[Vietsub] The Umbrella Academy trailer mùa 2

Chiếc sub bạn làm nhanh nhất từ trước đến giờ để chạy kịp deadline bản thân tự đặt.

Đại từ nhân xưng có thể chưa chính xác vì có vài chỗ tớ không rõ nhân vật đang nói chuyện với ai.

Nếu không xem được link Youtube (bạn Joel vừa thấy copyright claim gì đó), bạn có thể vào link dưới đây để xem:

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Còn đây là trailer mùa 1 nếu ai đó muốn xem lại:

7 + 1 lý do bạn nên xem The Umbrella Academy

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(Hình ảnh lấy từ nhiều nguồn, chủ yếu là Google và Tumblr)

Lại là bạn Joel cùng những bài bình luận tán nhảm kiêm quảng bá phim không công của bạn ấy. Dạo này bạn ấy trở lại với thú vui dịch và ghép phụ đề đã bỏ quên mấy năm nay và động lực để bạn ấy mò mẫm cách ghép + chỉnh font… (vì quên sạch cả rồi *icon cá mập đớp sóng*), sau đó mòn mông canh chỉnh từng một phần mấy giây chính là bộ phim The Umbrella Academy (gọi tắt: TUA) nói chung và bạn trẻ Số 4 (Klaus Hargreeves) nói riêng. Nhân vừa làm xong phụ đề cho trailer mùa 1 trong lúc chờ đoàn làm phim tung trailer mùa 2 (khán giả lẫn diễn viên đều kêu gào đòi trailer mà mãi chưa thấy tăm hơi *icon pacman*), bạn viết ít dòng giới thiệu series kỳ cục này với những ai ghé blog nhằm kiếm đồng minh cùng hype và bàn luận cho vui ấy mà.

Warnings: ngôn ngữ không đứng đắn, xen hai, ba thứ tiếng, bình luận hoàn toàn chủ quan, cố gắng không spoil nhưng kiểu gì cũng spoil, có xu hướng lan man — nói chung là những yếu tố thường thấy trong review phim không nghiêm túc của bạn Joel

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Trước khi đi vào các lý do nên xem TUA thì ta có tóm tắt ngắn gọn như thường lệ. Vào ngày 1 tháng 10 năm 1989, 43 phụ nữ trên khắp thế giới đồng loạt sinh con. Có thể bạn sẽ hỏi, vậy thì có gì đáng nói? Mỗi ngày hàng trăm ngàn đứa trẻ ra đời, tính ra mỗi phút cũng phải vài chục đứa. Cái lạ ở đây là không người nào đang mang thai cả, kiểu mấy phút trước đang yên đang lành uống cà phê tán dóc với bạn bè hay xem tivi thì mấy phút sau tự nhiên trong bụng xuất hiện cái thai 9 tháng 10 ngày. Kinh dị chưa? Không biết các bạn thấy sao chứ tớ rùng hết cả mình rồi. Không, TUA không phải phim kinh dị, thật đấy. Một vị tỷ phú da trắng nói giọng Anh sang chảnh không-phải-họ-Xavier nhận nuôi 7 trong số những đứa trẻ ra đời theo cách quái dị này để đào tạo thành đội siêu anh hùng bởi, không có gì ngạc nhiên, mấy nhóc tỳ đây có siêu năng lực (chúng không phải mutant, tớ khẳng định). Đám trẻ lớn lên, nhiều chuyện xảy ra (mà tớ sẽ không spoil) rồi mỗi đứa một ngả. Năm 2019, chúng tụ lại dưới mái nhà xưa để dự đám tang người cha già kính yêu và để ngăn tận thế sắp xảy ra (chủ yếu là tận thế thôi).

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Đây là trailer mùa 1 tớ dịch và làm sub (và mừng quá YouTube gỡ xuống).

Tiếp theo là 7 + 1 lý do bạn nên xem TUA.

1. Soundtrack. Những phim Âu-Mỹ nhiều tập bạn Joel xem được từ trước đến giờ đại khái có thể chia làm hai loại: một loại có soundtrack với những bài hát được sáng tác riêng cho phim (ví dụ: Galavant — đây là thể loại nhạc kịch btw) còn một loại lồng những bài hát có sẵn vào phân đoạn (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals). Bạn Joel thích cả hai thể loại vì kiểu gì list nhạc của bạn cũng tăng lên kha khá sau mỗi phim. TUA rơi vào thể loại thứ hai và soundtrack của mùa 1 được đa số khán giả đánh giá là “đỉnh không phải chỉnh”. Bạn sẽ không đi ngược lại ý kiến số đông trong trường hợp này vì từ lúc xem TUA, bạn thu được không ít tựa bài mới để cho vào list nhạc, trong đó phải kể đến I Think We’re Alone Now (các anh chị em nhảy theo điệu nhạc ở tập 1); Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (Five hạ gục các sát thủ); Mary (Klaus khóc thương cái chết của Dave); Happy Together (ba anh em Klaus, Diego, Luther chạy thoát Hazel và Cha Cha); Blood Like Lemonade (Luther sinh hoạt trong căn nhà trống trải sau khi 6 người còn lại đã ra đi); hay đặc biệt là Phantom of the Opera phiên bản violin để giới thiệu các anh chị em ở đầu phim. Tuy đôi lúc không rõ ý đồ của phim khi dùng một bài hát cho phân cảnh nào đó là gì, ví dụ Blood Like Lemonade — nói về một người đàn ông trả thù những kẻ hại vợ mình và được lồng vào cảnh Luther sinh hoạt(?), nhưng điều này không ảnh hưởng lắm đến việc bạn cảm nhận sự hòa hợp kỳ lạ giữa giai điệu và khung cảnh, mà lồng nhạc cho phim nhiều khi chỉ cần thế thôi, phải không?

