Fandom: The Old Guard (Movie 2020)
Summary: Nicky can't help assisting people in need, but this time he's being played and those duping him come with fangs. When he goes missing the whole team are frantic, particularly when they start having strange dreams, especially Joe. They have to find Nicky before it is too late.
Warnings/Tropes: Vampires, Immortal!Husbands, Nicky Whump
A/N: Yes, of course I wrote vampires into TOG – it is my mission in life to write vampires in every fandom. 😂 You're welcome 🧛😂.
Seriously though – I hope everyone enjoys reading this one, I have so enjoyed writing it. Thanks to Soph for the beta.
Links: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
Chapter 7 – After Death
Tiny little pins sticking into his skin all over dragged Nicky back to reality. He tried to open his eyes, but everything was too bright and all he could do was roll over in a desperate attempt to shield his vision. He felt something hard under him as he came to a stop and remembered the stake that had been rammed into his chest.
As it turned out all the little pins were in his head, but the sensation continued to run through every piece of exposed skin anyway.
He was outside, that much did make it through into his muddled thoughts, and the sun was shining. The burning in his cells was back too and any strength he had was minimal. Moving felt like a herculean effort and it seemed to take forever for him to push himself onto his knees.
There was not one part of him that didn't hurt, but he was free, he was alive and that meant he could get back to Joe.
More detailed reasoning just wouldn't come to him and he pushed himself up with that single thought in his head. He fell twice before he even managed to get his feet under him properly.
It was so bright he could barely see. He had no idea where he was, so he staggered downhill, wherever that would take him. He was acting mostly on instinct with very little thought process to his movements, so he barely registered when grass became tarmac. The screech of brakes did register, and a red shape coming towards him, but about all he had time to think was: "This is going to hurt."
Someone shouting at him, a siren, people, being lifted. It was all a jumble after that for a considerable amount of time. He was stuck somewhere between conscious and unconscious until his body sorted itself out.
"He's stabilised," he heard someone say with a heavy Scottish accent. "You make sure they're ready for him, I'll get him prepped for transfer."
Nicky flashed back to Merrick's lab. Every moment of Dr Kozak's twisted care zipped through his mind and he opened his eyes.
"Hello," a woman said, leaning over him. "You're…"
She was blond, hair in a ponytail, and he panicked. There was no gap between thought and action as his overtaxed system completely failed to discern reality from memory. He struggled, ripping out of whatever restraints they had him in and dived for the open doors of what his mind saw as a van. He didn't fight, he didn't think, he simply ran.
"He's free," Andy said a second into the call that had just come through, and Joe was on his feet in a heartbeat.
She listened some more, holding her hand up to Joe as he all but vibrated in place.
"Thank you," she said before ending the call.
"Where?" Joe asked.
"He was taken to the Royal Infirmary two hours ago," Andy said, "but when they tried to take him in, he ran."
"Where is he now?" Joe demanded.
"Copely is working on it, but the CCTV is patchy," Andy said.
"Fuck," Joe said along with a few more words in other languages to back it up.
"Joe," Andy said, placing her hand on his arm. "Copely also said he thinks he's coming this way."
The hope that welled up in Joe made his knees feel weak.
"What else did he say?" Joe asked.
"Not much, but he's sending through the footage," Andy told him. "Booker should have it now."
As if one cue, Booker appeared in the doorway. Without a word he handed Joe the laptop with a file already open on the screen. There in perfect freezeframe was Nicky leaping out the back of an ambulance. Joe stared. For a few seconds he forgot to breathe. Only when Andy came over to stand beside him did he reach to press play.
Nicky looked strong and sure as he landed on the concrete, shedding medical supplies as he went. Joe watched as the love of his life took in the area in one glance and began to run. Only as he went from the shade of the building into the morning sun did he stumble. Nicky wrapped his arms around himself, as if fortifying his own body, and started to run again, disappearing from the camera's view.
"There are more files," Booker said quietly. "Tap the screen to move through them."
Joe did, only to see the same scene from another angle, only this one showed Nicky running across a road and onto some grass, headed for a patch of trees.
As each clip came to an end, Joe tapped for the next, each a tiny snippet of the man he loved. Telling him so much and yet not nearly enough. When he got to the end, he tapped several times, not believing there were no more. Booker gently took the laptop from him as he stared at the empty screen.
Nicky was alive. Nicky was coming back to him. Those were the only two things he would believe.
Nicky had no idea how he had made it back to the safe house. His whole body was burning from the inside, his skin never stopped prickling, and everything else was dim in his awareness. The only thing keeping him going was the thought of Joe.
He banged on the door, swaying in place, leaning forward without being able to do anything about it. It never occurred to him he was blocking the spy hole until the door was yanked inwards and there was a gun in his face.
"Nicky!" Nile squeaked and was just in time to catch him, because apparently the door had been holding him up by then. "Joe, Andy, Booker," Nile yelled.
Nicky lost some more time after that, because he found himself on the hallway carpet in Joe's arms.
"What have they done to you?" Joe was whispering while stroking his hair from his face.
He wanted to say something, wanted to do something, but just breathing was hard. Joe was his goal, his only thought and now he was here the effort getting to this point robbed him of everything else. He tried to lift his arm, but it felt like lead weight and he barely managed a few inches. Joe caught his hand anyway, bringing it up and kissing his fingers.
"You're safe now," Joe told him, bending down and kissing him on the forehead.
It seemed so impossible after everything, but Nicky believed, he always believed Joe's words.
"Come on, Joe," that was Andy's voice, "let's get him somewhere more comfortable."
