Thank you for continuing to read DARK PRINCE. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
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I would like to refer you to my other stories appearing on Nifty: GAMES AT DEAUVILLE currently appearing in the Beginnings and historical folders as well as FLIGHT AT PEENEMÜNDE that is complete at both folders.
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We were off to see the harbour of Baltimore the day before Valentine's Day, the day for lovers. A storm had hit Washington early in the week. Snow still covered the brown grass, and the occasional ice patch spread across the kerbs of our city. Now, a week after my introduction to the Fascisti elite, I was finally recovered from the soiree.
I smiled at Emil as I slipped into the passenger seat of the Volkswagen. The sun lay just above the western horizon. Even at five o'clock and in the midst of winter, it was unpleasantly warm in Washington, DC. "I want to stop by the post office before we leave town," the vampire behind the wheel said.
It was a beautiful Saturday evening to the mortal that was still a part of me. It was in moments such as these I felt a tinge of regret at what I had lost. I wasn't paying attention to Emil. I shrugged and leant back against the seat. "Whatever."
Several moments later, he said: "I finished the last paper last night, Karl."
I understood the pride I'd heard earlier in his voice and why he was making something of an inconsequential detour. "The last one?" I asked, turning to face him. He beamed and nodded. "You are now a graduate of the university, yes?"
"Not yet. The paper must be graded. The university has to credit me with that grade. They have to have a commencement that officially recognises the graduates."
"That's just their formalising reality, Emil," I brushed his objections aside. `You've graduated."
"Well..." A smile spread across his face as he pressed the remote control in his hand and watched as the wrought-iron gates opened onto the road before us. "I guess you could say that. It's just a matter of waiting until June for the diploma to make it official."
As we left the central post office at Massachusetts Avenue and First Street and drove south towards New York Avenue, he said: "Tell me what you've learnt about your Nazis, Karl. I've been concentrating on these papers."
"I was starting to wonder if you'd moved into that library at Georgetown."
He grinned. "You know, I was pretty ticked when I became a vampire at first -- I had my days suddenly taken from me -- the daylight. But, then, I found out I could just walk into the library and stay there all night."
"Manipulating a lock with your mind does have its advantages at times."
"Being able to read without turning on the lights is a big help, too."
We turned onto New York Avenue and started towards Maryland. I took a deep breath of the air hitting my face from the wound-down window, tasting the smells of winter competing against exhaust fumes and the odours of decay found in the city.
"Tell me about your pretty little Nazi, Karl -- the vice president." Emil broke into my leisurely forming memories of long past winters and the sun-lit youth I would never again know.
"He's the vice-president of the United States, isn't he?"
"Because of a fortuitous assassination," I reminded him. "And, according to the thoughts of both the Minority Leader of the House and his military advisor, he's the Führer-to-be. I suspect it's only a matter of time before this president is assassinated." I snorted. "The King is dead, long live the King. Only, there will be none of the trappings of the old monarchies after he's enthroned. This will be dictatorship at its simplest, American style."
"Are you going to kill him?"
"Me kill him?"
"I know you. You aren't going to let him and his bunch of bullies win." He grinned at me, his hand reaching down to my knee. "We've not been getting it on enough since I died -- want to start correcting that when we get home?"
"I would enjoy that." I remembered his exact words then. "But, Emil, you never died. If you had, you would still be dead."
"It's just a term of speech, Karl," he answered comfortably. "There's not an easy way of explaining how a man ceases to be a mortal and becomes a vampire -- not in any language I know."
"You transform from one life form to another."
"Whatever I did to become the me sitting here, I want one long romp in bed with you tonight -- all night long if you're up to it."
I laughed. "I definitely look forward to that," I told him, my fingers touching his jeaned thigh and stroking it as his was doing to mine. "I've missed our love-making."
He blushed, red and magenta blotches and fuchsia streaks breaking out on effervescent skin. "I wanted to get the last of the notes for that paper," he mumbled against the wind blowing through the car.
I patted his knee. Now that there was time, there was the Kennedy Center. I wanted us to spend several evenings in New York where the theatres matched those of London. We chatted like magpies as we drove the fifty miles to Baltimore.
