When Night Fell

by Aya

Title: When Night Fell
Author: Sarina Argus aka Aya
Rating: NC17
Summary: A visitor has plans for Nightwing
Archive: Sure, just let me know where. Mooncat, Superhero, 'rith and the Grey Archive already have permission.
Disclaimers: DC owns everyone but Karseth. My story, no money made, done out of love. Please don't sue me, I'm already broke.
Warnings: This is one of the darkest fics I've written in three parts Here there be spoilers, so beware... generally speaking it's really Alternate Universe, has m/m slash and some non-con stuff. For more specific...
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1) If vampire fics with lots of blood drinking squick you, delete now
2) If coercion and nonconsentual stuff squicks you, delete now
3) If character deaths squick you, delete now.
4) If anything I've ever written squicks you, delete now.

Feedback adored (ayajj@aol.com)




It was times like this he missed his cape. The frigid wind found its way through the kevlar, biting into his skin in random places. Nightwing shivered again, shrouded in the shadow of the steam pipe. Just two more hours, he thought. Two more hours and then home to a bath, an hour power nap and off to the precinct.

He never heard it coming. Never heard the slap of leathery wings in the stillness of the night, nor felt the rush of wind before sharp claws shredded the kevlar and tore into his shoulders. His first instinct was to fight and he pulled one of his blades free and began to slash at the claws that held him.

"That's not wise, boy." The voice was raspy, harsh. "It's a long way down." The claws dug deeper into his shoulders, sending another surge of pain through his body.

"What do you want?" Nightwing spat, fighting off a wave of nausea.

"You'll know soon enough."

He woke with a start, stripped to the waist, his shoulders still bloody and oozing. His mask was gone as well, flung atop a shredded heap that used to be his costume. Wincing, he struggled to a sitting position.

"Good evening, Richard." This voice was smooth like velvet and caressed his name with an exotic lilt.

"Where am I?" He turned towards the voice, searching for a source.

"Twenty five miles out of town, 500 feet underground, give or take a few feet." A tall, dark haired man stepped into the dim moonlight.

"Who are you?" he asked, trying to focus on the figure. "How do you know me?"

"That is unimportant. For now. What you want to ask is ‘What can I do for you?'"

"What do you mean?"

"Ah, Richard. Always so naïve. So like your mentor." The man raised a tall goblet to his mouth and drank deeply. "Bruce had his chance. He refused. I wonder if you'll make the same mistake."

"What are you talking about? Who are you?"

"I go by many names. In time, you may call me Master." Another long swallow. "For now Karseth will do." He lowered the goblet revealing red stained lips.

Blood red.

"You're not real," Dick breathed. "You can't be real."

Karseth sauntered towards him, staring into his eyes, and Dick was suddenly paralyzed. "What makes you say that?" He moved closer, until his face was inches from Dick's and his tangy breath warmed Dick's lips. "What makes you think this isn't real?"

"Don't..." Dick stammered as Karseth brushed his lips with his own.

"Or this?" He breathed lightly on Dick's eyelids, inhaled the musky scent of his skin.

"Stop..."

"Tell me this isn't real..." And Karseth lowered his mouth to Dick's neck, brushing his skin with sharp teeth before slowly licking the bloody skin of his wounded shoulder. "Tell me you don't want this."

"Please..."

And Dick was frozen, overcome with a wave of lust and fear as Karseth slowly laved his torn flesh, cleaning the blood from his pale skin. "You are so beautiful, Richard." He pressed a wet kiss onto his chest, lapping a droplet of blood from his skin. "And I have such a gift for you..." His tongue trailed across a long scar. "But first things first." As quickly as he kissed him, he moved away, barely stirring the air around them. "Come. There is much to do."

Dick shook the muzziness from his head. "No."

"Richard..." he cooed, turning back to face him.

"No," he repeated more forcefully. He reached for his belt, then felt the color rise in his skin as Karseth laughed.

"Oh Richard. So like Bruce. Though his frustration was harder to read than yours." He picked up the utility belt and tossed it to him. "Is this what you're looking for? Don't worry, your GPS devices are useless this far underground."

He caught the belt and quickly threw one of his blades. Karseth caught it and laughed again. "Pure titanium and steel. Very durable, but rather useless in a situation like this, don't you think?"

Dick's eyes widened slightly, then he took smoke pellets from one of the pouches.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Karseth leaned against the wall and gave him a lazy smile. "There aren't many ways out of here, except up. And, in your current state, you'd barely make it up the wall." He folded his arms across his chest. "Though I'm sure you're going to try anyway."

