2 An Impossible Love

Unable to sleep, James did some homework and listened to music until morning, then got dressed and went downstairs to eat some cereal. “You look terrible,” Maureen said, as she came into the kitchen.

“Couldn’t sleep…. Woke up at three,” he answered between bites.

“Well, get plenty of sleep tonight. You have a game tomorrow,” his dad said.

“Yeah…. I’m going to Sebastian’s house tonight after practice, so I’ll be home a little late,” James countered, trying not to look guilty.

“Should I keep dinner warm?” his mother asked.

“No, I’ll eat with him, if you don’t mind,” James said.

Later, on his way to school, James remembered he really had little idea where Sebastian lived, except for a street, but it was a short street. He also felt Sebastian would know he was coming.

At school, James was distracted. Peter sat next to him at lunch and said, “What’s up with you, man? Who is she?”

James looked at him and shook his head. “It’s not like that. I … just, I’m….” Unable to finish the thought, he shrugged and stuffed a few fries in his mouth. Chris, arriving moments after Peter, gave James a funny look, almost recognition. “You got something to add, little man?” James asked him directly, though more gently than normal. Chris averted his eyes and shook his head.

Later, when Peter was gone to the bathroom, James leaned over to Chris and said, “I’m sorry I haven’t always been nice to you.” Chris smiled weakly. “You didn’t deserve that!”

“Are,” Chris began hesitantly. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” James said with a laugh. “Just … sort of weirded out. I’ve sorta been talking to someone, and I just don’t feel like talking to Peter about it, you know? Of course you don’t…. I bet you tell him everything!”

“Not everything,” the boy mused quietly, mostly to himself. His eyes widened when he saw James nod with gentleness.

“I suppose not,” James whispered. Surprising himself, he put a hand on the boy’s unexpectedly firm shoulder and sort of squeezed, earning a shy smile from Chris.

“So, you know?” Chris asked.

“I think so,” James said.

“And it’s … you aren’t going to tell?” Chris asked with terror.

Smiling, James said, “Now I know I know. And no, I won’t….”

Chris, curious, asked forthrightly, “Why not?”

“I know I’ve not always been nice, but you’re a good guy. I don’t want to hurt you,” James said.

Suddenly, Peter reappeared and gave them a funny look before planting himself between them. After lunch, before they separated, James carefully handed Chris a piece of paper with his email and phone number, nodding a silent goodbye.

After practice, James slipped out ahead of the rest of the guys and began walking toward Mulberry Street, which was as far from school as his house, but east instead of north. Standing at the head of the short street lined with old manses, he wondered, ‘What am I doing?’

But he did know where he was going, as the regal-looking house came into view. It sat on a lot nearly three times the size of the rest, though the home was no bigger than the others. Its rock wall had a wide arch over the driveway entrance and there was a smaller gate for foot traffic: “van der Meer” was emblazoned in intricate letters on the iron gates across the driveway. By the footpath door in the wall, James pressed a button.

“Who’s calling?” asked a man with a faintly British accent.

“James Barton,” he responded, and the box buzzed. He opened the door and walked up to the house through an immaculately kept front garden. He lifted the old knocker, but the door swung open.

A man in his early thirties, handsome and trim, held the door open and waved him in. “May I take your bag?”

Unsure, James handed his heavy school bag to the man, who placed it in the closet beneath the stairs. Hearing footfalls, James’s eyes were drawn to the staircase, where Sebastian was descending rapidly, wearing a nice pair of black pants and a white shirt.

“Nice house,” James said.

“Thank you,” Sebastian said. Reminding James he was no boy, he added, “It is much improved since I first built it.” Seeing the question in James’s face, Sebastian smiled. “The original parts of the house were built in 1817. Would you like a tour?” James nodded, and Sebastian took his arm and led him through the sitting room, the library and formal office, the formal dining room, and the large kitchen.

Pointing out the back window, Sebastian indicated a smaller cottage as the servants’ quarters. “There’s also a guest house above the attached garage with its own private entry and kitchen….” Then he led James upstairs, where there was an entertainment room, with a pool table, chess table, even some video games, two guest rooms, and a sprawling master bedroom, with huge open windows. There was an enormous walk-in closet, and the bathroom boasted both a jacuzzi tub and a standing shower big enough for two or three or more.

“Wow! This is … amazing!” James sat on the edge of the bed, which was covered only in black sheets. “Silk? Very nice….”

Sitting next to him, sliding a hand onto James’s knee, Sebastian said, “My senses are very … acute. Even fine cotton can be … uncomfortable.” Looking at James staring off, Sebastian asked, “You have a question?”

James pointed at the windows. “I thought sunlight would kill you guys?”

Sebastian laughed. “Not at all, though it is, like rough material, somewhat uncomfortable and dampens some of my abilities—strength and psychic power in particular! Though I could still manhandle you,” he added with a laugh. “Besides,” he added, picking up a remote and clicking one of the buttons, darkening the windows, “this is very special glass. The gas between the panes turns very dark when it is properly charged, and blocks a lot of the rays.”

