Maybe I was wrong…
Casey was lying in bed, same as he had been for days. He knew his friends and family were worried about him but he couldn’t seem to get up the energy to move. Vash was the only good thing he could remember showing like a bright light through the fog that seemed to surround his mind at the moment. He couldn’t stomach the food they kept trying to push him into eating. As a healer — that was now a half vampire — he knew he needed to eat food as well as drink blood, but he heaved at just the thought of anything solid in his mouth, let alone his stomach.
Why did he feel like this? He had one of his mates with him. Vash very rarely left his side. He knew part of him would always want Jackson, but then part of him had always wanted Jackson. The difference was, up until now it had never threatened his mental well-being. The fog in his mind seemed to shift at irregular intervals, sometimes he would swear he heard Jackson. Sometimes he was calling Casey’s name and sometimes he was just a comforting presence, just as he had been when Casey was young. But then the fog would shift again and Jackson was gone, it was like losing him over and over again. At first the sound of Jackson’s name had been like a knife stabbing his heart, he had tried to get away from any mention of the cowardly vampire. Now he barely had the energy to whimper if he heard that name.
He felt a comforting brush in his mind, he knew Jamie was nearby, watching over him. But he couldn’t seem to surface enough to speak. Far away he could also feel Vash, but he seemed angry at something, Casey guessed it was probably directed at him. After all Casey was meant to be looking after Vash, he was the one who had been abused and hurt. But Vash had ended up with a mate who couldn’t even help him.
He heard the door open and voices talking but he ignored them, it would just be the changing of his guard. Then he heard a different voice, it was his voice.
“Why didn’t you come get me sooner?” Jackson was saying.
Casey vaguely heard a smack and swearing but he couldn’t process it, he was too busy panicking, because he knew Jackson didn’t want him, he didn’t want to be the reason the vampire had been called. It would only make him more of a burden to the older man. He had already forced the vampire into bonding with him, he didn’t want to make him hate him even more.
He heard Vash saying something as he tried to get up, to move and say he was okay and didn’t need Jackson’s help but his arms weren’t strong enough. He fell back on to the bed with a yelp. The noise drew the men’s attention and Vash rushed over to him.
As soon as Vash wrapped his arms round him he relaxed, he nuzzled in closer and tried to ignore the fact he knew Jackson was in the room too. He’d probably go away again soon. After all he always left. Why would now be any different?
Jackson stood horrified at the scene in front of him. Casey looked like he hadn’t eaten for a lot longer than just a few days.
When he asked why Vash didn’t come to get him sooner he was equally shocked to be slapped — hard — by the hybrid.
“We did try and see you but you had told your secretary not to allow us up. Jamie actually used an invisibility spell to get us past her,” Vash’s voice dripped venom. “Before that Andrew, Jamie, and I all tried to get you through the mind-link, both individually and together. You ignored it all.
Suddenly Casey let out a yelp and Jackson was right behind Vash as they rushed to Casey’s side.
Even as he cuddled Casey, Vash was looking at Jackson and begging for help with his eyes. Jackson knew he needed to do something but he didn’t know what.
In the end he placed a hand on Casey’s shoulder. And was shocked when Casey cried out and tried to move further away from him.
“What’s going on Casey?” he asked, trying to keep his voice calm. Inside he was starting to panic, had something gone wrong with the change?
Casey just curled further into Vash and Vash looked even more pleadingly at Jackson. Thinking fast Jackson used their mental link to try and coax a response.
“Casey, sweetheart. Please tell me what’s wrong.”
He didn’t get the response he was expecting and by the look on Vash’s face he could hear too. Casey’s mental voice was babbling and it seemed he didn’t know he was projecting his thoughts at all. “Just my imagination. He doesn’t want me. He wouldn’t use the link. Ignore him and he’ll leave like he always does. Please, I just want to not feel like this. I want to be normal again. He doesn’t want me. Vash does but it’s not enough. Why isn’t it enough?”
“Vash, has anyone shown you how to control the mind-link yet?” Jackson asked out loud thinking rapidly through a few options.
Vash nodded, “Yes, Jamie did while we were sitting with Casey the other night.”
“Right, I want you to join your mind with mine. Then together we’ll try to get him to listen.”
Jackson felt Vash reaching out to his mind and for the first time in his long life he willingly let someone join their mind to his. He felt the mental flinch Vash gave when their minds joined, then he felt wonder. “You can explore some other time,” he sent, feeling Vash’s growing curiosity. “We need to focus on Casey.”
