laughter lent a sparkle to the space I had shared with him alone. Together they brought things out of me I assumed I did not have.
“I did it!” said Claudia, her face upturned to him brightly. “Bravo!” he applauded with polite clapping as if at an opera. She shifted position, undid her bow and busied herself with tying it again.
It was in that moment that he glanced at me, his smile still tender and gentle, I felt my heart trip and stop for an instant. He waved me over and I came, entranced. He gestured for my foot. “Oh no, it looks as if,” in one fluid motion he hooked a finger in and opened my shoelaces. “Papa Noir’s laces need tying, whatever shall we-”
“Me,” said Claudia, starting already for the laces. “I’ll fix them for you.” I felt Lestat’s hand on my ankle, his nail lightly stroking my skin, then move up, squeezing my calf as we watched her together. That was the moment I fell in love with him.
I, uh. Haven’t posted any drabble offers or memes for probably about a year, so I’ve no idea what challenge you’re referring to. I’m sorry, but I hope that you like this little bit anyway!
Louis always took longer than Armand did to wake. Armand could have used that time, spent it, but for what?
What purpose, when the being by whom he marked his place in the world still lay dead?
Instead he would lie nearby, almost immobile himself, and observe.
Little things intrigued him, at first. The fan of jet lashes across a sheened cheek, the shadow cast wavering with the gas-lamp’s flame. The warm light and that movement all combining to make Louis look something other than a corpse.
In Paris, he’d believed so dreadfully that Louis was not dead.
By weeks and months, he began to learn the signs, and the lack thereof. To differentiate a twitch of eyelid from a wayward air current, a move to wakefulness from wishful imagining.
And then he began to learn more.
A fly’s weight was not enough to disturb the torpor their kind remained in during their personal day-lengths. An insect could buzz about Louis’s ear or crawl over his skin, tolerated and unnoticed. Insignificant.
The curling hair was deader than dead, soft and smooth between Armand’s fingers, utterly unbothered when he stroked it or twisted it into fine plaits to puzzle his love upon waking.
The cold flesh…
Cold, cold, soft cheeks and chest and lips he could touch for only a moment.
Their kind could defend themselves, if need be. A deep, reptilian thread of self-preservation ran through their back brains, keeping them alive even when they seemed empty and lost to all, and it was…
When Louis’ claws slashed Armand’s wrists, when his white hands crushed his throat, when his lovely ivory fangs rent Armand’s trespassing mouth, it all felt like hope.
17 year old Terry Pratchett’s short story for his school newspaper (The Cygnet; 1965)
Absolutely everything had been typical up to the point of Louis arriving at the predetermined rendezvous point, but well bred nerves danced about his shoulders anyway in the familiar icy electricity that had kept him alive and relatively unharmed during every paid tryst he’d attempted. These were the same nerves that saved ancestors walking down muddy colonial streets on a dark night. The same that shivered in the woods when the fire was in sight but the warmth too far away. Well bred nerves.
But now they had been short circuited, as the client who greeted him at the suite looked like nothing to fear at all. Not at first. Doors opened on beguilingly large eyes, a small face he had to tilt his chin down to look at, and someone who looked decided unlike any client he’d had before. At once he leaned back and doubled checked the number but-
“You’re in the right place, come in.”
Louis didn’t lean forward and instead turned his head away, looking down the hall and then side ways at the young man in the door before glancing past him and into the suite for any sign of a set up.
“Louis, come in.”
The man at the door grabbed him by the wrist and when their gazes met those big brown eyes went wide, like he’d only just caught sight of him. Usually Louis would wrench his hand away if grabbed like that before any ground rules had been stated, but those nerves of his were still dazed and he failed to do anything except stand and stare.
“There we are, come in it won’t take long.” The young man pulled him through the door into the hotel suite and nothing was out of place except for the duvet and a game system thrown atop the mussed sheets. A pizza box was open and picked over, MarioKart’s title screen trilled from the television, outside the window he could see the part of the Venetian across the street, glittering in the night as Las Vegas hotels were wont to do. Louis was stunned still and began quickly wondering just what all he was going to get busted for in this very obvious sting.
The young man let him go and then stood back, gesturing at himself. He was dressed nicely, black suit, as if he really were going out and needing a companion for the evening as his messages had stated. However, his tie was undone and he gestured at this. “Tie this for me, would you?”
Louis obligaged and the entire time he was looking between his shaking fingers and the unfettered stare of the young, very young, man who was watching him work with perfect concentration. When tied up properly he tucked the tie into his vest and then buttoned the second button on his three button suit. He turned and looked into the mirror in the suite’s foyer.