“So, do you have a basement?” James asked.

Sebastian asked, “You want to see where I keep my dark secrets,” raising his eyebrows with a laugh. Grabbing James’s hand, Sebastian led him to a door off the kitchen. The basement was deeper than James had expected. Sebastian lit an enormous subterranean space, mostly finished; but he pointed to an unfinished space at the far end: “Seven thousand bottles of wine, collected over the last many hundreds of years…. And a root cellar….”

“Root cellar?” James asked.

Sebastian laughed. “Root cellars are dark cool places we used to keep root vegetables in during the off season…. You’ve seen potatoes growing in the bag? Root cellars prevented that. But it’s not the kind of root I keep down here…. Mandrake, ginger, dried herbs, and other things. Tarantulas and scorpions,” he began, dragging James toward the extensive shelving, covered with jars and cages.

“What is all this for?” James asked.

“I’ve had a lot of time to explore—mysticism, magick from the darkest dark to the brightest white. I’ve seen things you wouldn’t believe! This is my … laboratory, you might say.”

James shook his head and walked around. With awe, he said, “There’s so much…. Magick? Magick is real, too?”

“He asked the vampire,” Sebastian shot back with a laugh. “Magick, yes! Werewolves, ghosts, demons, angels, goblins and elves! Everything that you ever heard ‘goes bump in the night’ … has some truth behind it.”

“And you just … live your endless lives?” James asked.

“Some of us, yes,” Sebastian said with a sigh. “Others make trouble while they can….”

“While they can?” James inquired.

“The only law of the shadows is don’t draw attention…. Failure to abide by that rule is punishable by death. We have an alliance and a loose, but powerful, government. I am responsible for overseeing the law in our region, the Eastern United States, with a number of state and more local figures beneath me,” Sebastian explained.

“Who is above you?” James asked.

Sebastian smiled grimly. “No one … but the Council itself!”

“Does this violate that law?” James asked.

“This?” Sebastian replied.

“This thing between us,” James clarified.

Sebastian smiled coyly. “It could, if you told. And I’d have to clean up after you. I just don’t believe you will.”

“So, there is a way to kill vampires?” James asked.

“Of course! It’s easier with a younger vampire. It’s just not something we talk about,” Sebastian laughed.

“Garlic?” James probed.

“I love Italian food,” Sebastian replied.

“What about silver and holy water?” James asked.

Sebastian smiled. “Silver is an irritant, especially if it penetrates our skin. As for holy water, I have a gallon on my shelf here. That and crosses bother demons…. But enough! Come with me,” he said, leading James by the hand to a key-pad secured door at the far end of the basement. A long series of numbers caused a panel to open, revealing a palm scanner. “I have never showed the inside of this room to a living person,” Sebastian said, looking over his shoulder with a positively sweet smile. “But given your love of music….” The heavy door swung open. “This room is completely fireproof, waterproof, and soundproof!” They stepped inside and a soft light came on.

The room was much larger than it appeared from the outside. The basement was a full basement, and this room was over half the size of the house’s first floor. The carpet was soft beneath their feet. The walls were lined with shelves of truly ancient volumes, even some jars of scrolls and stacks of papyrus, as well as what looked like rows and rows of journals. Along the walls, musical instruments were hung for display, and larger instruments stood in the corners. A soft couch sat at one end and a massive desk sat at the other.

“Do you play anything besides the guitar?” Sebastian asked.

“No,” James said.

“A shame. I never collected guitars…. I am partial to violins,” Sebastian explained with a smile.

“I can tell,” James laughed, seeing at least twenty fine instruments on the walls. Sebastian took a beautiful instrument from the wall. As the bow began to dance across the strings of the ancient instrument, it emitted a haunting tune that took James’s breath away. A smile softened Sebastian’s face, his eyelids fluttering over closed eyes. The rhythmic movements of his upper body united dance with his music.

James was still lost when the music tapered off and Sebastian’s eyes opened, looking to him expectantly. “That was beautiful!”

“You think so? Hmmm,” Sebastian mused, returning the instrument. “No one in the world alive today but you has ever heard that song. I found it in the room of an old friend, a composer, shortly after his death. Perhaps I should have left it to be discovered by history…. But he was dear to me at a very important time, so I took it….” Looking back to the wall, he added, “He gave me that instrument, made by a man I met once, Nicolo Amati….”

“How old is the violin?” James asked.

“That one? Nicolo made that violin in … let’s see, 1631?”

“How old are you?” James asked, his mind racing.

Sebastian put a hand on James’s built chest and sighed, “Shall we simply say that … I was beginning to feel too old!”

“Beginning? Something’s changed?” James asked.

“Maybe,” Sebastian said, leaning in and putting his head where his hand had been, sighing as he felt James’s hand in his hair. “Mmmm…. Are you hungry?”

“Starved,” James laughed.

