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Claire walked down the stairs to the basement, tennis shoes slapping against dust and then the concrete of the stairs. She was not, however, expecting a boy with bright red eyes and fangs to run at her, up the last set of steps before she ended up on the landing. Even before she turned the corner, she had her arm up, aiming to block him. Her reactions were fast, but Myrnin was faster. The boy was grabbed by the back of his neck, gently but firmly jerking him backwards until Myrnin could get an arm around the squirming boy. Claire didn’t relax and was about to say something when Myrnin started talking instead. To the boy and not to her.
“Your own fault really that you are in this position. It isn’t my fault you won’t eat.” He sounded worried, like he didn’t exactly know what to do. The boy squirmed and struggled harder, clearly trying to get to the warm human with blood flowing through her veins. Claire didn’t think she was scared, which was probably dangerous. But this was Morganville and this, sad enough to say, was a monthly occurrence. And he looked to be just a boy, though what his actual age was impossible to know.
Myrnin frowned down at the boy and his fangs. Taking his mostly free hand, he brought it to the boy’s mouth. To begin with, Claire assumed he was just covering the fangs, like she hadn’t seen a hundred vampires by now. But instead, Myrnin pried the boy’s mouth open further and stuck the side of his thumb below the two upper canines. The boy didn’t really hesitate. He didn’t seem capable of linear thought. He bit down.
Myrnin didn’t let out any exclamation of pain, but for a second you could see it in his eyes. The boy wasn’t able to use the low-key mind control that allowed them to numb the brain of those they bit. So, any pain Myrnin experienced was, in a sense, without anesthesia. But he kept his hand where it was, letting the boy drink his own blood versus Claire’s. He looked exasperated, but hid the remains of his pain well. “Eating my friend is not allowed,” he said to the boy, looking down at him.
“Who -?” started Claire.
“This is Samuel,” introduced Myrnin. “You could say he’s a friend of mine.” He seemed to find holding a conversation in a stairway while a vampire that looked twelve sucked his blood to be perfectly normal. She dearly hoped this wasn’t a normal occurrence. Though Claire didn’t find it completely unusual, she thought it might be a stretch to say she was used to it. She doubted, no matter how long she worked for Myrnin, her crazy vampire boss, that she could ever take some of the more strange events in stride. But she could act like she did, so she could learn what the heck was going on. This was one of those days, by all appearances.
Samuel, the boy, was very slowly coming to his senses. His red eyes began to filter his surrounding back in as he started to realize what he had done. He tried to move his head away from Myrnin’s hand, but even though it looked like he physically wanted to, his teeth didn’t retract. Myrnin took the arm that had been wrapped around Samuel midsection and used that hand to place on the back of the boy’s head, inhibiting movement. Without looking down, he said, “No. Stay where you are. I can take it and so can you. You are not putting people in danger just because you think you look foolish or don’t, to use your term, ‘want to be babied’. If you did what you know you must, neither of us would be in this situation. Keep your teeth where they are.”
Claire frowned at this, opening her mouth to ask a question before second guessing herself. Myrnin was not being forceful, at least not without reason. If Samuel wasn’t taking care of his needs, then Myrnin’s actions were warranted. But that didn’t explain why the boy was here in the first place.
Samuel curled his lip over the tips of his teeth that Claire could only just see over Myrnin’s hand. He not only looked embarrassed, but he also looked like he was very uncomfortable. Claire wondered how new he was to all of this. He looked like he was feeling a little ill, paler than was usual for someone who seemed to have been of light brown skin. The change to a vampire had turned that to a creamy, very pale brown, but more color was draining from him as the witnesses to this grew from just Myrnin to her as well.
“Myrnin,” she said carefully. “You didn’t …” She stopped herself from saying the word. He wouldn’t. But he had in the past. He’d even offered it to her.
“Didn’t what?” asked Myrnin blankly. Samuel’s eyes had faded down to a sort of russet, making Claire think that they were some sort shade brown.
It took Myrnin an extra second to figure out what she was asking without ‘asking’. Eyes widened and he looked offended. “No, Claire. He is not mine. Lady Grey found him dumped on the Morganville border. He could be anyone’s.”
“I’m not owned,” protested Samuel around Myrnin’s hand. He removed his teeth from Myrnin’s hand and the fangs retract after a little. Myrnin didn’t protest, maybe satisfied that the young vampire was no longer in danger of attacking Claire.
“Of course you aren’t,” Myrnin agreed, backing up a step and shaking stray drops of his own blood off his hand. Well, not ‘his’ blood, since his body hadn’t produced it. The bite marks were already healing thanks to sped up healing abilities. “But I might start claiming you if you continue to use my as a snack bar. Eat when you are hungry, hear me?”
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