Remy looked up at the gray sky overhead. Why does it always rain in New York?
Yes, he was still in New York. After leaving the only ‘home’ he’d ever known, he’d hitchhiked to the Big Apple. Large cities were the best places to be when you had no money, and NYC was as good a start as any. He trusted Raenef not to come looking for him, and as long as he avoided the business district, the chances of him running into his Master were slim to none.
Ever since he was a child, Remy’s lived on the streets of New Orleans. He knew how to survive, had done it for years. He had expected it to be like riding a bicycle, but it had been rough to be hungry again. Doubly so now that he was Methuselah, because now he not only hungered for food, but also for blood. Raenef had spoiled him with the Ambrosia, the scientifically enhanced human blood that satisfied the hunger longer than ‘normal’ blood. It came at a ridiculously high price though, one he couldn’t afford anymore. But he’d found a way, as he always did. When the hunger no longer was to be ignored, he’d feed on his ‘neighbors’, the homeless people in the park where he slept. If he only took a few sips in their sleep, the humans wouldn’t even notice, but it would keep him going.
Without a home address or credentials, he’d gotten by doing odd jobs here and there, and within no time, he was back to his old ways. For most people, it would be a devastating downgrade going from rich heir to being homeless, but Remy found it exhilarating. Out here, he could be himself, and more importantly, he had a chance to carve out his own path. It wasn’t the same as in New Orleans. For one, he was no longer a kid—although his appearance may suggest otherwise. He also no longer was uneducated. His Master had provided him with a tutor for years, and what he hadn’t learned from him, Raenef had taught him. Not to mention the many business lessons he learned from observing his Master in his office all those years. He may have been a silent shadow in the windowsill, his ears had picked up on everything.
Huddling deeper in his trench coat, Remy rubbed his hands to bring life into them. It was raining. Again. He was hungry, the bloody variety, but it would be hard to find people out with this weather. He’d already postponed feeding for a few days, but he was getting weaker by the day. Deciding it wasn’t going to get dryer anytime soon, he ducked into the rain. He only made it three blocks when someone bumped into him, sending him crashing to the floor.
“Shit, I’m sorry. Are you oka—” the young man halted when Remy looked up at him.
Remy figured it was because of his red eyes until he looked back at the other guy. Methuselah.
For a moment they stared at each other in shock. It didn’t happen all the time that they ran into another vampire, but from this close range, there was no mistaking it. That Remy hadn’t sensed the other until he bumped into him could only mean two things; Either he was too weakened from anemia that he hadn’t noticed, or the other vampire was powerful enough to hide his Mana. Neither bode well for Remy.
Remy was the first to recover, years of living on the street and in Quintus’ household making him an expert. “Ah, Remy’s sorry. He didn’t see you.”
“What are you doing here?” the other guy hissed as he pulled Remy up by his arm and dragged him into an alley.
Remy’s head was reeling from anemia but his mind was racing. How strong was this other vampire? Could he take him on? Did he have to? For a fleeting moment, he wished Toshiro was with him. But his best friend and Makhai was another thing he couldn’t afford.
“Nothing, Remy’s merely trying to get by!”
The other vampire let him go, but still blocked the exit to the street. “You better not cause any problems here! There aren’t too many of us in the city and the ones who are don’t want a new kid messing things up for them.”
Remy nodded, holding his hands up in a pacifying gesture. “He’s not out for trouble, he swears!”
“You’re famished. When’s the last time you fed?”
Remy backed further into the alley when the stranger stepped up to him. “None of your business!”
“You stumbling into me made it my business. You look minutes away from going into a blood graze, and as I said, I don’t want that in my city. Not to mention the Royal Clan that calls this State home.”
Remy almost chuckled. Yeah, he knew that Royal Clan Leader well, he was his fledgling after all. But if this stranger found out, his cover would be blown, and his life could be in danger. “Remy’s fine, he’s hungry, but he will last a little longer. He was about to feed when he ran into you. So, if you’ll excuse him…”
The other vampire looked at him for a moment as if sizing him up, which Remy hoped to God he wasn’t, because he was in no condition to fight. When the guy pulled out a knife, Remy backed even further away. But the stranger used the knife to cut his own wrist till it bled and held it out for him. “Here, you look like you need it. Come on, don’t let it go to waste!” he pushed when Remy only stared at him as if he’d grown a second head.