Looking up at the growing crowd at the doorway Jackson said, “Give us a while with Casey and we’ll come find you in the main room as soon as we can.” Everyone nodded and filed out, Jamie — being the last — shut the door quietly behind himself.
Vash blushed and waited until they were alone. “What do we say to him?” he asked.
“Let me do the talking. If he can only hear me then he can’t deny I’m here. You’re just there to add the power I need to get his attention. I need to be louder than his internal voice is at the moment.”
Vash nodded again and Jackson turned his focus to Casey, “Casey, you need to listen to me. Come on sweetheart, you’re worrying everyone. Tell me what’s wrong. Please just talk to me. I’m not going anywhere. I promise. When have I ever broken a promise?”
Jackson kept up the gentle questions and reassurances, but it was the last one that seemed to get a reaction, Casey was suddenly not unresponsive anymore.
Casey pulled his head away from Vash and glared at Jackson. Then Jackson felt Casey’s mind joining his and Vash’s, saying, “When have you ever broken a promise to me? What about the promise you made that you would always treat me like an adult? What about your promise to never take a choice away from me? And what about your promise to always be there for me?”
Jackson winced at Casey’s loud mental voice, seemed the power boost worked both ways. “I’m sorry for not talking to you. But when was I meant to bring it up? If I had decided to tell you, when was I supposed to spring it on you? When you were sixteen, just finishing your training and you were already avoiding me?” Then Jackson got angry himself, “What about what I deserved? You started avoiding me with no explanation of why. You didn’t want to go out with me, or be seen with me in public, or even spend time with me at home. As far as I could see you didn’t want anything to do with me. Do you know how much that hurt? I went from almost always being with you, to nothing in the space of a day. Should I have said ‘Casey I know you want nothing to do with me, but by the way, we’re mates’? Why?”
Casey’s mouth hung open by the time Jackson had finished, then he frowned and blushed, “I never thought of it like that,” he said quietly out loud. Then he sent a memory to Jackson. It was the day he had seen Jackson working out and had discovered his own feelings.
“Why didn’t you talk to me?” Jackson asked as he relived the memory through Casey’s eyes and even felt the lust that a teenage Casey had felt along with the shame it caused. When Casey shook his head Jackson sent him a memory. It was the first time Casey told him that he wouldn’t do what he wanted because he wasn’t his father. “All I ever wanted was what was best for you. I never wanted to be your father but I did want you to love me.”
“I did. Too much I thought.”
Vash had been listening to the conversation through their joined mind-link and then out loud, he couldn’t help the tears that came to his eyes at hearing about the series of misunderstandings that had led to the wonderful men in front of him being separate all those years.
Then he heard himself saying he had an idea. “Have either of you thought about starting over?” he asked quietly. He knew he needed to get the two men to sort their issues out before any of them could consider a tri-mating. He couldn’t bear to see two men he had come to care deeply for so sad, not when the solution was so simple — they should be together. The two people in front of him had so much history and he had to admit — if only to himself — to feeling a bit left out, but he knew that wasn’t their intention. He would just have to make his own memories and history with them — once he got them doing what he wanted them to do that is.
Jackson and Casey looked at him in confusion.
“I mean, now Casey’s an adult, and knows about being mates, why don’t you date? Jackson, you can get to know Casey as he is now, and Casey, you can learn everything you wanted to know while you were trying to stay away from Jackson.”
Casey smiled and Vash was stunned by the man’s beauty. “That’s a great idea,” Casey said, dropping a kiss on Vash’s cheek, making him blush. “That’s why we need you as our third.” Vash looked up at both of them in shock — especially when Jackson added his agreement. “As a couple we would probably fight and say things we don’t mean. I would probably sulk and refuse to discuss things and Jackson here would think he’s right — because he always thinks he’s right.” This got a huff from Jackson. “You would be the voice of reason. I remember how you took charge when I first came round after the change. And after what you just said, you made my point perfectly. The only thing you missed was you being on the dates with us. I think I speak for both of us when I say we want to get to know you at the same time and to learn what you like and don’t like as you try new things. You’ve proven you’re the perfect mate for both of us, you cared for me when I needed it, and you got Jackson to come and talk even when he didn’t want to.”
Jackson was nodding, “I think he said it better than I could have.”
Vash looked suspiciously at Jackson, “What changed your mind all of a sudden?”
