He’d been up for a few hours, the oversized window generous with the amount of sunlight it allowed into his room, but he’d been half-heartedly putting the finishing touches to an assignment and yawning, stretching warm muscles luxuriously and enjoying the lie in.
The buzzer sounded again, shattering his peace, and Law groaned as he lifted himself upright. He stretched again, willing his muscles to feel a little less like warm jelly, and let the morning light bathe him. Where were the others? He fought to recall their whereabouts. Echo was home for a few days, back for a birthday of a relative Law didn’t really know, and Rhoan was south of the border, doing something for his coursework which apparently involved texting Law every hour to moan about the English. And with Eilidh it was a tossup between being home or, frankly, she could be in the flat but sleeping off a massive hangover. Either were possible.
Law trudged down the stairs as he picked sleep from his eyes, wishing he’d had the forethought to put a jumper on for a change. He opened the door and blinked, suddenly awake.
Chase had swooped him up before Law’s brain had been able to catch up to the bizarre sight of his boyfriend, who was supposed to be on another continent, percolating through to his consciousness. And when it did Law was already in the air, letting out an ungraceful squawk, while Chase whooped.
The words “Surprise!” and “Did you miss me?” blended into one while Law struggled to comprehend that he wasn’t dreaming. The clue was, of course, that he was never this tired when he was asleep.
“Chase!” he spluttered, face breaking out into a broad grin, as bright as the morning sun streaming through their windows. Chase lowered his hands slowly and Law slithered down until his feet were on the floor again.
In another quick and romantic gesture, Chase spun them around and then planted a kiss on Law’s lips. Law was still fighting for his bearings and surged forward a moment too late to catch his boyfriend’s lips a second time, and Chase laughed joyously.
“Usually you’re a lot quicker than this.”
“Usually I’m not half asleep and wrongly under the impression that my boyfriend is thousands of miles away.”
“Well I’m not,” he grinned, though his voice was gentle. “I’m right here.”
“Yeah,” Law nodded, and though his tone was dazed the silly smile on his face conveyed his pleasure at this development easily enough. “I thought you had some tests coming up?”
“I did them early, and there aren’t classes over Easter. I’m staying for a week.”
Law’s eyes lit up and, seeing this, Chase laughed again.
He wrapped his arms around Law’s waist and nuzzled into his neck briefly, and Law was suddenly hit by how solid Chase was against him, and how good he smelled. Law groaned and his boyfriend chuckled, pulling back his head with a smirk.
“Do you have anything to do today?” Chase asked innocently, his hands dropping down past the curve of Law’s back.
Law considered this as seriously as he could with Chase assailing his every sense. His paper was finished and could be handed in on Monday, the teenagers he tutored in biology were off on break, and no one else was around the flat (bar the possible exception of Eilidh, but with a hangover she was barely present anyway, unless she was in the bathroom noisily throwing up).
“Just you,” Law answered with the same innocence.
“He got us a fridge magnet,” Echo replied.
“It’s rude,” Rhoan added, sending a kiss Eilidh’s way as a greeting. “And not yet on the fridge.”
“He’s visiting his Aunt.” Law leaned forward in the rounded kitchen chair, as always sliding too far on the smooth surface.
“That’s not fair,” she whined, “I was out of action yesterday, and now I’m back on my feet he’s gone? I was looking forward to seeing him.”
“He’ll be back soon,” Rhoan snorted. “You really think that horny sod can stay away from Law after months apart?”
Law shoved his toe into Rhoan’s back. “Just focus on fixing the oven.”
Rhoan grunted at the impact as Echo tried turning a knob experimentally. She sighed as no light came on and went back to reading through the manual as if it had the answers. Rhoan had previously resorted to doing an ‘oven dance’ (which involved wearing the oven mitts on his head) and praying to the oven fairies. What Law hated was that it had worked.
“So are you going to surprise your dad with a plus one after all?” Rhoan asked, reaching forward to twist the knobs back to zero.
“Um,” Law said, biting his lip. As one, Rhoan and Echo turned to stare at him. Eilidh glanced up as she noticed the silence in the room, though she’d missed the conversation as she’d stared at her phone.
“Oh boy,” Rhoan muttered under his breath. “Does he know your father’s wedding is happening on Friday?”
Law cleared his throat awkwardly, and Eilidh gave a dismayed squeak.
“Nooo, Law, is he going to still be in the country?!”
“Look,” Law said, shifting uncomfortably in the seat. Echo spared a moment to give him a sympathetic look; of all the flat, she was the only one who really understood Law’s reluctance to tell his father. “I can’t launch a sudden plus one on my dad and have it be a man. It’s his wedding.”
