That near deadening silence was surely telling in itself. He had displeased his Mistress with those mentions of love. That singular word, offered so freely and readily by himself, was yet to fall from her own lips with any true emotion. He had crossed that veritable invisible boundary to dare to ask such a thing from her and yet in this singular area the vampiric cowboy remained near determinedly bold. The man daring enough to at least suggest she might consider offering him those words he gave so willingly and so often. Matehood, she had insisted, was surely enough and yet if love meant so little to her, if it was a word so easily said that she lacked any true care for- why could she simply not say it? If it did not manner, then it should hardly matter to have it said. That word, Darcy suspected, meant something to her. At least enough to cause that near violent silence that overtook the vehicle, that submissive part of himself near inwardly recoiled from that lack of sound and the displeasure that rung within it. Darcy, as always, near vehemently opposed to displeasing his mate in any sense and yet, small though it was, that far more dominant part of himself so refused to yield on this. Surely it was not too much to ask of his own mate.
That silence persisted for several more moments before that sudden query on just what love was seemed to startle them both. That very question, it seemed, one the vampiric cowboy had hardly given any great thought to in turn. Emotions, after all, were so very....human in every sense. Darcy rarely inclined to think on them. Love existed the way hunger existed. It simply...was. That emotion hardly required thought. Was it supposed to? Did it require thought for Risque? Darcy's tongue shifted within his mouth to fiddle with the tip of one pointed fang in a clear contemplation. His Grandmother had spoken about love all those years ago. The Southern vampire at least attempted to explain his Grandmother's theory even if he himself was hardly sure he stood by such inconsequential proof as imagining shit being gone. There was that story though- that tree one. That he was nearly certain was about love...mostly. Love or giving or some fucking thing. Maybe Risque would understand it. His efforts to explain that giving tree were met with only further silence for several moments. Darcy in turn so perhaps having....missed at least some of the point of his own story and yet that basic principle surely remained the same. Love was when you gave people shit. Like apples. Love was when they took it from you and gave nothing in return but you....didn't care. Like that tree. That realisation of sorts seemed to dawn with the vampire then. Darcy, in turn, inclined to his own silence for several long moments as the man attempted to further contemplate that story- only for Risque to insist she had understood it. His mismatched gaze shifted briefly away from the road and toward his lover then, the man wholly curious to learn the meaning behind that story that Risque had surely mastered where he was near assured he was missing something from that tale all the same. His lover was quick to insist she preferred pomegranates instead of apples- or better yet jewellery. Maybe she was right. Maybe the person you loved was supposed to pick what you gave them. There were no jewellery trees though. How certain he was that the choices could only come from trees- although why that was the case he hardly knew.
"As yar wish, Darlin'"
It was simply easier, in that moment, to fall back into those far safer patterns. Darcy assured he could appease her with jewellery and fruit- if she desired it. That she was willing to accept that fruit from him surely meant....something. Even if neither vampire truly understood what. Fucking trees and their stories. Emotions, as a whole, were simply better forgotten. How little use either of them had for something so trivial as that and yet, despite himself, that lack of any utterance of love from his own mate still....niggled at the back of his mind. A thought that, for now, he was content to push aside. Out of mind and yet hardly forgotten. Their arrival at what had once been his family farm was a far more prominent metaphorical sword in his side. He had battled for....years to prevent Risque ever becoming truly aware of the filthy depravity he had grown up within. That house, that ranch- they were nothing but reminders of a human life he had loathed and people he had long wished to forget. Risque, as he had near anticipated, seemed to find a near perverse fascination in swinging herself from that truck to explore that restored homestead- not that there was much to explore beyond dirt and wooden walls. His discomfort, as always, seemed to amuse her. Like a shark drawn to the faintest scent of blood in the water. He had been foolish to ever allow her to come here and yet how could he refuse her demands? Risque was not made to be disobeyed. Not ever. A goddess was so made to be served- and how loyally he tried. Even at his own peril. He had never denied his Mistress knowledge of the place and means he had come from and yet too- he had never gone into detail. Risque had hardly seemed to care and Darcy had been all to content to allow that past to be forgotten. Yet here and now she seemed near fascinated to learn of the true depths of just how wretched his human life had been.