Jackson flushed and Vash had to smile. “Um, I owe you an apology Vash, I knew when I met you that you too were my mate and I wanted to run. But I let myself care for you because you needed me. I didn’t expect you to mate with Casey and for Casey to work out that we were a tri-mating. Then, I convinced myself that both you and Casey were fine now because you had each other, so you didn’t need me. Then you collapsed in my office and I think I started to realize I cared more for you than I had convinced myself of. Then seeing Casey so ill sort of shocked me enough that I started thinking more clearly. And finally, the things Casey and I said to each other today and the other day before the attack are true. We both made mistakes and didn’t communicate. I had convinced myself I couldn’t claim my mate — now mates — but now I have already claimed Casey and nothing bad has happened to him. Well nothing that wasn’t my fault. I will probably make more mistakes, but as Casey said you took charge before and I think you will be perfect for us. In return we will show you things you’ve mostly likely never even dreamed of. We will also love, protect and care for you, just as I hope you will do the same for us.”
Casey was nodding tiredly, “Yep, I can think of a few things to show you. But first, Jackson, what is wrong with me?”
“Ah, well that would be my fault too. I didn’t think it would affect you because you’re technically only half vampire but as we’ve already established I seem to be wrong a lot recently.
“You’re suffering from withdrawal from my blood. Since I’m your mate you need my blood to survive, and you remember the life-link?” Casey nodded understanding dawning in his eyes. Vash was confused but stayed silent. “Well the bond needs to be topped up every few days or the life-link will stretch and think the other half has died. I really need to research more about the bond, as I already said I never thought it would apply to me, so I never took much notice. You’ve only lasted this long because of your link to Vash. Your mating with him has linked you to him and so has kept you from probably being unconscious by now.
Here, drink.” Jackson held out his wrist.
Casey grinned and sent a quick mental image to Vash, and at his answering grin Vash pounced on Jackson pulling him fully onto the bed. Casey knew he didn’t have much strength but with Vash’s help he pushed Jackson down on the big bed and Vash held him there.
Casey raised an eyebrow at Jackson and waited. After a few moments Jackson nodded and turned his head to bare his neck. Casey didn’t hesitate and sank his new fangs deep into the old vampire’s throat. Jackson let out a yell and grabbed on to both Casey and Vash, then Casey felt all their minds link even tighter and felt pleasure being sent through it, along with immense satisfaction. He heard Vash moan as well and turned his head as much as he could without letting go of Jackson’s throat, to see Jackson had sunk his fangs into Vash’s neck, replacing the blood that Casey was quickly taking with fresh.
When Casey lifted his head and licked the puncture marks Jackson did the same for Vash.
“Thank you little one, you taste just as divine as Casey,” Jackson said to the shifter.
“Well now I need a glass of blood and Casey here needs to eat something solid,” Vash said.
“Why can’t you drink from Jackson?” Casey asked.
“Because as we all agreed earlier we need to get to know each other first. If I drink from Jackson that would blood bond us too — also there’s the fact that as a shifter I need to bond with the bite during sex or when I’m in my animal form.” Casey was staring in shock, he really needed to read up on shifters. Then Vash glared at Jackson and Casey saw a hungry glint in his eyes, “But make no mistake. One day I will have my teeth buried in your neck, and I’m not promising that I’ll be human when I do.”
Jackson grinned, “I look forward to it.”
Casey rolled his eyes, “I still don’t want to eat anything solid. I don’t think my stomach could take it.”
“Good thing I bought this up then,” came a voice from behind the closed bedroom door.
Jackson got up and opened the door to reveal Jamie standing there with a glass of blood and another glass that had some kind of thick liquid in it.
Entering and handing Casey the glass Jamie continued, “It’s the same smoothie mix you used when I was pregnant. Remember, liquid doesn’t upset a half vampire stomach, Thane told us.”
Casey nodded and after the first sip he downed the whole glass.
Feeling better than he had in days he turned to Jamie, “Just how long were you outside the door bro?” Jamie blushed.
“Actually I had just arrived when I heard Vash’s comment about Jackson and biting him.” Vash flushed and tried to hide his face in Casey’s neck. “I was about to put the tray down and leave when I heard you say about not eating.”
Casey looked at his brother, trying to decide if he was telling the truth, then he just shrugged slightly. “Let me shower and we’ll meet you all downstairs. I need to catch up on what I’ve missed these last few days.”
Jackson nodded at his comment, “Yes, I have things to fill all of you in on too.”
Jamie called out a goodbye as he headed out the door.
Half an hour later Casey was sitting comfortably next to Jackson on the couch with Vash sitting on their laps, while Jamie and the others filled him in on what had been happening in the clinic and their lives in general.
Jackson then told them about contacting the High Council and how they were sending Donald Broking to help.
The rest of the night then passed with everyone giving ideas on where they thought the new trio should go on their first date.