Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandoms: The Walking Dead
Pairing: Desus – Daryl Dixon x Paul “Jesus” Rovia
Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, vampire AU
Characters: Paul “Jesus” Rovia, Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes
For all the short time Paul had been acquainted with Rick Grimes, he had never heard the tough police officer’s voice break like when he informed Paul, “Daryl was shot.”
Alternate universe. Established relationship.
The World Was on Fire…
The morning after…
The rain battering his helmet had never felt so maddening as Daryl was riding his trusted old friend at break-neck speed. This was beaten track for him, one he had raced down countless times before, many of which during a downpour just like this. Odd torrential rains had never much bothered him; as a matter of fact, he rather enjoyed a cool down after a series of sweltering days. The smell of the first drops of rain splattering on the burned asphalt road was unpleasant to some but not Daryl, quite the opposite actually, and the heavier the shower hitting his body became, the better his mood improved. The sound of water violently beating down on plastic was not infuriating in the least; rather, it had a calming effect on his mind. Daryl supposed this was subconsciously tied to his less-than-peaceful childhood, of which he had spent the better part hiding from his father and his dear old leather belt, taking shelter somewhere in the woods whenever the old man was ‘under the weather’, hoping the heavy rain and rolls of thunder would mask the deafening beats of his scared heart.
The old man had been gone for years, and the sight of a worn leather belt no longer made him on edge, but remnants of the past were still residing deep within his psyche, at times manifesting into sporadic bouts of anxiety and depression, of which the rain proved to be an effective, albeit temporary, therapy. It gave him a sense of security to race down the empty lane on a rainy day.
But this time it wasn’t the same, and Daryl doubted things would be the same after yesterday’s afternoon.
Before Daryl was aware that he had been shot, there had already been a bullet bursting out of his back. As he fell down to the tile floor, all he saw was a huge shapeless bright red blotch on the wall behind. The blotch swelled until it occupied all his vision and he went blind. He heard Rick’s panicked shouts somewhere across the room but he couldn’t picture his best friend’s face. Daryl knew he was done for and the only thing on his mind was the mute sadness overflowing from Paul’s ocean-blue eyes.
And then there was darkness. It sounded like some cliché shit but that was exactly what it was for Daryl. Nothing but undiluted darkness that caused him to doubt whether he had lost his sight. In fact, all five of his senses were rendered completely useless: no light to see, no sound to hear, no scent to smell in the air – provided there was air after all, no flavor to taste – even the tang of blood in his mouth had gone – and nothing to feel. He found out soon enough that he couldn’t move his fingers, his limbs, his head, his whole body. Total paralysis was a terror Daryl had never experienced before, which made his father’s inebriated rage and merciless leather belt a child’s play in comparison. Nothing beat being entirely alone in the dark where you were unable to move an inch. Despair in its most appalling form. He wanted to scream, to hear his voice. He did, and discovered grimly that he had none. A burning need to cry was hurting his head but he didn’t, doubting if he had tears. He thought of Paul, of his blue eyes, twinkling with mischief, and his kind smile in that morning. Regret cut through Daryl like a hot knife through butter at how he hadn’t a chance to say goodbye to Paul, and at how Paul would feel upon receiving his body. At how Paul would grieve over his corpse, his tears filling the hole dug out by an ill- but actually well-aimed iron. Vampires were emotionally fragile creatures – the words were reverberating in Daryl’s mind – and dangerously so. Over his course of six centuries, Paul had only lost once, and once was enough to scar him for life. Daryl had never thought it would be this soon when he made Paul relive that cycle of agony and century-long recovery process. His regret already transformed into guilt.
And guilt seemed to be a way to pass the time in this limbo state because at some indefinite point of time, Daryl’s guilt receded into the dark at a slight tug at his fingers. All of sudden he could feel now. His overwhelming relief was short-lived however, since the tug hastily became a violent pull. It hurt, really. By instinct Daryl rattled his sleep-addled limbs and tried to fight the pull. His struggle was only promised more pain and an inevitable defeat as he was dragged forward into an invisible gaping hole…
… whose other side was a tight, lung-crushing embrace, which only loosened at his gasp. He didn’t gasp due to the crude embrace – frankly it was nothing compared to the pull – but rather by the earth-whooping swift from dead to alive. Daryl’s ears were ringing with his name being repeated over and over but he couldn’t respond just yet. His head was spinning so he was reluctant to open his eyes. Still he recognized the voice and that, coupled with a warm, living presence washed away the horror of the limbo. He found his quivering lips mumble a name and though it came out softer than a whisper against snow, he knew it would be heard. For why else there was a hand gently messaging his nape and a pair of full lips lightly pressing on the sweaty tip of his ear?
“I thought I’d lost you…” Paul rasped. Then he immediately captured Daryl’s lips. It was very passive, the kiss, and like none of the passionate make out sessions they’d had before; no gliding, no sucking and certainly no tongue, and yet in it passiveness it profoundly conveyed his hopeless attempt to reach inward to Daryl’s soul and touch it just so he knew his lover was not lost to the Ripper’s clutch. There was salt on Paul’s lips from his unrestrained tears.
When they finally pulled apart and Daryl opened his eyes, he was greeted with the sight of a tear-stained face. Paul’s eyes appeared huge not only because they were wide-open but also due to the twin hollows under his lower lashes. Grief affected the inhuman as much as they did human, Daryl noticed with a twitch of pain in his chest. His thumbs caressed the skin below Paul’s eyes as if this mere simple gesture could rub away the impact of his death on the vampire.