Đoạn này được các diễn viên tái hiện lại để thông báo ngày chiếu mùa hai:

2. Những điểm tương đồng với X-Men. TUA được xếp vào thể loại siêu anh hùng — superhero và nếu phải so sánh thì TUA có nhiều điểm giống với X-Men (bạn Joel đang nói đến X-Men điện ảnh của Fox chứ comic bạn không đọc) hơn các thể loại siêu anh hùng Avengers hay Superman, Batman… Bỏ qua joke về việc Reginald Hargreeves là tỷ phú da trắng nói giọng Anh mở trường dạy trẻ em có năng lực đặc biệt (trường có đúng bảy đứa), TUA đem đến cho khán giả dàn nhân vật chính có siêu năng lực nhưng… siêu bất lực trong cuộc sống; thay vì trở thành siêu anh hùng chống ác nhân cứu thế giới, họ chỉ là những kẻ khó hoà nhập xã hội, những kẻ ‘bên lề’: Luther vụng về trong giao tiếp, không có mối quan hệ nào ngoài các anh, chị, em; Diego sống cuộc sống bấp bênh, tạm bợ nhưng mỗi tối đều đeo mặt nạ đi làm Batman; cuộc sống và sự nghiệp của Allison đều xây dựng trên sự giả dối; Klaus nghiện ngập, không nơi ở, không nghề nghiệp; Vanya sống khép kín, không bạn không bè; Five và Ben… thôi khỏi nói đến thì hơn. Một điểm tương đồng nữa với X-Men là những nhân vật của TUA gặp không ít khó khăn với siêu năng lực của mình và nỗ lực kiểm soát sức mạnh không phải lúc nào cũng thành công. Một trong những twist lớn nhất của mùa 1 TUA gợi khán giả nhớ đến ‘Hai Phượng’ hay Dark Phoenix (cả hai phiên bản), đặc biệt khi diễn viên thủ vai nhân vật ở trung tâm twist có góp mặt trong X-Men: The Last StandX-Men: Days of Future Past (là ai thì bạn xem trailer hay poster là nhận ra ngay rồi). Bên cạnh đó, với việc plot mùa 2 là bảy anh chị em đi ngược về thập niên 60 tìm cách sửa chữa tương lai, bạn Joel hơi ngạc nhiên khi chưa thấy ai trong fandom gọi đùa TUADays of Future Past. Mà thật chứ, crossover TUA với X-Men nó lại chẳng hợp lý đến lạ.

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3. Family drama. Tất cả đều là family drama. Nếu bên trên tớ vừa nói nếu bạn thích X-Men, bạn sẽ thích TUA vì những nét tương đồng giữa hai franchise thì ở mục này tớ sẽ nói nếu bạn thích series The Originals của đài CW (đã có một bài 6 + 1 lý do nên xem The Originalsđây), khả năng cao là bạn cũng sẽ thích TUA. Giữa một phim siêu nhiên (supernatural) và một phim siêu anh hùng (superhero) có điểm chung gì, có thể bạn sẽ hỏi. Vậy tớ xin phép trả lời: đó là family drama. Một sự thật dễ thấy sau khi xem cả hai phim là gia đình Mikaelson (The Originals) và gia đình Hargreeves (TUA) giống nhau đến kỳ lạ: từ người cha lạnh lùng, khắc nghiệt với con cái (Mikael và Reginald), người mẹ ‘không bình thường’ (Esther, phù thủy và Grace, người máy) đến bảy anh chị em gồm năm trai hai gái, trong đó người thứ tư tên Klaus (thiệt luôn?!) và một người đã chết (Henryk và Ben) mà cái chết của người đó là bước ngoặt lớn với gia đình. Bề ngoài đã giống, bên trong càng giống hơn khi sự khắc nghiệt, bạo hành từ người cha là nguyên nhân chính gây ra các vấn đề tâm lý (sang chấn tâm lý) cho những đứa con và định hình con người chúng lúc trưởng thành cũng như cách chúng phản ứng và xử lý khi vấn đề xảy ra. Không có gì ngạc nhiên khi chuỗi drama trong phim đều diễn ra chủ yếu do các hành động — đôi khi rất đi vào lòng đất — của các anh chị em thuộc hai gia đình Mikaelson và Hargreeves (nhờ vậy ta mới có phim xem, nhỉ?).

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Một bên là phim siêu nhiên, một bên là phim siêu anh hùng nhưng cốt lõi cả hai đều là drama gia đình, đặc biệt ‘thích hợp’ cho cả gia đình cùng xem (nhưng chừa trẻ dưới 16 tuổi ra nhé).

4. Đề cao tình gia đình. Một nét tương đồng lớn nữa giữa các anh chị em Mikaelson và các anh chị em Hargreeves là tình cảm sâu đậm họ dành cho nhau. Những ai đã xem The Originals đều biết câu “Family above all” ngắn gọn súc tích nhưng tóm tắt chính xác mối quan hệ giữa những đứa con nhà Mikaelson. Tuy anh chị em Hargreeves chưa có câu nào như “Family above all”, cũng không có drama cả ngàn năm (theo nghĩa đen) để thắt chặt tình cảm, thậm chí còn không chung dòng máu nhưng tình cảm giữa họ không thua kém gia đình ma cà rồng kia. Họ có thể giết người vì nhau, cũng có thể giết nhau (ờ thì cả hai gia đình đều extreme mà) bởi ngoài nhau ra, họ gần như không còn mối quan hệ nào khác. Đây là một điều đáng buồn và chắc chắn không heo-thỳ cho lắm nhưng chính nó khiến cho phim trở nên thú vị hơn nhiều: thay vì romance (hết sức thiếu thốn *icon cá mập đớp sóng*) thì khán giả sẽ enjoy những khoảnh khắc bonding quý giá và đáng yêu giữa các anh chị em nhà này.

