Cross Your Heart @caldroid
Chapter 3

A week uneventfully passed by in tedium, and Luca continued to make steady progress on his experiments. The progress, although welcome, didn’t do much to alleviate the stress that he was feeling. His mind was already addled from a lack of sleep, but he found his thoughts straying even more as of late towards the strange man he’d only actually spoken to twice now. His parting words the other day had implied that he would be coming back at some point, but Luca hadn’t seen him at all the past few evenings. His memories of that night were still fresh in his mind, and he couldn’t help but think about how… worried Wanderer had looked in hindsight.

Luca didn’t expect to see him today, either, but at this point he’d almost made a habit of going out at night just to slightly calm his nerves. He yawned as he sat up, and once again pushed his way through the door in order to venture outside towards the trees bordering the estate. 

He wandered aimlessly as the sun began to dim over the horizon, the remainder of its light just barely peeking above the tops of the trees. It took some time, but he eventually managed to find what he was looking for -- a small, worn dirt path leading into the forest. The lights that lined the path were few and far between, but they still provided ample enough lighting that Luca was confident that he wouldn’t get lost.

He wandered aimlessly as the sun began to dim over the horizon, the remainder of its light just barely peeking above the tops of the trees. It took some time, but he eventually managed to find what he was looking for -- a small, worn dirt path leading into the forest. The lights that lined the path were few and far between, but they still provided ample enough lighting that Luca was confident that he wouldn’t get lost.

Luca started down the path without any hesitation, occasionally taking note of the muffled sounds of animals moving somewhere in the distance. He didn’t have to get very far before the distant rustling of animals eventually morphed into a much closer and more noticeable scraping noise that made its way through the nearby underbrush. Luca froze in place for a moment, straining to hear what direction the sound was coming from. Just as soon as he pinpointed the source of the noise to the left of him, his eyes spotted a figure much too humanoid to be an animal slumped against one of the trees. Luca cautiously trailed closer, his senses on full alert.

The shape seemed to notice Luca as well, and a strained voice called out to him. “Luca? ‘S That you?”

His words were more slurred than usual, but Luca was still able to instantly recognize the voice as Wanderer’s. “Why are... what are you doing over there? You sound sick.”

Luca took another step forward, but Wanderer pulled himself to his feet and held his hand out to stop him. “Fuck, I should be askin’ you the same thing. Didn’t I tell you it was dangerous out here this late?”

“Are you injured?” Luca ignored his signal to stop, and reached his hand out towards Wanderer. “If something’s wrong, I can help you to a doctor.”

“Sorry, we’re wayyyyyy past that now,” he responded. He moved his other hand away from his side, and the light dimly reflected off of something coating the side of his shirt. Luca’s eyes widened when he recognized what it was -- the right side of his chest was slick with blood.

“W-We need to get you to a hospital! Now!” Luca didn’t stutter often, but his thoughts were moving much faster than his words possibly could. He kept his hand extended towards him, urging Wanderer to take it.

“C’mon, I already told you it was too late for that. And it’s not safe for you to stay out here.”

“I can see that, but you can’t honestly think that I’ll just leave you out here to bleed to death!”

“You really, really don’t get it.” Wanderer’s hand moved towards Luca’s extended arm, and he gripped onto his wrist with an amount of strength that Luca hadn’t expected him to have. A light tug was enough to pull Luca’s entire body closer to his own, which caused him to nearly trip over his own feet. “The dangerous thing you should be worried about--”


“Is me.”

A flash of pain surged through Luca’s shoulder, but it was almost instantly replaced with a pronounced drowsiness. A feeling of calm washed over him, and his entire body fell limp as he all but collapsed under his own weight. The last thing he recalled from that moment was seeing Wanderer’s panicked expression as the remainder of his vision faded away into a comforting black.

When Luca awoke, the first thing he was aware of was a dull numbness that spread through his body. It wasn’t exactly painful, but it wasn’t a very pleasant feeling, either. He just sat there for a few moments while he waited to regain some feeling in his limbs. The second thing he noticed was the fact that he was sitting propped against something hard, but in his drowsy state he couldn’t exactly tell what it was.

His eyes finally adjusted to the dark after what felt like an eternity, and panic began to rise in the back of his throat when he realized he was still outside. His hazy recollection of what just happened crashed back into his head at full force, and he more frantically checked his surroundings. He wasn’t on, or even near, the old forest trail anymore. The only source of light came from the pale beams of the moon that shone through the gaps in the foliage up above, and that was going to be nowhere near enough for him to find his way back to civilization.

“Oh, good, you’re awake. I actually thought you died for a moment there.” A looming shape moved closer to him just out of the periphery of his vision, and the familiar visage of Wanderer stepped fully into his field of view before crouching down in front of him.

“Where are we? How long have I been out here? What--” Luca was surprised at how raspy his own voice was, and coughed to clear his throat. “What happened to me?”