Sebastian locked up and led him upstairs. They walked into the dining room and Sebastian announced, “We’re ready for dinner, Richard.” Then he motioned for James to sit next to him at the head of the long table. Richard silently served dinner and retreated.

As they ate, James asked, “Did you come back last night?”

“No,” Sebastian said, interested. “Why?”

“You don’t know?” James asked.

“Know?” Sebastian asked, raising his eyebrows. Then he smiled. “No, I stopped peaking into your head. It didn’t seem polite! Though I must admit, sometimes your feelings are so strong I can’t resist them….”

James blushed and laughed. “I had a dream last night … about you!”

“Really?” Sebastian asked with a smile.

“Really,” James said, laughing at his curiosity.

“Want to tell me about it?” Sebastian prodded.

James averted his eyes quickly and took a drink. “I saw you for what you were,” he said, recounting the visions of Sebastian in the field and the carnage, then the attack in the city. Sebastian looked mortified.

“And?” Sebastian insisted.

“I asked you if you fed off of me, which is why I can’t remember the night we met,” James said.

“I didn’t,” Sebastian began, but James cut him off.

“I know! I asked you why, and you told me that I was the first person you’d met who aroused in you an old emotion. At which point, I kissed you!” Nervously, he added, “I cut my lip on your fang on purpose, so when we kissed it was so intense I woke up with … a mess.”

Sebastian put a hand on his, and looked into his eyes. “You don’t think me revolting?”

“I think you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever met,” James answered.

“Beauty … is skin deep,” Sebastian said, looking embarrassed.

“Despite what you are, you cling to hope! You love music, you seek knowledge, you want to feel! Despite the centuries of chaos and blood! That’s amazing!” James declared.

Squeezing James’s hand, Sebastian leaned over and kissed him softly on the jaw, inhaling deeply. “The scene you described, dear James, was the aftermath of a battle in western Romania in 1438…. I’m not pleased to say that it was only the last of my most brutal and destructive acts. I killed a thousand—or more—during those campaigns! I was never notorious like ‘Vlad the Impaler,’ but I was thirsty for power then.”

“How old were you then?” James asked.

“Always the question, isn’t it? Old enough to know better! A hundred years later, in the wars of religion, I finally turned from worldly power to seek knowledge and to again study the mystical aspects of our natures in earnest.”

James put his fork down and stared at his plate. “You’ve seen so much… What could you see in an average teenage boy?”

Sebastian lifted his chin with a finger. “That … is not true! No one I’ve ever met has elicited so much interest … in my cold heart. And, if I may, seeing truly in dreams is not a normal gift, even in my world. You are much more than anyone suspects….”

Sebastian led him back upstairs to the recreation room, and they played pool for a while, just talking. “I still don’t understand … the football,” Sebastian smiled up from his cue. “Do you even like it?”

“Not really. Sometimes…. I’ve made some good friends. Plus I get to see some cute guys naked,” he added, and they both laughed. “But my dad … when I was little, he always talked about how important it is to be a man’s man, strong. Especially after my brother left. Dad pushed, and I was good at football….”

“What about music?” Sebastian asked.

“I learned from books, from internet lessons. That ‘sissy stuff’ didn’t get his support,” James said sadly.

“It’s a shame. I could teach you,” Sebastian offered.

“Yeah? What?” James asked with a bright smile.

“I can play every instrument you saw in my vault, so it’s really your choice. I’d love to see you play guitar some time, too,” Sebastian said.

“I’d like to try violin. Maybe one a little more beginner-friendly,” James joked.

Sebastian laughed. “I’ll order one from an old friend. He can make you a nice beginner’s model for a few thousand dollars.”

“I can’t afford that!” James exclaimed.

“Look around,” Sebastian said. “I’ve accumulated many vast fortunes over the centuries, and I have nothing left to spend it on, nothing I want to spend it on, except you!”

James wrapped his arms around Sebastian from behind, warming the vampire’s smaller body and causing him to purr, “Mmm….”

“I never thought,” James began.

“… you’d be hugging a bloodthirsty monster?” Sebastian joked.

“… that I’d ever get to hold another boy in my arms,” James answered seriously.

“I’m here,” Sebastian smiled, his cool hands caressing James’s muscular arms, “whenever you like! But I’m afraid … it’s getting late.”

James looked at the clock. “I have to be home in about fifteen minutes…. And I have my game tomorrow night!”

“Can I … see you this weekend?” Sebastian asked.

“I have practice on Saturday morning, but otherwise, I’m free,” James said.

“Good…. I’ll have Richard drive you home,” Sebastian said, smiling. Then he walked James to the door and kissed him, before ushering him out to the car, which delivered James just before his curfew.

“Have fun?” Maureen asked, as Phil frowned disapprovingly.

“Yeah, Sebastian’s cool,” James said, trying to ignore his father.

“A little femme, isn’t he?” Phil asked, barely attempting to mask his disgust.

“Honey!” Maureen exclaimed.