The look of near abject horror upon his beloved's face at the sight of that house, and outhouse, so hardly seemed to improve as she strode inside and he lit that fire to offer at least some warmth and light. The floorboards creaked and groaned under their weight- protesting any movement just as they had done when he was a child. That home. Lovingly restored by some imbecile who thought it was worth restoring- looked almost exactly as he had remembered it. Dirty, misshapen, barely held together and constantly seeming to threaten collapse- much like his damn family itself had been. Risque's sudden query on servants was met with that simple truth that servants had hardly existed for him in those human days. Darcy himself more a kin to a servent as he worked those fields, tended those animals and mended fence after fence that seemed to bow beneath the weight of holding tself up day after fucking day. Risque had been his....saviour. The only being who had ever seen that value within him that so many others had chosen to deny. How often had his Father refused to accept he could have been something more? How often had his mother merely turned a blind eye to it all and stared into the soup pot as if that watery dinner held some semblance of an answer? Only Nancy had ever understood- and she had gone and died. Risque had been different. She had seen beneath that mud and blood (quite literally) she had seen that value. She had given him purpose, a reason, drive and for the first time in his whole damned life- the means to have those things he desired. For that alone she deserved to be worshipped. She had given him everything and how he would not ever forget it.
What had his family ever done for him? His mismatched gaze shifted briefly away from that house and its familiar walls, away from those family portraits that still lined the walls to eye those tombstones that still existed atop a small rise outside the side window. The shadows of those stones lay illuminated by the moon above and yet even they failed to move the man behind those near bitter words he all but spat. His family- or what was left of them, resided beneath those very stones. Every single one of them a disappointment in one way or another. Risque's voice was low, when it came. Sultry and near foreboding in its silken utterance. Family was cancer, she said- a strangling vine that she had cut herself free from as he had done. How rarely she ever spoke of her own family and yet- if her feelings were anywhere near akin to his own then he surely understood in that moment. Family had done nothing for either of them- they had merely been strong enough to cast it aside.
"Yar right 'bout that, Darlin'. Yar always right."
How he meant those words then. His own voice littler more than an utterance in the dark. Risques own features remained fixated upon those tombstones for several moments longer, the vampiric queen appearing entirely more glorious by that firelight then as she seemed to contemplate something deeper. Her gaze shifted momentarily from that fire, her eyes appearing near liquid black in that moment. Darcy inclined to find that very look distinctly appealing before she spoke once more. There was a reason, she said, that his family lay cold and dead beneath that ground and he did not. In all those years he had known her she had never told him, not truly, why it was she did not kill him that night they had met. Her words, even now, seemed to suggest something more and yet- he so hardly anticipated that story that fell from her own lips. Mentions of her childhood were near....unheard off. Darcy was capable of counting on one hand alone the times she had ever mentioned it and never in such detail. Her words sounded near...hollowed all the same. Lacking any emotion. That man and his want for bread so failing to move her even now it seemed- and why should it? The man was a mere beggar, it seemed, A vagrant deserving of nothing and yet.....in her childhood she had sought to feed him? Darcy's own features frowned in consideration. The southern cowboy so daring to ask why she had fetched the man food. That very question, it seemed, breaking her from that resolve of memory. Her words, this time, fell with the assurance of a whip crack. A child's foolishness she insisted. Naivety and nothing more. Darcy, in that moment, inclined to accept that very response.
"A man who begs ain't no man."
How well he knew those words and indeed- how well he believed them. A man who begged had no pride. The sudden interruption of that caretaker was unexpected. Both vampires,for a singular moment, seeming to tense in a near predatory stance before that old fool shuffled in. His blood was hardly worth spilling. Aged as he was it would hold little value and even less taste. Besides- the damn bastard had already been damned to hell in caring for this shit heap that he still called a Ranch- of that Darcy was certain. The flashlight that ancient human held was flickered first to Darcy himself and then Risque- the man content to utter that Darcy held a distinct resemblance to another who had once called that Ranch home. The vampire near quick to silence the nattering old fool who fussed with his glasses before proceeding to drone on as if he read from a script he had long ago lst and yet knew so well he hardly required it any longer. How...obscure it was to be read the history of his own house- and family.
