Until the day he dies, he is going to know the taste of Clair’s blood: mixed in wine, mixed with sweat, bright and clean on his tongue.
Giovanni remembers: being eighteen and still not entirely used to his new world of clean sheets and fresh food, lying awake and restless when his door opened. He remembers rolling out of bed, gun in hand, and stopping only when he registered Clair’s presence in his doorway. He remembers stick-thin boylimbs: the jutting knob of wrist bone and the the sweep of calves, and how pale they were in the light of the full moon.
He remembers his own shock and the sound of his voice saying Clair’s name; he remembers the light in Clair’s eyes — and wasn’t he too young for this, wasn’t he still just a kid even if he was Vampire’s son — and he remembers the coy edge in Clair’s voice, skirting an innocent little-kid question into dangerous territory: I had a nightmare, can I stay?
Even that long ago, he’d been unable to say no. Clair’s body had been bony and all angles and he generated enough heat that Giovanni could feel himself sweat; he’d remained awake the entire night, too nervous to sleep. No one in Company Vita was completely irreplaceable, even the Vampire himself (hence Clair’s grooming, hence his training, the odd mix of fatherly benevolence and tyrannical expectations), and certainly a no-family kid from the slums wouldn’t be missed by anyone but the young master, and there were already enough sharp-eyed men angling for a spot close to the next Vampire.
Eighteen and still mostly awkward in his own skin, Giovanni had known that the worth of his own life depended on the young boy (young man) curled against him, and so he remained awake and watching shadows where they blended into cool patterns on Clair’s skin, pale enough to glow in the moonlight. He remembers this clearly, like he could turn his head and find himself back in that room with Clair tucked into the crook of his arm, breathing in the quiet space between.
He remembers this as Clair’s giggles fill the little room, as he watches Clair rock back and forth on the small bed, as eyes meet his and slide away without registering his presence. Light comes in filtered from the curtains — even if they’re here under Shogun’s protection, Giovanni doesn’t dare leave them open — and leaves Clair looking dull and limp. There is nothing of that long-ago shine in him now.
Giovanni keeps his fingers tight on his gun and remembers.
“I’m going to be Vampire, you know,” Clair had said, with the afternoon sun bright in his newly-dyed bangs. The silver ring in his lip flashed with each word.
“I know,” Giovanni had answered, and he had: it was a bone-deep knowledge and instinctive as breathing. He’d held still as Clair leaned forward, bony knees bracketing his thighs and a brief weight perched on his knees. His eyes were dazzled if he looked Clair straight in the face.
“That means you’ll have to do everything I tell you,” Clair had said, and put his skinny arms around Giovanni’s neck. And then he’d leaned in, till he eclipsed everything else in Giovanni’s sight, and laughed in his ear: “But wait, you already do.”
“Papa bought me a girl,” Clair says idly; he’s obviously wearing nothing under the sheets bunched at his waist. Giovanni is frozen: it’s not the first time he’s seen his young master naked, but there is something very different in this particular scenario compared to helping Clair dress for functions, or even caring for him when ill. This is a young man whose predator-eyes are knowing and fixed on their target. “My first. I learned some interesting things from her.”
“Did … you.” Giovanni’s voice sounds strange to his own ears. In the back of his mind he’s composing a protest letter — one of thousands he’s directed towards Lorenzo Leonelli for years about how he treats his son — and so it’s too late when he hears himself say: “Like what.”
Clair grins, flashing white teeth in a red mouth. His lip ring is a stark hard line of metal in soft flesh. Like water, like a cat, he melts off the bed, dragging sheets with him. They ride so low that it’s more obscene than if he just came naked; his hipbones are clean sharp lines under his white skin. Giovanni thinks, the door is still open, but says nothing as Clair presses against him and finally lets the thin sheet fall. He is warm as he was a year ago, curled into Giovanni’s side, but there is a sense of deliberate intent now: the light in Clair’s eyes is conquering now, smug with the knowledge of his victory and basking in it.
“Do you really want to know?” Clair hisses. He giggles briefly, but he’s quiet steady when he begins to undo the buttons of Giovanni’s shirt. Giovanni’s hands rise and hover in the air by Clair’s thin shoulders. He should stop this, he thinks; Clair’s too young, too brilliant, too everything that a lower-city slum bastard can’t touch —
“I’ll show you,” Clair whispers, and firmly yanks Giovanni’s pants open before sliding to his knees with that same sinuous educated grace. Everything that Giovanni meant to say sputters and dies rather spectacularly as long fingers wrap around his cock and Clair’s hot mouth closes around him, because holy fuck there is no way Clair’s first girl could teach him this—
His head hits the wall hard enough to hurt and he makes strangled noises as Clair laughs around him — not his usual giggle, but low and pleased and Giovanni just gives up and sinks his fingers into Clair’s hair, holding tightly as he dares, groaning again as Clair’s hands settle on his hips in turn and urge him into raw movement, into fucking Clair’s mouth and there’s no resistance, no gagging when his cock hits the back of Clair’s throat and fuck, fuck, he’s getting sucked off by Clair Leonelli and he can’t make himself look because he thinks he might go blind from the way Clair shines.
That’s silly, in retrospect, but Giovanni remembers being slumped against the wall and watching dazedly as Clair licked his own fingers clean, and knows he didn’t imagine the smug glow that came from within.
And here they are: his arm hurts so badly that he’s nearly blacked out twice when it shifted in just the wrong way and his breath comes rattling and pained in his chest. He still doesn’t get what happened, not really — he’d honestly expected to die in that dingy little alley. That someone (and Giovanni has no illusions on who that “someone” is) would hide an assassination program in the old man’s AI isn’t that surprising; the man behind “Serge Echigo” isn’t one to leave himself any room for failure. He rather hopes Daisuke won’t find out — it’d be insult on top of injury.
It’s all come to this, the former Vampire and his most loyal dog creeping together inch by painful inch through the lower streets of Judoh. Giovanni hurts all over, not just his arm, but there’s a smile that stretches his mouth till it aches. It’s a welcome little pain, it’s all completely worth it, because Clair is tucked under his arm, pressed against him, full-circle-but-not, and there is light in them again, brilliant and fierce enough to challenge the sun.
“What’s so funny?” Clair asks sharply. He’s not looking at Giovanni; he’s too busy checking all around them, because maybe the old man didn’t follow them, but it’s unlikely that Shun Aurora would only have one backup murder weapon. “Spit it out.”
“Nah,” says Giovanni. He shakes his head, and welcomes the ache in his head that comes as a result. “Welcome back, Clair.”
Clair glances sharply at Giovanni. Then he grins, bright-eyed and gloriously awake.
“Hmph,” he says. “Like I’d leave you in the dark for long.”