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5. Diversity. Trong thời buổi đề cao diversity — sự đa dạng, phim ảnh nói riêng và các sản phẩm văn hoá đại chúng nói chung của Âu Mỹ đều cố gắng đưa đến cho khán giả một dàn nhân vật đa dạng về chủng tộc, văn hoá, giới tính và tính hướng. Để ý một chút, bạn sẽ thấy đa số sản phẩm bản gốc Âu Mỹ của Netflix đều cố gắng thực hiện điều này. Là một sản phẩm gắn nhãn ‘Netflix original’, TUA không nằm ngoài xu hướng đó. Phim có thể tự hào với tính đa dạng của mình với dàn nhân vật chính tương đối đa sắc tộc, chưa kể trong đó có một người được xác nhận (bởi diễn viên thủ vai) là pansexual và “không bị giới hạn bởi các quy chuẩn về nam tính hay nữ tính”. So với dàn nhân vật chính ‘trắng bóc’ và chắc là ‘thẳng tưng’ trong nguyên tác comic thì sự thay đổi này là một pha xử lý rất đi vào lòng người của đoàn làm phim.

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6. Dàn diễn viên. TUA có được dàn diễn viên từ chính đến phụ ‘chắc tay’, mỗi người đều hoàn thành rất tốt vai diễn của mình, từ đó góp phần vào thành công của phim. Trong đó nổi bật là Robert Sheehan (Klaus Hargreeves) và Aidan Gallagher (Số Năm/Five Hargreeves). Nói về Robert trước. Klaus là nhân vật không dễ (dàn chính chắc chẳng nhân vật nào dễ đâu nhỉ) vì đây là kiểu nhân vật chịu đủ giày vò, trong lòng tan nát nhưng vẫn có thể pha trò chọc cười người khác (và khán giả) được. Robert thể hiện xuất sắc cả hai mặt này: khi Klaus tấu hài, khán giả không nhịn được cười vì những câu thoại ‘thần kinh hết phần thiên hạ’ nghe đâu phần lớn là Robert ứng khẩu, phối hợp cùng giọng điệu đôi lúc cực kỳ ba chấm — bạn nên xem tiếng gốc chứ đừng bật chế độ lồng tiếng của Netflix; bạn Joel đã thử và giọng dub Nhật không thể bằng giọng của Robert. Trái lại, khi Klaus nằm co quắp trên vỉa hè khóc, bạn đã nhói lòng và chắc nhiều khán giả cũng chung cảm nhận. Không phải ngẫu nhiên Klaus/Dave là cặp cực kỳ được yêu thích trong fandom dù Dave lên sóng được… vài phút; đó hoàn toàn do Robert diễn ra được tình yêu sâu đậm mà Klaus dành cho Dave. Tiếp theo phải nói đến Aidan. Số Năm/Five là một vai vừa nặng ký vừa khó vì đây là một người sắp 60 trong thân xác một nhóc 13 tuổi (gần giống trường hợp Conan ấy), không những là người cao tuổi mà còn là người cao tuổi bị vùi dập không ít nên dù chưa đến mức hận đời vô đối nhưng cũng nhìn đời bằng cặp kính xám xịt và vô cùng dễ quạu. Và Aidan diễn tốt đến nỗi khi nhóc nạt các anh em (chừa hai chị em gái ra chứ con trai là lãnh đủ), bạn quên mất Aidan mới 15 mà có cảm giác Five thực sự gấp đôi tuổi đối tượng bị nạt.

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7. Sự hài hước. Tuy không thiếu những chi tiết, khoảnh khắc khiến người xem cay mắt cay mũi hay quặn thắt ruột gan nhưng TUA cũng được biết đến là một series rất hài hước. Sự hài hước đến một phần từ việc đoàn làm phim hay lồng những đoạn nhạc sôi động, vui vẻ vào những cảnh đánh đấm, chẳng hạn như bài Happy Together đi cùng cảnh ba anh em Luther, Diego và Klaus chạy trốn hai sát thủ Hazel và Cha Cha. Chẳng rõ có gì “happy together” nhưng nghe giai điệu và nhìn cảnh là thấy buồn cười rồi. Một ví dụ khác là cảnh Diego đánh nhau với Hazel diễn ra trên nền một bài hát vui (mà bạn Joel chưa tra tên), khiến bạn không khỏi liên tưởng đến… Tom & Jerry. Cái hài của phim còn đến từ những câu thoại hết sức ‘thần kinh’ mà như trên có nói, đa số xuất phát từ sự ứng khẩu của Robert, và nếu nhìn kỹ bạn sẽ thấy vẻ mặt nhịn cười vất vả của diễn viên đóng chung. Có lẽ đạo diễn cũng thấy phản ứng đó là bình thường nên giữ luôn lên phim. Quả thật, đến ông cụ hay quạu là Five còn phải nhịn cười trước câu “Em đã kể hai người nghe cái lần em wax lông mông bằng pudding sôcôla chưa? Đau chết đi được á” thốt ra từ miệng Klaus thì khán giả sao không bật cười được?

