I sat silently still at the bar, listening thoughtlessly at the conversation between the bartender and the customers next to me.
Outside was a clear, warm summer night. Very inviting for people to come and go as they please. They would step in, smile, and approach the pool table to slap down their turn in change.
I loved this crowd. It was my sort of crowd. Better yet, this was my bar.
“Love what you've done to the place,” noted a woman sitting next to me to the bartender.
“Keeps getting better,” he spoke to her before turning his eyes towards me. “Don't you agree?”
I nodded and returned to eye the glass in front of me. Indeed, the place just kept getting better since reopening those doors two years ago. At first, I was persistent in watching the crowds pile in. It became a habit of mine to crook my neck towards the open door every time the bell above would ring.
Yet, now, I would only sit staring out at the wall and smile to the melody of new voices around me. And this night was no different than the last. Each time the door would open, the bartender would lean close to tell me 'in' and I would grin happily at the sound.
A few hours passed like this until midnight when I heard the door open again. However, he didn't bend down to tell me the happy news. My eyes wandered back up to him expecting him to be working, filling drinks for the couple next to me. Instead, he stood, eyeing the door frantically.
“Mikael.” My name echoed off his tongue like a signal for me to look back at what ever it was he was staring at.
I turned my head towards the door. It was no surprise I would recognize the man standing there, his colorless eyes gazing back at me in awe. It was like a cold breeze had just invaded the tavern and all I could do was give a cheerful grin.
“I'll take care of this,” I noted back to the bartender before standing from the stool to approach him.
Had enough time really passed?
“Welcome.” I greeted him with a smile.
“Mikael,” Lucious whispered as if he did not recognize me.
“Yes...” I began.
He cocked his head to the side and stared at me. “Brown eyes?”
“Well, you can't expect me to continue on without shielding what I am, can you?” I wondered.
“You're ashamed.” He bowed his head to the floor, his eyes turning sorrowful.
His reply caught me off guard.
“No, I'm not.” I sighed. “Come upstairs, we have a lot of catching up.”
I waved at him to follow while our journey from years ago flashed through my mind.
I lead him through the bar and up the stairs towards the room. I knew he was familiar with the tavern however he looked around in shock at the changes. The last time he had stepped foot in this decrepit, rotting building, it was shut down and ready to be demolished.
This time, the inside was clean and polished. The old bar remained yet had been diligently wiped down and scrubbed. The walls re-plastered and painted over as was the wood floor below buffed. So many renovations done and in so little time.
I opened the door to my room and approached my desk. Newly furnished and decorated, the room was nothing like it used to be when we stayed here before. I stopped and set my hands out over the desktop, fingers spread wide over the oak wood.
He followed inside and stood across from me.
“Now, what brings you here?”
“I was just in the area,” Lucious said. “It's been a long time, Mikael.”
I smiled again at the sound of his voice. “Has it really been so long?”
“Four years, Lucious.” I admitted to him. “It's not that long.”
“Too long... Mikael.” He stopped suddenly and pointed towards my face. “Take those damn things out! They don't suit you.”
I knew what he meant. I slowly reached up and removed the contacts from my eyes.
“Better?” I asked as I opened up the small case and set them inside, closing the lid.
He flashed a smile and nodded. I set the case back in its spot and walked out from behind my desk and towards the bed. I could only imagine his eyes carefully following me, stalking me from behind as I continued to step forward.
“Now tell me why you're here,” I ordered of him.
“I told you before, I was just in the area.” He looked around the room. “It's been a long time since I've been here. So the rumors are true.”
“Rumors?” I stopped and turned around to face him.
“I heard you were here, Mikael. Something about fixing this place up and reopening.”
For some odd reason, the thought that he knew where I had gone was unsettling. I turned my back to him again and walked around to the other side of the bed.
“You heard correct. This is partially my bar.” I admitted to him as I walked. “I co-own this place.”
“Ah,” he sighed. “And this is why you mask your true self?”
“And what do you do while you walk among these mortals?” I wondered silently.
He was silent for a moment before whispering, “Nothing. How where you able to...”
I stopped shortly before reaching the wall and turned back around towards him once more. Lucious stood close, carefully watching my actions... my emotions. My heart beat loudly in my chest and immediately I felt that same desire for him come over me again.
Slowly he approached as I continued to explain.
“With help from a signer, we have cleaned up the place and reopened. It looks good, doesn't it?” I wondered.
Suddenly, he extended his arm out until he had me pinned against the wall. It took me by surprise, his persistence. He stood before me, that same distressed look spread through his face.
“You look wonderful,” he began, his voice quiet. “Better than I. Since that night you left me, I have been nothing. Without you, I am... nothing.”
“Lucious,” I gasped.
“Shh, Mikael.” He continued. “Four years is too long. You do not know what I have been through in this time.”
“It couldn't have been so horrid,” I began, failing to look into his bitter eyes.
“It was hell! Tortured, used and abused... it was pure misery. None like you could ever imagine.”
“Then how is it you stand in front of me tonight?” I questioned.
If he suffered just so much in these last years, then could it be possible this was all a dream.
“He let me go,” he admitted. “He said that I am free for we have no bond... where shall I go, Mikael? I have no home. I wander the night and sleep where I can. Let me stay here.”
“Never!” I retorted.
Suddenly, his arms came around, hugging me tight. He buried his head into my shoulder, his voice cracked, and I almost thought I'd feel a tear soak into my shirt.
“I'm sorry for everything. It was my fault through to the end and I'm sorry for it all!” He cried. “Please, Mikael, do not deny me this.”
I wasn't about to sacrifice my happiness to support him. I couldn't be forced to submit. I knew I had become stronger, and wanted to tell him so. In this time, I had matured into my immortal skin. Learned my powers and unlocked them slowly as I built this empire that was my home.
However, I felt my heart thump as my desire grew even more. Years ago while we ran from our enemies, I had only wanted to be with him. And that same feeling came back again as he held me tight in his arms now. It was a strange feeling, our bodies so cold in the death that embraced us; yet with him so close, I felt warm and comforted.
I sighed my submission. “You cannot be a burden.”
He lifted his head and looked into my eyes. “Of course not.”
“And you cannot feed upon my customers. This is not a restaurant!”
He chuckled. “I will go elsewhere then to get my fill.”
I couldn't believe I was about to utter those words. But I just could not help but grant him his wish.
“Fine, you can stay.”
Yet, I did not have a chance to think about it until I had already granted him permission to come into my life again. His story, just how distorted it had sounded. Would Chris really have let him free after all that we had been through in the past? It didn't sound right.
Suddenly, Lucious grip tightened, squeezing me as his lips pressed firmly onto mine. For a moment, I stood in awe. We had only shared such tender embrace twice before but now it seemed much different. Without our blood bond, this connection felt true. Our souls intertwining around each other as if this was our fate. A destiny so cruel as I crumbled within his control once more.