No I didn't abandon this story, but after being gone for three weeks I've had a lot to do.  Now I'm getting ready to go back to school.  Yikes!  So I'm sorry for taking so long to get my act together.  But what I really need to apologize for is the last chapter.  I was rushed and so I didn't have time to really make it what I wanted.  As a result it was confusing and bizarre and I'm not happy with it at all.  Now that that's over with, let's get on with part five.  I promise it will be a lot better!

    This story is a work of fiction.  It is not meant to imply anything about the sexuality of the characters in it.  If you shouldn't read this then you probably will anyway, but for the record I'm telling you not to.

The Darker Path- Part Five

    There is an ancient feeling to the city of Rome nestled in Italy's hills.  It is old in a way that American cities can not touch.  Ruins from a long dead civilization stand side by side with modern buildings.  The stately cathedrals overlook wide squares filled with fountains and statues made with a degree of skill and artistry that man forgot hundreds of years ago.  The Coliseum dwarfs everything around it  Here in one of the oldest cities on the planet I had tracked Regan.
    When I left New York I had no clear idea of where I was going.  Intuition sent me to London where I met my first real vampires, aside from Regan.  The Kin, as they insisted on being called knew me on sight and were more than hospitable.  I spent a week in London enjoying the "culture."  But they could not or would not tell me where their master was.  So I took my leave and headed to Paris.  There I found more of the Kin.  Again they made me feel welcome.  And if they were slightly more arrogant then their peers in Britain, it was easily overlook for the excellence of the cuisine.  The French, apparently drink enough of that fantastic wine that it sweetens their blood.  But I only spent three days in Paris.  They too could tell me nothing of Regan's whereabouts.
    I went to Amsterdam for two days and then to Munich.  In both cities I found the Kin most accommodating and also completely useless.  By the time my search had reached the two week mark however I had begun to recognize my intuition as something more.  What really suprised me about my visits was that Regan had also visited each of those cities, in the same order as I did.  It seemed as though I could track him.  Like a bloodhound on the trail I followed him through Nice, Vienna, and finally to Rome.  I could feel him there.  My search had gone on for over three weeks now, but I knew the end was near.  I would find Regan in Rome and I would have the answers I needed.

    "He's not coming back."
    "You heard me Justin."
    "How do you know?"
    "He's been gone for three weeks.  Look I know you cared about him but you need to get over it.  I mean come on, you only knew the guy for a couple of days.  How attached could you possibly be to him?"
    More than you think Josh.  He knew Zack would come back to him.  And when he did Justin would find a way to make up for his behavior.  He still couldn't remember exactly what happened, but it must have been his fault.  That was why Zack left, but he would come back.  Please God, let him come back!  He has to feel some part of what I feel for him.  Please!
    "Hey, let's go get some lunch.  My treat."
    "Yeah ok, let me change my shirt."
    Actually JC had taken it pretty well when Justin came out to the group.  They all had.  It had gone a lot better than he expected, but he hadn't had much of a choice in telling them anyway.  Between JC's constant nagging about what was bothering him and Lance's not so subtle hints that he'd feel better if he got it off his chest he'd thought he was going to explode.  After the way he had acted with Zack they had all suspected anyway.  None of them understood why he was so upset about Zack leaving though.  No one could understand.  Justin didn't fully understand it himself.  He finished changing and walked out to his living room to meet JC.  Together they walked out of the house and towards JC's car.
    "I talked to Nick today."
    "Nick...Nick Carter?"
    "Yeah.  He wanted to know how you were."
    "And what did you tell him?"
    "The truth."
    "And that is?"
    JC stopped in the middle of getting in his car and looked right at Justin.
    "That I'm worried about you.  That your not eating properly or getting enough sleep."
    "Thanks a lot JC.  It'll probably be all over the news tomorrow."
    "Justin you know Nick wouldn't do that.  He was really worried about you."
    "I've hardly talked to him since the VMA's last year!"
    "Well you've both been busy but anyway I told him he should stop by and see you since you're both in town..."
    "JC are you trying to fix me up," Justin asked heatedly.
    "No, not really.  I just thought it might be good for you to talk to..."
    "You listen to me Josh!  I do NOT want to be fixed up with anyone especially by you.  I guess this means you told him I'm gay?"
    "No, I didn't...well not really.  We just got to talking and he sort of asked and..."
    "Oh that's just perfect!  Want to borrow my cell phone and call Entertainment Tonight next?  Or MTV?  Carson Daily would have a field day with this!"
    "Justin I'm only trying to help!"
    "Well forget it.  I don't need or want your help.  And I don't really want to go to lunch with you either, so why don't you just get lost."
    "Justin, wait!  I'm sorry!"
    "Not right now.  Just leave me alone.  I am fine!"
    Or I will be as soon as Zack gets back.  And it was with that thought in his head that he slammed the door in his friend's face and collapsed on the couch in tears.