“Excellent, thank you.” He fished into his pants pocket and dropped a wad of 20’s into Louis’ hand without looking back from the mirror. “You’re dismissed.”
Louis wasn’t sure what to make of anything and his brow knit in the middle with a severe case of the elevens.
The man, ‘Armand’ if Louis went off the names he signed his messages with, pursed his lips and looked at his call boy’s reflection in the mirror.
“Unless you still want to join me, and I’m not going to be offended if you do or don’t. I’m bringing along a stronger magnet this time,” he began with incoherent order and further confusing Louis. “Which should make collecting coins in the Bellagio fountain that much easier. An assistant to help me collect samples without drawing attention will be useful. You can distract as I extract.”
What would someone with wads of twenty dollar bills want with a couple of coins flicked into a fountain? Much less in a three piece suit and a tie he couldn’t even tie himself.
As Louis would discover with Armand on their many, many trips out, there was a lot of hypocrisy. Namely, that he paid for the attention of a man who found him charming enough to be around for free.
Letters. Letters from everyone I have loved, of course, and I have many of them stored in a metal strongbox under the bed: Gabrielle, David, Armand, Marius, etc. Words scratched onto paper where no one can take them back, no one can accuse me of making them up or exaggerating the words uttered.
But the real objet d’obsession?
There is a box that is…hidden from me, tucked under a floorboard in the office (remember, that room once was Louis’ bedroom). In it are letters to me from Louis. Written over a century ago, on parchment that might crumple in your hand had it not been sealed in a box for so long. His beautiful copperplate hand, neat as his tutors intended it to be, writing words meant for me. Letters never sent, if you will, letters I’m not meant to know exist. Love letters, letters written in a blind rage, sensual confessions, everyday observations.
I’m waiting for the night he chooses to share them with me, but I know it might never come. Does he even remember that they are there? It may be that he thinks them burned long ago–though if Claudia’s diary might survive, why not these?
When we’ve had a particularly cruel argument, when we’ve crawled our way to Hell and back again, when we’ve clawed each other down to the quick, I go and dig them out again. His centuries-old innocence is a balm to my heart.
It’s stupid, and he’d be furious if he knew. He’d not speak to me for months, frankly, and I’d deserve it.
…But I do treasure them, especially when his voice feels far away to me, or when we are separated. There, contained in parchment, is the person Louis once was: a young man who was furious and confused and sometimes in love. And I’m so happy that he still exists, even if it’s only in a box under the floorboards.
(Prompts from this list! Feel free to send me some!)
OH BOY, RAPH. LOOK WHAT YOU WENT AND DID.
142: “It’s just your imagination.”
Shaky fingers are clawing at the pale arms, and the whole body is curling in on itself, and there’s sweat and blood, and Armand feels something heavy sinking inside when he realizes it’s familiar.
Blonde hair this time, and the palpable, overpowering smell of human fear filling the room. He takes a step back, away, watching the way the shoulders hunch, the way the vertebrae bulge out like spikes.
“They’re in my skin, Armand,” he’s crying, and scratching, and his pathetic human nails are only raising the most fragile little white lines. Barely breaking the skin.
His throat feels dry and he takes another step back. “It’s just your imagination,” he mumbles.
And he’s cold suddenly, even in the Florida heat. In the air so humid and heavy that it enfolds you. He feels the chill and remembers the way the drafts used to cut through the tower, and how it would hover around stones as if they were ice.
His hands had still been bloody, and his forehead pressed to the heavy wood door. Whimpering beyond it, and the pitiable wet thump as he’d attempted to pound at it without the use of fists.
“Armand,” gasping and screaming. “Please, please, they’re crawling all over me.”
Eleni’s hand, gentle and loving on his back as he froze there.
It’s just your imagination.
The sun would be up. He’d backed away from the heavy tower door, barred and sealed like a tomb. Left him there where he’d be safe from the dawn.
Daniel’s chest heaving, bones contorted into rigid, unnatural lines. And Armand had to go now.
“They’re everywhere Armand.”
Yes, everywhere. These broken things.
This was a challenge but ultimately cheered me up after a shitty evening. 😀 Thanks!!!
Armand could feel the extra energy as he came through the carriageway into the back garden. Not completely sure what it was, only that he could sense them moving in the flat, and there was something sweet and playful and innocent infused in it, thrumming beneath the presence itself. Lestat was home, he could feel that as well, and Louis. Their energies were different from each other, each palpable and distinct. Lestat felt bold and loud and vivid, Louis soft and sweet and comforting. Lestat was a popping champagne bottle, the splatter of paint on a Pollock canvas, a firework in the night sky. Louis was a gentle hand on your back, reassuring whisper in your ear, the slow and seductive pull of dawn.