Ignoring the man, Dick took the jumpline and shot it upward, ignoring the sharp daggers of pain lancing through his body. Hearing the faint clink of metal into stone, he started his ascent.

Karseth watched him for a few moments, enjoying the play of muscle under pale skin, hearing his labored breaths. This would not do. Clucking his tongue, he rose into the air until he was eye to eye with the younger man. "Always doing things the hard way, Richard. That's your biggest fault. You make things so difficult for yourself." He placed one hand on the line and immediately halted Dick's progress. He then stared deeply into the young man's eyes. "Let go."

Dick felt that shock again, racing through his body as his mind fought against Karseth's.

"Let go..." he purred again, trailing his fingers across Dick's hands.

Dick flinched again, shaking, helpless.

"Let go."

And Dick went plunging towards the floor below.

He swam through the fog as he struggled to open his eyes. Something was tickling him and he moved to swat it.

And he found his arms bound. He started to struggle then sucked in deep breaths as more pain wove through his body. He let out a muffled groan.

"Good, you're awake." Karseth wore a black silk robe over his tall, well-muscled body. Seated in an overstuffed chair, he ran his fingers over his lips, nipping the pale flesh with white teeth. Don't pull too hard, I've just mended your shoulders, it wouldn't do for you to tear them again. The nerves are still quite raw."

"You can't get away with this. My team will come looking for me. Batman will come..."

"And where exactly will they come?" he interrupted. "Your last known whereabouts were in that god-forsaken city you protect. Then what?" He stood slowly and moved to the pallet where Richard lay. "Your GPS cut in and out as you flew over the city, then cut out completely over the water. Or do you remember that part." He sat on the bed and slowly pulled back the thin sheet that covered Dick's body. "You lost consciousness sometime during the flight which made it easier to take your tracking devices and drop them into the river. I'm sure your friends and Mentor have already searched every square inch of the muck. Not that they've given up, mind you," he drawled, tossing the sheet to the floor. "I certainly wouldn't. Not a prize like you."

Dick shuddered as Karseth ran cold hands over his body, across his chest and newly healed shoulders. "Why me?"

"Because I need to pass my gift along. Because your mentor refused. And if I couldn't have the father, I'd have the son. And the son will be willing."

"Don't be too sure of that."

Karseth slipped his fingers into the waistband of the kevlar leggings and slit the material like tissue with his nails. Pulling the ruined garment off, he noted, "You haven't thanked me for healing you."

Dick gritted his teeth as this man stripped his uniform away. "Since you tore me open, I didn't think I needed to."

"Ungrateful," he murmured, smoothing his fingers over Dick's bare legs. "Bruce was the same way. Ungrateful to the last. Even when we met again several years later. When he took my totem as his own." At Dick's stunned expression, "A bat crashed through the library window of Wayne Manor. Soon afterwards, he became the Batman." He chuckled then. "They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but a simple thank you would have sufficed."

"You knew Bruce before--"

"Before he became the Bat? Of course. He was my student."

Dick shook his head. "No. Bruce wouldn't..."

"Bruce traveled the world, learning secrets from masters. Martial arts, crime and criminal practices and prevention, fingerprinting, everything he needed to walk the line. But his shadow skills. Who do you suppose he learned them from?"

Dick stared silently, his shock slowly seeping away. "And he knew?"

"No, not at first." Karseth traced small circle in a path up Dick's calf, drawing his nails over the taut skin of his legs. "He learned many things from me in those months before he found out. And he stayed."

"With a monster like you?" Dick was incredulous.

"Monster? Hardly." His fingers were at his inner thigh, teasing the flesh at the edge of his briefs. "We enjoyed each other's company. No, he left when I first offered him my gift."

"You mean escaped."

"I mean left. As in ‘I'm sorry, I can't do this anymore, but I'll not forget you.' Left." Karseth sighed. "Oh, I've tried to reach him again. That's when I saw you." Looping his fingers into the waistband of his briefs and carefully sliced through the seams. "You are exquisite. Always have been. I've followed you for years, learning how you move, how you think. You've much of your mentor in you. And a bit of me as well." "Thanks, I never wanted to be Bruce..."

"You mortals, you lie so easily." Tossing the material to the floor, he picked up a small basin and washcloth and began cleaning the newly exposed flesh. "You wanted to be Bruce until you realized what type of life he led." He stroked the creamy skin at Dick's hip.

