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 | 10
Chapter 9 – The Same but Different
When Nicky woke up safe in Joe's arms, for a few seconds he forgot where he was and what had happened. He almost rolled over to give his husband a kiss before he remembered everything was not normal.
"Hello," Joe whispered in his ear as he froze. "You can still do it you know."
It was such a habitual thing and his aborted movement must have telegraphed everything he was thinking. He moved slowly, turning in Joe's arms until they were facing each other. He couldn't help it, he searched those deep eyes and expressive features looking for fear, for repulsion. Joe just looked back at him, gaze brimming over with love like always.
"I will love you until the seas run dry, until the stars fall from heaven. I go to sleep with your face in my mind. I wake up with your visage behind my eyes. Nothing will ever change that."
Nicky didn't know what to say. Joe had always been the one with a way with beautiful words and he had no well-meant jibes in him at the moment. His eyes filled with tears and Joe stroked the side of his face. Before he could actually cry, he moved forward and stole the kiss Joe had invited him to take.
"Thank you," were the only words he could find.
"Do not take this the wrong way, light of my life," Joe said filling the gap where Nicky usually added humour, "but I believe we both need to clean our teeth."
Nicky snorted a small laugh at that and managed to just about stop it becoming a hiccupping sob.
Taking a deep breath, he pushed the fear and strain of the last few days down. Now was not the time.
"They need putting down," he said, letting the anger he felt at what Ruth and her sycophants had tried to do to him, what they had threatened to do to those he loved to bubble towards the surface.
"Agreed," was all Joe said, turning and climbing out of bed, pulling him along by the hand.
He followed Joe into the bathroom and everything felt almost normal as they moved through a usual routine. Then Nicky made the mistake of looking in the mirror.
The face he had known for centuries stared back at him, but he felt like he was looking at a stranger, because of what lurked behind his eyes. He looked human, maybe a little paler than he had been. There was nothing in his features that screamed 'monster', but he could sense the edge of difference. He remembered looking at himself in a pool soon after he had first discovered he could not die, it was a remarkably similar experience.
His eyes drifted lower to the silvery white scar on his chest. He touched it with his fingertips and it just felt like normal skin. That he could see it, but he couldn't feel it underlined the impossibility of everything. Nothing made sense.
A sharp snapping sound shocked him out of his spiralling thoughts.
He stared stupidly at his right hand and the two broken bits of his toothbrush.
"My love," Joe was by his side in a moment, touching, soothing. "Nicky."
When Joe gently possessed the cheap plastic remnants, he let him.
"Are we even human?" he asked as he stared at his now empty fingers.
Joe urged him to turn until he was leaning against the sink and facing his husband.
"Of course we are human," Joe told him, cupping the side of his face with one hand.
"We don't die," Nicky said, "they don't die. They aren't human."
"They were," Joe countered. "Maybe they are like us, something that science cannot yet explain."
"This isn't science," he said, tapping his hand on his chest.
Maybe he could have believed that everything he had felt, everything he had seen had an explanation, except for that.
"No," Joe agreed, "that is not science."
A shaft of cold ran through Nicky's heart.
"But both of us have always believed in a higher power," Joe went on, "nothing we have seen has taken that away from us completely no matter how humanity chooses to warp this fundamental truth to their own ends. Has it not occurred to you that maybe we might be the good seeping through the lens of humankind, and they are the bad?"
"We are not good," Nicky replied.
Joe smiled at him.
"No, we are human," he said, placing a kiss on Nicky's forehead, "but I know for a fact you have wondered how it is not one of us has used our immortality for evil, we have discussed it. We have seen each other's souls when we dreamed. We are flawed, but we have good hearts."
Nicky took a shaky breath.
"What does that make me?" he asked as the fear bloomed in his chest.
"Oh, my love, my heart," Joe said, crowding in against him and taking his face in both hands, "it makes you a miracle, my miracle. I felt the darkness you fought against. It touched my soul only for a moment as I dreamed of you and it terrified me. You fought it alone and won."
Looking into Joe's beautiful eyes, all Nicky could see was love.
"Not alone," he said, "never alone."