“Actually, he’s very strong, and…. Never mind,” James said, exasperated.

“What’s wrong with your other friends?” Phil asked.

“What other friends, dad?!” James asked, rounding on his parents.

“Your teammates…. Kids in the neighborhood,” Phil said.

“I don’t have anything in common with most of the meat heads on the team, and I’ve lost most of my other friends because I’m on the team,” James replied.

“Well, you don’t have to pal around with a….” Phil Barton began.

“With a what, dad?” James asked, the anger rising high.

“Well, he’s clearly a fag!” Phil said, exasperated.

“Why are you being such an asshole? If you weren’t my father, I’d,” James began, cutting himself off.

“You’d what,” Phil said, standing up, angry, Maureen grabbing his elbow.

“I’d take you out into the yard and kick your ass….” James took two long steps toward his father menacingly. “But don’t push me! And don’t say anything about him again!”

Suddenly Phil laughed. “I should have known! Ever since you were a boy….”

James’s face turned red, and yelled, “Everything I’ve ever done to prove myself to you hasn’t meant anything, has it? It all comes back to this! I’ve wasted years playing football, making quarterback, and it doesn’t mean anything because of this one thing, does it?”

“What?” Maureen asked, entirely lost.

“You’re son’s whining that daddy doesn’t love him because he’s a fag!” Phil spat.

“You’re gay too?” Maureen asked, sounding confused again.

“Yes, mom! I tried to hide it, but,” James began, but stopped. “You know, I don’t have to explain myself to you! I’m sorry, but it’s who I am! I’m going to my room!”

“You’re,” Phil began, but Maureen was on her feet in a second. James heard, but didn’t see, the crack of her hand against Phil’s face.

“Shut up, or pack a bag,” she said, deathly calm. The man stormed out, and a few minutes later he tromped out the door with a bag in hand. James came down and sat next to his mother who cradled her head in her hands.

“I’m sorry mom,” James said, unsure of what to do.

“It’s not your fault, honey,” she said, looking over at him. “I wish you’d told me a long time ago.”

“I was worried about … this! I was trying to make dad happy!”

“James, it isn’t possible…. I’ve tried for over twenty years. He’s a miserable bastard, and I just needed a reason!” Maureen explained.

“Well, I’m still sorry,” James said.

Maureen put her arm around him. “SO! You and Sebastian?”

James shrugged his shoulders. “I like him, but it’s … complicated?” Then James smiled and said, “He’s going to teach me to play the violin….”

“That’s wonderful! He’s very … cute,” she smiled.

“He’s beautiful, mom!” James got up and walked upstairs. Lying in bed, he wondered what he had just done. He had felt so protective of Sebastian, a creature older than his country who had done so much evil. Shaking his head, he grabbed his laptop and got online

Checking his email, he found a message from Chris: “Hi, James. Thanks for today! I hope you don’t mind but it’s nice to have someone to talk to about stuff, and I know you probably don’t want to hear about it. I just … it’s very frustrating and I know that he thinks of me like a little brother, and well, you know how I feel. Thanks for not judging, Chris.”

James shook his head and smiled, writing, “Dear Chris, Eventually you’re going to have to move on. I know that it’s especially hard, since you don’t know WHO to move on to. I’m not sure, but do you know Steve Lewis? He’s nice, and I sometimes get the feeling he might be receptive. If you’re interested, I could feel him out for you? James.”

It was nearly game-time and the team was just relaxing. James saw Steve standing alone and walked over to him. “Hey, Steve! What’s up?” 

“Same old, same old. What about you?” Steve asked, smiling.

“Wow! Let’s see…. I’m kind of seeing somebody, but it’s complicated, and my dad walked out last night after he had a big fight with me, then my mom!”

“Sorry, dude,” he said, with a soft look. Almost six feet tall, Steve was still built more like a swimmer than a footballer—not surprising for a kicker! He was also classically handsome, with sharp features and bright blue eyes set beneath wavy brown hair. 

“Yeah, it sucks. Listen, a friend of mine was asking me about you the other day. You going out with anybody?” James asked.

The boy shrugged. “Nahhh! Not really interested these days. Too much trouble if you ask me.” 

“Come to think of it, I don’t recall you ever dating,” James said. Steve shifted on his feet, decidedly uncomfortable. He was clearly trying to think up a response, and that confirmed it for James. “Steve, don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t know if it will make any difference, but my friend is a guy….”

Steve’s eyes nearly bugged out. “YOU have gay friends?”

“Sure! And I mean, he’s not out or anything. He’s not really into sports… He’s kinda nerdy, but he’s cute,” James said.

“Cute?” Steve asked. “You mean cute, or you mean ‘he’d be cute to guys like you’?” James smiled and shrugged. “I knew it! I fuckin’ knew it!”

“So, are you interested?” James asked with a smile.

“It isn’t you?” Steve asked, sort of disappointed.

“No, I really am kinda seeing somebody,” James said.