"So structured."

And across his tight abdomen.

"So rigid."

Then down the other thigh, settling between his legs.

"So lonely." He moved the cloth up, shifting his body forward so he lay next to Dick, one arm propped under his head, the other cleaning away the grime from his day's work. "You wanted the closeness he constantly pushes away, the comfort of another body sharing your life and your bed not just tonight, but tomorrow and the next." He lowered his mouth to nip at Dick's earlobe. "You can't be like him, because you're not. And you never will be. But you wanted it at first, didn't you?"

And Karseth moved his hand over the stirring flesh. "Just as you want this..."

And another wave of lust and fear assaulted Dick and he fought against it in vain. He felt his body respond to the soft caresses as swiftly as his mind screamed of the wrongness of lying here so passively. He didn't want this. Not with this... creature.

//Get up Grayson!//

And his body betrayed him, moving slowly against the talented fingers. "Stop doing that!" he gasped.

"Doing what?" Karseth asked innocently.

"Stop making me want this." He glared at the vampire, shaking in a combination of fear and need. "Stop playing with my mind. I don't want this."

"Are you certain?" Karseth purred, moving closer, until his mouth closer, flashing sharp teeth in the pale light.

//You don't want this!//

And Karseth lowered his mouth to Dick's, brushing soft kisses across his lips and chin. A soft whimper escaped Dick's lips as Karseth used his mind and body to make him respond.

"Tell me you want this. Tell me you want this release."

"No." Dick whispered, eyes shut tightly even as his body moved with Karseth's.

"Just one word, Richard," Karseth said, bringing him closer to climax.

"Stop." Tears pricked behind his eyelids. He would not cry.

"As you wish." And Karseth's hand fell away from his shaft just as a warm wet mouth enveloped him, stroking once, twice. Dick shouted and felt his entire body tense, waiting...

"We'll start again tomorrow, Richard." Karseth watched him struggle against his bonds, his face as impassive as his voice. Draping the sheet over his straining shaft, he traced a quick line across Dick's hardness, drawing out another shuddered breath. Brushing a brief kiss across his lips, Karseth disappeared.

Dick bit his lip, trying to expel the frustration, the shock. The desire.

"No!" Not desire. Vampires are supposed to be charmers with formidable mental skills. If Karseth was a vampire...

//Hell Grayson, if it walks like a duck...//

Another pulse of sensation shot through him as the soft cloth grazed his skin. He needed...

"Grayson, you don't want this," he whispered. Then shouted, "I don't want this!" And he couldn't tell who he was trying to convince. Karseth, or himself.

"You are so beautiful, Richard. I could watch you all day."

Dick woke with a start. He turned towards the voice and came face to face with his captor. Karseth lay next to him again, smiling faintly. "Did you sleep well? We do have a great deal of work to do today."

"Let me go." Dick pulled at the bonds again, testing them.

"Not just yet, pet. Oh, and don't bother. I checked your bonds while you slept. Among other things..." He sat up and placed a small tray of freshly cut fruit and a goblet of water on the pallet. Taking up a small piece, he pressed it against Dick's lips. "Here, eat. You need to keep up your strength."

"How do I know it's not drugged?"

Karseth cocked an eyebrow. "Richard, if I wanted to drug you, I'd have done so by now. I want you here, mind and body."

"And a drugged mind is harder to control?"

"Yes it is, not that in matters in this case." He offered the fruit again, and this time Dick ate. The silence was deafening and Karseth's eyes were so intense Dick felt even more exposed. He needed a distraction.

"You know Batman?" Dick asked, swallowing quickly.

"No, I knew Bruce Wayne, or rather ‘John Smith.' I met him when in Europe." He fed Dick another bite. "He was almost as beautiful as you are. Strong, determined, hardened by the world, but at the same time, he had an innocence to him. A purity. It drew me like a moth to a flame."

"Bruce was never innocent. Not after--"

"Not after his parents were murdered? No I suppose not, but the innocence I was describing was his blind determination to ‘save the world.' His naivete let him believe he could learn from me and not be affected." He smiled, setting the tray aside and lifting the goblet for Dick to drink. "I tried to convince him otherwise, but then you of all people know how stubborn he can be." Lowering the goblet, he asked, "Better? I have great plans for you, Richard." Slowly he started tracing light patterns on Dick's skin, and the younger man shuddered involuntarily at the emotions stirred in him.