“When we kissed this morning, you…”
Paul exhaled. “Yes,” he admitted, “I made you take my blood with neither your consent nor your knowledge. I can bear you getting mad at me, lashing out at me, never speaking to me or looking at me again; it’d give me hell but I can live with it. But I can’t bear the thought that something terrible might happen to you out there, an armed robber, a drunken driver, an accident, and you’d be taken away from me. So I’m glad I did it, I really am. Easily the wisest thing this old bat has done for centuries.”
Daryl waited patiently for him to finish. Then, to Paul’s utter surprise, he said two words:
Daryl didn’t know what he thanked Paul for. Saving his life? Not quite. Their relationship had gone past that point of saying those words because if the situation had been reversed, Daryl knew he would have done exactly the same. That was the reason why he had not found it in his heart to immediately confront Paul upon first discovering his sneaky act even though Daryl Dixon liked it the least when people did something behind his back. But it seemed to be the words that needed to be said at this moment despite their artificial meaning, even more so since he didn’t know what else to say. He wasn’t mad at Paul, no; why should he be? He was just exhausted, body and soul.
“Thank you,” Paul whispered against his temple, “for forgiving me.”
In an attempt to change the subject, Daryl did a quick scan of his surroundings, feeling strangely relieved that this was their bedroom rather than a hospital room or worse, the morgue.
“I was in the dark,” said Daryl. “Pitch black. No light, no sound, nothin’.”
“I know,” Paul replied, nodding. “I was there. All vampires were. We dub it the ‘threshold of death’.”
“I thought about ya, about how abrupt things were, how we didn’t get to say goodbye at least.”
“We don’t have to say goodbye,” Paul hushed, pressing his palm to Daryl’s cheek. Daryl’s stubbles tickled his soft, thin skin. “Not yet. Hopefully never.”
“Am I like you now?”
Outside the open window the crescent moon was high in the starless sky. Were it daylight, Daryl would be stretching out his arm to test if the sun should make his skin sizzle like rashers of bacon in hot oil. In order to provide evidence to his confession, Paul had taken his daylight ring – his sole protection from the sun – off his right ring finger and exposed his hand to sunlight. Daryl remembered having to use the fire distinguisher before his boyfriend became a living torch.
Paul shook his head. “Not yet,” he said. “Just a moment.”
He flashed out of the room a blurred of colors using his preternatural speed. It still struck Daryl as both awed and unsettling even though he had witnessed Paul’s abilities countless times before; he guess it was a grim reminder of Paul’s inhuman nature despite his very human appearance – too human that Daryl subconsciously chose to forget their fundamental difference. But this time, alongside awe and unsettlement, there was a rising curiosity. Daryl wondered how it felt to move at a speed the human eyes couldn’t follow, and whether Paul had trained himself to get adjusted to it or it had naturally become a part of him amongst other vampiric attributes.
Paul returned with a blood bag in his hand, retrieved from his personal stash. Daryl’s throat and mouth suddenly felt very parched while his stomach churned with the sight of crimson. In spite of the sealed plastic container, the sanguineous scent hung thickly in the air.
It appeared the blood flipped a switch inside Daryl. His senses became much too keen – his eyes being able to make out the creases in the curtains and his ears picking up the distant roars of vehicles even though their home resided in a quieter suburban residence – and he was overwhelmed. To say it was uncomfortable was an understatement. The pricking underneath his skin did nothing to help but aggravate his condition.
“It must feel terrible,” Paul said, sitting down on the edge of their bed and reaching out to Daryl with his empty hand. “The enhanced senses and the sudden acute awareness of your surroundings.”
“Ya went through the same things?”
Soon as the question left his lips, Daryl realized it was stupid and redundant.
Paul nodded. “You’re in transition,” he explained. “Neither human nor vampire. Neither dead nor alive. My sire told me that it’s because you’re trapped between two worlds: one foot is in the living world while the other stays in limbo until your decision.”
“My decision?” Daryl echoed.
“To take the final step and become a vampire or…” his throat clogged and the struggle to finish the sentence was evident in his creased eyebrows and his mouth agape. “… to die. This time for real.”
“The final step bein’ this?”
As if handling a fragile and sacred object, Paul handed the blood bag to Daryl with both hands.
Daryl looked down on the tempting object in his hand, thinking about how its content was practically singing to him. Just one gulp and this current discomfort would be gone. And so would the man named Daryl Dixon. He locked eyes with Paul. Although the vampire was sitting as quiet as a statue, his whole body was radiating a silent plea. His straight, stiff back. His fingers curling into fists on his laps. The tight press of his lips. The blue of his eyes shifted ever slightly when the feeble moonlight hit them as if there was a miniature ocean in each. The oceans were shadowed with an imminent storm.
Daryl’s left chest where the bullet had hit ached. Without looking, he fingered the wound, finding it bloodless, mended and whole. He bit the inside of his cheeks until he tasted copper.
His heart throbbed as Daryl gingerly set the blood bag on the nightstand. “How much time do I have before I kick the bucket for real?” he asked.
Paul’s voice was uneven. “Twenty-four hours, the exact same amount of time as the vampire blood stays in your system. Starting when you wake up from your limbo.”
“Tomorrow evenin’ then?”
Something about his downcast eyes told Daryl that Paul had already known what he was to say next. The vampire had always had good intuition.
“Tomorrow evenin’ then.”
To be continued
Sorry about another cliffhanger.
So if a person dies with vampire blood in their system, they stays dead for some time (I made up the limbo stuff in this fic) and wakes up neither human nor vampire. Then they have 24 hours to decide if they want to live as a vampire or die a human. If they want to become a vampire, all they need to do is consume human blood.