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 | 9
Chapter 8 – Purity
Joe didn't know what to do. Nicky was making tiny strangled noises, sprawled on the bed as if caught in some terrible fit. Then there were the changes. Shining eyes, the same endless grey blue, but luminous like no human's should be stared straight up, and Nicky had claws. When those expressive lips had been pulled back in a snarl of pain, Joe had seen fangs.
If it had not been Nicky, maybe Joe would have felt fear, but he was not afraid of his husband, only for him. Nicky was bleeding. It had started on Nicky's chest, but it was spreading. Nose, eyes, ears, wrists, legs, anywhere blood vessels were close to the surface.
Of course, he had noticed the leather around Nicky's neck when he had come back earlier, but he had thought nothing of it. If Nicky needed the comfort of the cross, so be it, but this, this was inhuman. Andy charging into the room, closely followed by Nile and Booker broke him out of his inaction.
"We have to get that off," he said, pointing to what had once been Nicky's mother's gift.
It was sinking into Nicky's skin like acid though metal.
Andy climbed onto the bed beside him and produced a knife from god knew where.
"You hold him down, I'll get it out," she said.
Joe nodded. He moved forward, placing his hands on Nicky's shoulders as Andy knelt up. Their bodies usually rejected foreign objects automatically, but they had had to remove a few by force from time to time. It was never pleasant, and Joe braced himself, praying that Nicky's pain would be over soon.
Heedless of the blood, Andy went to work. She cut a short line up to one edge of the cross, pulling back Nicky's skin before it could knit back together where it was almost folding over the metal. Joe never took his eyes off what she was doing, praying it would be quick.
"Fuck," she said as she hooked the tip of her blade under to leverage it out and the steel went right through it, "it's like mercury."
"It's spreading," Nile said from where she was standing. "It's spreading under his skin."
"His body should be rejecting it," Booker added, sounding almost as frantic as Joe felt.
"Nicky," Joe implored.
"We have to cut him open," Andy said. "We need anything that can scoop this out of him."
Booker was out the door before Andy finished speaking.
"Turn him over," was her next instruction.
She moved to the left, sliding her hands under Nicky's side. Joe braced his knees, curling his fingers over Nicky's shoulder and nodded at Andy. As one they moved, but Nicky wouldn't budge. It was like he was suddenly made of lead or glued to the bed sheets.
"What the fuck?" Andy growled.
"Guys, I think you need to back off," Nile said.
"Never," Joe snarled, but he found his fingers slipping from Nick's skin.
For a second, he thought it was the blood, but then he saw the glowing rivulets under his hands. He couldn't hold on. No matter how he tried, he was forced away from Nicky, grabbing desperately and finding no purchase, like two like poles of incredibly strong magnets sliding over each other and away. He could see Andy trying everything she could from the corner of his eyes, but they were both helpless. Neither of them gave up, but no matter what they tried, if was as if there was a force between them and Nicky.
Joe heard Booker come back, but it all seemed hopeless.
Nicky convulsed again and coughed with a terrible gurgling sound, blood and spittle running down his chin, before going still.
Like a switch turning off, the glow vanished, and all the supernatural traces faded to human norms. The force holding Joe away remained for several terrible seconds, before it simply wasn't there anymore.
"Nicky," Joe called, cradling his husband's face in his hands.
Nicky's eyes were open, staring, he wasn't breathing. Joe felt the same terror that filled him every time Nicky died, only this time it was worse. This time it wasn't bullets or blades or even poison, this time he could see the jagged hole in Nicky's chest created by the melted cross. There was blood everywhere, all over the bed, over him, over Andy, up the wall.
It could not end here, not after everything, not when he had thought he had Nicky back. He felt like he could not breathe.
Joe looked at Booker barely understanding the words.
"Look," Booker said, pointing.
"He's right," Andy said, staring at Nicky's chest.
Joe knew he wasn't thinking straight, and he ran his eyes all over Nicky looking for anything, seeing nothing, until finally he did. The jagged, bloody hole in Nicky's chest, within which Joe could still see rivulets of the silver from the cross, was closing. Flesh was knitting back together, parts becoming whole, but something was wrong.
The healing was uneven, patchy, so it took a moment to see it, but as the wound closed Joe saw something he had never seen on any of them before. Where there should have been perfect skin, there was a silvery white scar. It was jagged, amorphous, and elongated, but it was clearly a cross.
When Nicky arched off the bed, gasping and coughing, Joe caught him and gathered him into his arms. The blue eyes he knew and loved so well looked into his own for a moment, before closing as Nicky sagged.