“One question at a time. Please.” Wanderer was still keeping a bit of distance from him, so it was impossible to see what kind of expression he had on. “I didn’t do anything seriously bad to you, so you don’t have to worry about that.”

“But you did do something, didn’t you? Why else would I be in this state right now?” Another, slightly more pressing memory bubbled up in Luca’s mind. “Wait, your injuries--?”

“Should you really be worrying about me right now?” Wanderer snapped back. “They already healed a while ago thanks to your, erm…. generous contribution.”

About a dozen different thoughts ping-ponged off of each other in his brain as he struggled to make sense of not only that sentence, but his entire predicament. He slowly flexed the fingers on his hand, regaining his movement bit by bit. Even as the numbness drained from the rest of his body, a sore spot somewhere between his neck and shoulder still throbbed dully. Wanderer continued talking, taking Luca’s silence as a response in itself. “I probably owe you an apology, though. People don’t usually pass out when I bite them, ‘specially not as fast as you did.”

Ah… bite. He was bitten. That would explain the surge of pain he felt before passing out as well as the uncomfortable feeling in his shoulder right now. He couldn’t wrap his head around why Wanderer would bite him, even though that did seem to fall in line with what he just experienced. That is, unless… unless…?


“What, did you only just figure it out?”

“You’re,” Luca’s voice rose in excitement, “You’re a vampire!”

Luca attempted to move closer towards Wanderer, but forgot about the state his body was in and nearly fell over in his haste. The other man quickly moved forward and caught him before he slumped onto the ground, keeping him pinned up.

Seemingly unphased by this, Luca continued talking. “I heard rumors when I was younger, um -- stories, mostly -- but who knew I would actually meet one myself? There’s so much I could ask you!”

Wanderer’s close proximity to him meant it was easier to make out his facial features now, which were currently twisted into an expression of confusion. Once he was sure that Luca wouldn’t fall over again, he slowly lowered his arms and inched away from him. “Uh. This is the part where you’re supposed to be scared, you know.”

“But whatever for? I may never get an opportunity like this again.” Luca continued, “If you wanted to kill me, then I would already be dead.”

“Can’t… really argue with that, but…” Wanderer rubbed the back of his neck and lowered his head down, letting the brim of his hat shield his eyes from view. “I still bit you. That’s not a super pleasant experience in and of itself.”

“You would’ve died if you hadn’t, though.”

“I’m not gonna die from something like that.”

“Then what would have happened?”

“Probably, uh… lesse…” Wanderer paused. “I would’ve wandered around until I attacked someone else.”

“So the outcome would be the same,” Luca triumphantly replied.

“No, it wouldn’t.” Hesitation seeped into his voice. “And I wouldn’t have stuck around for the aftermath of that, anyway.”

“Then why stay here with me?”

“Like I said, people don’t normally drop like that. They get sleepy, sure, but not to the point of actually falling asleep.” Another pause. “If something happened to you out here, I would’ve felt partially responsible for it.”

“If you really intend to take responsibility, then can you help me up? I’m not sure if I can stand on my own just yet.”

“Fine,” Wanderer sighed as he scooted over to Luca, slinging the man’s arm over his shoulder. He stood up and brought both of them to their feet, which caused Luca to cling to Wanderer’s shirt with his other arm so as not to fall back down again. This elicited a small chuckle from the vampire.

“How far away are we? I can’t see any lamps out here.”

“Not too far. I just had to drag you away from the trails in case someone stumbled over and got the wrong idea.”

“Right, we wouldn’t want anyone thinking you drank my blood or anything.”

Wanderer scoffed, “You know what I mean.”

The rest of the walk back was spent in relative silence, partially due to Luca focusing on not tripping over his own feet. The pain in his shoulder blade didn’t entirely subside, but at the very least he managed to get enough feeling into his legs that he was able to walk properly. He vaguely thought that his lack of coordination must’ve resembled that of a drunk, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue as long as his mentor didn’t see him stumbling around once he was back inside.

Once they reached the recognizable scenery of the garden, Wanderer unhooked Luca’s arm from his shoulder and allowed him to lean against a tree. “This is about as far as I go. You can walk the rest of the way yourself, right?”

Luca hummed and glanced back towards the estate. The lights in the windows had long since gone out, and there was no way to tell just how late it was. “Will you be back tomorrow? There’s still so much that I want to ask you about.”

The man grimaced. “That’s really not such a good idea. I already finished what I came here to do, so there’s no reason for me to stick around any longer.”

Luca steadied himself and took a step forward. “Just one day is all I’m asking for. Can’t you think of it as payment for letting you bite me?”

“Come on, that’s not fair.” A sigh escaped his lips, and he appeared to resign himself. “Just one night. After that, I’m leaving.”

Luca clasped his hands around one of Wanderer’s own, and the sudden gesture clearly caught the other man off guard. “Thank you so much!”

The vampire had involuntarily taken a step back from Luca, and immediately lowered his arm back down to his side once the other man’s grip loosened. “Right. Um. Tomorrow, then.”

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