Nothing is True. Everything is Connected.
Sylum Advent 2019: Day Eighteen

Sylum Advent 2019: Day Eighteen

Title: This Is Not a Dream – Part 1
Author: taibhrigh
Timestamp Note: This story follows directly after Paradox of Dreams (Arthur’s Story) and Art of Dreams (Eames’ Story)
Thank yous to: The Writing Muses and I guess to Bj who sent the bunny and then wouldn’t take it back.
Summary: One day your military, the next day your part of an international counter-terrorism unit, and the next you wake up dead. Or, how Arthur and Eames ended up in Sanguen Vitae.
Sylum Timeline: 2009 – 2010

Mid-March 2009 to beginning of May 2009 – Athens, Greece.

Eames was dead. Or, as the case may be, Vampire. He still had lots of private moments over the entire experience. When he tackled the woman to the ground to prevent her from being shot he’d actually knocked two more down as well. He doesn’t actually remember the other two, but he was relieved to hear no one else had been injured. To be honest, he doesn’t actually remember being shot or much of what happened after that. He had been told he had been hit three times; the wall behind the ladies had another nice holes.

He’d been told that his heart had stopped at one point and he’s thankfully he doesn’t remember someone pounding on his chest or the broken ribs that can cause. He vaguely remembers hearing an argument — no words, just the sentiment and sounds of an argument and that it was between a man and a woman. He has some memory of a fuzzy face asking him if he wanted to live. He knows he said yes because he’s still here. He was also told that there had been garbled words after the yes that sounded like, “Arthur is going to kill me.” For Eames, as far as last thoughts went, that one had probably been spot on.

Since then he has learned a lot. Vampires were real. They drank blood; they walked in the daylight. They lived in Clans. He was now part of the Sanguen Vitae; and his Clan was made up of very (very) old people —he’s managed to keep that last thought strictly to himself. He’s the youngest by about sixty years but Carl doesn’t even live in Greece so Eames’ isn’t sure he counts.

The very pretty lady he had tackled to the ground was named Thais. She’s all classic beauty with the sun-kissed skin, brown hair and hazel eyes that one might expect from a Greek goddess. Soft spoken; yet, decisive and firm and never seems to need to raise her voice to be heard. And, she is the Caretaker for the Clan —the house, the members. Eames was positive she knows everything that was going on in the villa even if it appears she doesn’t. He quickly learned that very few people win arguments with Thais when she sets her mind on something. Eames owes his life to her; and has all the best intentions of staying on her good side. Especially because she makes these fantastic Melomakarona.

The man she had argued with that day had been Vaako, his Sire. Vaako is not soft spoken, a little grumpy sometimes, and not to be crossed. He was a dedicated Roman soldier to Marc Antony when he had been human and still is to this day. He’s taller than Eames and has the strangest eyes —bluish-silver— that Eames has ever seen. He also takes Eames’ training very seriously. Eames’ bruises have bruises just to prove that point.

Eames perfectly understands Vaako’s reluctance; especially after meeting Nearchus, Sanguen Vitae’s head of security. Or Archie, as he prefers to be called. Archie’s history is similar to Vaako but instead he followed Alexander. He and Vaako work very smoothly together. The partnership reminds him of he and Arthur minus the sexual tension that had been there right before his and Arthur’s job had burned them both.

Neither Vaako nor Archie could find a lot of information for the name —James Emerson— on the passport Eames had been carrying. Plus, he had been armed and carrying a highly encrypted cell phone, and a little moleskine sketchbook —that kind of made him look like a spy of some sort— even if it was just filled with sketches. And, while he was dead and recovering they had apparently found the room he had been renting with his two bags, his larger sketchbook, another gun, and a couple of other passports in different names. He never said he hadn’t been on the run; and he definitely was out of a job.

He told Vaako, Archie, Alexander, and Marc almost everything; after he got over the fact that he was being questioned by THE Alexander and Marc Antony. It’s like a continuous living history lesson in the Clan; that some days he still finds very surreal. He tells the four of them that he was dead before he was dead; and that Athens happened to be the place where he decided to stop his unplanned travels. He left out things about Arthur because Eames was hoping Arthur was still out there safe and sound; and some things were still private. He also left out his pickpocketing habit. A few people in his new home have little to no situational awareness. He makes sure he’s not the one to find the missing keys, cell phones, watches, or wallets.