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7 + 1. Klaus Hargreeves. Nếu được hỏi tại sao tìm đến TUA thì bạn sẽ trả lời là “đờ mờ”, với “đờ mờ” ở đây là “định mệnh”. Định mệnh run rủi bạn nhìn thấy trên Google news một bài phân tích về Ben và sức mạnh của Klaus. Đọc xong, chẳng rõ vì sao bạn bỗng thấy tò mò đến mức bật Netflix lên tìm ngay TUA. Ngay khi thấy Klaus trên trailer cùng câu thoại kinh cmn điển “Nó rất thông thoáng” (“nó” là gì thì bạn xem trailer hiểu liền), tiếp tục chẳng rõ vì sao trong đầu bạn bật lên “That’s it. That’s the one. I want that one”; sau này lên Tumblr, Pinterest… bạn được biết đó là phản ứng chung của nhiều người (lâu lâu được dịp chạy theo số đông cũng vui). Ban đầu bạn đã cho rằng Klaus là một tên thần kinh hài hước và vô tư, là comic relief chủ đạo của phim với vai trò mua vui là chính, những cái khác là thứ yếu. Một mặt thì đúng là như vậy, những phân đoạn hài hước của TUA đến 80% có sự góp mặt của Klaus, nhưng mặt khác, Klaus là một củ hành tây, nhiều lớp và càng bóc càng thấy cay mắt. Như trên đã đề cập, đây là củ hành dù bên trong dập nát cỡ nào thì vẫn nấu được thành món đặc biệt ‘mặn mà’, điều này làm nên nét đặc trưng trong tính cách của Klaus và là một trong nhiều nguyên nhân khiến gã trở thành cục cưng trong fandom — hỏi 10 fan thì hết 7-8 tuyên bố Klaus là fave của họ. Bên cạnh đó, qua tuyến truyện của Klaus, khán giả tiếp cận với một vấn đề tương đối nặng nề: nghiện ngập, và phim thể hiện nó xấu xí và đáng sợ đúng như cách ta thường nghĩ khi nghe đến từ “nghiện ngập”. Chính vì vậy, khán giả dễ dàng đồng cảm với những khó khăn của Klaus và khi hắn cai thuốc ở cuối mùa một, dù quá trình chẳng thiếu đau đớn, vật vã, người xem, dù đang phải chiến đấu với vấn đề tương tự hay không, cũng có được cảm giác thắng lợi và hy vọng.

Hắn có thể thế này:

Hay thế này:

Nhưng cũng có thể thế này:

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Với 7 + 1 lý do nêu trên, không biết tớ có khiến bạn nào ghé qua blog nổi chút hứng thú với series siêu anh hùng nhưng-anh-hùng-không-thấy-toàn-thấy-anh-khùng này không? Ngoài lề tý, bạn Joel rất mừng vì mình kịp hoàn thành bài này trước khi trailer mùa 2 ra mắt (tối nay!), hứa hẹn bùng nổ cỡ nhỏ (mới tung clip Klaus báo có trailer thôi mà fandom chộn rộn hết cả lên rồi). Trailer ra thì bạn lại cuốn vào vòng xoáy dịch sub-làm sub, còn thời gian đâu mà viết bài nữa?!

[Vietsub] Những cảnh hay nhất của Klaus Hargreeves

Không phải lần đầu và chắc không phải lần cuối được phổ cập kiến thức lịch sử-địa lý Việt Nam khi xem phim Mỹ. “A Shau Valley” là “Thung lũng A Sầu” thì biết rồi (vì được phổ cập ngay lúc xem) nhưng “Mountain of the crouching beast” thì chưa nghe bao giờ; hóa ra đây là cách người Mỹ gọi Đồi A Bia (tỉnh Thừa Thiên Huế, giáp biên giới Lào).

Làm phụ đề cho vid này mới nhận ra là nếu cắt một số cảnh của Klaus rồi ghép lại trong một vid thì có cảm giác đây là 3-4 bộ phim khác nhau chứ không phải một phim.

Khúc đầu: sitcom hài bựa

Khúc giữa 1: hành động-ly kỳ

Khúc giữa 2: bi kịch tình yêu thời chiến

Khúc cuối: hành động-hài

Cuối cùng, cảnh hay của Klaus nhiều lắm, cắt hết ra chắc được cả tập phim chứ không chỉ gói gọn trong 7 phút hơn.

Tên vid: Klaus’s Best Moments

Phim: The Umbrella Academy

*Đây là vid quảng bá phim chứ không phải phim. Bạn không upload lên Youtube được nên đành để link đỡ vậy.

LINKS:

Streamable

Veoh

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Joachim x Hector) (6)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

Pairing(s): Joachim Armster x Hector, implied Walter Bernhard x Joachim Armster

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

Characters: Joachim Armster (Lament of Innocence), Hector, Dracula, Isaac, Carmilla, Godbrand

Warnings: sexual content, blood drinking, swearing, ratings may change, Joachim is a little… unhinged

Summary:

What if Joachim Armster had survived the events of Lament of Innocence and was now a member of Dracula’s war council? And he had his eyes on a certain Devil Forgemaster with silver hair.


Joachim crossed his legs, threw a playful wink at Dracula when the vampire lord arched an eyebrow in the mildest expression of amusement, and watched the bottle filling his goblet.

Dracula hadn’t uttered a word of disapproval, so Joachim had gone ahead and helped himself to this decades-old vintage which he had developed a taste for.

Perhaps after this trip, he would start making use of Walter’s massive old cellar. The young ones would appreciate it, no doubt.

“If I were you,” Joachim began, gently swirling the goblet in his hand, “Carmilla would be short of a head now.” He took a small sip, allowing the taste to soak through the inside of his mouth. If there was one thing he was eternally grateful for, it was that vampirism had not robbed him off his ability to savor anything other than blood. “Along with a couple limbs.”

“You sound much similar to Walter Bernhard, his true protégé,” Dracula said flatly. “There is a perfect armchair over there in case you have grown tired of being groundless.”

“Perhaps I have enjoyed the flighty feeling too much to settle down. I could, however, if it puts the mighty Dracula at ease to have a face-to-face conversation.”

“You seems to be in a jovial mood today while you usually throws a fit whenever the red-haired devil is mentioned. Has something happened?”

Joachim briefly recalled how the steamy, soft flesh of the buns had yielded to his teeth. His tongue tasted the earthly sweetness of honey and spices despite the dryness of the wine. “Make no mistake, Dracula,” he said, licking his fangs. “My blood still boils at the mere breath of his name. Nevertheless, I have to admit, albeit grudgingly, the damned bastard’s way has proven effective in maintaining order in my court.”