He then drew a nail down Dick's chest, watching the line bloom red. Kneeling over him, he lapped the bloody stripe, pausing only to tease the younger man's nipples. Dick lay still, frozen as an unwelcome warmth gathered in him.

"You're very sweet, Richard. Not tainted like so many others I've had." Karseth stretched out atop of him, nuzzling his lips and chin, then pressing soft kisses to his neck. A sharp tooth scraped against the delicate skin and Dick flinched.

"Forgive me, pet," he said, licking the wound. "I seem to forget how delicate you are." Another kiss. "How fragile..."

And he sunk his teeth into Dick's neck.

"NO!" he yelled, over and over, feeling the soft sucking at the base of his neck sending sparks of desire through him. //God, this can't be happening, please this can't be happening.//

Karseth lapped once more then brought himself eye to eye with his prize. "You are exquisite, Richard. You'll have to try it..." And he drew him into a wild kiss.

Dick could taste the metal tang on the older man's lips and tongue and whimpered again as he felt that unwanted need threaten to overcome him. Karseth moved his hips against Dick's, the silk of his pants doing nothing to diffuse the heat between them. And in his mind, he heard Karseth's voice.

:**You want this.**

//Let me go//

**You need this.**

//Please don't//

**You're mine.**

And Dick jerked away, "No..."

Karseth smiled, sending chills down Dick's spine. "You will be, young one. You will be."

And so it began. He lost track of the days, only the times Karseth fed off him, brought him to the edge of frustration and left him to whimper against the pain it brought. At first he wondered why he hadn't turned and finally asked after the waiting became too much.

"Because, young one, you have to drink from a nightwalker to become one." Karseth waved his hand dismissively, "The movies have it all wrong. If everyone I've bitten became one of us, we'd have taken over the world and killed each other off by now." He bit him then. "That's why it's considered a gift. We give our blood very carefully."

"I don't want your gift," he'd say.

Karseth would shrug. "You will."

Three weeks he'd been missing. Three weeks without a trace. Batman stood atop the steam tower staring into the night.

"Nothing yet."

Troia landed on the pipe next to him. "We'll find him. We found his tracers. Oracle is setting up a tracking net. We can project his destination from the previous..."

"Stop."

Troia stared at the man, studied the sharp jawline. Touching his arm lightly, she whispered, "We miss him too."

He didn't flinch, didn't move, but with a look, Donna Troy knew Bruce Wayne understood and was grateful.

"Let's go," he said quietly, "Azrael will keep an eye on things here."

Gauging the wind, he leapt into the night.

Karseth watched the young man sleep, worrying his lip with sharp teeth. Richard hadn't moved, hadn't been persuaded by any bit of logic or reason Karseth had given him. He continually refused, allowing the older man to feed but nothing else. Still sweet, still steadfast, but slowly losing his will to live. He needed to change tactics.

Dick flinched as he felt the cool body slide into the large bed next to him. "Are you cold? You're shaking." Karseth nuzzled his neck, stroking his long flank.

Dick shook his head, trying to fight off the trembling in his body. He felt the soft breath on his neck, the lazy rhythm stirring his hair. He felt gossamer touches across his belly from the vampire's fingertips. And he felt himself stir, needing something in this man's embrace. "Just do it. It's time, isn't it?"

Dick sat quietly, drawing deeper into himself as Karseth feasted on him. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe feeling the vampire's soft lips on his skin, the warm wet tongue on his neck as Karseth drank. He felt the older man's hand curve around his hip and cup his soft shaft.

Karseth felt the young man stiffen and grinned. With teasing strokes, he mimicked the rhythm of his mouth. Soon Dick found himself being ‘awoken' by soft hands and wet lips, and his body began to shake again. A soft moan escaped his lips.

"There, pet, I swore I'd not hurt you. Let me give you pleasure."

Elegant fingers curled around the now erect shaft, stroking Dick's length as Karseth finished feeding. Moving slowly, he rolled the young man slightly and began pressing his lips to the soft flesh, nipping at him lightly, burning a trail with teeth and tongue across his shuddering chest.

"Are you cold?" he asked softly, and Dick flinched at the wave of longing that washed through him. He shook his head, unable to speak. Karseth circled a nipple with his tongue. "Are you frightened?"

"N-no..." Dick stammered as another wave of heat went through him.

"Good." Karseth moved lower still, tracing the lines of his stomach, never breaking the rhythm of his hand. Dick watched under hooded lashes, his body taut with need and longing he'd not experienced before.