    The light was fading by the time I finally halted in front of a tall house in one of the newer parts of the city.  Newer of course being relative, this particular house had probably stood for over two hundred years.  It was a grand thing of marble and polished wood.  The house sat back away from the street on a private lot that was larger than most this close to the center of the city.  Tall trees obscured it from the view of passersby.  In truth it was large enough to easily be considered a mansion, if not a castle.  Ornate columns and carvings decorated the exterior, as if trying to make up for the lack of windows.
    I knocked on the enormous double doors at the front of the house.  I was half expecting them to open with an ominous creek and no one in sight to move them, like in the old horror movies.  I was pleasantly suprised when I was greeted by a short, wiry little man with a heavy Austrian accent.
    "Good evening young master.  Please come in.  You are expected."
    Without waiting for me to say anything he turned and motioned for me to follow him into the house.  The interior was even more ornate than the outside, with paintings decorating every wall and layers of gilt sparkling everywhere.  It was as if a piece of the Renaissance, or perhaps and even earlier time had been preserved or duplicated exactly.  Most of the artwork looked quite old as did much of the furniture.  For normal human eyes all of this would have been difficult to see.  There were no windows to let in outside light, only a few dim lamps.
    I took all of this in as I followed the little man deeper into the house.  He led me down several staircases and through winding passages.  As we went down the ceilings started to get lower and the lamps gave way to candles.  The last of the artwork disappeared and finally we were walking down a corridor of plain stone.  It was still polished marble, but not nearly so well finished as in the upper levels.  At last we came to a wide room with no visible ceiling.  The light of the candles vanished into the darkness a good twenty feet up.  All around were other corridors like the one I had come from opened onto this room.  I could see balconies higher up that seemed to have more passages behind them.  In the middle of the room was a large platform of solid, unadorned stone.  There was an enormous chair on the platform that seemed to have been carved from the same stone.  It looked like it was growing out of the platform.  And standing in front of that chair was Regan.
    "So you have come at last Adrian.  I've been expecting you for some time now."
    "My name is Zack."
    "As you wish my son."
    "Don't call me that either.  I have questions for you Regan and I expect them to be answered.  Now."
    "No doubt you have many questions and they will all be answered in good time.  But for now I'm sure your journey has left you fatigued.  Perhaps you would like to refresh yourself?  I will see you again shortly."
    "I won't be put off Regan.  I want answers now."
    "And you will have them.  In a very short time.  But I have another pressing matter than must be attended to first.  Nathan will show you to your room."
    I opened my mouth to renew my protest and closed it again quickly.  For the first time I noticed that Regan and I were not alone.  Of course there was the wiry butler, that had to be Nathan.  But there were others.  On the balconies, in the dark corridors.  Slowly and silently they were filling the room.  Remaining out of the light.  I could see the gleam of candlelight on eyes and the dim silouhettes of shapes moving in the darkness.  Human shapes, not quite human eyes.  But there were other things there too.  Shapes of things that I had never seen and never wished to even dream of.  And there were eyes to go with those shapes too.  Eyes that seemed to swallow the light instead of reflecting it.  Creatures of nightmare, perhaps nightmares made flesh.  Things to make the bravest man's blood run cold.  Before I knew what was happening I was following Nathan quickly back in the direction that I came.  It was all I could do not to run.

    Sometime later I found myself resting comfortably in a large padded armchair trying to regain my composure.  The "room" Nathan had shown me to was more like an apartment.  It consisted of the living room I was sitting in now, an enormous bedroom and a bathroom that seemed to have been carved from a solid piece of marble.  The whole thing was ornate enough for a king.  A knock at the door drew my attention back to reality and before I could answer it opened to reveal one of the most beautiful young men I had ever seen.  His hair was light brown and his skin was deeply tanned.  He had big green eyes which were rare for these parts.  He wore a white jumpsuit tight enough to have been spandex, except that it looked like cotton.  It was extremely thin and revealed a smooth, chiseled chest and a whole lot more.  He was very well endowed for someone who couldn't have been more than 18.
    "I was sent because the Lord thought you might be hungry," he said as he kneeled gracefully in front of me.
    "Well I suppose I could eat something...wait a minute, when you say hungry do you mean..."
    "I was sent by the Lord so that you can feed on me.  It is my honor to serve the son of the Lord of the Nosferatu."
    The reverence in his voice made me want to throw up.
    "Get up off the floor.  I don't work like that."
    To my suprise he shrank down even lower and grabbed my hand.  His voice held an edge of desperation and he seemed on the verge of tears.
    "Please my lord, I'm sorry if I don't please you.  The Lord commanded that the most beautiful of us be sent to you and they chose me, but I am not good enough.  I am so sorry, but please give me a chance.  I will try to do better."
    I sat there in shock and starred as he continued to grovel before me.  He was genuinely distressed that I didn't want to suck the blood out of him.
    "Stop that.  You don't have to...oh damn it.  I'm sorry, you haven't displeased me.  You are...very beautiful."
    He stopped immediately and sat up.  His eyes shinned with either relief or pleasure at the compliment.  I wasn't sure which was worse.
    "Thank you my lord.  Then you will allow me to serve you?"
    "Yes," I sighed.
    And I received yet another shock as he began striping off my clothes.  I didn't stop him though.  The sensations he was producing in my body didn't leave much room for protests.  I simply relaxed and let nature take its course.