“Too bad! But yeah, I’m interested,” Steve smiled.

“You know Christopher Price?” James asked.

“Lively’s puppy dog? Yeah, sure!” James gave him a wide-eyed, ‘well, it’s him’ look. “Ohhh! He IS cute, shaggy hair, nice ass….”

“Steve! I’ll tell him you’re interested, but take it easy? Be nice to him…. He’s shy, but he’s got a lot going on.”

Steve got a little lost in thought, but he was smiling, “I’m always nice! Chris? Hmmm….”

James smacked him on the arm, laughing. “Good luck, then, buddy.”

Soon, the team lined up to run out onto the field in the midst of the cheerleaders’ show for a cheering home crowd. James searched the stands and he saw a familiar man standing at attention—Richard. He soon caught sight of the boy in his black pants and white shirt, wearing a light black coat. Sebastian was a sight to behold in the midst of the crowd, a dark, graceful figure standing out against the crushing throng.

James smiled to himself, and knew Sebastian could see the smile was for him. He waved, and Sebastian winked. Following James’s gaze, Maureen spotted Sebastian and moved over next to the boy.

“Hi, Sebastian,” she said.

“Mrs. Barton,” he said with a smile, pulling his eyes away from James.

“Never liked the game myself,” she said. “But you have to admit, there’s something about the uniform!”

“Pardon me?” he asked with a laugh.

“Don’t you think my son looks … handsome in his uniform?” Maureen teased.

“I … well,” Sebastian said, flustered but refraining from skimming her thoughts in the absence of an emergency.

Maureen laughed. “I’m sorry! That was cruel. James and I talked a little last night. He told me it’s ‘complicated’!”  

Sebastian smiled and nodded. “Apparently, he wasn’t wrong. I notice your husband isn’t here.” Maureen shrugged. “I’m sorry. I feel I’m to blame. I kept asking James why he felt like he had to hide, and he was so afraid of disappointing his father!”

“Like I told him, he was going to disappoint his father no matter what,” she answered, and Sebastian nodded sadly.

The game began, and Sebastian had to admit to himself that there was something extraordinarily … sexy about the big teens crashing into one another, particularly since James was there. The air full of testosterone and adrenaline was like drugs to him, making him feel very … excited, hungry. 

Suddenly, he felt an extraordinary malignance. “Maureen,” he said softly, pointing, “Phil is here.”

“God, he’s drunk,” she murmured, moving to intercept him. He shoved his way past her, though few people noticed as James was making a touchdown at that same moment. But, returning to the sidelines James saw his father and rushed to the fence.

“Mom, are you okay?” James asked.

“Yeah, honey, don’t worry,” she said.

“What’s he doing here?” James asked.

“I don’t know, but he’s drunk,” Maureen replied. They then saw Phil sitting with his friends pointing their way, the other men looking shocked. 

“Fuck! He’s telling them! He’s outing me at a fucking football game!” It was at that point he noticed Sebastian stand and walk over to the men. Maureen began to speak, but James murmured, “Please don’t hurt him!”

“Your father’s drunk, but he’d,” Maureen began.

“I’m talking about Sebastian,” James said, cutting her off.

“Mr. Barton,” Sebastian said coldly. “You’re drunk.”

“This is the one,” Phil said with a laugh. “Can you believe, this kid? I mean look at him—he’s close enough to a girl, why couldn’t my boy be straight?”

“You’re a pathetic son of a bitch,” Sebastian said. “Any real man would be glad to have a son like yours! Are you jealous?” Sebastian, throwing his own rules to the wind, forced his way into the man’s mind, throwing the drunk into a positive spiral. “People will think he got it from you—two gay sons? Afraid all your years of pretending were for nothing?” Sebastian said with a laugh. “You don’t want better for your son than you had, Phil?”

Phil clumsily struck at Sebastian, but the boy grabbed his hand and applied a vice-like grip to the soft flesh between the thumb and forefinger, dropping Phil to his knees. Sebastian held his hand straight up in the air. Leaning down, he whispered, “You stay away from James, do you understand?” Pausing, his eyes became as black as they’d ever gotten to accentuate his point. “Do you understand me, Phil?” The man nodded in abject terror. “Because, Phil, I will kill you in a way so cruel it boggles the mind!” Standing up, he released the man’s arm and brushed his hands on his pants. “Gentlemen,” Sebastian said, returning to his seat. Phil stumbled out of the bleachers and toward the exit, never taking his eyes off of Sebastian. But as he passed James, he pointed and yelled, “Fucking faggot!”

James reddened; some of his teammates had been close enough to hear. The whispers spread along the line as quickly as they spread through the bleachers, and as James returned to the sideline, a few of the guys smirked at him and shook their heads dismissively.

On the field, some of the guys didn’t get his back and he started to get sacked more. As the offensive line returned to the sideline again, the coach yelled at the team, and one of the guys said, “I’m not blocking for some faggy quarterback….”