Karseth settled between Dick's legs and softly bit into his thigh, feeding and fondling until Dick threw his head back against the pillows and moaned again.

"Please..." he breathed.

Karseth paused in feeding, his hand poised at the top of Dick's shaft. "Please what?"

"Don't--don't do this to me." His voice was broken, barely a whisper. "Please stop..." And his body arched into Karseth's hand, begging for release.

And he stopped, leaving Dick gasping again, rolling from side to side in the rumpled linen. Karseth stretched out next to him, brushing the soft dark hair from Dick's eyes. "Shh... rest, pet. I'll be right here with you." Wrapping his arms around Dick's waist, he pulled the young man to him, settling peacefully on his side.

Dick wanted to yell, to do anything to rid himself of the longing that remained. It hurt to move; any light brush against his shaft sent pulses racing through his body. Strong arms make him feel like a small doll being cradled. Like some exotic possession. Property.

He belonged to this man...

//Where did that come from, Grayson? You should be trying to get the hell out of here!//

And cool hands smoothed over his skin again, soothing his aches, healing his wounds but sparking his desire again until he thought he'd go insane.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because I want to. And because dear one, you want me to. But that isn't your question is it?"

"What is my question?"

Karseth purred, "Why won't I finish you?" Before Dick could answer, he continued, "I will, but not yet." He feathered kisses across Dick's shoulders then. "In time. Just rest." Dick protested weakly, "Please... Just leave me..."

"Shhh." The older man pressed icy fingers to Dick's lips. "I can't leave you, pet. You're mine..."

Any further protest was lost in the blackness that fell over Dick's mind. He embraced it as an escape, and prayed for an end.

He woke with a start in his own bed. Or rather what was his own bed in the manor. A cool hand pressed against his forehead.

"Back among the living, Master Richard. Your friends will be well pleased."

"Alfred?" He blinked in the dim lamplight.

"Of course . Were you expecting Mighty Mouse?"

Dick grinned then, relaxing. "You always seem to save the day. How long..."

"I'll leave Master Bruce the explanations." Alfred walked to the door. Turning back to Dick, he said, "It's good to have you home."

Dick smiled as the door quietly clicked shut. Bruce would answer his questions... He sat up quickly. Where was Bruce? Slowly gaining his feet, he shivered in the cool air. Rubbing his bare arms, he opened the door and padded down the hall.

The manor was dark. He corrected himself, The manor was darker than usual, and strangely alive. Normally he'd expect to hear Bruce or Alfred, occasionally Tim, but today there seemed to be an unexplainable hum in the air. It seemed... different.

A sudden pang of hunger shot through him and he headed directly to the kitchens. He opened the door and was immediately greeted by Alfred and a very surprised Bruce and Donna Troy.

"My word, Master Richard..."

"Good God, Dick, you should be in bed!" Bruce was already out of his chair, hand on Dick's arm and leading him to the table. Donna cleared off the space in front of him

"I'm fine," he mumbled, suddenly weak and leaning on Bruce. He gave them the most charming smile he could muster. "I just wanted a meal I didn't have to burn myself."

Alfred set a bowl of soup in front of him as Donna shook her head. "You had us all worried sick. Don't you dare scare me like that again, Dick Grayson, or so help me, I'll hunt you down and kill you myself."

Dick chuckled as he took the spoon. "It's not like I'd planned on it, but I'll try to remember that the next time." Turning to Bruce, "How did you find me?"

Bruce sat back in his chair and tented his fingers under his chin. "You were found wandering around Bludhaven two nights ago. You'd been gone for four weeks."

Suddenly his meal was forgotten. "Four weeks? What about Karseth, where is he?"

Bruce's eyes flickered in recognition. "Gone. I can't find him. And won't be able to unless he wishes to be found."

Dick was confused "No sign of him at all?" Bruce shook his head but remained silent. Dick mused aloud. "I can't believe he just let me go..."

"He didn't."

Dick looked at Bruce, and taking in his pained expression went suddenly still. "What did you mean?"

"Wait, who's Karseth?" Donna interrupted, looking from one man to the other.

Bruce hesitated a moment before responding. "Karseth is an old acquaintance of mine. A vampire." He turned back to Dick, eyes completely dark. "Dick, I need to know. What happened there?"

He glanced once more at Donna, then leaned back. "He took me back to an underground cave. He said it was about 50 miles out of town. He knew you'd be looking for me."

Bruce nodded and urged him to continue. "What else?"