    The doorbell rang again, pulling Justin out of the pleasant forgetfulness of his napping.  Grumbling, he climbed off the couch and wrenched the door open.  He immediately wished he hadn't.  Nick Carter stood in front of him, eyes wide in suprise, hand stopping in the motion of knocking on the door.
    "Justin.  Hi!  I was just getting ready to leave.  I didn't think you were here."
    Should have stayed on the couch.  Should have ignored the doorbell.
    "Hi Nick.  What do you want?"
    "Oh.  I was in the neighborhood and I thought I'd stop by y'know."
    "Uh huh.  And I'm sure this little visit wouldn't have anything to do with you talking to JC would it?"
    Nick blushed and tried to stammer something, but Justin pushed on.  Best to get this out of the way quickly.
    "Look Nick, I don't know who the hell you think you are, but I know why you're here so don't go playing all innocent."
    Nick tried to interrupt, but Justin didn't let him.
    "I am not looking for anyone right now and even if I was it wouldn't be you.  Thanks for your concern though," he finished sarcastically.
    Nick looked like someone had just stabbed him.  His voice quivered when he spoke.
    "I...I just wanted to help," he said softly.
    Waves of guilt washed over Justin.  Nick was the only Backstreet Boy who had ever been very nice to him and he didn't deserve to be treated like this.  After all it was really JC's fault, not his.  Nick was walking back to his car clearly struggling not to cry before he got there.
    "Wait Nick.  I'm sorry.  Please don't go."