 At that point, Peter Lively clocked the guy in the face. A few guys started toward Peter, but Steve shoved one of the guys and stood next to Peter.

“Who all feels like they can’t play with James?” the coach yelled. The three guys facing off with Peter and Steve, as well as the guy holding his bruised face, along with a few other guys raised their hand. The coach looked at James, Peter and Steve and said “Fuck!” Looking back at the other guys, he called a timeout. “You guys,” he said, pointing to the guys who raised their hand, “are all suspended! Get off the field! Simmons! Albert! Rodriguez! You guys are first string now!”

Looking pissed, the other guys jogged to the field house, some very angry looking parents hot on their tails. The three guys who would play their positions, however, looked ecstatic.

“Sorry it happened like this,” Simmons said with a grin, “but I’ve been wanting more play time,” smacking James on the back. James smiled and shook his hand. By the time the offense was back on the field, the other team had found out about James, somehow, and they really targeted him for some hard tackles. Finally, the ref actually made an unnecessary roughness call against one particular player. But a few plays later, Rodriguez took the opportunity to take the kid out of the game with an incredible blow he didn’t see coming.

After the game, the coach had some nice words for how the team had stepped up, and how he wouldn’t tolerate any unsportsmanlike behavior. They had been a team before and they would remain a team now, and anyone who couldn’t get used to it could consider themselves cut. As they all got dressed to go, most of the guys did, however, keep their distance. Rodriguez and Simmons came by to shake James’s hand on the way out, but Peter changed next to him.

“I never would have guessed, man,” Peter said with a laugh.

“I didn’t want anybody to,” James said.

“Well, we’re good, you know that? I got your back,” Peter replied.

“Thanks man,” James said.

“By the way, Steve,” Peter began, looking at the slender kicker in a new light, “that was very cool. That guy was two of you! He could have killed you!”

Steve laughed, “Gotta stand by my boys!”

A few of the guys who were still a little uncomfortable did wave bye to him as they left. “They’ll come around,” Peter said. James nodded. “You guys want to go to my place and play some Wii?”

“I think someone might be waiting for me, but you should definitely go, Steve…. Say hi to Chris for me?” James said with a smile.

“How come you finally came around on him?” Peter asked, oblivious.

“He’s a good guy,” was all James said.

“So, who’s waiting on you?” Steve said with a glimmer in his eye.

“I’m guessing it’s the guy who showed your dad who’s the man?” Peter asked, surprising them both with his observation. “What? That guy was seriously pissed off, so I’m guessing he likes you!”

“Well … you’re right. See you later, guys!” James walked out of the field house in his team sweatpants and a t-shirt, the cool air whipping at him. He looked around and almost everyone was gone, but he saw the black car in the lot. His eyes were drawn to a rock wall near the gate, and Sebastian was perched on top.

As he drew near, Sebastian said, “I’m sorry. I know you weren’t ready for all this….”

“Well, it wasn’t so bad. I’ve still got some friends, and I don’t have to hide anymore,” James replied with a shrug.

“Just watch your back. Nice game, by the way…. Watching you play with those boys was a little exciting!”

James smiled at Sebastian and did his best Austin Powers, “Did it make you horny?”

Sebastian laughed and hopped down about the time that Steve walked by. He stopped and said, “Hey, I’m Steve!” He held out a hand to Sebastian, who shook it.

“Sebastian. Nice to meet you!”

Turning to James, Steve raised his eyebrows appreciatively. “Well, off to play Wii! Chris is coming a little later!”

“You should … offer him a ride home after. Take the chance to talk to him….” Steve nodded and jogged to his car, Peter hot on his heels, waving as he passed. James took out his phone and texted Chris: “If Steve offers you a ride home, you should accept! It’s like I thought, and he’s interested!”

Sebastian smiled. “You did a nice thing.” Seeing James’s face, he added, “No, I didn’t read you, but it was coming off of Steve’s heart in waves. He’s very excited!”

“Speaking of excitement,” James said, taking Sebastian’s hand, “what are you doing tonight?”

“Same thing I’ve been doing forever,” Sebastian laughed.

“I’m always keyed up after a game! You want to do something?” James asked.

“Want to go back to my place?” Sebastian asked. 

“Sure!” He called his mom and let her know where he was going. “Can I just sleep over?”

“Alright, sweetheart. Be careful,” she said.

Catching the possible double meaning, he said, “Mom!”

“Have fun, honey. Love you!”

“Love you too,” James said. Turning to Sebastian, he smiled. “Let’s go….”

As they climbed into the car, Sebastian said, “Home, Richard….”

“Yes, sir,” the man said, and they soon pulled into the drive. 

“Would you like a shower and some clean clothes?” Sebastian asked.

“Sure, that would be great!” James said with enthusiasm.

Sebastian took him upstairs and invited him to use the big shower in his room. As James was toweling off, he realized he didn’t really have any clean clothes with him, but on the bed he found a pair of boxers and a silk robe, which he put on. Sebastian came in and smiled at him. “I thought, since we were having a slumber party, I’d give you some appropriate clothes!”

