Whistler groaned as he tried to rub away the soreness in his upper shoulder. It was getting worse, not better, as time went on and he knew why. Wasn’t any need for him to go to the doctor, he remembered exactly how it felt to have his body riddled with cancer. The only difference was that it felt like it went all the way down to his bones, this time.

“You okay?”

Hand dropping away, Whistler returned to sharpening the bowie knife and answered, “Fine.”

Leaning against the counter, Blade said, “It’s worse, this time.”

Whistler sighed. Should’ve known that he’d know.

“How long?”

“No idea. A few months, maybe longer,” Whistler replied. “Nothing’s certain.”

Blade kept his gaze on the knife that Whistler continued to sharpen. “You should’ve said something.”

“And you would’ve done what, exactly?” Whistler questioned, finally setting aside the knife.

Meeting his gaze, Blade hissed, “Something! Now it’s almost too late!”

Whistler sighed deeply and gripped the other man’s shoulder. “It is too late, kid. We’re out of options, because I’m out of time. But it’s okay. I had a good run, longer one than I had any right to expect.”

“It’s not okay.”

“No. It’s not.”

They were silent for a long moment and Whistler moved away to start working on a modified version of the UV flashlight. He wanted to get a few smaller models up and running before he croaked. It would give Blade an easier time of keeping his hands free, if the lamp could just be strapped to his arms like another knife.

A strong hand gripped his forearm and Blade said, “I can’t let you die, Whistler.”

Dark amusement surfaced and he canted his gaze up at Blade to say, “Ain’t nothing you can do to stop it this time. Unless you’ve suddenly got the power of life and death and didn’t tell me?”

“You know there’s a way,” Blade replied, deadly quiet.

Whistler instantly made the connection and jerked his arm away, glaring furiously. “No fuckin’ way, Blade. Never gonna happen.”

Whister...”

“No!” Whistler shouted, stalking away. Blade easily caught up to him, blocking his way. “Move, God damn it!”

Shaking his head, Blade repeated softly, “I can’t let you die.”

“You ain’t got no choice,” Whistler said, suddenly exhausted. He could see the pain in the hazel eyes that stared back at him, even if the rest of Blade’s face was an immobile mask. “I won’t agree to it, and I know you won’t do it, if I don’t agree.”

“You’re right.”

“So get out of my way, and let’s just enjoy a few more months together.”

But Blade again shook his head and said, “You wouldn’t hurt anyone. You didn’t last time.”

“What do you know about ‘last time?’” Whistler demanded harshly. His mind shied away from memories of that horror.

Stepping closer, Blade replied, “Enough to know that you hadn’t fed on anyone, that you were turned, but not a full vampire. Even after everything they put you through, you didn’t bite anyone or try to kill them. You controlled yourself, like you taught me to do.”

Whistler scowled. “That’s because I was waiting to die. I knew you’d find me and kill me.”

Blade’s eyebrows rose as he pointed out, “I didn’t. I couldn’t then, and I can’t now.”

“You’re not killing me, kid,” Whistler said, closing the distance between them to grasp Blade’s arm. “It’s the fuckin’ cancer. You’re...just bein’ with me is all I want, Blade.”

Blade swallowed hard and looked away, whispering, “It’s not enough. I...need...you.”

Closing his eyes against the raw emotion in that soft statement, Whistler cursed the cruelty of fate that would show him what he could have and yet deny it to him by taking his life.

“Couldn’t say anything before,” Blade continued, ragged. “but I...need you...old man. Always have. Don’t leave me, not when there’s a choice.”

It always came back to that. Abandoned by that bitch of a mother who’d traded Blade’s life for her own as a vampire, Blade couldn’t take being left by those who loved him. Or, those who were supposed to, like his mother. Sighing, Whistler opened his eyes again to find Blade’s face contorted with pain. It smoothed away a split second after Whistler’s eyes opened, but he’d seen it.

“If I could stay, I would, kid,” Whistler said at last. “But turning me is not an option. I’m not going to become the devil I’m hunting. I won’t feed to survive.”