Everything was a bit muddled, but Nicky felt hands on him, and he was being lifted into a standing position. His thoughts flashed back to the last time he had had hands on him and the stake coming down, but these hands didn't frighten him. Something inside him recognised friends at an instinctive level even if his senses were too foggy to work out which hands belonged to whom.
Joe was on one side, arm around his waist, holding him up, that much was telegraphed to him as if it didn't need to be routed through any normal channels in his head. It took him a while longer to realise it was Booker under his other arm as the two men all but carried him up the stairs. He was trying to walk, but the impetus to keep going was gone and he kept missing part of the journey, so he doubted he was being much help.
When he was placed on the cool sheets of a soft, comfortable bed, it was like heaven.
"Thanks," he heard Joe say, "I can take it from here."
"You're sure?" Andy again.
Joe must have nodded, but Nicky had his eyes closed, so he couldn't see, but he heard the door closing.
"If you need anything, call, okay?" That was Nile.
Nicky opened his eyes again as Joe touched him. It took a second, but his husband's face swam into focus as Joe knelt beside the bed.
"I was so worried, my heart," Joe told him, stroking his face with gentle hands.
"Me too," he finally managed to find a little of his voice.
"We dreamed of you," Joe said, placing a kiss on his forehead again, "all of us."
"Dreams?" Nicky's mind was turning slowly, and he did not understand.
"Like in the beginning," Joe told him, "as if the universe once again wanted us to find you, and yet it is your strength that has brought you back to us."
"You saw?" he asked, voice cracking and almost disappearing again.
"The darkness which tried to take you touched us all," Joe said. "We know what you have been fighting against."
It was a relief, but also scared Nicky more than he could rationalise. He did not have to explain, but there was no way Joe could fully understand.
"I did not fight it off," he said, finding strength in his fear, "it is still in here."
As if mentioning it alone was enough to give it strength, the fire in his cells flared and he gasped.
"Nicky, sssh, it's okay, Nicky."
Useless platitudes fell from Joe's lips, but he never stopped touching Nicky and that did help. He focused on that, using it like a bandage on an open wound.
"We will beat this together, my love," Joe told him, gathering him into his arms, "like always."
Nicky used what strength he had left to bring one arm up and loop it over Joe's shoulders. Belief in them was all he had left.
What came next, that was the thought that plagued Nicky. Joe had helped him get cleaned up, at least as far as getting the blood and grime off went, and out of the remnants of his jeans. Being in the cool, dimness of the bedroom had also helped, and he was feeling a little stronger and a lot more lucid. The clean pyjama pants and t-shirt also made him feel better.
Resting in Joe's arms he had felt some of his strength returning, even as his body continued to be a battleground.
They were going to have to talk. They needed to figure out what was going on with him and how to deal with it, but Joe was insisting on taking care of his every need without really talking about anything. When he admitted that he hadn't eaten any food since he had been taken, Joe had immediately vanished to the kitchen, promising to be back as quickly as possible.
Nicky hadn't had a chance to explain that he had had another form of sustenance. He was hungry, he just hoped real food would fill that hole. This was all insane and he had no idea what vampire legends were real and what weren't and what might apply to him given his own status as immortal. It was all too much to think about. However, there was one thing that kept circling around his head.
Crawling across the bed, Nicky fumbled with the drawer in the bedside table. His relationship with religion was a complicated one. Once he had been young, naïve and devout, believing all his doctrine taught him, but the reality of war had shattered that, even before love had opened his eyes to so much more, but there was one thing he kept from that innocent time. He pulled the small cloth bag from the drawer, emptying the contents onto the bed next to him.
The cross was simple, made of silver with little embellishment, on a long leather thong. His mother had given it to him when he had chosen the priesthood, her blessing. He had worn it in battle when his life had changed directions. It was something of a miracle it had never been lost, but, somehow, it always stayed safe. The thong had changed many times, but the cross remained the same.
Evening would come, darkness would arrive, he could feel it without even looking at the clock. He did not want to lose to the power invading him anymore. This was the one thing he owned that was pure and light, a symbol of his mother's love and the love of a complicated god. Before he could change his mind, he picked it up and slipped it around his neck, dropping it under his t-shirt against his skin.
A wave of weakness followed, but that could just have been that he had dared to move. Lying back down, he pushed himself onto his back and closed his eyes. He was so tired, but sleep was all but impossible. The only rest he could find was in Joe's arm and he hated being a burden, but he hoped his husband would be back soon.
Nicky reared out of Joe's arms, the light doze smashed by the pain in his chest. He couldn't breathe. It was like a weight was crushing his chest and a red-hot poker was being pushed into his flesh. It had to be the cross and he ripped at his shirt, heedless of what damage he did.
Darkness had fallen, his fingers were tipped with claws far too sharp to be human. The material shredded under them.
Joe tried to grab him, pull him back, but he shook off the touch. The pain was too much. He snarled, clawing at his chest. The cross was glowing and its square edges were melting, the silver flowing over his skin. He ripped at it, trying to get his claws under it, but it was welded to his flesh, biting into it and burning his fingers.
Never in his life had he understood so clearly the line between good and evil, what was pure and what was impure. Now he saw it as clear as day. Now he felt it in its fundamental form.
Desperately he reached for the cross again, but his fingers could not even touch it. As it spread and burned into his body, he could not make contact with it. He convulsed, arms going wide as blood began to seep from the wound.
"Andy help!" he heard Joe yell.
He fell back, muscles twitching, staring at the ceiling, unable to so much as cry out as the molten metal ate into his chest.
On to Chapter 8