Categories > Books > Anita Blake > Friends

Chapter 1

by Noah_Vail 1 review

Caleb reaches out for a friend. Non-Canon 1/10

Category: Anita Blake - Rating: R - Genres: Angst - Characters: Gregory Dietrich, Other - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2005-08-13 - Updated: 2005-08-14 - 2407 words

Chapter 1

Caleb sat alone at the table while his friends danced. They weren't his friends; they didn't even like him. His lip curled in a smirk thinking how they all reacted to him. He wasn't sure if it was fear or just dislike. They tolerated him because he was part of the Pard now, because Micah insisted; but they didn't like him.

Micah was the only one who didn't judge him. Micah knew everything he'd done and he still hadn't let Merle kill him when Chimera died. Caleb didn't kid himself; Micah wouldn't tolerate any bad behavior. If he stepped over the line the Nimir-Raj would let Merle kill him. Sometimes he was sorry Micah had stopped Merle.

He swallowed another sip of his beer, enjoyed the cold feel of it sliding down his throat, the bitterness. He missed the buzz from alcohol; another downside to lycanthropy, he couldn't even drown his sorrows in a good drunk. He stared out at the dance floor, watching people having fun. He let his eyes linger on the dancers, on Nathaniel, his reason for being here.

Caleb put his mind back on his job for the evening, keeping an eye on Nathaniel. He watched Nathaniel dance, his body moving in time to the music, swaying, seductive, enticing. Nathaniel heard his own music; was lost in his own dreams. Blood, pain, pleasure; the combination filled Nathaniel's dreams. Being with Chimera had taught Caleb all about pain, too. He'd learned to enjoy it. If he enjoyed other people's pain he'd been spared his own. He tried to remember the person he'd been before Chimera. It didn't matter now; he'd been changed and he didn't think he could go back.

Caleb didn't remember quite what he had been; he only knew what he'd been twisted into; something bitter and cruel. It made him different from other people, something less. If he'd been strong like Micah or Merle...but he hadn't. He was weak and he'd saved himself at other people's expense, with other people's pain and blood. He didn't understand how anyone could want pain. He'd done anything, everything to avoid it. He should have just died.

Caleb knew Nathaniel was completely unaware of his audience. People were drawn to him by the echoes of Nathaniel's dreams; the tantalizing essence of him. Nathaniel was like some exotic candy; a sweet taste that spoiled you for more mundane flavors. Sugar coated sin that filled your veins with poison; that tasted like more. Swallow that and you might never lose the craving.

He stayed away from Nathaniel. When he looked at Nathaniel he saw blood and death; sharp silver knives cutting into tender flesh. Sometimes the screams haunted his sleep but the nightmares didn't come so often now. Sometimes he couldn't escape them, even awake.

The temptation to discover what Nathaniel wanted was there in the back of his mind. But thinking about Anita always cleared his head. Micah would kill him if he hurt Nathaniel. But Anita....she'd kill him but first she'd make him sorry. She was more frightening than anyone, even Merle and his knives. After all, she'd killed Chimera. Caleb didn't like his own pain; he didn't want to die, not anymore. Thinking about Anita made his gut go tight. No more pain, not his own, not other people's.

He took a deep breath and shifted his gaze away from Nathaniel. Even without looking he saw long auburn hair, innocent lavender eyes, tender mouth curved in a sweet smile, lips that made promises without a word. Fuck, his job was to protect Nathaniel from himself, not give in to him. Nathaniel wasn't for him. He didn't want anyone that submissive, no one he had to take care of, no one he had to protect.

Caleb's eyes roamed around the room, seeking the other leopards. Elizabeth had some sweet young thing cornered at the bar. She was pressed against him, her hip and thigh touching the length of his; one arm around his waist, breasts brushing his side, her fingers moving slowly up and down his arm. Caleb couldn't hear what she was whispering in the college boy's ear, from the wide-eyed look on the kid's face, the tension in his body, it wasn't anything he'd heard before; but he liked it, a lot.

Elizabeth glanced over and smiled when she felt Caleb's eyes on her. It was a wicked smile, full of sharp, white teeth. Caleb had a moment of sympathy for her latest victim. Frat boy would survive but not without a few scars. He was lucky Micah and Anita had forbidden turning anyone. Elizabeth wouldn't risk that but she'd enjoy herself at his expense. Caleb enjoyed thoughts about Elizabeth and fun for a moment more before he swept the room again to check on Nathaniel.