Emil found a parking space beside a building that smelled of cinnamon and, when we were crossing the street in front of it, I saw it was the McCormick Spice Company's original factory. It was a building I loved immediately. It brought back fond memories of the sidewalk cafes in Vienna and the most wonderful coffee and cakes in the world.
"I hear we're going to love this place," Emil told me as we locked the car and started towards the intersection before the building. I peered into the electric-lit night at this Inner Harbour that he had been talking about for a fortnight.
"That glassed-in building, right?" I asked.
"That's only part of the whole set-up, I think. There's supposed to be a brick promenade along the water, a second building like that one, The Maryland Science Museum, some three-rigger's supposed to be the oldest commissioned ship in the American navy, the national aquarium, restaurants -- lots of things to do, even a fishmonger."
We had reached Light Street and were gazing at the lighted two-storey glassed building as we waited for the traffic light to change. "Can you imagine meeting Tom here?" he asked, breaking off from the travelogue and rushing along an entirely different thought.
I immediately heard the whispering I had not consciously heard since Emil joined me in immortality a month ago. I shut my eyes in surprise; it was no longer inchoate mumblings that touched my mental ears.
|I'm ready to meet,| Tom kept saying over and over again. |Where and when?|
Emil was studying me closely when I opened my eyes. "What's the matter?" he demanded in a low, urgent voice.
It took a moment to concentrate on him. To bring myself back to standing on a street in Baltimore, Maryland, on a February night in 2005. "Read my thoughts," I told him.
I immediately felt a slight quivering under the skin and bone of my head as his thoughts tentatively touched mine, a touch there were no nerves to feel but which I still sensed. I watched his eyes narrow as he heard the same message I was hearing.
"Gott im Himmel!" Emil hissed, exhaling air.
"He lives here in Baltimore -- his family does," I mumbled, hesitant in the face of meeting the mortal man whose soul I had loved for more than a hundred and fifty years.
Emil stared at me, his face stricken. Even without telepathy, I could read his thoughts, the fear of losing me running wildly through them.
"That won't happen," I told him quietly.
"If he won't accept the three of us...?"
"It won't happen, Emi -- ever!" I touched his arm to reassure him. "I won't lose you."
"You've..." He glanced about, his eyes bewildered. "You've got to tell him we -- you -- are here. You said his family's in Baltimore; he's probably at home for the holiday."
"You mean for him to meet us here?"
He nodded. The light turned and the pedestrian image authorised us to cross the six-lane thoroughfare that was Light Street. "What do you need to do to let him know?" he asked quietly.
"Come on." I pulled him onto the street, formulating the answer in my mind.
"Where are we?" I asked on the Harbour side of the street.
"The Light Street Pavilion, I think it's called. Can you answer him from inside the building?"
I nodded hesitantly. "Why?"
He smiled wanly. "That place looks bigger each step we take towards it. I know I'd want to have a particular location in it to look for you if you were answering me."
* * *
It had been a full four months since I'd seen Thomas MacPherson and he had been unconscious then. I used my vampiric senses and memory as I watched every youth taller than a metre and a half who passed by us as we sat in a fried potato shop and sipped at what Americans actually dared to call coffee.
"How are we going to handle this?" Emil asked, his voice low in the bright lights of the shop.
"What do you mean?"
"Tom knew I slept with you in Zürich -- that's why he was with me that night. He knows I'm gay."
"He doesn't need know you're a vampire too -- not immediately. But it's going to be obvious we're together."
"You're 8000 kilometres from home and, unless you were very rich, a student doesn't normally fly across an ocean simply to explore a new country on a whim." I shrugged. "You're with me and he'll know it the moment he sees you. So what? You're an adult under both American and Swiss law, you can have sex with whom you want."
"It's not going to make it any easier for you and him."
I held up my hand. "Emil, you and I are not a subject for negotiation. If Tom wishes to join us, then we shall accommodate him together."
Tears glistened red in his eyes and red blotches burst across his face. "You do love me!" he croaked, fighting against the emotion spreading through him.