    By the time Regan arrived I was sitting alone in the dark.  My head still spun with the sensations the boy had created.  I could still taste his sweet blood on my lips too.  Regan had not bothered to knock, he simply came in and closed the door behind him.
    "I trust you are feeling more relaxed now?"
    "I am.  Are all your servants so... forward?"
    "You don't approve?  I can't see why.  I should think you of all people would appreciate this.  Instead of preying on the innocent here we have servants.  They are sort of like milk cows."
    "You are sick.  How do you get away with treating people like livestock?"
    "They are raised by the Kin.  Bred for beauty, skill, and flavor.  It's no different that what humans do with cows and horses.  Why does it bother you so much?"
    "I just have a real problem with treating people like farm animals."
    "So you would rather treat them like deer?  To be hunted for sport?"
    "No, I...I don't know.  I didn't come here to get into a debate with you.  I have questions and I need them answered."
    "Very well.  What is it you wish to know?"
    "First, what was that I saw below?  What were you doing down there?"
    "Ah that was a gathering of the Kin.  I am their lord and from that council my commands are carried out around the world.  I would have thought you would have figured that out."
    "What about those...things."
    "Most of the tales that humans tell about "monsters" are based somewhat on fact.  Many of their so called monsters are members of the Kin.  But there are other things out there that no human has ever lived to tell of.  They are the unseen fear that man feels in the darkness.  The eyes that watch from the shadows.  I can't tell you more and leave your sanity intact.  Not now that you've seen enough to believe me.  Best to leave it that something are better left in the shadows.  Was there something else?"
    I shivered and took a moment to compose myself.  I tried not to think about the eyes in the dark.
    "Yes.  I need to learn to learn better control over myself.  You said I would be able to feed only when I wanted and only as much as I wanted.  But that's not how it is.  I have to feed.  If I go more than two nights without blood I can't stop myself on the third night.  It just takes over.  Why?"
    "Actually I lied when I said you could control it or stop yourself.  You can't," he said simply.
    "What!  Why the hell did you lie to me?"
    "Isn't it obvious?  I wanted to make this way seem as attractive as possible so that you wouldn't refuse.  Surely you know this is the right way.  You can't possibly regret your decision."
    "Of course I regret it!  That was why I came!  I want to stop.  I can't...  I've met someone that I don't want to bring into this world."
    "You're in love," he said disgustedly.  "You cling to your humanity and because of it you've fallen in love.  Don't you understand boy?  You are more than human now.  You are better.  More perfect.  Why do you cling to that which is clearly inferior?"
    "Because I hate what I've become," I yelled.  "I hate what I do to people and I hate myself for enjoying it!  And because I won't do it to Justin!"
    "Justin? Ah yes, I thought it might be him.  There is no need to get upset.  I have a simple solution to your little problem."
    "Oh really?  And what might that be?"
    "You don't really know what happens to those that you feed on do you?"
    "No, they just are gone.  I assume they go back to there lives.  Obviously they don't remember what happened.  Or if they do no one believes them."
    "No child.  Not for you.  When a Nosferatu feeds on a human that is about what happens, if they don't lose too much blood.  But for you it is different.  Why do you think I have gone to so much trouble for you?  Why do you think you are so special?  Not for being my son, though that means much to the Kin.  It is because of your human blood.  Because you are half human when you feed on a human it allows you to connect in a way that a Nosferatu can not.  Something of what you are transfers to them, it is like a seed that is planted.  In time it grows and eventually they become full Nosferatu."
    "How does that solve my problem?  That just makes it worse!"
    "I thought you would have inherited more of my intelligence.  Don't you see?  All you need to do is feed on this boy and he will be yours forever.  I will see to that."
    "No, I wont do that to him!  I wont condemn him to this life."
    "Suit yourself.  It changes nothing for me.  You will still fulfill my needs."
    "You still do not understand?  Very well.   Before you there hasn't been a new Nosferatu in 300 years.  We can not reproduce as easily as humans.  That is why I need you.   Now you will swell our ranks.  In a few years, no more than fifty I think, I will have the numbers I need."
    "The numbers you need for what?"
    "Long ago I was a great king.  I held vast lands under my power and humans paid tribute in blood.  For a hundred years and more I reined.  Until a boy with a shinning sword in his hand and a wizard in his pocket took it away.  Many of my people were killed in that war.  And the Nosferatu have never recovered.  I have long since taken my revenge against Arthur, but I have never regained my kingdom.  Now with your help I will.  And this time I mean to have all the world."
    "You're insane!  You really think I'm going to help you with that?"
    "You have no choice.  All I have to do is sit back and wait.  If you don't cooperate I may need to wait a little longer, but in time my goal will still be achieved.  You know you can't control you're lust for blood.  And I'll wager by this point you've tried sheepsblood or some such nonsense and figured out that it just isn't the same.  Why fight it?"
    "'re wrong.  I will learn to control it.  And if I can't...then I'll kill myself."
    That earned a snort from Regan.
    "Have you tried?  You are nearly as hard to kill as a true Nosferatu by this point.  You can't very well drive a stake through you're own heart, and there's not much short of that that will do the job."
    "I will beat you," I managed through gritted teeth.  "God help me I will."
    "God?  God wont help you anymore.  God has no mercy for us.  If you do die only the fires of Hell await you.  And Lucifer has little mercy for those who are weak and foolish enough to take their own lives."
    "I will find a way.  And now I am leaving."
    "As you wish.  But wouldn't you be more comfortable staying the night?"
    "No.  I can't stand to be here another minute."
    "Very well.  I will have a car take you to the airport.  I assume you will be returning to the United States?"
    "Let me caution you on one thing more.  Beware of love, it is dangerous.  You will find you charms ineffective on those who are truly in love.  That includes those who are in love with you."
    "That's good to know.  It does explain a lot and it proves you can be beaten."
    "Think carefully about what you do my son.  One way or another you will serve my will.  Much better for you if you give in and enjoy your life."
    I didn't say anything else.  I didn't know what to say.  I will find a way.  I have to find a way.

    "And you haven't seen him since then?"
    "No.  But he'll come back.  I know he will."
    Justin sat on the couch facing Nick across the living room.  He had never intended to tell him about Zack but Nick was so easy to talk to.  He just listened never tried to criticize Justin or tell him to do something else the way JC did.
    "If he cares about you half as much as you care about him Justin I'm sure he will."
    "Thanks Nick.  It's nice to hear that from someone else.  Even if you don't mean it."
    "Hey you never know what can happen in life."
    "Yeah you never know.  Y'know, I never did get lunch.  You hungry?"
    "Good let's go get some food."
    You never know what can happen.

    And that's the end of Part Five.  I hope this clears up a lot of what's been going on.  I think it adds a few new questions too though.  Hey, I gotta keep it interesting.  E-mail me and let me know what you think at