I’m here, he told them as he ascended the stairs. He wondered if he should let himself inside, or knock, but instead put his hands in his pockets and waited.
But then Lestat’s face was in the window, his eyes glittery and excited, skin darkened by the recent trip to the sun. The door opened on its own, Lestat’s doing, and it was instantly obvious that he’d chosen to use his mind because his hands were full.
Before he could speak, Lestat extended one arm out, in his hand a single German Shepherd puppy. Three others wiggled against his chest and he cooed in French at them. “Here,” he said, and thrust the one into Armand’s chest. Armand grabbed it instinctively, somewhat bewildered but immediately charmed by the warmth and purity radiating from the creature. “I named this one Armand.”
The spike of anger and reflexive venomous response that usually came out in these moments were quelled by the gentle life in his hands, and he looked away from Lestat to stare at it. It was kicking its legs and squirming but he gave it a little scratch behind its ear to calm it down. It stopped moving and looked at him, eyes so shiny and black, and responded by licking his face. Armand ducked his head so that Lestat wouldn’t see his smile.
“Come inside, I want to close the door. Don’t let them out,” Lestat said, and backed away to make space.
He saw Louis then, when he cleared the doorway, still snuggling his namesake to his chest. Sitting cross-legged on the velvet couch, Mojo curled up beside him, a solid black puppy in his hands. He was scratching its ears and smiling at it and…
Strange ache in his chest, because he’d never seen that look on Louis’s face before.
“Where did all these puppies come from?” he asked. Louis looked up at him as if waking from a trance, like he’d been too absorbed to even notice Armand had arrived.
“Turns out Mojo is a lady,” Lestat said. He plopped down on the floor in the center of the room and took turns giving each puppy pats on their heads. They climbed on his legs and chewed on his shirt.
He held his puppy away from his face to inspect it again. It tilted its head at him and whined, and… strange ache again as he realized how unusual it was, and how he was straining to remember last time he’d held an animal this close. At home, in Kiev. They could never keep pets in Venice. He felt cold all over for a moment before pulling it to his chest again, feeling its warm little body settling against him and hearing the fluttery little heartbeat.
“What are you going to do with them?”
Lestat shrugged and picked one up, rubbing his face against its chubby, furry belly.
“Why don’t you give one to Daniel? Maybe you can win him back.”
[^ Inspo pic of Louis :D]
Lost Photographs from Daniel’s Missing Luggage, or,
Glimpses of an Unlife
I’m taking stupid photos at SFO when all the televisions flash red for breaking news. Jeez, I think, another bombing or political scandal. We’re being warned about graphic footage. Huh. New York’s getting two more inches of snow. Well, that sucks.
I must be dreaming, because his face—that’s Armand’s face on the screen!
This is wrong.
The footage is shaky and I can feel the panic threading its way through my body as I watch, helpless, when he screams something at the plaza. Even though I don’t know what’s going on, I know it’s him. It’s the way his hair curls when there’s snow on it, and it’s when—it’s wh—
New York’s getting two more inches of snow and, and they won’t—everyone is staring at me. Everyone, and they—it’s just two more inches of snow in New York. Have I fucked up? Did someone see my fangs—New York’s getting two more inches of snow and the footage keeps looping. I’m being yanked backwards and someone’s shoved me onto my knees and the floor slams into my jaw and suddenly I hear screaming.
It’s me. I’m screaming. Daniel Molloy is now screaming at Gate 7. Daniel Molloy is now screaming at Gate 7. They’re cuffing me and I can’t—
“FUCKING—TURN IT OFF!” I scream at them in ugly, gulping sobs, and someone gags me with a leather strap and one of them figures it out and tries to call on his walkie talkie but they won’t turn me away I can’t look away that’s not what he’s supposed to look like he doesn’t like the cold but now he’s burning.
…anyway, that’s where this photo’s from.
The vampire awoke with a start as sunshine poured over him. “The light!” he cried, cowering.
“You are alright, there, no fuss,” came the calming reply from the necrophysician. He wiped the monster’s brow with a damp cloth and felt his cheeks and forehead. “Yes, you are doing just fine.”
Tentatively, the vampire sat up and squinted at the window. “But… how?” Gazing at it, he whispered, “Sunlight. It has been so long.”
“Stained glass, enchanted to twist sunlight’s signature in a similar method as the moon. The light will help your healing, you are safe.” The healer explained proudly. Carefully, he pushed the vampire back into the coffin. “Rest now, that stake nearly hit your heart.”
“Thank you, doctor.”