Leaning closer, Blade offered, “Feed on me.”

Startled, Whistler asked, “What?”

“Feed on me. You can’t turn me, and you can’t kill me by feeding on me. I’m too strong for you.”

The possibilities roamed through Whistler’s mind for a few seconds; living with all the strengths of a vampire, but not inflicting any of the evil. Shaking the temptation away, he said, “No. It’s not right.”

“Whistler. Listen to me, old man, and listen good. I will not live without you. I will find the baddest, most concentrated nest of vamps in the city and take as many of them down as I can, but I will die in that fight.”

And the certainty in those green-gold eyes was complete, taking Whistler’s breath away.

“Do you believe me?”

Whistler had to nod.

“So the trade-off is become a vamp and feed on me, but hurt no one and keep me alive to fight another day. Sounds like a good deal to me.”

But Whistler remembered the darkness that had clouded his mind last time, as much as he tried not to do so. He vividly remembered everything. The evil thoughts that had suffocated him with the need for blood and violence. It had only been by the narrowest of margins that he’d held out until Blade had gotten to him. If that hadn’t happened, he’d have succumbed and gone on a killing frenzy, Whistler was sure of it.

“I can keep you in line. You won’t hurt anyone.”

Meeting that darkened gaze, Whistler saw his fears taken into account, and dealt with, there.

“You won’t hurt anyone. I’ll teach you how to control it, until you can do it on your own.”

More absolute certainty in the eyes that held his own.

“Don’t leave me.”

And how could Whistler deny those barely audible words, or the depth of emotion behind them? How could he deny the need in his own heart that had started healing his soul and the devastating loss of his family so long ago? Blade hadn’t just given him a purpose, he’d given Whistler a reason for being. If he was being truthful, Whistler had to admit that in his darkest moments, a slave to the bloodlust that gripped him tighter than any addiction, it was thoughts of Blade that had kept him from slaking his need on any of the innocents the vampires had brought before him.

If just the thought of Blade could do that, then how much more would the man himself help him keep his soul through the change? Because he didn’t want to die. Didn’t want to face the emptiness of whatever lay beyond this world. And he knew it would be empty, simply because Blade wouldn’t be there.

Clearing his throat, Whistler said, “And in sixty years when you die of old age, or maybe before then, if you die in a fight, what will I be left with then, except an eternity alone?”

Blade cupped his face and replied, “You’ll have the will to go on and train others to take my place. You have that strength, Whistler. I don’t.”

And to have even one more year, hell, six more months, with this man was more than he’d ever had the right to hope for, let alone a few decades or more. “Staying with me until I can control myself is going to let the vamps run free.”

Shrugging, Blade said, “I’ll work overtime when I’m back.”

Whistler grinned, his humor reestablishing itself. “Just like that, huh?”

There was a brief flash of too-white teeth and fangs, and Blade confirmed, “Just like that.”

Heart beating fast, terrified that he was doing the wrong thing, giving in to fear of death, Whistler finally agreed, “Okay. But, I don’t want to know when it’s going to happen.”

“You don’t want to prepare first?”

“No. I’ll back out if I have a definite time so just, Blade!”

Whistler was against the wall before he finished speaking, Blade covering him completely as fingers laced through his hair and pulled his head to the side, baring his throat. Fangs pierced his skin and he cried out in pain and fear, struggling against the vise-like arms that couldn’t, and wouldn’t, be moved.

*  *  *  *

Blade moaned as the salty, hot blood coated his tongue and then filled him with the essence of the man he’d loved for years. It was better than he’d ever suspected it would be, or he might have been tempted to do this under circumstances that weren’t nearly as vital. Ignoring the fists that pounded his back, Blade sucked on the jugular with pulsing regularity, his whole body coming alive in a way that it hadn’t since he’d taken Karen’s blood, but more so. It was like being connected to Whistler in a visceral way that nothing else could accomplish, not even sex.

Not that they’d gotten to that yet, but they would.