Dick swallowed nervously. "He... fed. I couldn't stop him. I..." Donna reached across the table and squeezed his hand. Dick clung to her fingertips as he continued. "I tried to fight him, but he was too..." His voice broke then. "I let him."

"He fed." Bruce leaned forward "Ok, Dick, I need you to be completely honest with me. Did you feed?"

"Of course not!" he answered in a near shout.

"Dick, are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure!" he protested. "I never touched him. He never gave me the chance." He looked at Alfred. "What's going on? What aren't you telling me?"

Alfred looked from Bruce to Dick, then lowered his gaze. "Master Richard, perhaps you should go back to your room."

Dick turned a stunned look on Alfred. "What's going on? Why are you looking at me like that?" He slowly rose from his chair and started moving towards the door.

"Dick, hon, you need to sit down..." Donna had her hands out to him. "Come on, everything'll be ok..."

Dick backed himself into the door handle, never taking his eyes from Bruce's. "I don't know what the hell is wrong, but I'm getting out of here." He turned the handle, back pressed to the door.

"Dick, wait!"

Dick opened the door and immediately fell to his knees, screaming as the morning sunlight fell across his arm and shoulder. Bruce leapt the length of the table and dragged the young man back into the kitchen while Alfred secured the oak door. Dick's eyes were wide in shock and fear and he clutched blindly at the strong arms that held him.

"Easy, I've got you..." Bruce said, carefully avoiding the quickly blistering skin of Dick's arm.

"Bruce, what the hell..."

Bruce glanced at Alfred, then at Donna. "He turned you," he said softly. "You're one of them."

"We found you in an alley kneeling over a prostitute. You were desperate and weak from lack of blood. Troia and I barely managed to bring you back here. As it was, you needed to feed once we got back to the cave." Bruce leaned against his control chair, back to the monitors of the computer that dominated the cave.

Dick stared at his mentor, digesting his words. "Feed? You mean..."

Bruce unbuttoned the cuff of his sleeve and rolled it back, revealing twin puncture marks just below his wrist. "I'd let Karseth feed before, back then. I knew how to help you."

"You let me..." Dick stammered. "I mean I drank..."

Donna moved closer, placing a hand on his shoulder. "You were going to die."

"I'm already dead!" Dick shouted, his voice echoing off the damp cave walls. He flinched away from the weight of her hand, backing away slowly.

Bruce spoke in low. "You. Aren't. Dead."

"Then what am I?" Dick demanded.

"Dick, calm down."

"Calm down?" he shouted, a twisted smile on his lips. "I'm dead, Bruce. I can't go back to the semi-normal life I had, and why? Because some blood sucking freak who had a jones for you but couldn't have you settled for second prize? I'm a vampire, for God's sake!" He stared at Bruce a beat longer and then began to laugh, a sick, tormented laugh that chilled Donna's blood. "And I swore I'd never be you. What happens? Dick Grayson, bat-man." His laughter grew louder and he slowly sank to his knees. "I really screwed this up. Boy blunder strikes again." Tears began to tumble down his cheeks as his shoulders shook from the laughing sobs.

Bruce was there, pulling him against his body, feeling the cold of the young man's body seep into his bones and he suddenly felt old. But he held the young man and let the sobs wash over him, and his own tears began to fall onto the dark head cradled to his chest. You aren't supposed to outlive you're children, Bruce thought. And yet this young man, who became more important to him than his own life, was dead and undead. He clutched Dick tighter, his sobs breaking through his own carefully built walls.

There were no words.

Donna brushed her own tears away before heading up the dark steps, the cries and sobs trailing after her. The cave was always cold. After spending half of his life here, he should be used to it. But this was a different kind of cold. A bone deep one.

Dick struggled to his feet and took a tentative step forward before falling to his knees. He felt woozy, his body tight as a bowstring, his mind overwhelmed by a single thought.

Failure.

He quietly made his way up the stone stairs into the library, which was mercifully empty. It was dark, the heavy drapes pulled across the large windows. He rubbed his arm, then stared mystified at the newly healed skin.

//Vampires have accelerated healing capabilities, pet.//

He blinked then breathed, "Karseth."

//You'll thank me in years to come.//

"Karseth!" he shouted. The hum was suddenly gone and he was cold. Empty. He shouted for the nightwalker again. And again.

"Karseth, you bastard! Show yourself!" He stood in the library, his rage suddenly taking over. "I didn't want this!" Kicking over a low table, he shouted, "I DON'T WANT THIS!" He kicked the table again, shattering it into splinters.