“Yeah, okay, true,” Rhoan said, reaching out to take the oven mitts off their corner hook. He folded the thick material on his lap. “But you also gotta have that conversation with him again.”
Law made a non-committal noise in answer. The idea that he’d have to have this conversation again with Chase just to tell him that he couldn’t come to his father’s wedding seemed cruel, even if the other option was just as likely to go badly. But Law had already told Chase he was busy on Friday, and he could hardly go back to admit it was for a wedding he didn’t want to argue over.
“Well,” Rhoan said, after a long beat of silence. “It’s time for me to appease the oven fairies again.” Eilidh cheered as her boyfriend shoved the oven mitts over his head. Echo bit her lip and stifled a giggle behind her hand, but Law simply sighed and left them to it, trudging upstairs to contemplate his options in bed.
“Eilidh,” Law grinned, greeting his friends who were among the first guests to arrive. This was no surprise given Elspeth’s hatred of tardiness, and since Rhoan was still trying hard to get on her good side some years after he starting dating her daughter, they had beaten her to the venue.
The venue was a lovely little spot overlooking the coast, only a short drive from Aelview. The sky was, luckily, bright and without rain clouds, though rings of fluffy cumulus curled around the horizon. The late April showers were holding off for now, and the wind actually held a hint of warmth. The reception house nearby stood with its doors open, ready to retreat with the first sign of the rain, but for now Kane was pleased to see the outdoor wedding was going ahead.
“You look amazing,” Law went on, briefly wrapping his friend in a hug, and then Rhoan hooked his arm around Law and did the same.
“What about me?”
Law rolled his eyes. “I’m only glad you didn’t bring the oven mitts along.”
Some are quick and bright, like a shooting star blazing across the night sky, burned out in a blink. The first impression is so spectacular that it is this that you think of when you remember that person, whether they’re still in your life or not.
Some are like waves of a sea; a force that you know of even before you see each swell, and once that introduction is over, once the honeymoon period of friendship has quietened, you can’t remember how much of the wave was white capped and how soon it tumbled over itself, but you always remember that the wave was there.
Most are unremarkable. Most are forgotten or faded around the edges. The words have lost meaning, the scenery bleaching like a photograph left in the light. Sometimes the entire exchange is simply gone. The important parts always remain, though, and sometimes this is nothing. Sometimes the friendship was unremarkable, gone quiet long ago, lost to sea.
Kane may not have remembered that he met Jasmine when the sun was shining down on them, or that they were outside the town hall. But he remembered her excitement when she moved in, and how she’d spent hours cooing over Law. He remembered the first time he’d looked at her with a fond and warm weight in his heart, and the first time he’d seen her with the eyes of a lover and not a friend.
The time taken on their winding journey until the point where they became husband and wife was long. They’d taken each step slowly, new dance partners feeling one another out, but Kane wasn’t sorry for it. He was only happy he’d had so much time with the woman he loved the most in the world.
Many years later, many, many years, when Kane was too old to remember most things in his life, the wedding was a wave. He didn’t remember the smell of salt on the wind or the way Jasmine hugged him after they’d kissed, but he remembered the shape of the wedding. He remembered his son beaming at him. He remembered trying one particular difficult ceilidh move while he laughed so hard his sides hurt.
And there were many shooting star moments to come with the woman who was now his wife.
“I just don’t understand why you would do that,” Chase snapped, his words unfurling like a whip which Law flinched from. His tense shoulders became tenser still, the muscles protesting with a fierce ache.
“So you could just get hurt when I didn’t invite you to the wedding?”
“Rather than get hurt about the fact you didn’t tell me about it?”
“I had,” Law protested. “You knew it was around this time.”
Chase cocked his head to the side, formulating a response, and Law saw the truth in that moment. For a split second he remembered, with dark amusement, how Chase had laughed and told him that for a genius he really could be an idiot.
“You knew,” Law growled, rolling his eyes heavenward. “I’m an idiot. You came back because you wanted me to invite you to the wedding.”
And then Chase was on the defensive, his body language echoing the coiled anger in Law’s. “I didn’t know that I could come back at this time. Not until a couple of weeks ago,” Chase said. “I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well I hoped it wouldn’t come to that,” Chase snapped back.
“Then why come back at this time?”
“To surprise you!” he shouted. Their back and forth retorts were quick, barely enough time to think between them, certainly not enough time to step back and wrangle their emotions under control.
“Yeah maybe that was one part,” Law said, giving a careless shrug. He regarded Chase coolly, or at least he tried to, but he suspected he’d failed.
“I’m so fucking sick of being your dirty secret,” Chase groaned, turning away and running his hand through his hair. “You know Dustin was worried about this too, but his parents are super supportive-“
“Who’s Dustin?” Law asked, wrinkling his nose. “And are you seriously trying to tell me how my father is going to react?”