“Oh? If any poor soul so much as raises their voice in your court, you will tear them limb from limb, or worse, throw them into a dungeon surrounded by waterfalls?”

Joachim scoffed but didn’t rise to his taunt. “That depends on whether they mean to contribute to our collective benefits or shake my authority, which is exactly what Carmilla did a few hours ago.”

He saw Dracula’s frame exhibit the tiniest movement as if he was heaving a worn sigh. “Were you not the one who had inspired her to challenge the authority and seize the rein?”

“Not when said authority was mine,” Joachim said, downing his goblet. He idly tapped his nails against his palm in waiting for his goblet to be refilled. “Ask yourself this question, Dracula, were Carmilla a male vampire, say Godbrand for instance, would her head have already been rolling on the floor the moment she started spouting insults to your wife? Instead she got what? A perfunctory scolding in private.”

“Are you implying that I am an impotent ruler, Joachim?”

His out-of-character drawl sounded almost uncaring despite the obvious edges, hinting at his callous tactician persona. Oh, what Joachim wouldn’t give for more than a glimpse before Dracula reverted to the world-weary vampire sovereign he had come to mildly despise. “I am pointing out your unbalanced treatment towards your generals. If I had not known better, I might have suspected a clandestine affair between you and her.”

That prompted a surprising snort from Dracula. “What about your unbalanced treatment towards my generals?”

Joachim smiled against the gold-plated rim of his goblet. So he had observed, which meant he was not as utterly void as he seemed. “Am I hearing any complaints?” Joachim asked, leaning back slightly the way he would in a chair if he was sitting on one. “As far as I can tell, the subject of my attention has not deemed it a harassment.”

“He has not so far,” Dracula confirmed. “Still, I should remind you not to cross the line and maltreat the boy.”

“It depends on where the line is drawn and I surmise that he can take more than you have given him credit for.” A beat. “That aside, we are not here to discuss the banal subject of your generals’ treatment, are we? Forgive me. I was overwhelmed with joy upon receiving your summon that I did not stop to fathom the reason.”

“I do not think your penchant for drama will ever cease to amaze me. I have a favor to ask of you.”

“I just love it when you get straight to the point,” Joachim replied with a hint of sarcasm.

“You do not love, Joachim. That much I know.”

Joachim shrugged. “So, what is it that the great Dracula needs my hand for? My expertise lies in decapitating and pulverizing, just a friendly reminder.”

“Isaac reported that one of his creatures had returned, mortally wounded. A horde had been sent to the area that is only a few miles from Gresit, and Gresit is where I last heard of Adrian.”

“Adrian?”

Adrian in Joachim’s memory was a shy, tiny bat who had hidden behind his father’s cloak and yet had sneaked a peek at the floating stranger every now and then out of curiosity. Although he wasn’t particularly fond of children, vampire blood notwithstanding, Joachim surprised even himself with an unexpected sliver of warmth at the mention of his name.

“Ah, the little tail that attached to my backside and were constantly nagging me about my swords during my extended stay hundreds moons ago. Not so little now, I suppose, which begs the question why I have not seen him here, leading the vanguard to avenge his mother.”

For the first time since his arrival, Joachim had detected the wavering in Dracula’s voice. “He… had vehemently opposed to the extinction of humanity and in my blind rage I almost killed him,” sounding inhumanly exhausted.

Joachim withheld his immediate response out of courtesy rather than the lack of one. He could be courteous when it needed — the savage years in the dungeon had mercifully not robbed him of his high upbringing — and right now a moment of silence was in order.

“Which one of us is Walter’s true protégé now?” he asked once the moment had passed, his tone casual yet biting, and punctuated with a barely-there curve of his thin lips.

Dracula got no response to that as he contemplated the flame in the fireplace with unmoving eyes, seemingly entranced by its writhing motion. Meanwhile Joachim took pleasure in studying the shadows morphing and dancing on his face, twisting his features and in a blink-and-you-miss-it Walter was there, sitting in his lone throne and brooding about the next escapade to alleviate his pathological ennui. It was astonishing how much of Walter had retained in Dracula, and Joachim never doubted he had tried but they both knew there was no ridding of the bastard’s residues from their lives.

Time seemed to pass differently when one was lost in thoughts, because it felt like an hour had gone by whereas it might been just a few seconds. “Adrian wasn’t alone,” Dracula said. “There is clear evidence suggesting that he was with a Belmont plus a magician and it appears they were working together.”

“A Belmont and a vampire together, how iconic,” Joachim exclaimed, gripping the stem of his goblet in a rush of exhilaration. “The last time I heard, the Belmonts had been no more, but I suppose both you and I and the rest of the vampire race would be eradicated first before his bloodline was truly extinct.”

“That is the favor I want to ask. I need not the Belmont and the magician to interfere in our final confrontation.”

“Keeping it a family business,” Joachim commented. “You are asking me to risk my own life. I think some reconsideration is in order.”

“We both know for certain nothing in the Belmont’s blessed arsenal would ever harm you thanks to Leon’s blood in your veins.”

“There are more ways to kill a vampire than a blessed weapon. A mundane wooden stake would do.”

“You would not allow a mundane, wooden stake to be your end, would you, after all you have been through?”

Joachim chuckled dryly. “I am flattered you hold me in such high regards but this is a Belmont we are talking about. The other end of my deal with Leon ensures that I will never harm his blood.”

“I ask you to keep them from intervening, not kill them. You are the only vampire I trust is capable of such.”

“In other words, since you are here, make yourself useful,” Joachim concluded, throwing his head back, laughing. The bottle and mostly empty goblet vibrated under his influence.

“Consider it a compensation for stealing one of my prized generals.”

