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Title: Favor for a Favor

Author: [livejournal.com profile] remy_ice_angel

'Verse: Legacy of Kain

Characters: Janos and Vorador

Rating: PG13 for blood and other adult subject matter

Warnings: ANCIENT FANDOM REAWAKENING. Also holy crap length. It kind of ran away from me.

Disclaimer: LoK and all its characters are the property of Crystal Dynamics. This is a non-profit fanfiction.

Summary: Vorador volunteers in an attempt to continue the dwindling Ancients' bloodline, not out of altruism but of something more. He doesn't anticipate just how much it will change him.
Table/Prompt: Unthemed 10/08. Meal

Vorador had lived in the Citadel all his life. Many humans did. It was better than being outside, with the war going on. Humans were not servants, no, but they served with respect for the vampires. Humans could do many things the vampires couldn't...in some cases, five fingers were just more dextrous than three. And besides, his father had served the vampires as a blacksmith all his life. And his father before him. And his father before that.

Conflict. It was a core of the vampires' philosophy. Healthy conflict was good for the mind and body. But even the vampires had tired of war. They finally used their trump card. And what had it brought them? Nothing but hunger and despair.

The blood thirst was bad enough. But they could not even have children anymore, though not for lack of trying. Janos had abstained, eternally devoted to his beloved wife Katarina, dead from childbirth long before Vorador himself was born. But Janos' son Nicolai had been Vorador's own age at the time of the curse, and was always quick to voice the extreme displeasure at being impotent. It wasn't just the males, either. Some females had tried having relations with human men, to no effect.

But the weight of timelessness weighed far more heavily than any of the rest. He had lost many good friends to suicide in the last six months alone. His father had shared horrible stories about the vampires flying high in the air and simply letting themselves drop to the ground below. At least Janos still remained, and the others. Vorador had seen far too much death. If he lost all of them...

It was not just himself of course. The Citadel's humans were all nervous. There was security here, safety, both from other tribes and the beasts that filled the land. And for the merchants, there was the end of profits to worry about as well. He was at least not as burdened as others might be.

Economically, Vorador was sound. He had a trade. If he had to leave, he could go to any town or village and make a decent living. He had no wife, no children to worry about, although many women had tried to get his attention in the past. He simply wasn't interested. ...wasn't interested in settling, at least. He had a rather bad reputation for loving and leaving, and he was the first to admit it.

Safety wasn't an issue, either. He had demonstrated the Blood Reaver in the only way possible...by defeating the Conflict Guardian in a sparring match with it. Any sword in his hand would be put to good use against any and all who threatened him or his patrons.

No, it was pure and simple why Vorador was terrified of the vampires going extinct.

It meant he would have to die after all.

He knew they were trying to think of a way to somehow pass on their unique advantage in governing the Pillars to humans. Somehow passing something of themselves on. But there was concern within the Circle of the potential consequences. Of the curse itself being passed on as well.

Blood hunger, he would accept, if he never had to worry about dying... He had watched his father grow weaker and weaker toward the end of his life, until he finally simply...slipped away. It was unnerving. His father had been strong as a rock, had wrestled the Conflict Guardian himself in the tourneys and nearly won. To watch his strength being sapped from him by time was a travesty.

And seeing the abominations that the Death Guardian, Martin, could reanimate from the grave...

Vorador was resolute. He would never be like that. He would never allow his body to weaken to the point where it would only be useful as fodder for necromancers and food for worms. Which was why he was staring the Balance Guardian squarely in the eyes now, standing before the Circle, offering to be the test subject.

"I am not afraid of what might happen to me. You need to pass on your bloodline, don't you? Consider it repayment for forging your Blood Reaver."

Imrus inclined his head slightly, piercing Vorador with his scrutinizing gaze. He was a strong Guardian, devoted wholly to his purpose, but proud and arrogant at times. How could he stay so focused when he had been forecasted to die at human hands? Even the promise of returning to birth a new epoch as a Scion did not seem to placate Imrus. Still suspicious, keen-eyed, ears always whispering to any hint of a plot. Perhaps that was why he was so critical of Vorador's insistence.

"Guardian Imrus, if I may."

Janos. The keeper of the Reaver blade. He was the one who had commissioned the sword and stayed with Vorador to chat the hours away as he worked the steel and powdered dragonbone. It wasn't like him to be so bold.

Imrus gave him a quizzical look. "Yes?"

"If Vorador wishes to try, then... I offer to test our theory."

Gaspar, the States Guardian, looked between the two of them. "Janos, if it fails..."

Vorador scowled. They were stalling. "I told you, I am willing to take that chance."

Imrus looked at Janos for a long time before sighing. "Very well. ...according to Gaspar and Martin's research, the curse inhabits the blood. It's quite possible to pass it on through the blood itself." He looked down at the empty cup in his hand and offered it to Janos.

Janos approached and took it, giving the Guardian a strange look. "Here? Now?"