The door flew open and Alfred stood in shock. "Master Richard, please..."

"Don't come near me!" Dick screamed, backing away from the older man. "Just stay away!"

Donna pushed past the stunned man. "Dick, honey..."

"STAY AWAY!" He fell to his knees again, "God please, Donna just leave me alone."

Donna moved quickly and knelt with him. "I'm not leaving you alone. You. Are. Not. Alone." She pulled him into her arms and held him in a loose but firm embrace. Running her hands through his hair, she murmured meaningless words of comfort, rocking him gently in her arms. He felt enveloped by her scent, her warmth seeping into his body until he trembled, wanting to be that warm again. Even now, her touch seemed to burn his skin.

"All this time, I thought I'd be good enough. Thought I was good enough," he rasped. "That I wasn't him, but that was OK because who I was, was good enough." A weak, self-depreciating laugh. "Boy was I wrong."

Donna shook her head. "You didn't do anything wrong. How can you possibly think this was you're fault?"

"Because I failed!" He pulled away and stared at her with a wild look. "HE didn't turn, he knew how to walk away, how to get away. And I..." a weak laugh. "I all but begged him." He shook his head. "God, now I know I'm a second rate Batman. This proves it."

"Stop it, Dick Grayson. You did not fail. You survived." Donna held him tightly against her. "You are the strongest willed person I know, but you keep forgetting that you're human. Any one of us couldn't have done what you did and survived. Gods, I would have gone insane."

"And how do you know I haven't?" Dick asked quietly.

"Because you haven't tried to kill anyone but yourself," she answered, stroking his hair. "Even when we found you, you wouldn't feed until Bruce forced you. And Bruce..."

"Great," he sighed. "Bruce must think..."

"Bruce feels responsible for this. He thinks that if he hadn't turned that vampire down, you wouldn't be going through this. He's out looking for him now."

"It won't do any good. It... hurts to be out there now." He chuckled. "At least now, I'll match my name."

She tilted his chin up and smiled at him. "See, you still haven't lost your sense of humor."

He tightened his arms around her. "How can you stand to touch me. Aren't you afraid that I'll..."

"You are still Richard Grayson and I still love you. You are the same person you were before."

"I just suck blood like..." "You just have different limitations," she cut him off. She pushed a lock of hair out of his eyes. He caught her hand and rubbed it against his cheek, shivering from the heat.

"I don't think I'll ever getting used to being cold like this," he murmured.

"It's because you're hungry."

Dick finally gave her a weak smile. "Thanks, mom. You must be taking lessons from Alfred."

Donna smiled in return. "Bruce said this would happen. He said as long as you fed just a bit at a time throughout the day, the cravings wouldn't hit you." She leaned back and unbuttoned the first few buttons of her blouse. "What are you doing?" he asked, slowly moving away.

"You have to feed."

"Donna..."

She caught his hand and brushed his fingers across her neck. "You need this."

Dick froze, her soft skin burning his fingertips. The hunger hit him then, a deep burning urge that started in his chest.

"Don't fight it," she said, moving closer. "It will only get worse if you fight it." She flipped her hair back and bared the side of her neck to him. "Go ahead. It's all right."

He pulled her closer, and lowered his head to hers. Hesitating, he whispered, "Donna, I can't do this."

"Yes, you can." She laced a hand through his hair and drew him even closer. "It's alright."

His lips brushed against her skin, her perfume enveloping him in her heat. He pressed a soft kiss to her neck, then another. Her pulse was strong, beating steadily against his tongue. He tasted her skin and felt overwhelmed by the sweet-spicyness. He closed his eyes.

"I'm so sorry..." he breathed, then bit into her skin. The rich cool blood rushed over his tongue and burnt at trail into his core.

Her breath caught for a moment, then she exhaled slowly. "There... isn't that better pet?" And then she laughed.

He froze again then pulled away quickly, blood staining his lips and mouth.

And Karseth smiled back at him, blood flowing from his neck. "You're mine, Richard. Now, you are mine."

He felt it in his belly first, the clawing feeling that his insides were broiling, writhing. He doubled over, screaming.

"BASTARD!" he said, fighting off the convulsions that followed. "You lying bastard!" He spat what little blood remained onto the floor.

Karseth laughed. "Oh Richard. I told you you would be mine. And you are now."