The single utterance of 'young lady' toward Risque so readily seemed to prompt his mate to tense. Darcy, near instinctively, inclined to tense in turn in simple readiness for some assault and yet, for now, that vampiric woman seemed to bide her time. The aged human oblivious to his social failing or even the notion he had offended her with his idiotic words before she snapped her own reply. Perhaps the old fool was deaf as well as blind. How little he seemed aware of that fine line he danced between life and death. The man proceeded to shuffle into the bedroom then with the promise of that tale upon his lips. Risque herself shifted, her near feline-esque form brushing agianst him in silent command, Darcystill unable to rid that scowl from his features as he so obediently followed his Mistress into that room that had once been his own. That caretaker prattled on, passing his Mother's diary to Risque to read before gesturing to several other pieces of paper resting beneath glass cabinets that held more of his childhood and early life- pieced together by humans as if they tried to puzzle out the fractured remains of his life. It was almost surprising- how accurate they were and yet that caretaker painted a different picture. He spoke as if Clancy had been hard done by, as if Darcy were the disobedient son whom had fled that ranch and left his family to ruin and not the other way around. How readily that anger spiked. That hate and rage and loathing for his Father was hardly so deeply buried as he had believed. Those mere mentions of Clancy so prompted that veritable lava of loathing to flow before that inevitable eruption- Darcy's voice so at last snapping into that silence with raw disdain. His Southern lyrics filled in those missing details- to at least some extent. Those words little more than hissed as his fangs flashed within the darkness.
That caretaker, at last, seemed to show some semblance of fear as his heart skipped several beats in its otherwise painfully slow, dull rhythm. Risque slid forward once more then, questioning the fool of a man on whether or not he knew whom he was talking to as his aged eyes shifted between those vampires. He....he looks very like.....Darcy Van Dellan. His voice shook with nervousness now, as if fearing he was wrong. Oh but how quickly Risque seized upon that veritable open wound- daring the man to continue with that tale- so he proclaimed to know so much. A tale Darcy could judge for himself the truth on. How inclined he was to punish to fool for each sentence he got wrong. The older man's hands shook as he clutched those papers to his chest. I....I.....where was I....perhaps.....Mr Van Dellan would rather....tell it himself? He would surely do a much better job. Another irritable growl rose within Darcy's throat. The vampire near....intrigued to hear what nonsense this fool had been peddling about his family for all these years. Nonsense that painted him as that metaphorical....bad guy. Hmmm. How amusing that consideration and yet- that aged man was veritably saved by Risque's own interruption as she moved to seat herself upon that creaking, aged bed, a singular eye raised as if daring the man to tell her not to. The caretaker so wisely remained quiet before Risque sought to coax him onward again with the simple insistence he might surely tell the tale of a man greater than him.
How very subtle that praise and yet how readily Darcy seized upon it in turn. The vampiric cowboy near living for those words of praise, no matter how small or infrequent they might be offered. How terribly much they meant when uttered by his beloved. That small utterance of her thoughts upon his greatness, perhaps, soothing his temper ever so slightly. Enough, it seemed, to spare that wretched caretaker who fumbled nervously with his papers for now. Darcy's gaze instead so content to shift back toward his mate as she poised the poignet question on why he had not killed his Father. How oblivious he was in that moment to just how well she had so loaded that metaphorical gun. That mention of his father, a ready and sure ammunition he all but fell upon with merely a spark so required to ignite that inevitable impact. How poor Darcy's temper was known to be and oh how tightly Risque seemed content to wind him tonight.
"Day had unspoken laws in dem days. A woman couldn't run no property without a man 'avin 'is name on da title deeds. Me Ma and me sister, day needed me Pa alive for dem ta keep da 'ome. I wasn't old enough to own dat ranch meself so no good woulda come from me killin' 'im den. Pa wouldn't let me finish school, even wit dat teacher lady sayin' she'd pay for me. He wanted me to stay 'ere and learn ranchin' wit 'im but I wasn't stayin 'ere to die on dis fuckin' ranch. We 'ad no money. We never did. Dem crops never grew well, cattle prices were low. We didn't 'ave da money to breed 'orses and we couldn't sell da ones we had. Any time we got even a little bit o'money me Pa spent it on drink and gamblin' or some fella at da bar would convince 'im ta buy some crop dat ain't never work or some lame 'orse he was tryina off load. Me Pa was an idjit. A gullible, stupid fool who wasted all our money over and over again and never left nutthin' for me or Ma or Nancy. He wouldn't listen to no ideas I 'ad. Wouldn't listen when i told 'im 'ow we could grow better crops or raise better steers. He ran us into da ground. Dat's when da civil war broke out."
Darcy paused, briefly, his tongue running over the tips of his fangs in a ready contemplation. His features twisted with disdain at even the memory of his Father- and the family he had all but left behind. He had told his father, over and over, how to fix that ranch, how to grow different, better crops- his ideas for moving the steer from pasture to pasture and he's never listened. He'd damned him to life on that ranch and still never listened.