The Sanguen Vitae villa was now his home. While he understood that he would always be Vaako’s Childe, he was, technically, a baby when it came to being a vampire and living within the walls of the villa offered him protection and time to learn. And it actually gave him a home.

He loved the design of the villa. The outside kept the appearance of everything around it while the inside had a modern edge. Everything opened into a beautiful courtyard and pool. The villa was much larger than one would suspect from the outside. He imagined that at one time it may have just been the large front house —which was now used to house visitors and host celebrations. Then the Clan had started acquiring the rest of the structures around the main house and now took the entire block. The main house and the original garage set on one street. The opposite side was built right up against the hillside. One of the longer sides was slightly raised and looked out towards the Saronic Gulf. While the last side looked, to anyone on the street, like rows of homes. The homes themselves had been gutted, but the outside facing facade had been left in place —the doors and windows, sidewalks, and flowerpots; some of the lights in the windows even went on and off to help with the appearance. The gutted homes had become offices, storage, recreational spaces, a large gym, and a training area with rather high ceilings.

A new three-storey main house had been built up against the hillside. Thais and most other members of the Clan lived within the main house in large apartment-style quarters. A smaller two-storey building that sat to one side and overlooked the gulf was the private quarters of Alexander and Marc. There were two more smaller single-storey buildings that consisted of one bedroom suite-like quarters for members of the Clan. Eames lived in one of these small suites which he was told to make his own. It had a lovely balcony that looked out at the gulf and quick access to anywhere within the villa.

Eames had spent several days being questioned by various members of the Clan about various topics. Archie had wanted to know who he hired to cover his tracks. He admitted that he had paid a hacker by the name of Penrose and had no idea where he or she might be. Archie seemed quite impressed by the hacker’s name. Neither Archie nor Stelios —the Clan’s single in resident Hunter and still learning techie— had actually been able to recover anything that Penrose had made disappear.

Eames was positive that the questioning might have gone on longer but Thais really wasn’t afraid to put her foot down; not even to Alexander. Plus, on this day, he had been late to kitchen lessons as Thais had taken to trying to teach him to cook —to mixed results. Baking was too precise for him and didn’t allow him flexibility. Plus, the one cake he had tried to make had exploded in the oven. Literally. There where had been batter and cake everywhere in the oven. After the oven had cooled down he had helped Thais clean up the mess. So far he’d been excellent at making the spinach mixture for spanakopitas and had managed to successful make moussaka. Eames was calling it a win; but he figured Thais was calling it her next challenge.

Eames fully admitted, he had a tiny crush on Thais. Not in a romantic way, but in a she’s so awesome way. Eames thought of her more of a favorite aunt. She was the one to tell him about Mates. His grin must of told her more than he had intended.

“Do you think it is this Arthur, you have mentioned?” she asked. “Is he the one you draw but never enough for someone to recognize his face?”

Apparently, Vampires can blush. Eames, to his knowledge hadn’t blushed since he was a kid.

Vaako on the other hand, did not talk love and romance with him; which Eames was actually thankful for. Vaako wanted to know about his training; especially after Eames swore loyalty to Sanguen Vitae. Vaako was and is intense and quite serious about training. Sanguen lacked Hunters who called Athens home and Vaako believed he would make an excellent one. And Eames felt at home in Athens; that maybe this was where he was always meant to be.

Eames hadn’t worked that hard since basic and SAS training and he was now in better shape than when he was in the military. But he worked on sword skills until they became as natural to him as a gun. By the end of his first month within Sanguen he knew he trusted Vaako with his life and before waking up as a Vampire he could only have said that about one other person.

Now in his second month that hadn’t changed. He was in the middle of a session with Marc when Vaako came into the training room. Eames was learning different fighting skills from all the Clan members and Marc’s slim build and quick, precise movements remind him somewhat of Arthur. Marc was swift and relayed more on movement than strength for his strikes.

“Grab your go bag,” Vaako ordered. “We’re going to visit the Council.”