Joachim’s cackles died out but their after-effect lingered in his tone. “I agree on one condition that you tell me about your deal with Hector, how you pulled such a soft creature into your sway, so that I can steer clear of any blunders.”

Joachim wasn’t entirely confident his demand would be met, and if it indeed wouldn’t, he would see it as a mild hindrance than a huge loss on his part; all he needed was some alterations to his strategy.

“Fine,” came Dracula’s breathy reply and that was it. Only now did it occur to Joachim what Dracula had desperately needed was an outlet to release some of his darkness — not a confidant whom he entrusted his secrets but a bottomless well that wouldn’t echo it back at him. There was so much a vampire could stomach before it devoured him from the inside, and who would be better up for the job than a fellow creature of the night whose darkness rivaled his own?

And so Joachim poured himself some more wine and did what he didn’t mind once in a while: he listened.

“Now I know what not to do with Hector,” he remarked at the end of their discussion — was it? The bottle was drained and its dry taste had fanned a different kind of thirst in the vampire’s throat. “Our deal stands, as a token of my gratitude. You have my word.”

He then made to ‘stand’, twirling his forefinger to return the bottle and goblet to the shelf.

“Good to know there is one vampire’s word I can put some trust in.”

Joachim gave no reply as he floated to the door, a faint smile curling his lips.

To be continued

[Vietsub] Bộc bạch của một siêu anh hùng về vườn (Klaus Hargreeves)

Lâu rồi bạn mới làm lại phụ đề và f*ck. Dịch hết 5 phút, ghép phụ đề hết… nhiều tiếng, cơ bản vì quên xừ hết cách làm phụ đề rồi, phải mò lại từ đầu (và vẫn chưa chỉnh được font như ý 🙂 ). Hận thể loại vid để phụ đề sẵn vì kẻ theo chủ nghĩa hoàn mỹ là bạn sẽ cố gắng chỉnh phụ đề cho khớp thời gian (và mất thêm nhiều thời gian :v).

Tên vid: Confessions of an Ex-Superhero (Klaus Hargreeves)

Phim: The Umbrella Academy

*Đây là vid quảng bá phim chứ không phải phim

Nếu bạn không xem được vid thì khả năng cao là nó đã bị gỡ xuống vì vi phạm bản quyền. Trong trường hợp đó bạn có thể xem bằng link dưới đây.

LINKS:

Streamable

Veoh

7 + 1 lý do bạn nên xem Brooklyn Nine-Nine

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(Hình ảnh lấy từ nhiều nguồn, chủ yếu là Google)

Bạn Joel đã trở lại với mảng 6 + 1 quen thuộc lâu thật lâu mới ra một bài mới, lý do muôn thuở vẫn là bạn lười quá lười, chút siêng năng đào bới được đều dành hết vào việc viết fic tình trai *icon cá mập đớp sóng*. Nhân vừa xong một chương của chiếc fic Hector x Joachim (Castlevania), bạn đổi gió một chút bằng cách thực hiện lời hứa tự đặt cho bản thân sau khi cày hết 7 mùa Brooklyn Nine-Nine (gọi tắt: B-99), vì vậy bài này ra đời.

Warnings: ngôn ngữ không đứng đắn (ha, nói về sitcom mà dùng ngôn ngữ đứng đắn là bạn thua rồi), xen hai, ba thứ tiếng, bình luận hoàn toàn chủ quan, cố gắng không spoil nhưng kiểu gì cũng spoil thôi, có xu hướng lan man — nói chung là những yếu tố thường thấy trong review phim không nghiêm túc của bạn Joel

(Đấy, có mỗi warning thôi đã thấy lan man dài dòng rồi.)

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Trước phần lý do thường là tóm tắt sơ sơ nội dung để bạn ghé blog biết tớ đang ‘quảng cáo’ cái gì, tuy nhiên B-99 là ngoại lệ, cơ bản vì tớ không biết tóm tắt một sitcom thế nào ngoài cho biết phim là những tình huống kỳ cục hài hước (đôi khi điên rồ) diễn ra giữa một nhóm cảnh sát tại đồn Brooklyn số 99 thuộc sở cảnh sát New York (vì vậy phim mới có tên Brooklyn Nine-Nine). Mỗi tập khá ngắn — khoảng 22 phút, đưa ra hai, ba tình huống và các tình huống này thường được giải quyết dứt điểm trong thời lượng của tập, ít khi kéo dài đến tập sau (nhưng khi kéo thì kéo hẳn sang mùa sau *icon cá mập đớp sóng*). Bạn có thấy chút hứng thú nào với giới thiệu này không? Nếu có thì mời bạn đến với 7 + 1 lý do bạn nên xem B-99, hay ít ra là cho series này một cơ hội xem xem nó giữ được chân bạn như nó đã làm với tớ hay không.

1. Yếu tố hài hước. Nói đến sitcom là phải nói đến yếu tố hài hước trước tiên. Bạn Joel vốn không xem nhiều sitcom, lúc trước còn xem được vài show trên kênh Disney như Hannah Montana, Zack & Cody… (có ai thấy mình già rồi không?), tất nhiên là chưa xem các sitcom kinh điển như Friends, The Office… — phần vì lười, phần vì số bạn toàn vơ phải các series drama hành nhau lên bờ xuống ruộng *icon pacman*. Vì lẽ đó, bạn không chắc mình đủ khả năng nhận xét thế nào là một sitcom hay; bạn chỉ biết B-99 đã cho bạn những tràng cười sảng khoái, phần nào đẩy lùi những cơn đến với tần suất dày đặc trong thời gian bạn thất nghiệp tạm thời vì dịch. Chất hài của B-99 gợi bạn nhớ đến chất hài của Mel Brooks (ai chưa biết cụ thì Google nhé, phim của cụ chất vô cùng) và chất hài trong Galavant (một phim rất hay nhưng cực kỳ underrated): đó là chất hài thanh lịch, không dùng đến những chi tiết tục tĩu, phản cảm để gây cười (nhiều khi cười không nổi — bạn Joel đã gặp không ít trường hợp như vậy); thay vào đó, phim sử dụng tình huống, lời thoại, chơi chữ cùng lối diễn duyên dáng của dàn diễn viên để tạo cho mình một thương hiệu hài có chỗ đứng vững chãi trong lòng khán giả — đã đi qua 7 mùa và đang thực hiện mùa 8.