Damn, Nathaniel was gone, and just that quick. It would be his ass on the line if he let anything happen to him. Micah and Merle both warned him, told him what they'd do if he let Nathaniel out of his sight. To his relief, he spotted him standing at one side of the dance floor in a crowd of people. He eyed the group warily, checking for possible trouble. It looked like other dancers from Guilty Pleasures and Pard, nobody he had to worry about.

Two heads of long blonde hair stood out from the rest in the dark club. Long blond hair curling down across slender shoulders, well muscled but not broad like Nathaniel's. Vivian and Stephen stood with arms around each other; Vivian's petite body rested against his. Gregory had his hand on Nathaniel's back, his head tilted towards him, listening to something. They were smiling, laughing, having fun. Caleb felt a pang of jealousy.

Nathaniel's back was turned; he could see the long, auburn hair. He watched the braid move in a hypnotic rhythm; even standing still Nathaniel seemed to be dancing. As he watched Gregory moved closer to Nathaniel, nudging into him, Nathaniel threw his arm over Greg's shoulders and they stood there, leaning on each other; almost as if they were holding each other up; like lovers. No, not sexual, it was just the closeness of the Pard. Caleb felt a surge of something run through him; jealousy, longing, desire? He wasn't sure.

He'd assumed that Gregory and Stephen shared Vivian. Stephen had been angry when he'd made a joke about it. Gregory didn't seem to have a girlfriend or a boyfriend; Caleb had wondered about that. Gregory didn't share an apartment with Stephen anymore. He had his own place; being a stripper paid well, evidently. Caleb wondered what it felt like, to be on stage taking off your clothes while everyone watched, and to make money doing it.

Long blonde hair, pale like sunlight, a sweet shy smile coupled with hot blue eyes, innocent cornflower blue filled with a darker knowing look. Old like Nathaniel's eyes, old like the brown eyes that looked back in the mirror every morning. Too much pain, too much knowing about the bad side of life.

Caleb was staying at Anita's since he'd lost his roommates and couldn't afford his own place. His roommates had kicked him out when they found out he was a shifter. They hadn't liked him much anyway. They were jerks. He didn't blame them; he didn't like himself most days.

People were staring at Nathaniel and the twins; admiring that combination of youth and good looks; their sensuality. They drew attention even with their clothes on. He knew people could sense the energy that lycanthropes put out even if they couldn't recognize it or understand it. But it attracted them, pulled them in, like a form of sexual energy.

Caleb stood and motioned them all over, much easier to keep his eye on Nathaniel and trouble away if he was closer. Nathaniel, submissive as ever started towards him, pulling Gregory along. Gregory came reluctantly. Nathaniel stopped and whispered to him, glancing over at Caleb. Gregory looked at the floor and shook his head. The others followed a bit slower. They didn't really want to sit with Caleb; they wanted to stay with Nathaniel. Gregory clung to Nathaniel's hand, sweet faced and not-so-innocent blue eyes glancing at Caleb.

"We're going back to Stephen and Vivian's," Nathaniel announced happily. "Vivian's going to cook. Want to come?"

Caleb could tell by the slight tensing of Vivian's body that she hadn't really intended to invite him, too. Stephen hugged her closer. Gregory stood behind Nathaniel, close enough to lean against him, one arm draped over Nathaniel's shoulder, Nathaniel still hanging on to his hand. Caleb felt a twinge of hurt at the easy, casual contact; he missed the physical comfort of touching. The others didn't welcome his touch, sometimes they tolerated it.

Gregory's blue eyes were focused on Caleb; waiting for him to answer Nathaniel. Gregory never had much to say to him, but Caleb was very aware of his presence. The twins were more reserved off stage than on. Onstage their slender bodies, long blonde curls, the wholesome looks made them very popular.

They didn't dance together although he'd heard from Nathaniel that it was a frequent request. Caleb had heard about their father, knew what he'd done to them and that he'd been hanging around, trying to get into the club to watch them. Anita was angry but hadn't done anything about it, yet. Nathaniel was still looking at him, waiting for a response.