Thankfully who was on the Council and what it was for had already been explained. Eames had actually gotten lessons on all the Clans —at least as far as hunters and leadership; especially for the Mod Kin Clans that made up part of Sanguen Vitae. He had been warned that several Vampires had descendants and ancestors who looked very similar in appearance to one another. Eames had already met Eomer, who might look like Vaako in the face and eyes but was definitely not him —the long, light brown hair were just among the things that were different. Eames had even been told that one of his own ancestors was a member of Sila. Eames hadn’t met him yet and wasn’t sure how he felt about that; but it did add credibility to his family histories that some part of his family had immigrated to London from Russia.

It was Thais who warned him about the trouble the Meridius family line could get into —which included Alexander and the Council’s own Lead Hunter, Maximus.

Eames had also been warned that if the vein on the right side of Vaako’s head, above the eye, was throbbing it was probably due to Vaako’s mate who worked for the Council.

The vein was throbbing.


End of March 2009 to the beginning of May 2009 – Geneva, Switzerland.

Arthur firmly believed that Frank Moses was crazy —just reinforced his belief that all CIA, or former CIA, agents were crazy— and this was before he had let Frank Turn him. He doesn’t know if the crazy comes from Frank not having hair or from being more than a thousand years old. Arthur’s honestly not sure that it matters because he did willingly follow the crazy man that day. The thing is, Frank may have started out as a mercenary but he was now a spy and Arthur was 99% sure he was not built to be a spy. Frank told him he was good at his job but following people was kind of boring for him. He was just not the people watcher like Eames. Then again, if Eames had been with him, he probably could observe people, or at least the phones and tech that he could get Eames to bug or liberate for him.

Finding out about Vampires, freaked Arthur the hell out. Not that he let that show. His inner geek may have danced for joy while the more analytic part of him was reanalyzing everything in his life. He now knows the French Police Inspector he dealt with once while working for Cobb was a Vampire and looked almost exactly like the Lead Hunter for the Council. Though Javert is about a foot taller and much broader across the shoulders than Maximus. Arthur doesn’t know which one is older and he has no plans to ask. He also had no plans to mention he set fire to a building in Paris because that’s not going to win him any points. Neither will the bodies he left to protect his old team.

The second time one of Frank’s plans nearly gets him killed, and he’d only been working with Frank for two weeks, he asked to be Turned. If he’s going to be shot at, he wanted to make sure he lived through it. Also, Frank apparently sucks at planning and Arthur had to remind himself that Frank was not Dominic Cobb because he had really been trying not to judge people after only a month. Even when he set that goal he knew it would not last very long.

He would say this for Frank though, he did have Arthur training with various people even before he Turned him —so maybe that was Frank’s plan all along. Arthur took to training with a sword like he did Escrima. For him it was about movement and speed; deflection and timed attacks. And none of the hunters that Frank had him training with took it easy on him; and he had not wanted them to either.

It doesn’t take long for Arthur to realize why his Arthur James passport and background failed the scrutinous checks that Frank had run. Well, the passport itself checked because Eames was flawless with its creation. It was just some of the footprints that go along with the fake stamps hadn’t stood up to the deep dive done against it. Then again, Arthur hadn’t expected for anyone to investigate the passport as if he was applying for the job to guard a president or something.

Arthur met Jacob Jensen while sitting in Minerva’s kitchen eating cookies. While he and Jake look about the same age Arthur knew Jake had been Turned about three years before. Also, the conversation had been a little bizarre for him because Arthur had never actually talked with another hacker of his standard face to face before. He actually liked it. Jacob Jensen screamed two things to Arthur instantly: dangerous and geek. And if Arthur was a betting man, most people just saw geek that maybe went to the gym some. Jake’s geek shirts do nothing to hide the muscle and strength. Unlike the suits that Arthur wears.

Jake had been sitting at the large table in Minerva’s kitchen with a Stark tablet that Arthur knew wasn’t on the market yet. It was also closed because Minerva has rules about the kitchen. Jake was the one who started the conversation.

“Sorry for not taking your work,” Jake apologized. “I know what it’s like to get burned.”

It took Arthur a second. He had only sought out two high quality hackers —The Count and Scotty. The Count had not answered. Arthur had outsourced a little of the background work on the James Arthur persona to make sure nothing could be traced back to him —as Arthur.

“Plus I know how Benji operates,” Jake added.

“Stop talking,” Arthur said, a little more intensely than he had meant because Arthur now had information and it disproved his not built to be a spy theory. He was blaming Eames for this, wherever the other man was.