"You have your moments..." My senses picked up on a tall, slim black-haired youth with a lean face and full lips watching us and I instinctively sought to touch his thoughts.
|Karli.| There was the same sense of amusement behind that concise word as when Sergei Alexandrovitch had found me with a young stevedore I picked up on the Odessa docks while he worked some deal to line Romanov pockets. His thoughts were locked to me now. I could have only those he wished me to share.
Emil followed my eyes and started as he recognised Thomas MacPherson.
|Do I greet you from afar and mind to mind, Sergei Alexandrovitch -- or shall you join us?| I asked him, concise thought to concise thought.
Tom entered the lighted dining area of the potato restaurant and smiled at both of us. "Emil, I'm a bit surprised to see you here under the circumstances."
"Do you know who you are?" I asked cutting off a typical Sergei set-up of Emil.
He turned to smile at me. "I hope so."
"I mean are you and your past two incarnations completely reconciled?"
"More than when I was Würther, Karli," Sergei Alexandrovitch answered, his voice and accent unabashedly American. I stared. Not even the curate had managed that complete a union, even in the five years I knew him.
He chuckled and sat between us. "I'm Tom MacPherson in this life, and I'm Tom at this moment, Karl." He quickly smiled at me and then turned to Emil.
"I still don't know whether I need to drop to my knees and thank you for taking me to Karl in Zürich with you or hate you for it," he told the Swiss youth beside me. "It's taken some getting used to, these different lives always vying for supremacy in me."
"Tom?" Emil said, looking perplexedly at the American.
He chuckled. "One minute, I'm a damned priest trying to be chaste as all hell; the next, I'm some Prince who was more than just a little hedonistic." He glanced over at me and blushed at a memory I suspected Sergei Alexandrovitch dredged up for him. "There are even times when I'm all me -- but they both try to tell me what I should be doing each and every minute."
"You said you were ready to talk," I offered.
"Yeah." He glanced at Emil before turning back to look at me. "But it looks like you didn't wait around this time."
"Emil is someone I love, Tom. He loves me. If you would join me, you need to join us. I think I can safely speak for both of us when I tell you we'll make room for you -- equal space."
"A permanent three-way?" He laughed softly. "Now, that'd be one for the books. Sergei loves it already."
He sat back in his chair and glanced from one to the other of us before fixing his gaze on the salt shaker before him. "I haven't managed to work it all out yet -- okay?"
"But this is the way it's going to be until I do. We can be friends, but there isn't going to be any queer shit between us -- me with either of you. And you don't play with my head to lead me down that path either -- okay?" He looked up at me and waited for an answer.
"One other proviso. You stay away from my neck, Karl. I like being young, handsome, and mortal. I'm going to be just as adamant as Würther was about that."
I saw Emil watching me and reached out to touch his thoughts.
|I can subvert him, Karl. He didn't include me,| he projected at me.
I shook my head and smiled wanly at the vampire sitting across from me. Both my movement and smile had been at supernatural speed. Emil had obviously caught both. I was surprised the mortal American had too.
He glanced from me to Emil, studying him more closely than before. "So, you're one of the undead now?"
Emil jerked, looked to me for an answer and, not receiving one, nodded slowly.
"God! You really were in love with him!" Tom mumbled, letting air out of his lungs. "How did it happen, Emil?" he asked and turned back to me.
"Tom," I said softly in warning.
"Right in the middle of you letting him fuck your ass, he bit you." He wagged his head slowly. "Jesus! Karl, you never could think clearly when you had your dick in a tight hole."
"Tom!" I hissed as Emil's face blotched nastily.
Tom MacPherson turned to stare and, then, smiled at the young vampire on the other side of him. "So, that's what I used to look like when Karl embarrassed me at least once every time we got together. Jesus!"
"This has got rather personal and I remember you stating personal situations were out between us," I told him quietly.
He shrugged and nodded.
"What is this friendship you offer?"
"I'm still trying to work it out in my head, guys." He smiled sheepishly at me. "I think it'd be fun to hang around you now and then. Würther was killed in 1940 and Sergei in 1905. Those two aspects of who I am are a bit out of the loop."
"And you're a thoroughly modern man," Emil threw at him.
"True. But one that doesn't know much about the world -- or how you two are hiding your practising vampire personalities in a world where nobody believes in you any more. Shit! There's a whole lot about this world I -- the Tom part of me -- doesn't know. So, what I'm offering is that I learn from you -- but only what I can use in a straight, mortal world."