Joe kissed him then, hard and demanding and needy, and he kissed back desperately.
"You are mine and I am yours," Joe said as they breathlessly broke apart, "always."
"Always," Nicky repeated, although he could barely speak.
He wanted to express so many things, but he had no words. All he could hope was that Joe could read him as well as always.
"Now I will find you a new toothbrush," Joe said eventually, giving him a smile, "for I fear we both still need to clean out teeth."
Nicky laughed again, only this time he couldn't stop the tears. Joe gathered him into a strong, comforting embrace and let him cry away the pain of the last few days. This had changed him, exactly how he had yet to fully find out, but Joe still loved him and that was all he needed.
By the time they were ready to go downstairs, he had his emotions back under control. They moved together with purpose.
Nicky almost stumbled when he followed Joe into one of the rooms downstairs and saw Joe's drawings and the rest of the mission wall. He was concentrating on his anger, probably too much and he had to ruthlessly squash the desire to rip Ruth's face into tiny little pieces.
"Note to self," Nile said, "if we ever come across the queen asshole, do not get between Nicky and her."
That actually helped.
"She wished to make me like her and to send me back here to do the same to Joe as she had done to me," he said simply. "It amused her to think of love so corrupted."
"Second note to self," Nile added, "if the opportunity presents itself, light the bitch on fire."
Nicky gave her a very terse smile and a nod for that one.
"How are you feeling?" Andy asked from where she was sitting, servicing her axe.
"Angry," Nicky said.
Andy lifted an eyebrow at him for his short response. He knew what she was really asking, of course he did, but he still had to remember who he was angry at.
"Like myself again," he finally said, "for the first time in days."
Joe placed a gentle hand on his arm as he waited for Andy's response. When she nodded, he felt the knot of tension cross his shoulders release a little.
"How about you, Boss?" Joe asked. "How are you feeling?"
"Don't do it," Nile said, but Andy was already sliding her finger down the blade.
"Still healing," she said.
"If this becomes a thing, I quit," Nile said and Nicky was pretty sure he and Joe had missed out while they were asleep.
"Just checking," Andy said with a smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
Nicky had a sudden desire to hug her, but was pretty sure, just at the moment, that would get him stabbed. This was such an unprecedented situation on top of months of unprecedented situations they were all trying to figure out how to deal with it in their own way.
Then the smell of blood reached his nose as Andy cleaned her finger and it was like the whole room flashed into high definition. It was disorientating because it was so unexpected and he shook his head, blinking as his mind did its best to catch up. Joe, Nile, Andy, Booker, all of them were suddenly so clear to him they were like beacons. It was over in a second, but he swayed towards Joe, using his husband's shoulder to steady himself.
Joe was holding him by his upper arms and checking him over in a second.
"I'm fine," he said, because it was instinctive to reassure Joe. "That was a rush."
"What happened?" Nile asked.
"It was the smell of blood," Andy said, because she would have seen it even if Nicky wished she hadn't.
"I wasn't expecting it," he defended himself as his equilibrium returned, "it was like," he tried to chase down what he was thinking and then it hit him. "It was like when we fight."
He didn't need to explain about the world almost seeming to slow down or friends being automatically accounted for among the enemy. They all knew what he was talking about. It hadn't been quite the same, but it had been close enough.
There was no way for him to understand what changes he might be stuck with, but at least this one felt useful. He touched his chest, wondering what exactly the cross had done. Seeing the scar had made his heart catch, but he didn't have time to wallow now. There was danger out there and something had to be done about it. If this touched his family because of him, he would never forgive himself.
If anything happened to any of them that he could prevent, it would tear him apart.
"You want to go after them," Andy said.
It was not a question and he realised he was glaring at the sketch of Ruth again.
"They take pleasure in destroying the innocent," he said.
He doubted Andy needed a righteous reason to go after vampires, but it made his burning need for revenge feel better to him.
"And they dared try to take one of ours," Joe added, clearly not remotely needing any other reason.
Then again Joe never needed a reason to destroy anyone who tried to hurt him, of that Nicky was one hundred percent sure. Neither of them was rational when it came to the other being in danger.
"Do you know where they are?" Andy asked, ever their practical leader.