Arthur ate another bite of his bacon cheddar muffin while he let himself process. Minerva made wonderful cookies but she made an awesome muffin-like things that that had bacon and cheddar baked in and becoming a Vampire had not stopped his love of bacon. “So you’re The Count and this Benji person is Scotty? And that’s how you managed to uncover Arthur James as being fake because you know Benji’s skillset —or his signature in the code— and how he does things?”

Jake shrugged. “Sort of, I know you had two people build the identity, but not the passport itself. Honestly, we thought you might have stolen the passport. I couldn’t recover or prove what had or hadn’t been changed by Penrose, but I know enough about Scotty to recognize his work on the identity. But Penrose, excellent choice man, and he, she doesn’t do a lot of contract work. I only recognized one marker in the work as his, hers? Especially, when my attack ended up in an endless cycle —which caused me to lose everything in the search and reboot. Hey do you know who Penrose is? We’re all very interested.”

Arthur was happy he no longer had to breathe. He also wondered if Jake had been able to ramble on like that when he still needed to breathe. That thought made him smile just a little. But he opted to change the subject only slightly so he could work through a couple of plans in his head. “What would it take for me to get one of those?” he asked instead, pointing to Jake’s shiny Stark tablet.


Arthur really wanted the shiny new not-on-the-market tech. “In exchange,” Arthur baragined. “I will tell you something about Penrose.”

“Let me,” Jake was already standing, while trying to use his finger to indicate one second while not dropping the cookie he was still holding. “I will be right back.” Jake bolted from the kitchen.

Arthur had instantly liked Jake. They understood one another, even if they approached things differently. Plus, it would be nice to have a friend. While Jake was gone he made himself another cup of coffee and pulled out his old laptop from his satchel. Jake was back in about fifteen minutes and was carrying a box with the Stark logo on it that was still sealed.

“Cougs is not ever going to use it, open it, and probably, maybe, won’t even notice it’s missing,” Jake said, sliding the box across the table.

Inside the box was a wireless, satellite connected, not for general use, Stark tablet computer with protective casing. Arthur had plans on hugging it later in the privacy of his own room. And, he kept his promise and tilted his old laptop towards Jake; knowing what the artwork might imply. The cookie in Jake’s hand dropped back to the table with an, “Oh shit.” Which was followed by, “And now I owe Maggie money.”

He would learn who Maggie was later; would even end up owing Jensen’s niece money. “I would rather that not become common knowledge,” Arthur requested. “I don’t know your mysterious ‘we’ who were curious.”

Jake was already nodding his head. “Nope, yep. Completely understood. But would you mind telling me how you got into Cobol’s systems? And how do you feel about orcs? We could really use a ranged DPS player.”

“Not in Minerva’s kitchen.”

“Good call.”

It took Arthur another week to convince Frank that he would make a much better Hunter than spy. For some reason, Arthur can’t figure out why, but big revelations for him seem to happen in Minerva’s kitchen while eating cookies or muffins.

Arthur had trained almost everyday after that. He enjoyed training with Nicole, Jason, and Kirill —they all had different styles and strengths and it had allowed him to find his own.

He met with Jake for both computer time and computer game time. There was a little hackers’ collective amongst the Vampire community that tried to play multiplayer games against each other and then as a team at least once or twice a week. It was fun. Arthur had spent several nights building up a character and played even if Jake wasn’t there. Eames would have told him he was learning to relax, even if he did still insist on dressing in his suits every day. And Arthur knew he would argue back that his suits were quite comfortable since they were made that way.

He was giving himself another month, at least, before he looked to see if Eames was still alive. He had spent a night, right after he had been Turned, checking on the members of his old team. Needing to know that none of that was going to come back to him. Arthur, himself, was still happily dead and on no one’s list as otherwise. A little packet of information had been anonymously delivered to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service regarding Nash. The other man was now on a most wanted list for his country. Ariadne was in Australia. Yusuf was in Mombasa. Saito was back in Japan at his old job. Cobb appeared to be dead. Since Arthur hadn’t seen a body, he wasn’t sure he was going to believe that one. But he still hadn’t checked on Eames; part of Arthur just didn’t want to know if Eames was dead. He fingered the little blue die, his finger rubbing over the Chai symbol, and hoped Eames was well.