"All take and no give?" Emil asked quickly and I sat back, permitting him to establish the boundaries of our future relationship with this man. He was being far more forward than I would have been, but I wanted our parametres clearly defined as much as he did -- and this Tom MacPherson was doing so to his exclusive advantage.
The American hung his head but said: "For the time being at least. Let me make it plain -- I let Karl start fucking me in the ass like he did Würther and most of the time Sergei too, I'm going to be gay. I'm nowhere ready to take that step now -- and, probably, never will be."
He held up a hand. "I know this is only Tom talking and he's only a third of the active personalities and lives inside this body any more. But those other two guys are going to have to do some serious convincing before they get me to bend over for either one of you.
"Sergei can't wait for me to cement myself to this body by letting one of you two get me into blood swapping. I just don't know how I feel about that, no more than Würther did. I don't have his faith in the church and Jesus, but I'm not ready to start killing people and drinking blood, either."
"But there's a lot you can learn from Karl, so you'll put up with having us around once in a while?"
"Friendship's a two-way street, okay? That means a lot of things that can go down between us with no problem; a lot of things I'd like to think I could contribute to. What I'm saying is there are two things that aren't going to travel that street for a while, if ever -- my ass and my mortality. If both of you can accept that condition, we can get together and hang out with each other -- you know, do things together." He watched both of us expectantly. Emil watched me.
I took a deep breath, something I had learnt to do at my father's knee when confronted by a weighty subject and had yet to un-learn. "I can accept your terms as defined. Ours is but that Emil is an equal to myself. Any relationship will not be bilateral but must be trilateral."
"That won't be hard, Karl -- Emil and I are already friends."
"What type of things does this you enjoy?" I asked, feeling for the deeper boundaries.
"What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously.
"Do you enjoy the theatre?"
"Me?" he yelped and, with difficulty managed to stop himself from bursting out laughing.
"Sergei and Würther both did."
He seemed to withdraw within himself for a moment, as if he were actually conferring with his past lives. He blushed. "I've never been to a play. But -- well -- I can try most things once, at least," he offered sheepishly.
"The opera? The ballet?"
"You're getting awfully high-brow pretty damn fast, Karl," he growled. "I know, Sergei liked both, and fell in love with PERCIVAL when you took him to see it in Vienna." He looked from me to Emil. "Maybe. I won't rule it out, okay?"
"What do you like to do?" Emil asked gently.
Tom laughed harshly. "I don't really know. I've been trying to get out of Baltimore ever since I can remember. I got an athletic scholarship to UMD in College Park because I could swim faster than anybody in Baltimore. And I got that fellowship to Zürich because I spent more time in the books than anybody in the business school. Now, I've got a MBA and can't even find a fucking job. I'm temping over in D.C. most every day -- that's what all that effort got me."
"Why?" I asked, truly puzzled.
"The government's not hiring and business continues to cut back all over the country -- this makes the fifth year of the American recession."
"But you've got an advanced degree," I answered, still not understanding.
"If I had it from Harvard, I could get on for sixty thousand in New York in the wink of an eye. But mine comes from Maryland; and that means diddlysquat."
I felt his anger that his effort and hard work had meant nothing. I said without thinking: "You and Emil should get together and develop a business plan."
"And what would that do?" he asked, curious and trying to push his anger away from our conversation.
"This is still a capitalist world, isn't it?" I lifted a brow questioningly at both them.
Emil, who knew me better, nodded.
"Then, a successful investment would mean a substantial return?"
Tom had caught on to where my thoughts were beginning to lead me and was as fast as Emil to nod his affirmation to that question.
"Why don't we start a business -- together? I have the money but certainly would never be a merchant. But the two of you...?" I shrugged.
I could feel him liking my suggestion, his anger had already disappeared and his thoughts were moving rapidly past his initial curiosity. A frown pulled the ends of his mouth down suddenly. "What do I have to do to be a part of this?" he demanded.
"Sergei Alexandrovitch," I responded quietly in French. "You would ask me such a question? You of all men know me, what I was and still am."