“I must say,” James smiled, “I’ve stayed over with a lot of friends and this isn’t the standard attire!”

“No?” Sebastian asked coyly, sliding a hand into the robe and rubbing the muscular chest beneath. “Well, it should be!” After a minute, he stepped back. “All the excitement of the game, being around all those people, I’m afraid I’m a little … hungry,” he said a little guiltily. “And, before we go any further, you should see … first hand … what that’s like.”

“Sebastian,” James complained, “I’ve seen!”

“It’s different, believe me….” At that moment, Richard opened the door and showed a young man in, leaving quickly.

“Who’s this?” the young man asked, looking at James hungrily.

“This is James,” Sebastian said. “James, this is my friend Austin. Austin is a sophomore at the state college…. We met one night on campus. His taste in men can run on the younger side….” James nodded dumbly. Austin, who looked the part of a well-built frat boy, took a step forward and tried to put a hand on James, but Sebastian grabbed his wrist. “He’s only here to watch.”

“Shame,” Austin said, licking his lips. “What is he, baseball?”

“Quarterback,” Sebastian laughed.

“Oh, wow,” Austin said with unrestrained lust in his eyes.

Sebastian looked him in the eyes and made that connection. “Take off your shirt and lay down, Austin.” In a haze, the young man smiled and stripped his shirt off and lay down. Sebastian sat next to him and grabbed his chin, turning his head to the side. Slowly, dispassionately, he lowered his mouth to the man’s neck and drove his fangs deep.

James watched in fascination as Austin began to moan, hardening in his jeans. Austin started rubbing himself through his pants and, in a few short minutes, had an orgasm. When Sebastian finished, he wiped his mouth and closed the wound with a spell. “You were fantastic, Austin, as always,” he said, sending the young man away with a smile on his face. “Richard will see to it that he gets home safely.”

“That was … different. He really got off on it,” James observed.

“I get what I need, and he gets what he wants, at least the feeling. And I keep him out of trouble with real teens! One day, I might have to kill him if he doesn’t find an appropriate playmate. He has some dark fantasies, and I’d hate to see that happen to some kid.”

“So you do still sometimes … kill them?” James asked.

“Sometimes…. It’s an advantage of my gifts. I’ve saved society some great headaches, and avenged a few wrongs that justice missed,” Sebastian explained.

“Do you ever … have sex with people you feed off?” James wondered.

Sebastian looked embarrassed. “Sometimes. One gets lonely….”

“You don’t have to apologize,” James said with a laugh. “I didn’t think you’d be an eight-hundred-year-old virgin!”

Sebastian smiled, “Yes….” He took James’s hand softly and kissed it. “It’s just that you make me wish I was, so I could share that with you!” James wrapped his arms around Sebastian, who listened to James’s heartbeat increase its pace. “James, I don’t know what we’re doing….”

“For now, can’t we just enjoy this?” James asked, and Sebastian smiled up at him and nodded. “Take off your shirt and lay down, Sebastian,” James said, cheekily using the same words Sebastian had used to command Austin. Sebastian smiled and removed his shirt, revealing again that delicately sculpted, breathtaking torso. As he lay down, James loomed over and crawled on top of him, letting the silk robe tickle Sebastian’s cool flesh. Sebastian reached up and slid the garment off, running his hand over James’s developed muscles. James lowered himself onto Sebastian.

“Mmmm,” Sebastian moaned. “I love to feel you on top of me!”

“I love the way you look under me,” James smiled back cockily. “But first, I’m feeling underdressed,” he said, sliding his hands between them and unbuttoning Sebastian’s pants. Letting the pants fall, Sebastian stood nude in front of James for the first time. He looked like a marble statue, alabaster skin with deep blue veins beneath; only his crimson lips destroyed the illusion. With a hand on his hip, he presented himself. He casually tossed his black hair, a move so unrehearsed but so accentuating his beauty that James grabbed him by the waist and pulled him down, pressing their lips together.

Smiling, Sebastian said, “Now, I’m afraid, you are overdressed!” With that, he reached down and impatiently pulled James’s boxers off. Sebastian gazed longingly on the teenage god lying on his bed, his entire form sculpted with gently rolling muscle, gorgeous and manly. His long legs and taut ass, as well as his chest and stomach, were dusted with dark blond hair. A thicker patch led down his abs. His silky hair framed his handsome face, his big grin revealing deep dimples and making his green eyes shine.

“Well,” he asked, as Sebastian stood and stared, “are you going to join me?”

“It’s just … I’m overwhelmed,” Sebastian said, swallowing hard, eyes roaming aimlessly.

“Come here,” James said, opening his arms, and Sebastian crawled into bed as if he was the one under a spell. James covered them up to their waist with the black silk sheets, as Sebastian lay on his chest. The vampire was calmed by listening to the strong, rhythmic beat of James’s heart. 