May 2009.

Eames had been in Geneva for two days. Two days spent either quietly listening as Vaako meet with different people to having to wait outside by a door. He wasn’t sure how much more he was going to be able to take before he attempted to sneak out of the building and into the city proper.

He met Jake Jensen midway through the second day while standing outside of an office where people were yelling on the inside. Jake had been humming some Journey song —that was now stuck in his head— and sketching and Eames thought him very good and had said so. He appreciated art, even if it was only done to relax and never be shown. After all, he did that as well.

The problem was, while the door was old, it was heavy and thick and neither one of them could clearly make anything out. And both of them were getting bored.

Jake had known he was Vaako’s Childe because it was apparently newsworthy since Vaako had only ever Turned one other person. And, it would seem that Vakko’s Mate had also recently Turned someone and that was just as rare. Vampires were gossips, or so it seemed.

He learned that Jake had two Mates; Thais had failed to mention triads during all their talks on Mates. He wasn’t sure if it was an oversight or something she was leaving him to discover on his own. Eames had found that ten minute conversation enlightening but it still left he and Jake sitting outside of a room getting more bored by the minute.

So instead of staying there and listening to the muffled noise, Jake took him on a tour of the building and grounds. He even met another one of Vaako’s descendants. Eames was really going to need to ask him for a list and last known locations —though none of them wholly looked, moved, or sounded alike— Eames would rather not take chances.

He followed Jake back towards the office, hoping that whatever the meeting was about was over so he could talk to Vaako about actually getting out for a few hours, when he thought he spotted something familiar. He turned to follow it instead.

Two hallways and a staircase later and he was brought to a shocking halt and said the first thing that came to his mind, “I would recognize that bespoke body anywhere.” And Arthur looked fantastic in his grey, well-fitted trousers and waistcoat. The tie was darker in color with a soft gray pattern. The white shirt with the rolled up sleeve didn’t distract at all. And the hair, Arthur’s hair was coiffed but not slicked down like when they had worked together but more like the one mission where he played a college student. Before he had spoken, Eames would have said that Arthur looked relaxed.

“Eames,” came the soft reply.


Arthur had been hungry and needed coffee and going to the best place for both when he heard, “I would recognize that bespoke body anywhere.”

“Eames,” he thought he had said it to himself. Because how could Eames be here of all places.

Arthur turned around and two things happened when he saw Eames standing there. “Of course it’s you,” came out of his mouth at the same time that he realized that yes, he was in Minerva’s kitchen again when something big in his new Vampire life happened. He was going to have to stay out of the kitchen which meant no more cookies direct from the oven.

“Hello, darling.”

“You’re,” Arthur was at a loss for words. Here, seemed to not express enough. A Vampire, was just stating the obvious. Though, the last had to be just as new for Eames as it as for himself.

Eames stepped closer to him and Arthur didn’t move. He looked good. Arthur liked the new look and muscles. Eames even looked a little younger but Arthur imagined that was due to being clean shaven and the new haircut —shorter on the sides, finger-styled on top, less gel— and the clothes. The jeans fit and the shirt set off the green of Eames’ eyes. It was all much better than the yellow and orange paisley shirt and ill-fitting trousers that had somehow always managed to just work for Eames.

Unlike himself, Arthur threw caution to the wind and closed the distance between them. He’d left Eames with a kiss that day in the warehouse; one full of missed chances. He reached up and caught Eames by the back of the head and brought their lips together. It was better than the last one and almost perfect. Well, mostly perfect. They were in Minerva’s kitchen, kissing was all they were going to be able to do.

“Cookies,” Jake interrupted. “Arthur, Eames, and vice versa,” he introduced, then stopped in his tracks; probably realizing what he had just walked in on. “Guess you guys know each other.” Jake paused. “I’m going; yep, going.”

Neither Arthur nor Eames acknowledged Jake’s entrance or exit. The clearing of a throat some time later did get them to break apart.

“I do believe you have a room, young man.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Arthur acknowledged, quickly. “Eames, this is Minerva. She makes the best cookies; you’ll have to try them later,” he introduced, before yanking on Eames arm and all but dragged him out of the kitchen.

~~~ end part 1 (aka, “All you are getting for Advent”) ~~~

~ You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.~


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