"Joe?" Andy asked.
Once again Joe felt his heart miss a beat, but he soon catalogued the signs of life.
"Breathing," Joe said, looking down at Nicky's pale face.
He didn't know what to do or think as Andy climbed off the bed. This was too strange, too far out of any of their comfort zones.
"This is crazy," Nile said quietly.
"Oui," Booker agreed.
"We…" Andy started to say, but gasped.
Joe turned, still clinging to Nicky to see Andy's hand going to her thigh as she doubled over as if to protect the wound they had all nearly forgotten about, given the crisis.
"Andy," Booker called, immediately going to her side.
"Fuck, ow," Andy complained.
Before anyone could do or say anything else, she had her pants unzipped and was pulling them down. The dressing on her leg was soaked through and Joe was pretty sure it wasn't all Nicky's blood, there was a dark patch at the centre. She'd already been bleeding. Joe mentally swore at himself. He had been so wrapped up in finding Nicky and making sure Nicky was okay, he had totally neglected what had started the whole thing in the first place: Andy's injury.
His first instinct was to make sure Nicky was okay, probably always would be, but Nicky was breathing again which meant he would recover, Andy was far more breakable than any of them now. Holding Nicky close, he kept his eyes on Andy as she ripped off the dressing. However, before he or anyone could see what state the wound was in, she crumpled to the floor, making a moaning sound.
"Nile, help me," Booker said taking one side, Nile took the other and they held Andy up in a kneeling position.
"Andy, what's wrong?" Nile asked. "Where does it hurt?"
Andy was blinking and staring around the room as if she had been on a weeklong bender, or someone had smacked her hard on the side of the head.
"Andy, talk to us," Nile insisted.
Andy just gasped again, hand going to her chest.
Nicky convulsed in Joe's arms. He looked down as fingers dug painfully into his wrist. Nicky's face was screwed up, eyes tight closed and Joe wanted to cry. So much pain, he had prayed it was over, but it was starting all over again.
"Book," Nile said, but Joe was far too wrapped up in Nicky to pay attention to the others. "Booker, look!"
The barked command was so sharp it made Joe look up too. Andy was leaning against Booker, Nile was looking down at Andy's leg. Joe couldn't see anything from his angle, but Andy gave another moan and Nicky gasped, going limp in his arms once more.
"She healed," Nile whispered.
Andy reared away from Booker, kneeling up under her own power as if she was just coming awake. She looked at her blood covered hands, then down at her leg as if she couldn't believe what she was feeling.
"I don't ache," she said as if that made no sense to her. "I always ache."
That was news to Joe, but not really surprising given what Andy put herself through on a daily basis. He looked down at Nicky and looked back at Andy again. It made no reasonable sense, but he could see only one explanation, and nothing made reasonable sense at the moment anyway.
"Nicky's blood," he said, voice thick from emotion.
Andy's eyes skipped to the sodden dressing that was clinging to the end of the bed.
"How?" she all but demanded.
Joe had nothing, his head was far too full of worry to have any sensible explanations, not that he was sure there were any.
Andy stood up, pulling her pants back up as an afterthought.
"Is he..?" she asked looking at Nicky.
"Sleeping," Joe said, "I think."
He hadn't seen Nicky this still but breathing since his husband had staggered in the front door. The one thing he was truly grateful for was that Nicky's face was finally relaxed, the edges of pain having dissolved away.
"We need to get him cleaned up, and this room," Andy decided, clearly favouring action over talking. "I'll be back."
Booker and Nile watched her go, apparently at a loss to know what to do, but they moved to help when Joe shifted on the bed. He and Booker got Nicky up while Nile went to remove the bedclothes in all their bloody glory. It looked like a slaughterhouse.
"Bathroom," Joe decided after a few moments and simply picked Nicky up bridal style.
They had managed to snag the master bedroom and hence the largest en suite when the team arrived at the safe house. There was a bath and a shower cubicle as well as two sinks and a toilet. What Joe would have liked to do was have a long hot shower with Nicky and get them both clean, but showering with an unconscious person was nigh on impossible. That left the bath.
"Booker," he said, "could you start the bath please?"
Booker slipped past him into the room without comment, kneeling down beside the tub before efficiently turning on the water, making sure it was at the right temperature and putting in the plug.
"Anything else you need?" Booked asked as he stood once more.
"I can handle it from here," Joe said, which Booker just accepted with a nod. "Thank you," Joe added as Booker stepped back into the other room.
Nicky stirred a little as Joe sat him on the toilet seat in an attempt to get him ready for the water.