Nicky shook his head.
"I was never conscious entering of leaving where they were keeping me," he admitted regretfully.
"Then we do this the old-fashioned way with recon," Andy said, no discussion in her tone.
"But," Nicky interrupted her.
She stopped immediately.
"There might be someone who knows," he said, all eyes on him. "I was not the only victim."
"There was someone else?" Joe asked.
"We didn't see them in the dreams," Nile added.
"He wasn't there the first night," Nicky said, "only when I woke up after…"
He gestured to his neck, hoping they would all figure out what he was talking about.
"He was supposed to be my first meal," he said quietly.
Joe reached out and placed a gentle hand on his arm.
"And he's alive?" Andy asked, ever practical.
"I think so," Nicky replied, "but I can't be sure. I only got out because they thought I was dead when they staked me while I was trying to help him escape. If he got away, he will know where they are, but I told him to run and never look back."
"Just so I've got this straight," Nile said, giving him one of those penetrating looks he was sure she was picking up from Andy, "you were kidnapped by vampires who tried to make you one of them, and instead of eating the helpless captive they left for you, you sacrificed yourself to help him get away?"
Nicky shrugged, but nodded, he supposed it could be described that way.
"He was just a local kid who chose the wrong pub," he said.
He saw the other four exchange glances and he thought he might be missing something.
"Name?" Andy asked.
"Bryce," he replied, "I did not get a surname."
Booker was already typing.
"Bryce Lennox," Booker read in short order, "returned home today after being missing for nearly a day. Bryce was given the all-clear at the Royal Infirmary after having spent a day and a night trapped in an old cellar he told police he fell into by accident."
Booker turned the screen so they could all see and there was a picture of a young, smiling teenager, clearly a school photo, but it was definitely Bryce.
"That's him," Nicky said.
"Booker, get us an address," Andy said without any preamble. "Will he talk to us?" she asked, turning her attention back to Nicky.
"He's brave," he said, "I couldn't have held them off as long as I did without him."
He didn't elaborate and no one asked how, but he knew he was going to have to have that conversation with Joe at some point. It was just something he didn't want to deal with right then.
"Then we make contact," Andy decided. "When we have the intel, we find and we destroy. Nicky tell us everything you know about them and their capabilities. This is like no fight we have ever taken on before. We need to be prepared."
This was what they had been doing for a thousand years, Nicky knew how to do this. He pushed down his more human needs and stepped into the role of soldier. He had a job to do.
Nicky lost himself in the preparations. Booker had an address in short order, but there were other things to take into account before they could move. When Booker put a sandwich in his hand as he was discussing the fastest way to make stakes, he bit into it without even thinking. It took him two mouthfuls before it dawned on him he was actually enjoying it and he was starving. He couldn't help it, he stopped and stared at it.
"Everything okay?" Nile asked, so he guessed he looked as shocked as he felt.
"Um, yes," he said, doing his best to cover the moment. "Thank you, Booker, this is delicious."
He shared a look with Joe though, because they both knew it had not been like this when Joe had come back with food before. Nicky had forced some down, but he had not really enjoyed it. It had been as if the food had had little to no flavour and hadn't been worth the effort. It had hit his stomach like a stone.
Everything that had happened to him had changed him, he still felt that, but he was beginning to feel more and more like himself. The sandwich was like some ridiculous signpost that made him feel just a little shaky inside because of what it meant. Joe gave him a small smile, reading his every thought off his face as usual, and he smiled back, tucking into the food with relish.
In the end he ate four, but so did Joe, so he didn't feel too guilty, apart from the fact that getting himself kidnapped meant Joe had clearly not been looking after himself properly either.
This was not going to be a mission full of guns and bullets; blades, stakes and possibly shotguns were going to be the weapons of choice. The vault of research the team had on vampires was huge, but there was no telling what was real and what was superstition. Literally the only thing they could be sure of was a stake through the heart and sunlight, Nicky still remembered the prickling on his skin as his immortality fought against that one, although beheading was almost a sure bet.
It might have been more sensible to run, but none of them had turned from the defence of innocents in their immortal lives.
On the Chapter 10