“He could be absolutely fine with it! Or he could take some time, or whatever, but he can hardly kick you out now!”
“He can still ignore me!” Law spat back. “He can still tell me that he doesn’t want a gay son!”
“So you’re going to live like this all your life?!” Chase’s eyes narrowed. “I can’t do that,” he whispered. “I can’t fucking do that, Law. Not anymore.”
Law looked away. He knew he was being stubborn, but it wasn’t fair for Chase to push him. He didn’t like the idea of caving just to satisfy his boyfriend, not when the thought of admitting this to his dad put a lead weight in his stomach.
“This isn’t a solution. You’re only putting it off. You realise that right?”
Law breathed in sharply through his nose. “Stop trying to tell me what to do,” he said instead. “I’m not comfortable telling my dad. Can’t you just accept that?”
Chase chewed over the words for a while. Then he thought about his reply. He swallowed, steeling himself, and it was the look of somebody who had come to a realisation that they knew had they had been barrelling towards for some time, at some speed.
Finally he looked back at Law. “No,” he said simply. “And I guess this is how it is for us. I’m sorry.”
Chase crossed to the door without looking back at Law, and moments later he heard the door slam.
It was strange how someone so heavily and so intricately involved with Law’s existence could leave so quickly. How could the strands of their story that had woven together for years be so easily separated? The edge where Chase no longer was wept and stung, skin that had been torn across a serrated knife. A knee that smarted from a graze and a fatal incision at the same time. One a constant ache and the other a sharp pain with each breath, each reminder of Chase crossing his path.
Unknowingly, Law was destined for far more than scientific greatness. He was destined to solve the complex interwoven web of myth and reality several times over, to help inspire a revolution and to train those who bled for it, to have his story irrevocably tied with a man who would become a God. He was going to save peoples and he was going to save worlds, and he was going to keep his own family alive to see it.
But whether or not he was destined to do it alone was a decision yet to be made.
“It’s going very well, thank you.” Law’s reply was flat and automatic, like it had been for the last two weeks. Rhoan and Eilidh had heard the argument and looked at Law with guilt and pity in their eyes, whereas Echo had learned of it very quickly when Law had woken her up to cry dejectedly on her pillow. It had passed the stage where every breath hurt, but hadn’t yet developed to where getting up on a morning was an easy exercise.
“What’s wrong then?” Kane asked, trying hard not to be on cloud nine after his honeymoon. Law stared ahead at the cafe beneath their flat blankly, so his father nudged him. “You look heartbroken.”
Law thought of their old arguments and heavy silences. Eventually the conversation had drained away, Law leaving for university and then the two of them wordlessly agreeing not to bring up Echo again. He supposed that was what happened when two stubborn people disagreed over something so integral to their relationship and refused to back down. It was exactly what he’d done with Chase, too.
“As a matter of fact, I am,” Law replied, stepping over the manhole cover rather than listen to its horrible grating thud as it rearranged itself under his weight.
Kane’s looked of surprise would have been comical if not for Law’s low mood. “Oh, Law, I’m sorry,” Kane murmured. Still, now that there was a clue to latch onto, he didn’t stop there. “What happened? Who was she?”
Law snorted, feeling bitterness swell in his chest. “I was dumped.”
“How long were you dating?” Kane asked, eyes sliding sideways to the state his son was in.
“Oh, you know,” he said casually, “only four years.”
Kane was so shocked he stopped, his entire body jolting with a double take, but Law kept walking. His hands were shoved deep into his pockets, curling around the keys sharp enough to ground himself, and yet still, still that thunder and lightning rage stormed inside him. He was surprised he could breathe normally; it felt like his chest was filled to the brim with ire.
Kane very quickly joined Law at his flat before his son could go up without talking to him. He stood in front of the door and held his hand out for the keys, which Law dropped into his hand once he could convince his white-knuckled grip to ease off. Kane held them hostage and turned them over in his hands with a troubled expression.
“This was the same person you were dating in high school?” Kane asked, remembering his and Jasmine’s theories whenever Law went out. Law only gave a nod, staring at the keys in his father’s hand. “Why didn’t you tell us?” His voice was wounded, confused, and righteous all in one. Possibly if it had been only two of three, Law wouldn’t have broken under the screaming and furious anger, but it was, and he did.
“Because it was a he, not a she,” Law said calmly, snatching his keys from his father’s hand. He didn’t look at his father. He didn’t need to.
“I don’t understand?”
“No, you don’t. You never did.”
“Very good,” Law muttered, jamming his key into the door.
“But why?” Kane asked, blinking at his son, truly mystified.