(Đây là mộ trong những cold open (tình huống ngắn, hài hước trước khi vào nội dung chính) nổi tiếng nhất của B-99, được parody lại không ít, thậm chí có cả phiên bản Animal Crossing.)

2. Mỏ meme dồi dào. Bạn Joel hay dạo Tumblr, nhờ đó thường bắt gặp các bức ảnh chế của nhiều fandom (có lạ có quen). Không ít lần bạn thấy những ảnh có nội dung giống nhau, kiểu như câu cú, từ ngữ giống, chỉ thay đổi vài chi tiết cho phù hợp với fandom. Lúc đó bạn đã tò mò và tự hỏi các bạn chế ảnh đã dùng tình tiết, lời thoại của phim nào, cũng như phim đó nổi cỡ nào mà được chế meme nhiều như vậy. Tất cả đều được trả lời khi bạn xem B-99 và gặp lại phiên bản gốc của những bức ảnh chế quen thuộc, đồng thời bạn phát hiện B-99 là nguồn cảm hứng tràn trề để các netizen chế meme cho fandom nhờ các câu thoại hài hước, chất như nước cất, đi vào lòng người đến từ đội ngũ sáng tạo của phim. Bạn biết câu “Tôi mới có ___ (điền tên) được một ngày rưỡi nhưng nếu có chuyện gì xảy ra với ___, tôi sẽ giết hết những người trong phòng này rồi tự tử” không? Nó đến từ B-99 đấy.

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Một chiếc meme của The Umbrella Academy lấy cảm hứng từ B-99

3. Cực kỳ binge-watchable. Như trên đã nói, mỗi tập B-99 chỉ khoảng 22 phút, giải quyết gọn gàng những tình huống được đặt ra. Với format như vậy, khán giả hoàn toàn không thấy mệt mỏi dù xem liền tù tì cả chục tập; xem mệt rồi hay bận việc thì có thể tắt đi để lúc khác xem tiếp mà không có cảm giác bứt rứt như khi xem các phim có thời lượng 45-50 hay 60 phút có diễn biến liên tục. Vì vậy, B-99 là lựa chọn cực kỳ thích hợp khi bạn muốn được thư giãn và giải trí sau một ngày hay một tuần làm việc căng thẳng.

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4. Ngôn ngữ. Bạn Joel may mắn xem được B-99 bằng ngôn ngữ gốc, nhờ vậy bạn cảm nhận gần như trọn vẹn cái tinh tế trong lời thoại của phim. Có thể nói ngôn ngữ đóng vai trò không nhỏ tạo nên cái hài của B-99, từ cách dùng từ đặc trưng của từng nhân vật đến cách chơi chữ khiến bạn Joel một bên cười hả hê một bên nhăn mặt nhíu mày nghĩ xem phải dịch thế nào để vừa dễ hiểu vừa không mất đi cái hài của nó (bệnh nghề nghiệp ấy mà). Bên cạnh đó, B-99 còn có một số biệt ngũ mà fan sử dụng để nhận ra nhau trên mạng xã hội rộng lớn: thay vì nói “nice, tight, smart”, fan B-99 sẽ nói “noice, toit, smort”. Nếu bạn thấy ai dùng những từ như vậy thì khả năng cao là bạn tìm thấy ‘đồng đạo’ rồi đấy.

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5. Dàn nhân vật duyên dáng, đáng yêu. Trung tâm của B-99 là dàn cảnh sát cộng nhân viên làm việc ở đồn với mỗi người có cá tính (lẫn thói tật) riêng, không ai lẫn với ai: đồn trưởng Holt nghiêm túc đến mức viết tin nhắn cũng phải mở đầu bằng “Dear” và kết thúc bằng “Sincerely”; Amy theo chủ nghĩa hoàn hảo tuyệt đối; Rosa bí ẩn ngầu lòi; Gina hay móc mỉa bằng những câu chất chơi và đầy tính meme; Jake trẻ con tếu táo và là fan cuồng Die Hard; Terry bự con nhưng dịu dàng và cuồng sữa chua (plz đừng nghĩ bậy) hay Boyle hễ mở miệng là khiến người ta tròn mắt vì câu gợi nghĩa +18. Mỗi nhân vật đều được kịch bản dành cho cơ hội phát triển, khiến họ trở nên đa diện và có chiều sâu chứ không đơn thuần là những stereotype một màu, hời hợt để chọc cười nhưng rồi chẳng đọng lại gì trong khán giả. Tuy B-99 là sitcom nhưng suốt chiều dài 7 mùa, phim có không ít những khoảnh khắc lắng đọng của các nhân vật, cho thấy những trăn trở mà họ phải đối diện, từ đó giúp khán giả hiểu và đồng cảm với họ. Bạn Joel mạnh dạn khẳng định B-99 là một trong số ít phim mà bạn không ghét bỏ bất cứ nhân vật nào và sự ra đi của người nào cũng đều là mất mát lớn đối với phim.