“You … are so beautiful,” Sebastian said.

“I feel the same about you,” James smiled, kissing his head. They began to kiss softly, sweetly. Soon James found himself staring down into the deep pools, sometimes black, sometimes deep brown, that were the bottomless windows to Sebastian’s soul. Sebastian’s face was more beautiful than it had ever been, transformed by pure pleasure, feelings shaking him from the inside out. Never mind the blooming love he felt for a boy, a human being, who had accepted him. Sebastian moaning in languages unspoken in recent memory, as James smiled down and they continued their rhythmic lovemaking. Sebastian dug into James’s back with his fingertips, mindful of his claws, and began kissing James’s neck, which was pumping hot blood. He felt a desire quite apart from hunger.

“Do it,” James whispered, feeling the lips close on his neck. “Please, I want you to!” Sebastian hesitated, and he insisted, “Bite me, but don’t mess with my mind!” Sebastian’s fangs protruded, and he teased James with them, creating just a pleasant amount of pain. “Sebastian, please!”

Sebastian sank his fangs into James’s muscular neck, biting hard with the rest of his teeth. The white-hot pain shooting through James’s whole body was almost instantly replaced by a feeling of euphoria. His hand grasped a handful of Sebastian’s soft black hair and held him tight. “Fuck, yes,” James groaned, and lasted only about another thirty seconds. 

Slowly, Sebastian’s fangs withdrew, and he sighed, licking his lips and James’s neck, before repairing the wound. James smiled down at him, and Sebastian looked up into James’s eyes, and grinned. Soon, they began again, and made love long and slow, kissing all the while.

When they finished, Sebastian laughed. “What?” James asked when he caught his breath.

“That was … amazing! It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to experience something for the first time!” Sebastian grinned. “That was your first time?”

“You know it was! But it’s easy when you’re,” James began, but stopped, blushing.

Sebastian stroked his face, “When you’re what, cutie?”

“When you’re falling in love,” James whispered, embarrassed.

“James….” Unable to resist, Sebastian opened himself to James’s feelings, which flooded over him like water rushing over a dam. He gasped, before apologizing. “I’m sorry, I….” Then he did something he hadn’t done in front of another person in decades: he cried.

“Sebastian, did I say something wrong,” James asked, sending out another wave of loving concern so strong that Sebastian could not have blocked it if he tried.

“No,” Sebastian said, eyes shut tight, smiling and shaking his head no. “I’m just a little overwhelmed! You couldn’t begin to conceive of how long I’ve waited! I was once told by a very great man that such a thing was impossible….”

“Tell me,” James said, staring down at him, propped on his elbows. Most of his weight was on Sebastian, but to the vampire it was nothing.

“You wouldn’t…. Of course you would! In 1314, I was traveling in Italy, playing a rustic nobleman from Eastern Europe. In Verona, I was hosted for a few nights by Cangrande della Scala. He invited me to a wonderful party, and of course I attended…. Everyone was very drunk, and I sat up late that night. One of the last people standing was a most unhappy gentleman, a mournful poet of the sort one used to meet, so consumed by longing and grief…. I digress. He recognized me for what I was; well, he probably thought me a demon … but he did not, for that reason, refuse to speak with me! In fact, I think he relished it. It suited him at the time to converse with an infernal abomination. I told him I dreamed of one day finding love, and he just laughed. He told me that for the most noble, this was a nearly unattainable goal in this life, but that for such as me, it was a perverse dream, as I would never see that life either,” he said, laughing. “But then he said, ‘What do I know? All I have known of love is suffering!’ Do you know who that man was?”

James smiled and touched Sebastian’s lips with his finger. “Hmmm. Dante?”

Sebastian’s face lit up. “You see? Entirely unsuited to the barbaric games!”

“Well, Dante didn’t see me coming…. Now let’s get cleaned up,” James said, trying to peel himself off of Sebastian. Sebastian called down to ask Richard to change the sheets and led James to the shower, washing him gently and allowing James to do the same for him. As they were washing, James said, “You can feed on me any time you like…. That was … wow!”

Sebastian smiled, and nodded. “I couldn’t, or you’d die. But from time to time,” he allowed. “I took almost none from you tonight, or you’d feel very weak….”

James blushed and admitted, “Oh…. Seeing you with Austin made me jealous.” 

Sebastian smiled and wrapped his arms around his stud, feeling the water sliding over their bodies. “I can assure you that, from here on out, it’s purely business when feeding.”

“Still, knowing what if feels like…. It’s so intimate!” James said.

“Believe me when I tell you, they are of no interest to me,” Sebastian promised.

When they were dry, they returned to find the bed crisply made with white silk sheets. Sebastian crawled into bed and asked, “Do you need a blanket?”

“No, it’s plenty warm in here,” James said, sliding in and hugging Sebastian close. Soon, James was in a deep and dreamless sleep, while Sebastian rested on his chest, wondering what he should do with this mortal boy who loved him.