Already, Whistler had stopped struggling and started panting, fingers now clutching at the leather of Blade’s jacket as he moaned weakly. The hard-on that grew against Blade’s thigh was a welcome surprise and he rubbed against it, provoking more groans of pleasure from his ‘victim.’

Deeming Whistler well infected, Blade reluctantly pulled back from the bloody gashes on the older man’s throat. Shifting so that his hand covered the respectable mound between Whistler’s legs, Blade licked the flat of his tongue along the puncture wounds to clean it while rubbing his companion’s cock through his pants. Whistler jerked hard in his arms and came, gasping for air and relying completely on Blade to hold him up.

Practically growling in satisfaction at that, Blade scooped Whistler into his arms and strode to his bedroom. He didn’t know how long this would take. The change could be fast or slow, depending on the strength of the original vampire and the physical state of the one being turned. Whistler’s body was ravaged by cancer, but Blade was the Daywalker, a strength unknown by any normal vampire. This transformation could be hours, or it could be days.

Either way, he wanted Whistler to be as comfortable as possible.

Settling the older man on the bed, Blade just looked at him for a few minutes. Already, Whistler was restless, even though he slept. His brow was furrowed and he shifted position every now and again. Knowing just how much of this Whistler was doing to please him, Blade wasn’t sure how to feel. Relieved and incredibly glad that he wouldn’t lose the one person who meant more to him than life itself. Filled with a warmth of the heart that he’d never before felt. But dismayed and worried, too, that Whistler was breaking all his rules and, well, losing his honor, just for Blade.

Would Whistler think the trade worth it in five years or ten? What about fifty years? Would he be silently cursing Blade and not ever want to see or speak to him again? If that happened, Blade was sure that he’d be okay. As long as he knew that Whistler was alive and all right, he’d find a way to go on, even if it was without his heart.

Shaking off the depressing thoughts, Blade climbed onto the bed beside Whistler, sitting cross-legged to watch him sleep. He determined that, for the time being, he just wasn’t going to borrow trouble. What would happen, would happen, and it was too late for regrets. Besides, if Whistler had truly not wanted to do this, nothing that Blade could’ve said, would have gotten the man to agree to it.

*  *  *  *

It wasn’t until the next morning that Whistler began showing real signs of the change. The skin surrounding his bite-marks had mottled, his veins showing beneath the skin in that area as well. Whistler’s hands gripped the blankets and sweat appeared on his body, soaking through his shirt. Breathing deeply, Blade could smell the thirst on the other man, but could no longer smell the stink of cancer.

Blade stretched out beside Whistler, knowing that the other was awake and trying to restrain himself from asking for what he needed. He moved in close to Whistler and slid his arm under the other’s neck, pulling him in so that his mouth rested on Blade’s throat, the beard scratching his skin. “Drink.”

But Whistler shook his head and muttered, “Stake me, Blade. Put me out into the sunlight. I can’t do this.”

“Yes you can, and you will,” Blade ordered harshly. “I know you need it, and you won’t hurt me. Take my blood, old man, do it!”

Whistler moaned in denial, but a few seconds later, his fangs pierced Blade’s throat and the suction began.

Having never been on the receiving side, Blade was surprised by the erotic feelings that coursed through him as his blood was drawn from his body. He thought, vaguely, that maybe it was a side-affect to the draining, to help keep the prey subdued with pleasure. Groaning in need as his cock hardened, Blade rolled them so that he covered Whistler and rocked them together, feeling an echoing hardness in the other man’s shaft as well.

Before he could go too far, though, weakness spread through him. Panting and struggling to maintain his thoughts, Blade gasped, “Too much...Whistler...stop...”

The drinking didn’t stop though, and Blade could feel his heart speed up as it tried to pump less and less blood to where it was needed. And then Whistler pulled off, rolling them again so that he was on top, straddling Blade. Looking up, Blade saw the orange glow to the normally pale, blue eyes, and wondered if maybe Whistler had been right to not want to do this.

But if I’m going to die at a vamp’s hands, I’m glad it’s his, Blade thought.