"Me Ma begged me not ta sign up, me Pa forbade it but I did it anyway. I left in da middle of da night. Only me sister knew da truth. Da army, it paid better den anyting I ever known. I 'ad money for da first time in me life. I used ta send more den 'alf of it back 'ome to me Ma. She'd 'ide it away so me Pa couldn't find it. Keep it for when 'er and Nancy needed ta eat. I did good in da Army. I got promoted real fast. Den Ma wrote me, said Nancy got sick an needed some medicine. I was earnin' even more den so i sent dem da money each month. Den i got a letter one day. Pa had found all da money Ma 'ad been saving. Ma got a 'idin for it, beat her black and blue he did for dat and he spent it, all of it. On drink and gamblin and god knows what else. Nancy died two weeks later because Ma couldn't pay for no more medicine and I couldn't get any money to 'er fast enough. Pa wrote me when Nancy died. One fucking line is all he wrote. 'Yar sisters dead'."
How decidedly cold those very words had become. All those years later and how bitter the man remained about that very thing. Darcy, in that moment, had become near eerily still. Even that caretaker was so hardly daring to move before the vampire continued.
"I told Ma to leave 'im. She wouldn't. Said she ain't got no children left no more so it don't matter. 'Er daughter was dead, 'Er baby was dead an 'er son had left dem all. Me Pa got into 'er 'ead. She didn't believe in no divorce she said. Ain't da christian way. She was a fuckin' fool too. Dat was da day 'efore I led me troop into battle. I was mad, I wasn't tinkin' right. Got myself turned into......dis- but I dun tink thats too bad. Da army thought I died, told me parents I was dead but I didn't care. I was dead to dem anyway. Dat's when i started learnin' to 'unt for meself. Me Maker ain't no shit. He was too young too. Couldn't teach me nothin'. So I learned to 'unt my way. I went from camp to camp every night. Found fools who was dumb as me Father, challengeing 'im to card games. I'd gamble for money and when i took all dare money, I'd gamble with dem for dare lives. Every single night some fool would loose 'is blood to me. I ain't never been so well fed as I was those months."
His gaze flickered toward Risque then, a grin of sorts finding his lips.
"Dat's how I 'ecame da Ghost of Gettysburg. Dats what day used ta call me, dem boys out on da 'ill. Reckoned I was a spirit day did. One who'd come to steal dem away in da night. Day used ta talk about me at all da camps, some reckoned I wasn't real at all, some reckoned they could summon me outta da mists by laying card tables out- and there was always some fool who'd gamble. I met you, Darlin' 'bout a year or so after dat."
His voice, at last, fell silent, that caretaker so hardly daring to breath as if every instinct within his body so....warned him agianst attracting the predatory gaze of that southern vampire then. Darcy, for now, allowing his gaze to rest on Risque alone in near...curiosity of how she had taken that tale. Before his attention so at last shifted to that trembling man again. They....they wrote a book on you. That is to say, they wrote a book on The Gettysburg Ghost. Many historians for years have been trying to work out if you were a real ghost or a figment of imagination or merely a result of trench fever in the men.....I have some copies in the caretaker's cabin if you'd like them? A peace offering? That distinctly low growl rose within Darcy's throat once more and yet....how curious an idea he had.
"Bring me one of dem books. You said dis ranch is bein' looked after by da town of Jakin? Why is da town lookin after it? Who pays for it ta keep running?"
That curious line of questioning had so clearly caught the man off guard. Its run by donations...sir. When Clancy Van Dellan and his wife died they had no one to leave the ranch to, since it was believed you had died as well. The ranch was left to a distant cousin who had no interest in it, eventually it fell to ruin until many years later a preservation society restored it with donations and it has kept running via donations ever since. Because the ranch was never officially signed over to the city by a living relative it does not qualify for government funding. So we rely on donations. That ranch had sucked the life out of his family and here it was- sucking the money out of the fucking town still, or at least, those full enough to donate to it.
"Bring me da title agreement to I know you got ta 'ave dat somewhere."
How surprisingly quick that fool of a man could move when he tried. Darcy waiting only so long as it took the man to leave before turning back towards his mate.
"Risque? You ain't Catholic are ya, Darlin'?"
How he barely waited for that answer before turning on his heel to stride out of that room and across the creaking wooden floors, that wooden door banging behind him as he stepped out of the house an into the yard outside. A near eerie silence persisted for several moments before the sound of shattering stone seemed to explode through that night air. The first of those headstones, his sisters, lay in pieces at his feet as Darcy lazily tossed a chunk of stone up into the air to catch it before tossing it again, his gaze fixing upon his mothers graze next. How very good that destruction felt. A release for that energy. Senseless, violent destruction.
Darcy content to tread on their very graves.
We are rough men and used to rough ways.