He was dying inside. Every cell in his body was turning on itself, setting his skin aflame with searing heat. He curled onto his side, spastic shudders wracking his frame as he felt his heart speed. Faster it beat, harder and harder until he thought it would burst from his chest. And the fire in his veins tore him threatened to tear him apart. Finally his heart beat its last, echoing in his ears... and then nothing...

And he was cold. So very cold.

Karseth knelt next to him and took him into his arms. "There. The worst is over. You're one of us now..."

Dick shivered again, feeling the cool body against his. There was a loud buzzing in his ears he tried to shake away.

"You're aware of the world on a different level now. You can hear the life forces, the souls of the people around you." Karseth stroked his hair. "You'll learn to filter it out. It just takes a bit of getting used to."

"I hate you," he whispered through gritted teeth.

"I know. But hate and love are two sides of the same coin. You'll love me soon enough." He ran a hand down Dick's arm and curled him against his body. "Come."

He picked up the younger man's limp body and carried him to the cushions. Laying him gently against the pillows he carefully stripped away the sweat-soaked silk from his legs. "You only drank enough to effect the change, Richard. I suspect you're very weak now. Let me build your strength."

Karseth slit the pale skin of his wrist, letting the blood flow over his hands. "Drink this." He pressed his palm against Dick's mouth and placed his free hand over the younger man's shaft. "Now I'll give you your release."

Dick scarcely breathed against the hand pressed against his mouth. Droplets of blood covered his lips and worked their way between and over his teeth and tongue, and oh god it felt so good, so sweet. And the hunger in him sparked again, overwhelming him and he knew he'd lost. Tears leaked from his tightly closed eyes as he began to drink.

Karseth moaned softly. "Oh yes, pet. Yes..." He chanted, stroking Dick into full arousal. His mouth closed over Dick's shaft and wet heat streaked through them both.

Dick moaned again, feeling his frustration and vulnerability feed into his need. His shaft was hard now, throbbing, pulsing. And still he fed, his whimpers muffled by the soft hand.

Karseth pulled away quickly and positioned himself over the prone man. He lowered himself onto Dick's erection, easing it past the tight ring of flesh before burying it in his cool depths.

Dick shouted then, pulling away from the hand and clutching at the older man. "Ah God, stop, please!"

Karseth smiled, and began to move against him. "Let it go, Richard. It's time. We belong together." And he slowly rode the young man, stroking his cool flesh with sharp nails.

Dick tilted his hips up, losing himself to the sensation of being surrounded by cool, willing flesh. It's not supposed to feel like this, he told himself, but still he let the sensation carry him. And still the hunger remained.

Karseth tilted his head to one side, flashing a bare expanse of neck. "Take me. Here. I can feel the need." He brushed his fingertips across the dark vein. "Here..."

Dick shuddered again as he felt his climax build. The ivory skin in this dim light was irresistible. He raised himself onto his elbows. "Please..."

Karseth flashed his sharp teeth again and lowered himself to the lush mouth. He closed his eyes, his breathing now short and raspy bursts.

Dick pulled the man to him and ran his tongue over the older man's cool skin, sending shocks through his system. Unable to hold back any longer, he bit.

Karseth moaned his pleasure as his own orgasm swept through him, covering Dick's stomach with cool semen. He could feel his blood flow out of his body and into the young man he'd made. He moved faster.

Dick drank. The blood washed over his teeth and tongue and into his body, filling the gaps and gashes left when he first died. He was becoming whole, but not complete. Moving quickly, he rolled the older man onto his back and began to ride in earnest, never taking his mouth from the other man's neck.

And it felt good. So right.

Karseth felt another climax build in him as his own strength began to fade. He pulled at the broad shoulders that pinned him to the bed, feeling his life (if he could call it that) drain away.

"Richard... please... You're killing me..." he begged, feeling his arousal pressing against the sticky patch of skin pressed against his own body.

"But Karseth," Dick murmured between teasing bites, "We're already dead..." He sank his teeth again into that porcelain neck and began to drain the last of the vampire's life.

"Stop..." Kareth whispered impotently, as the force of his climax ran through him again. His last moments were spent awash in pleasure, knowing ecstasy and death in the final shudders in his lover's arms. His last sensations came from the young man's orgasm pulsing into his body.

And Dick held onto Karseth's body as the last of the spasms pounded through him. He drew unneeded breath into his now full lungs and stared at the mask of pleasure and peace that settled on the centuries-old man's features.

"Oh God, what have I done..."

And he wept.


*-*-*

end


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