Unexpectedly, Whistler bit his own wrist and held it out to Blade, who took it without hesitation.

Therein followed the strangest hours of Blade’s life. They took turns bringing each other to the brink, drinking as if starved for one another’s blood, and then offering their own blood to restore the other. Blade didn’t know how many times it happened, couldn’t even count the number of times they both came as the pleasure mounted, over and over again.

The next time he regained his wits and looked at the watch on his wrist, Blade was shocked at how much time had gone by, but was content, nonetheless. Whistler was sound asleep in his arms, and completely healthy, stronger than he’d been in a couple of decades, probably. They were both covered with blood and the bed was a disaster, but Blade couldn’t remember being this happy ever.

Sighing deeply, Blade fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

*  *  *  *

Blade woke to a wet mouth around his cock and moaned, instinctively thrusting deeper into the welcoming wetness. The scratch of a beard over tender skin confirmed who it was and Blade opened his eyes to find a naked Whistler fully intent on giving him a damn good blow-job. Though where and when he’d learned how, was something Blade would have to find out later.

Looking up when he felt Blade move, Whistler gave the cock in his mouth another go before pulling off and giving Blade a smirk, greeting him with, “Mornin,’”

Blade couldn’t help himself. He laughed, on catching sight of the fangs.

Whistler glared at him, demanding, “What?”

“Your fangs.”

“What about 'em?:

“They’re...” Blade swallowed the word ‘cute’ for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Whistler would probably deck him if he said it, and he was far too into what they were doing to stop for a fist-fight. Second, he was pretty sure that that word hadn’t yet passed his lips for any reason, even as a kid, and had no intention of starting now. He had a rep to protect.

Even if the fangs were cute.

“Short. They're a little on the short side,” Blade finished.

Whistler snorted. “It's not the size that counts, isn't that what they say?”

“Not about fangs, old man.”

“Is that so?”

Blade grinned toothily and reached down to haul him up, rolling on top of Whistler to ask, “How do you feel?”

“Not like hammered shit, that’s for sure,” Whistler answered seriously. The eyes were their familiar blue as he continued, “It’s as different from before as night from day, Blade. I think...maybe because it’s you, it’s different. You’re not pure vampire, but something else entirely.”

“An anomaly,” Blade hissed, remembering Damaskinos’ words.

Whistler shrugged and agreed, “In a way, yeah. But, a good way, in my case. I’m still...thirsty...but I don’t have that overwhelming urge to slit the nearest throat.”

“Considering that I’m the nearest throat, that’s good,” Blade commented dryly.

Staring up at him, Whistler said, “I think this could work, Blade.”

Blade leaned down on his elbows and slowly took Whistler’s lips with his own, kissing him deeply. The response was immediate as Whistler’s mouth opened to him and their tongues danced together. The urgency built fast, a lot faster than Blade expected, and he pulled away and gasped, “Stay put.”

Rolling off Whistler and the bed, Blade strode over to the bathroom and grabbed the massage oil, hurrying back to the bed. Whistler was in the same position, stretched out on the pillows, and grinning at him with a knowing look. Mildly defensive, Blade demanded, “What?”

“Is that all for me?” Whistler asked, irritatingly cheerful as he nodded to Blade’s hard cock.

Blade folded his arms over his chest and answered, “It was, unless you don’t want it.”

Whistler’s grin widened and he said, “Oh no, that’s fine by me, kid. It’s been a while, but not so long that I don’t remember how good it can be. Especially with someone lookin’ out for ya.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Not a problem. Just wondering how long you been sportin’ one of those for me,” Whistler questioned, keeping his tone light.

Even more defensive, Blade growled, “Too long. Now shut up, old man.”

Whistler laughed when Blade pounced on him and stole his breath in another long, hard kiss. It turned to moans at the first introduction of a slicked finger in his hole, though, and Whistler returned the kiss even more fiercely. Their fangs clicked together during the kiss and then Blade decided he wanted to taste more of his new lover and started his way south.