"You're going straight to Stephen's? No where else?" Caleb could go off duty if Nathaniel was calling it a night. He had no interest in following them home. He wasn't really one of them. Was Gregory going, too? Was that what really interested Nathaniel?
He could sense desire in the air; the club was filled with a heady mixture of fear, need, and anger; too hard to separate it out.

"Yes, straight to Stephen's, I'll probably sleep there." Nathaniel looked at Vivian and Stephen as if checking for permission. Gregory was still watching Caleb, he could feel it.

Stephen nodded, "Sure, stay the night Nathaniel." And to Caleb, "You're welcome too Caleb. But Nathaniel will be fine, if you have other plans." Gregory's eyes flicked from Stephen to Caleb, waiting for Caleb's answer. His blue eyes lingered on Caleb, traveled down the lean form, admired his body. Caleb ignored him, as usual, Gregory thought, bitterly.

"I think I'll call it a night, too. Thanks, anyway." Caleb scanned the bar for Elizabeth. She was gone, and his ride home gone with her. He wondered if he had enough money for a cab. Trust Elizabeth to never give a thought to anyone else. Too bad Anita hadn't killed her. But she'd got another chance, just like him. He didn't think Elizabeth wanted to change. She'd step over the line soon and Anita would take care of her.

"You need a ride, Caleb?" It was Gregory who asked. He hadn't expected any of them would offer, he'd thought Gregory had plans with Nathaniel. "Or you can come home with me if you don't want to drive back to Anita's tonight." That offer was even more of a surprise and a temptation. A welcome one, it meant he wouldn't have to find a ride in to work in the morning. Maybe it meant more than that, too. It had more possibilities than going back to Anita's, alone.

"Sure, thanks." Caleb's surprise must have been visible because he saw Nathaniel quickly hide a smile. Caleb felt a frown flit across his face and he wanted to take his yes back, then decided it would be foolish. He did have to go to work tomorrow and staying with Greg would be convenient. He settled for scowling at Nathaniel.

"Straight to Stephen's and nowhere else!" He growled at Nathaniel who nodded in agreement. Caleb wasn't alpha but he knew Nathaniel would follow orders.

Stephen added, "I'll take him home, nothing will happen." Vivian nodded and reached for Nathaniel's hand.

Nathaniel looked at Gregory and smiled, "Have fun." Gregory looked at the floor and didn't respond. He wished Nathaniel wouldn't try to help him. Offering to take Caleb home had been Nathaniel's idea, he already regretted it. He regretted telling Nathaniel he liked Caleb.

Caleb watched them walk out of the club and turned to Gregory. "You ready to call it a night or you have somewhere else to go?" He looked appraisingly at Gregory and wondered again if he had someone.

"Want to stay and dance some more?" Greg asked, even though he knew Caleb hadn't danced at all. He'd sat and watched Nathaniel and the rest. Gregory looked at Caleb, waiting for an answer. He didn't have the nerve to ask Caleb to dance.

Caleb wondered why Gregory was being his friend tonight. Gregory brushed his blonde curls back from his face in a nervous gesture; Caleb felt an unfamiliar urge to reach out and touch those curls, to see if they were as soft as they looked. He clenched his fingers in a fist.

"No, I'm done. There's nobody here." Caleb looked at the crowded room; people dancing, flirting, and having fun. There was nobody here for him anyway. "Let's go, I'm beat. I have to work in the morning."

Gregory shrugged, "Suit yourself." And didn't he always, Gregory added to himself. Gregory smiled like he understood what Caleb was thinking; swallowed his disappointment, and started for the door. Caleb walked behind, watching the slender figure move through the crowd, and watched other eyes following him.

He moved with a dancer's grace, a slight sway to his walk. Caleb knew some of that came from being a lycanthrope. Greg wore a pair of jeans Caleb had seen on Stephen. Somehow they looked better on Gregory. Jeans so worn and faded they were nearly white. Artfully slashed and frayed until it seemed a miracle they held together.

Plenty of skin showed, tantalizing bits of it. They hugged the curves and planes of Gregory's body. Smooth skin over firm muscles, not as broad shouldered as Nathaniel, but he didn't look like a girl either. He wondered what Gregory liked. Did he like men? He danced for women, seemed to enjoy their touch, their admiration. Maybe he hadn't met the right guy; or maybe he had; maybe he should have asked Gregory to dance. Caleb watched Gregory walk away and smiled to himself.
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