Tom stared at me for another moment before his face and neck began to redden with the sudden rush of blood in his shame. "I'm sorry, Karli," he mumbled in German and I heard Sergei Alexandrovitch's accented voice speaking the apology.
"Make arrangements with Emil to come to the house tomorrow or Sunday. You two need to come up with something that benefits all of us," I told him, forgiving his doubt as I remembered how difficult it had been for Würther to accommodate the spirit of the Russian.
"Tomorrow okay with you?" he asked Emil without looking at me.
"It has to be evening -- nine o'clock?"
"That's pretty late to be alone in downtown D.C. or Baltimore," Tom answered with hesitation.
"I'll need to feed first," Emil explained and faint blotches rose across his face. "I can drive you back -- or you may stay the night."
"Now wait a minute!" He sat back quickly as if struck in the face.
"We have enough bedrooms, Tom," I interjected hurriedly before his suspicions caused him another faux pas.
"Did you mean it?" Emil asked as our Volkswagen speeded up and entered the traffic heading south on the I-95 motorway, towards Washington.
"Mean what?" I asked.
"That you'd put up the money for us to start a business?"
"Why else would I mention it?"
"You could have been setting him up so that, later, he couldn't say no." He flashed me a quick grin.
I understood and gritted my teeth. "Emil, that calls into question a concept of honour that was bred into me when Franz-Josef was still a young and robust Emperor."
My tone was proud. I knew it and I didn't care. I was hurt, even though I knew young Europeans were too much like their American cousins in not knowing what one's word meant.
"If you're telling me I just pissed you off, Karl, I'm sorry," he offered quickly. "You've always been absolutely fair with me."
He grinned in the dark interior of the car and I felt his embarrassment. "But you've been single-minded about finding Tom and reviving what you lost when he got killed back whenever -- I didn't know and I was just trying to find out."
"Apology accepted, Emil," I told him, putting an end to a conversation that could leave one or the other of us angry. I was far more interested in a leisurely bout of sex with Emil than I was in being angry with him.
"When we are back at the house, I want you to look through my thoughts of you and him -- completely. I don't ever want you doubting my love for you and where you stand again."
After several moments of silence between us, he snorted. "I saw Tom through gay eyes tonight for the first time," he said. "He's a damned good-looking man, Karl."
"Are you trying to tell me you'd rather have him in bed than me?"
He laughed. "Never. I love you. I like him. I know the difference and my cock doesn't control me as it seems to do with some men."
He fell silent for a moment and continued: "I'm saying that, if he decides to join us, I won't have a problem with it. Just so long as I've got you right beside me." His hand touched my knee. He smiled.
* * *
Group Commander Ronnie Barber studied the two men on the escalator before him. They were new to his command and this was their first mission. They were dressed warmly enough and their parkas covered their truncheons. In the past week's training sessions, they'd taken to the things and seemed to really get into beating the dummies with them. He taken them up to Judiciary Square on the subway before bringing them back to Eastern Market. It gave the other guys time enough to get into position.
He let his mind slip over to his pleasure that morning as he took the reports from Baltimore and Philadelphia. Three homos in Philly and two more in Baltimore had bitten the dust. He smiled. A CMUM first strike force unit was sure nothing to laugh at. The queers were going to have beaten into their heads. His smile covered his face. He could hardly wait until the fucking faggots woke up and tried to fight back. Pansies pretending to be real men. Yeah, he'd like to beat some sense into their heads.
Senator Stiers was right on years ago when he called on America to put the queers out on a deserted Pacific island. Put them out there and let them fuck each other's brains out -- and give each other all those nasty diseases the faggots got. Only, people weren't listening too well back then. Now they were, though. People were listening real good now. His first strike force units were seeing to that. Soon, that Mr. Trellum would have him expanding into New York and Boston. That was going to be the proudest moment in his life.
They reached the exit and stepped onto the kerb that ran beside Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast. Barber stepped in front of the new men, his gaze quickly searching for the rest of his squadron in the bright lights that lit the metro station. His heart slowed back to a normal beat and he took a deep breath.