Licking and nuzzling his way through the thick chest hair was a novel experience for Blade, most of his lovers having been either women or without much body hair. Maybe something he’d subconsciously kept reserved just for Whistler, on the off chance they ever took this final step. Reaching the hard length between the other man’s legs, Blade sucked it into his mouth as he introduced a second finger into Whistler’s hole.

He was rewarded with a chest-deep groan of pleasure at the dual assault, and stepped up the pace. Feeling hard enough to hurt, Blade ruthlessly stretched Whistler, returning more oil to the hole and finding the nub of pleasure with ease.

Whistler arched up at that, shouting in surprise, then thrust back on his fingers with a growled, “Harder! More, damnit!”

Chuckling wickedly, Blade obeyed. It was only a short time later that he pushed a third finger in, grinning when Whistler took it easily, spreading his legs and pinning Blade with a glare for more. Blade chuckled again and warned, “You asked for it.”

Whistler opened his mouth to challenge that when Blade lined up his cock and slowly pushed inside. Blue eyes dilated with pleasure and Whistler wrapped his legs around Blade’s waist. Bent over him, Blade kept his gaze on the face of his long-time friend and mentor, inordinately thrilled that he could give this kind of experience to a man who’d supposedly experienced it all. Whistler’s mouth hung open as he clutched Blade’s arms, holding on tight as Blade pumped in and out of his body, strong and hard.

The rhythmic dance between them was quickly begun and Blade growled when Whistler thrust back on him and clenched his inner muscles, tightening an already incredibly tight sleeve of flesh. Whistler surged up unexpectedly and Blade wound up on his knees, holding the other man’s waist instinctively as his lover took control.

No big surprise there, Blade thought hazily as Whistler rode him from the kneeling position. “Fuck, old man, you can’t let anyone else be in charge, can you?”

Whistler laughed and ground down on him. “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. You’re in charge all the God damned time.”

Gripping Whistler’s ass to hold him steady, Blade thrust in harder, enjoying the feel of the hot body around his cock and the gasping groan it provoked from Whistler. Taking advantage of the man’s momentary weakness, Blade pushed him back down and started fucking him in earnest, need coursing through him.

“Oh shit, yeah, that’s it, Blade, more!” Whistler groaned through clenched teeth.

Blade held on just long enough, only until Whistler bucked under him and came, spilling between them with a long, low groan of release. On one last thrust inside, Blade came, filling him to overflowing, and then collapsed on his lover.

Strong arms surrounded him and gentle fingers massaged between his shoulder blades as Whistler murmured, “Been holding that back a long time, huh, kid?”

But it seemed a rhetorical question, so Blade just grunted an acknowledgement and drifted into sleep, secure in knowing that Whistler wasn’t going anywhere.

 

MARS COLONY - ALPHA SITE, 2153

Blade grimaced as he climbed out of the car and slammed the door shut. He was bleeding from a half-dozen wounds and could feel the bullet grinding against his thigh-bone, whenever he moved.

“What the hell were you thinking?”

Glancing over at Whistler’s angry shout, he found the man stalking down the stairs across the warehouse they’d ‘borrowed’ on first getting to Mars. The other man hadn’t changed since that day he’d been turned, though Blade looked a bit older, like a man in his early-mid forties, even though he was 181 years old.

Even with all the jumps in science and Whistler’s long, long work with vampirism as a virus, they had never figured out why Blade was still alive. He wasn’t, technically, a vampire like Whistler and the others, he was still the Daywalker, despite his unexpected longevity. The closest they’d come to putting an explanation to it was that all of Whistler’s feedings over the years had somehow mutated Blade’s genetics. Karen’s formula had been perfected into a cure, but there were just too many vampires.

And once colonization had started...

Bringing himself back to the present, Blade braced himself for the coming lecture. After 148 years as lovers, and 168 years of knowing each other altogether, Blade knew every nuance of every lecture that Whistler gave. And the older man knew that he knew, too. Blade swore that he gave them just to piss him off.