"This is one of the few times we meet in a year. Gaspar and Martin are here to help in the event that anything goes wrong." Imrus softened at the resulting stare from Janos. "...Very well. Your adherence to tradition is...strangely refreshing at times like this, Janos. Gaspar, Martin...will you accompany them?"

This was all well and good, but what in the world about this was tradition? Vorador folded his arms. "Where are we going?"

Janos merely gave him a disarming smile. "A room in the healing wards. It is more private, and you might be more comfortable lying down. We don't know what might happen... And you may be volunteering, but that does not mean you should be treated as merely a 'test'."

Vorador couldn't help but relax his stance. Janos was so strange. Not even the other priests were quite like him. So patient, and truly generous... Altruistic. He had heard stories of how Janos had blessed the bodies of even fallen Hylden during the war, that God might forgive them and accept them. But even he had to admit, it made sense. Martin had been a doctor before being chosen, after all. He knew the way of the body and how to heal its ails just as much as he knew how to curse his enemies with magic. He walked alongside Janos, Gaspar and Martin behind them. What followed was an uncomfortable, fearful silence. Not from Vorador. From the two guardians and Janos.

"Thank you." He had to break this uneasiness that permeated the hall like an evil cloud. "For standing by my decision."

Janos smiled briefly. "I will not lie to you, Vorador. I worry for you. If there were a better way of this other than forcing this curse upon another..."

"I volunteered."

"I know. But all the same..."

"Consider us even, then."

"A sword as great as the Reaver in return for being cursed? It is hardly a reward..."

"What if it would seem more like a blessing to the one receiving it?"

Janos fell silent. "...I would not refer to it as a blessing just yet, Vorador. It may very well kill you before you even get the chance. And I do not want to lose any more friends to the Hyldens' curse."

The look on Janos's face made Vorador feel a pang of guilt in his belly. But given the choice between living and dying as a common mortal, and transcending death itself...in the end, what was he supposed to do? The memory of his father, pale and lifeless, haunted him as they continued to the wards.

Martin and Gaspar said nothing of their conversation, of course. They were traditionalists, the same as Janos. It was considered rude to harbor secrets from peers, but even ruder to interrupt a conversation they were not part of. They went wordlessly into the room, Martin bringing herbs from the medicine racks and Gaspar beginning to make some kind of sickly sweet medicine from them that made his stomach curl. Janos gently touched his shoulder to move him further within.

"You should lie down."

He did as suggested, trying to keep his mind off the smell of the medicine. And the beginning of doubt and fear that had started creeping into him. What if he did die? What if this plan failed and there really was no way to avoid his inevitable fate? What if they all...just gave up? Including Janos?

Janos hissed in pain suddenly. Vorador jerked his head in the direction to see Martin opening a vein in Janos's wrist with a sharp knife, catching the blood in the cup Imrus had given them. His teeth were grit, the other hand gripping the back of a chair so tight it turned the skin of his knuckles nearly white. Those elongated teeth gleamed in the light from the sconces, making him shiver at just how out of place they were on Janos. He'd felt the prick of them himself on more than one occasion when the vampire needed to feed, but Janos spoke so quietly it was difficult to see them. He...seemed too kind to be a predator.

"Vorador?" Janos was already flexing his now-healed wrist, smiling in quiet amusement. "I believe you are being nostalgic again?"

"I am. Sorry."

Martin offered the cup of Janos's blood to Vorador. "...drink."

Vorador stared at the contents. "You want me to..."

Gaspar nodded. "Our theory is...that if our blood itself carries the curse, then ingesting a sufficient quantity should produce some kind of result."

"You weren't joking when you called this a test."

The alchemist quirked an eyebrow. "It is hardly a joking manner."

"You're right. I'm sorry." Vorador looked at the cup again. He was so used to Janos taking his blood, it felt strange to have it the other way around. Not to mention it was blood. And the medicine nearby wasn't helping him make up his mind about ingesting it.

He felt a hand on his shoulder. Janos. Sitting there at his side now, smiling reassuringly. Hoping. Likely praying. They needed this, Vorador realized. They needed it to work, desperately. Vorador took a deep breath, nervously brought the cup to his lips and drank.

The taste nearly made him gag, but somehow he forced the entire contents into his stomach. He finally stopped to breathe, trying to suck in enough air to curb the intense urge to vomit. If he was going to change, it wouldn't come fast enough. The span of ten minutes felt like an eternity in the silence of the room.

Finally Janos spoke. "Vorador? How do you feel?"

"...Ill."

Martin frowned. "It's a standard reaction of ingesting blood. Nothing more."

The way Janos's wings drooped, ever so slightly, conveyed more than words ever could. Especially since his expression remained unchanged. "We tried. Thank you, Vorador."

So this was it, then. Gaspar and Martin began talking about their next move, or perhaps something else. Vorador didn't care. He thought he might have been more afraid of dying after all, but it was Janos's face becoming more and more disheartened and despairing that made him feel guilty for failing. He had been acting selfish, he knew. More worried about dying a natural death when Janos and the others couldn't anymore. They were bound to their bodies for eternity, unchanging as the world went on...unless they committed suicide. Their God had abandoned them. They would never have the joy of raising children of their own again. It was all just so wrong.