"Hey," Joe said, smiling as Nicky blinked open tired eyes.
"Hey," Nicky replied, voice barely above a whisper.
"Can you sit here while I just get the wash things?" Joe asked, deciding that he was going to take what he could get for now and questions could wait until later.
He refused to let his eyes linger on the jagged scar on Nicky's chest.
"Sì," Nicky said, but promptly started to slide sideways as soon as Joe took his hand away.
"Okay," Joe decided, "let's get you comfy first."
Bracing Nicky with one hand, he ripped off the tattered remains of Nicky's t-shirt with the other. It was way beyond saving.
"1,2,3 and up, to get these off, okay?" he continued, tugging on the blood-soaked pyjama pants.
Nicky nodded, but Joe wasn't expecting much help when he followed through. Nicky tried, but his coordination seemed to be all shot to hell, and Joe had to do most of the work. Luckily the sodden material fell to the tiles with a squelch after being given only a little encouragement.
"Going to pick you up," Joe said once Nicky was naked.
All he got in response was a mumble, which he hoped was consent, because there was no other way Nicky was getting in the bath. At least Nicky managed to grip him round the neck as he picked him up this time. The water was perfect as he lowered Nicky into it, even if it turned cloudy as soon as bloody flesh met it.
"Do not drown," Joe told his husband in a mock stern tone as he turned to find the soap and a cloth.
Nicky had slipped down by the time he turned back, but was still above the rapidly filling waterline. He counted that as a win.
"Andy?" Nicky said in a groggy tone as Joe dipped the cloth and began to sud it up with the soap.
"Is fine," Joe said, lifting one of Nicky's arms and gently wiping off his husband's long fingers.
He couldn't help glancing at the darkness outside as he took in Nicky's perfectly human looking fingernails.
"Felt her," Nicky mumbled.
"Yes, well your blood healed her," Joe replied as he continued carefully and gently cleaning Nicky's beautiful body.
He wasn't sure how much Nicky was really taking in, but they never lied to each other, so there wasn't a lot else he could say. The fact Nicky seemed to be pain free for the first time in days was making his heart thud in his chest with hope and relief.
He pulled his own bloody shirt off and washed off his arms, but the rest would have to wait as he focused on getting the blood off of Nicky's skin, then out of his hair. Nicky was just with it enough to not slide under the water, but was more a of a hinderance for everything else. It took a long time and two tubs of water to get Nicky clean.
After that Joe laid out a couple of towels on the floor and lifted Nicky out of the tub onto them, wrapping him up and drying him off as quickly as possible. Nicky was wrapped in a towel and mostly asleep when Joe carried him back into the other room.
"How is he?" Andy asked, from where she had been helping Nile replace the pillows.
The room looked surprisingly clean, given the complete horror scene it had been before.
"Exhausted," Joe said, "but he doesn't seem to be in pain anymore."
Nicky mumbled something against Joe's shoulder, but didn't move.
With the others' help, Joe got Nicky under the clean duvet and onto the nice crisp clean sheet. He could just see the bloody ones in the hall poking around the door. Nicky managed to catch hold of his hand and refused to let go, so he sat down on the other side of the bed.
"How are you?" he asked, giving Andy a long, knowing look.
"Fine," she said in her usual tone.
"And," he nudged.
He was sure Booker would have done the same before Merrick, but he was the only one in the room likely to do it at the moment.
"Better than fine," Andy said, turning and deliberately jamming her thumb on the sharp edge of the old door latch.
Joe knew how sharp it was, he'd walked into it twice.
Andy held out her bleeding thumb. As he watched the wound closed.
"Fuck," Nile said, which just about summed up Joe's thoughts on the matter as well.
Andy being Andy, licked off the blood that remained on her finger.
"No fangs," she said, not that Joe had been thinking along those lines anyway.
He looked down at Nicky's peaceful face where his husband had finally drifted off into proper sleep and simply marvelled at whatever miracle this was.
"Anyone have a single clue as to what is going on?" he asked, just a little overwhelmed.
"Not since that damn dream barrelled into my head," Booker said. "I need a drink."
"Me too," Nile agreed.
"Need anything?" Andy asked as the other two went to leave the room.
Joe shook his head.
"I have all I need right here," he said, and stroked the damp hair back from Nicky's face.
"Okay, everything's fine," Nile said loudly, "they're back to being sickeningly sweet."
That at least made Joe smile.
He managed to free his hand from Nicky very carefully and have the world's fastest shower before climbing into bed beside his husband and sleeping properly for the first time in days.
On to Chapter 9