Sighing faintly at the continued glare from his lover, palpable even from that distance, Blade hobbled over to the examination seat. He pushed himself into it as he answered, “They got the jump on me.”

“I meant, what the hell were you thinking of, to take that thing out before I was done with it?” Whistler demanded, grabbing the surgery kit off a counter and setting it on an instrument table and wheeling the whole thing over to Blade. “I wasn’t done with the plating yet. Off with the shirt.”

Grimacing again, Blade carefully undid first his armor, and then pulled off his shirt, tossing both on the ground. Whistler would pick them both up when he was done treating Blade’s injuries. The lecture was oddly absent as Whistler cleaned and then stitched him up, and Blade looked at him suspiciously by the end of treatment.

Noticing the look, Whistler asked, “What?”

“No lecture?” Blade countered warily.

A faint grin hovered over the lips that were almost buried beneath the beard that Whistler refused to shave off, despite the fact that no one wore them anymore. “Would it do any good?”

“No. That’s never stopped you before.”

“True.”

Quirking an eyebrow at him, Blade questioned, “All right, old man, what’s going on?”

Knotting and cutting off the last of the stitches, Whistler opened the kit and pulled out the more serious instruments to deal with the bullet wound. “Just wondering when you’re gonna outgrow all this shit and start takin’ on some help.”

Blade just about groaned at that. They’d been arguing about expanding operations for twenty years and it was starting to become a sore spot. “Look, Whistler, I’m not going to turn anyone else because you’re the only one I’ll let feed on me.”

“I know that, dumbass,” Whistler growled, eyes flaring orange. As they did when Blade truly pissed him off. “Like I’d let anyone else feed from you?”

“So what’s the...”

“The deal is they got them cyborgs now, and meta-humans, and all kinds of shit that didn’t exist even fifty years ago,” Whistler snapped.

Blade winced as Whistler probed for the bullet, his hands holding tight enough to the titanium steel to crush it a little. He’d gotten stronger over the years, too.

“You ain’t the only one who’s different now, Blade, and vampires are a threat to everyone else. These new humans...they got speed, they got strength and they got a whole lot less enemies than you do,” Whistler continued, finally pulling out the bullet and tossing it, and the clamp, into a metal bowl. Looking abruptly tired, Whistler finished, “I just don’t want to keep sewing you up, kid. I’ve had more than enough practice at it over the years.”

Which, of course, got to him as nothing else would, seeing how genuinely pained Whistler was. It wasn’t anything new, but maybe the other man was right. He’d worked with a few others on occasion, and as long as they didn’t figure out that Whistler was a ‘real’ vampire, things would be safe enough.

Grinning abruptly, despite the pain that hit him as Whistler bandaged his leg, Blade said, “You know we got them cute little fangs of yours to thank that no one’s put two and two together yet, right?”

Whistler flashed him a sour look and replied, “Bite me, asswipe.”

Another sore point, Blade thought, still grinning. Even after almost 150 years.

“Look. I’ll take on a couple of...helpers...if you promise to shave.”

Whistler opened his mouth, outraged, but Blade beat him to it. He was off the chair and pinning Whistler to the wall before the other could do more than utter a few, pissed off words.

“I’m kidding, relax old man, I’m kidding,” Blade soothed.

Scowling, Whistler demanded, “You’ll find a couple of people?”

“Yeah, yeah I will,” Blade promised. If it put his lover in a better mood, than who was he to argue? “In the meantime...I think you owe me a little consideration.”

“Consideration, huh? Is that what they’re calling it these days?”

But the tone was amused and Whistler’s body relaxed against his, so Blade just smirked and answered, “That’s what I’m callin’ it these days.”

“Too bad. Because if you were asking to fuck me, I’d’ve put out.”

Blade found himself flat on the floor, tripped there by his grinning lover, and watched Whistler walk away with a cheerful tune hummed as he went. Shaking his head, Blade hopped to his feet with a minor grimace of pain and followed.

Whistler was, after all, heading for their bedroom, and that was worth more than a little pain, even after all this time.