I've got to stop getting excited when we have a mission, he told himself. Trellum was almost sure to frown on it if he ever saw Ronnie like he was now. And, now that he was a full commander, his men could get the wrong idea too. He was going to have to show that he was calm and collected if he wanted another promotion.
They lounged against the wall of the building just outside the metro's compound. All eight of them. They'd been with him on every mission -- executing that drug dealer, beating up the faggots in that baths place. Each one of them was a good man. Men he knew he could rely on.
He'd almost decided to head over to them and maybe smoke a butt with them when he saw a man stumble from a doorway halfway down the block. Barber grinned. He figured the figure was standing right in front of that queer bar. They had their first one.
The first dead Washington queer is mine! Barber told himself gleefully.
The man began to move carefully towards the metro, towards Ronnie Barber and his men. He took a couple steps forward and the men leaning against the last building in the block stood up, ready now to take on their mission.
The man nearly lost his footing, his left foot refusing to stay firm as he put weight on it. He grabbed at the building to hold himself in place until he could co-ordinate his feet again. Barber pointed at his men, held up two fingers, and slowly made a circle. He smiled as two men broke away from the others and ran to the "I" Street side of the building and into the darkness that was the street.
Barber continued to stand on the sidewalk running along Pennsylvania with his two newbies. The six remaining men pressed together now at the edge of their building, waiting for his word. Barber waited. He smiled when he saw the two figures turn the corner at Sixth Street and start for them. There was no way the queer was going to get away now.
The man lifted what Ronnie Barber realised was a cowboy hat and wiped his face with his shirtsleeve. He pushed off the building and weaved for several feet. He turned suddenly and grabbed at the building beside him. Ronnie Barber figured the man was damned lucky to still be standing up after that one. But the man inched forward determinedly.
"Come on," Barber whispered to his two newbies. "Remember the tune to `Battle Hymn Of The Republic'?" One of the men nodded. "Well, hum it loud and clear when we start getting near him." He started down the sidewalk then, watching the drunk queer. "Get those new truncheons out, boys," he asked over his shoulder without looking back to see if they were following him. "They're going to get blooded tonight."
They passed the corner of the first building after the metro station and Barber knew the six men waiting there had joined him and the two newbies. He could see the two men who'd circled around the block moving quickly up on the drunk.
"Yeah, boy, you better get ready cause you're gonna meet your Maker tonight," he mumbled to himself, watching the man intently.
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord," he sang softly to the two newbies with him. "Hum it, boys," he told them. "Let him know we're doing God's work tonight."
Barber heard the underground train arrive at the platform beneath him. His mind registered that soon there would be people on the street able to see him and his men as they beat the drunk. The excitement that he was feeling, however, overwhelmed every other thought. Group Captain Ronnie Barber wanted to hear and feel the hard rubber of his truncheon crashing into bone. To him, that was the palpable sign of the power of God in him.
The drunk looked up and saw the men coming towards him.
Ronnie Barber watched as the man smiled when he saw that they were white. He smiled back, knowing the man was figuring he was safe because of that.
The drunk stopped trying to walk and leant against the building. Barber almost laughed when the man's brow furrowed as he realised they were humming. He seemed to be still trying to make out what the tune was when they reached him.
Ronnie Barber patted his open palm with his truncheon as he came upon the man. He raised it above his head, watching the man watch it. "Faggot!" he growled and brought the truncheon down on the man's head. He watched the drunk begin to sink towards the ground, his eyes still round in surprise.
"Show him what God thinks of his kind, boys," he told his men and stepped back, giving the drunk over to them.
The drunk groaned a couple of times but made no other sound. No-one held back. All ten of his men were getting into beating the man. Ronnie Barber nodded to himself at that. His men were good.
He glanced back towards the metro escalators and saw a couple just as they realised what he and his men were doing. The woman grabbed the man's arm and pulled him into Pennsylvania Avenue. They crossed to the other side of the wide street and hurried to the corner. Barber smiled as he watched them.
"He's pulp, Group Captain. You want us to continue on with him," one of the men asked, pulling his attention back to the drunk lying on the sidewalk. He saw the blood trickling from the sides of his mouth.
"Let's go," Barber told them. "We've got more faggots we need to introduce to God." He started to saunter towards the end building, his men following after him.