Remy was wary of this stranger who offered his own blood, but when his ‘spidey senses’ detected nothing worrisome, his hunger won out and he lapped up the blood. After having taken enough to last him a while again—which was far less than horror movies would let you believe—, he stepped back. “Merci, monsieur…?”
“What Clan are you from?”
Remy shrugged. “He’s on his own.”
Skylar rolled his eyes. “Sure you are. Do you live around here?”
“The park,” Remy admitted.
“The park is no place for a pretty boy like you. Come on, you can stay at my apartment for the time being,” Skylar said after a few moments.
Remy blinked, not believing his ears. Did this stranger really offer him a place to stay? At his own house? “Hmm, Remy is fine. He doesn’t want to bother you.”
Skylar laughed out loud. “Don’t worry, I’m not a mass murderer if that’s what you’re worried about. And I’m too busy to even notice you there. Besides, I can’t in good conscience leave you out here in this weather, or let you sleep in the park. Our kind should look after one another, right? Come on, it’s getting late and I have a job to go to. You can tag along if you want, maybe even earn some cash, and afterward we head to my place. Sounds good?”
Before Remy knew it, he nodded and trudged behind his new… roommate?
“Where do you work?” Remy asked, trying to start a conversation at least.
“Tonight is a Tuesday, so I’ll help out at the docks, unloading containers. I also work morning shifts at the fish market—a stinky job, but the pay is pretty good, I work at a construction site, and twice a week I do the dishes in a restaurant.”
Remy whistled. “That’s a lot of jobs. You think any of those places will have Remy?”
Skylar looked at him from his slightly taller perspective. “You may look scrawny, but even you are likely stronger than humans. As long as you don’t bitch and moan or are afraid to get your hands dirty, I’ll put in a good word for you.”
“Merci, Remy would appreciate that. He’s not afraid to work, and he needs the money.”
Remy let himself fall face-first on the lump-ridden thing that passed as their sofa and Remy’s bed, flinching when one of the springs poked his kidneys.
“Remy’s dead,” he groaned, his voice muffled as he was too tired to lift it from the makeshift pillow after a double shift at the construction site.
“Eh duh, you’ve been dead for quite some years now, haven’t you?” Skylar teased.
Remy threw the pillow at him. “Couillon.”
Skylar laughed and set down a cold beer in front of him, kicking Remy’s legs off the sofa so he could sit as well. “You didn’t do bad for a pretty boy. You’ve got more strength than I gave you credit for. I thought for sure you’d give up within a few hours.”
Remy huffed, sitting up to drink his beer. “Giving up is not an option. He needs money to get his own place.”
Skylar looked at him over his own beer bottle. “Or you could stay here permanently. Of course, you need to chip in on the rent, but it would still be cheaper than moving out on your own.”
“Are you sure? You only offered to let Remy stay for a little while… You weren’t looking for a permanent roommate, non?”
Remy had been crashing in Skylar’s apartment for a few days now, and though it was small and the building was in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city, it still beat the park. And every dollar saved on rent, he could put towards his savings. That, and he liked Skylar. The other vampire was older than he was, though he barely looked older than his thirties, and had lived on his own for decades. He worked several jobs to pay the bills but claimed it was way better than being ‘kept’ like a slave. He was tall and the hard labor he did was more effective than any gym could be, and he had the musculature to show for it. Unlike most Methuselah, Skylar was quite the loner, and Remy had wondered why he had taken him in in the first place. But it had worked out better than they’d expected. Skylar hadn’t lied when he said he was barely home at all, and neither was Remy. The time they did spend together was mostly spent in companionable silence, or watching a game on tv—if the damn thing worked.
“You’re cool as far as roommates go. You’re tidy, you can cook, and you don’t bring anyone home. If you start paying rent, you can stay as long as you want,” Skylar offered.
“Merci, in that case, you’ve got yourself a permanent roommate.”
“Cheers to that!”