“I guess because I liked him.”
“Oh.” He fidgeted, and Law turned the key. “So are you looking to date a girl now?”
“Nope. Still gay, despite the heartbreak, but thanks for checking,” Law spat, shouldering his door open with far more force than necessary. He turned to look at his father, but upon seeing the confusion and discomfort on Kane’s face, decided that he didn’t need to say goodbye.
“But…are you sure? Have you ever tried kissing a girl, maybe, or-“
Law’s eyes burned with shame at the same time as his anger roared in his ears. “Why should I? I’m happy the way I am.”
“But how do you know, Law, I mean, can’t you just-“
“Stop talking,” Law said, his fingers curling so that he could press his nails into his skin. “Stop talking, unless what you’re going to say is along the lines of ‘I don’t care that you’re gay, so long as you’re happy’.”
“I-“ Kane broke off, his face white. “I’m sorry, Law. I just… don’t understand.”
Out of spite, Law snapped over his shoulder as he walked away. “Then don’t call until you do.”
“Law, you have been working incredibly hard this past month,” Luke said, uncomfortably leaning against his desk. For a second Law thought – with fear gripping his chest – that Luke was going to tell him he couldn’t do this anymore. Law had thrown himself into his research wholeheartedly, wanting no time for his mind to wander to how empty his life suddenly was. He’d made amazing progress, too, but for that one elusive piece of information that he knew he was missing. The thing that would draw all this together, that would make it make sense, because right now, it didn’t.
But no, Law couldn’t believe that was it. Luke had only praised him. He wouldn’t rescind his offer now.
“But I haven’t cracked it,” Law finished for him, letting his frustration bleed into the words. Luke gave a nervous smile.
“No. But I may be able to help you do that.”
The missing piece. Law tilted his head to the side and arched an eyebrow. He was ready to hear whatever information Luke had obviously been keeping from him.
“I wonder if you already suspect…” he muttered to himself, brushing his hands over his glasses – glasses which Law had discovered years ago were fakes.
“I can prove this.” Luke pulled in a breath. “My name, Law, my real name, that is, is Lukas Savio. I worked with your uncle Loxley on this project when he was a little younger than you are now.”
Time slowed as Law’s brain filed the information he’d been unconsciously gathering for the last year. Luke – Lukas – appeared to be in his early twenties, as he had all the time Law had known him. His uncle had worked for the scientist, who either had formulated a brilliant anti-ageing cream or had not aged at all.
The first rat that Law had ever injected with the virus was still alive. Rats could live for years, it was true, but often not lab rats. And not ones that had been living off nothing but blood for more several months.
The pieces fell like dominos.
Lukas never wore lab coats or lab gloves. The one time he’d spilled the tiniest drop of acid on his hand, he’d washed it off. Law was certain he saw no mark.
Lukas never ate with him, and had only ever drank in front of him all the times that Law had stayed here in his lunch break. Lukas drank from a metal water bottle he kept in the fridge. Law had once found an identical one in the lab fridges, and it had been filled with blood. The rats survived off blood to give themselves the heme that their body could no longer produce.
Lukas had once accidentally knocked off an expensive centrifuge from the table, weighing a hefty sum, as easily as if it had been a paper cup. It was in Winter, late enough that the sun had been down for many hours. The rats were also stronger and faster at night, whereas under UV light they were too close to the average rat to call it anything more than a statistical nightmare.
“The virus’ unofficial name,” Lukas said, staring Law down, “is the vampire virus.”
Law drew in a sharp breath, but it made sense. Immortality, weakness in the sun, a requirement of blood, enhanced strength and speed at night…
…And he was hungry for knowledge.
“Tell me everything.”
A/N: Okay, real talk. This isn’t how I imagined this to go, but the more I thought of why Kane and Law are the way they are, it just made sense like this. This does mean my plans are a little up in the air for this, but trust me. I got you.
Oh, and even more importantly, that beautiful quote about endings came from four internet funny people who play dungeons and dragons. Yes, I’m serious. The narrator has a wonderful way with words and that quote inspired both the wedding scene and Chase and Law’s break up. If that’s your jam, you can find it under The Adventure Zone or the Mcelroys in various places.
Lukas’ story will be next as an ‘interlude’. I’m sort of half considering having an audio component supporting it for people who wanted to ‘listen’ to Lukas (aka me) tell his story. But I’m a bit shy about my voice and lack of acting abilities, so, uh, tell me if that’s something you’d like and I’ll think on it. Of course the written transcript would be in the chapter as usual, though it’s going to be a very picture light post. Since listening to the podcast mentioned above I’ve really appreciated the power of delivering this sort of thing by voice, though I’m only planning to use it the once here.