So very, very wrong.

...like the strange feeling that was beginning to bloom in his stomach.

It was slow at first, a warmth that began deep within and was spreading. Past his abdomen, up to his chest, spreading quicker with every heartbeat. A dullness, a heaviness in his body, a strange cloud that was settling over his thoughts with every passing moment. And below it all...

"I...." He swallowed. This wasn't right. His body felt strange. "I need..."

Janos was there. Warm. Close. Smelling of feathers and warm blood and oh God he could smell the blood in him. "Vorador? What's wrong?"

He was asking other questions. Vorador couldn't answer them. He was staring at Janos' neck, the smell of blood so real and close. He had tasted Janos's blood but it wasn't enough. He needed more. Vorador threw his arms around Janos's shoulders, bringing his nose closer to that delicious scent, almost intoxicated from how his heart was pounding in anticipation. It made his stomach clench in anticipation, in deep uncontainable hunger.

"V-Vorador? Tell us what's happening! Dear God, please...don't let it poison him..."

It already had, in a sense. The hunger had turned into a sharp, throbbing pain, as if he hadn't eaten in years instead of just a few hours before. Vorador grit his teeth, his grip on Janos tightening. "....hungry..." it was barely a whisper.

Janos made a small sound from the breath on his neck, trying to not react. "...what have I done..."

"I need..." He groaned, trying desperately to resist the urge to bite into Janos's neck until he bled again. "I need more...please..."

"...Gaspar, get him off. Janos, if you can free your arm..."

"N-no. This is...this is my burden. I will finish it on my own."

Vorador felt Janos' talons in his hair, trying to pull him away. Any sense of pride at making such a pathetic whimper was gone, replaced by the burning need for more of Janos' blood. Janos moved his other hand to his neck, talons hesitating on his skin.

"God forgive me."

He gasped as Janos's talons tore through his skin, piercing into the vein. The smell of the blood pulled at him at him so strongly that he wasn't sure who was clamping his mouth over the wound in the next second...himself or this deep, unnatural hunger that had consumed him. He groaned in relief as the first mouthful flooded his body. There was another, and another, and another...

"Ngh...Vorador...stop..."

No. He couldn't stop. It felt so incredible...he drew more intently on Janos' neck, seeking something deeper. Something more than mere blood... It was there, he could sense it.... He just had to find it...

"Vorador!" Janos tried pulling him away again, yanking hard on his hair. "You will kill me...!"

"Get him off. This has gone on long enough."

"He will not let go! His teeth are so deep...Janos, we will have to...!"

"No! Do not kill him!"

There it was. Just within his reach. Janos himself, the innermost part of him. Vorador drew a small piece of the vampire into himself and finally let go, the hunger sated. As Janos fell back in his chair gasping, Vorador fell to the bed, his body feeling drained and yet satisfied. Far better than any orgasm. And twice as exhausting. He allowed his breath to even out and he slipped blissfully into the kind of sleep that only newly made vampires can truly appreciate.

***

He awakened with a displaced sense of time, his memory hazy and a twinge of hunger in his belly. Janos was beside him, a half-empty glass pitcher of blood on the table beside him. "Janos..."

Janos smiled, a hint of rare open sadness to his eyes. "I am glad you are awake. I was worried."

He pushed himself into a sitting position."How long have I been asleep?"

"Three days."

Three days... He shook his head, trying to remember. "What happened?"

"You do not remember? ...my blood granted you our bloodthirst...and according to Gaspar, you somehow swallowed a piece of my soul as well."

Vorador paused. "Does this mean..."

"I...believe so." Janos took a round mirror from the table and offered it to Vorador. "See for yourself."

At first he thought it might have been a joke. There was nothing markedly different about his appearance. His skin wasn't blue, for one. Then he noticed his eyes. Dark brown had changed to the same intense gold as Janos's own. He couldn't help but stare. It was so natural to see it in the vampires, but in a human...in himself... He reached back and pulled back the side of his lip. Fangs.

"It worked..." He couldn't help but smile in relief. "It really--Janos?"

The vampire had leaned forward, bending his neck to rest his head on Vorador's chest. ...Was he...sobbing? "Forgive me... I am so sorry..."

Vorador sighed. Janos could be so damn complicated sometimes. "I insisted, didn't I? At least now you know how to pass on your bloodline."

"To think I have condemned you to this..."

He stayed quiet for a long time. He was keenly aware of the smell of the blood on the table, the salty smell of Janos's tears, the stone of the room around them and the herbs in the cupboard. it seemed as if his eyes had been cleared and enhanced...where he had begun to see the effects of age, he now saw in minute detail, every piece of every feather on Janos's wings, to the fine weave of the blanket laid over him. Even the hunger that was slowly becoming more insistent felt so right somehow.

"To one who once had to fear death...this is truly a blessing."

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