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6. Dàn diễn viên ‘cứng tay’, hài hoà. Có kịch bản hay, nhân vật thú vị mới làm nên 50% cái hay của phim, phần còn lại phải nhờ vào dàn diễn viên bởi họ là người thể hiện nhân vật trên màn ảnh, lấy diễn xuất của mình đắp nặn da thịt và thổi hồn vào nhân vật có cốt là những con chữ trong kịch bản. Chọn được dàn diễn viên tài năng là một thành công của B-99, và mỗi người đều thể hiện trọn vẹn nhân vật mà mình được giao. Bên cạnh đó, qua 7 năm đồng hành cùng phim, mỗi diễn viên dường như đã quen thuộc với nhân vật mình đóng, nhờ đó họ hoà mình vào vai diễn một cách rất tự nhiên. Có thể nói họ chính là nhân vật và nếu một lúc nào đó, họ quyết định rời phim (như trường hợp Chelsea Peretti trong vai Gina) thì nhân vật đó sẽ rời khỏi kịch bản luôn chứ không có chuyện recast bởi lẽ chẳng diễn viên nào, dù tài năng đến đâu, có thể thay thế hình tượng đã in sâu vào lòng khán giả.

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7. Những tình tiết cảm động. B-99 là phim hài, chuyện đó không phải nghi ngờ, tuy nhiên điều đó không đồng nghĩa phim không có những tình tiết sâu lắng, buộc người xem phải dừng lại và suy ngẫm. Đó là vấn đề về tâm lý mà Jake gặp phải khi bị người cha thiếu trách nhiệm bỏ rơi; là những băn khoăn, trăn trở không biết bản thân có thể làm một người cha tốt cho cậu con nuôi Nicolaj của Boyle; là nỗi lo không được gia đình chấp nhận khi Rosa come out là bisexual; là những khó khăn Đồn trưởng Holt đã phải vượt qua khi ông là một cảnh sát da đen đồng tính trong quá trình vươn lên thành một đồn trưởng; là câu chuyện về quấy rối tình dục và phân biệt giới tính Amy gặp phải trong một tập phim; hay tình huống kỳ thị người da đen xoay quanh Terry tương đồng một cách đáng sợ với làn sóng Black Lives Matter đang diễn ra tại Mỹ trong thời gian này. Tất cả đều được thể hiện và xử lý một cách vô cùng khéo léo và tế nhị, đem lại cho khán giả những bài học sâu sắc nhưng không hề triết lý, giáo điều.

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7 + 1. B-99 là một gia đình. Không từ nào khác phù hợp hơn “gia đình” để diễn tả mối quan hệ giữa những thành viên của đồn Brooklyn 99 trực thuộc sở cảnh sát New York. Giữa họ có nhiều khác biệt và họ có thể cãi vã hay hục hặc nhau vì đủ thứ chuyện vặt vãnh (vậy mới có tình huống để khán giả xem và cười chứ) nhưng một khi xảy ra vấn đề hay gặp phải khó khăn, họ luôn have each other’s back và cùng nhau vượt qua như một gia đình, và điều này được nhấn mạnh suốt 7 mùa đã qua. Chứng kiến những người đồng nghiệp tạo nên một mối quan hệ khắng khít, ủng hộ, động viên lẫn nhau cho khán giả cảm giác ấm áp và hy vọng trong xã hội hiện đại mà chúng ta đang sống, nơi con người ngày càng xa cách và khó tìm được những mối liên kết với nhau.

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Với 7 + 1 lý do nêu trên, B-99 là một series rất đáng để bạn dành thời gian xem và tớ nhiệt liệt đề cử với bất cứ ai ghé qua blog. Bên cạnh đó, 6 mùa đầu đã có mặt trên Netflix nên bạn nào có sử dụng dịch vụ thì càng tiện.

Bi kịch của Số 6 (Ben Hargreeves)

(English below)

Bạn thức dậy với cảm giác như mình lại lên cơn (wrong side of the bed, theo cách thành ngữ tiếng Anh nói) và trong khi đang nuốt bữa sáng, đột nhiên bạn muốn chia sẻ chút suy nghĩ và cảm nhận của mình về nhân vật Số 6 (Ben Hargreeves) trong The Umbrella Academy (TUA), và do ý tưởng chạy đến cùng một lượng adrenaline phần nào giúp bạn lết qua ngày nên bắt đầu vậy!

Warnings: spoilers dày đặc với ai chưa xem mùa 1 của TUA

Gần cuối tập đầu tiên của TUA có một đoạn thế này: Số 2 (Diego) và Số 4 (Klaus) đang chạy ôtô. Chỉ có hai người, không còn ai khác. Số 2 đỗ xe, bước ra để diễn một đoạn tự kỷ liên quan đến plot, để Số 4 ở lại một mình. Tự nhiên khán giả thấy có người ngồi ở băng ghế sau cùng hắn. Một thanh niên mặc đồ đen, kéo hoodie phủ kín đầu, trông nhợt nhạt, mệt mỏi như sắp chết và hầu như không phản ứng với mấy câu tán nhảm của Số 4 về việc nên ăn trứng hay bánh quế vì hắn đói meo rồi. Lúc này khán giả không rõ có phải Số 4 đang trao đổi với thanh niên bí ẩn kia hay hắn chỉ mình nói mình nghe, và chuyện này là bình thường vì phim đã cho biết Số 4 nghiện và cả tập hắn đều trong tình trạng phê pha cộng với khuynh hướng nói nhảm. Sau đó, Số 2 tự kỷ xong về xe và thanh niên biến mất đột ngột như khi cậu ta xuất hiện. Nhưng chưa hết, bởi khi máy quay đổi góc, ta lại thấy cậu, vẫn ở chỗ cũ, vẫn trông như sắp chết đến nơi, và điều này cho biết bản chất cậu là gì, trong trường hợp nãy giờ bạn chưa đoán ra. Yếu tố hù doạ ngưng tại đây vì TUA không phải phim kinh dị, khán giả nhanh chóng được biết thanh niên kia là hồn ma của Số 6, cậu em đã qua đời của Số 2 và Số 4. Nãy giờ Số 4, phiên bản người lớn nghiện ngập hỏng bét của cậu nhóc trong phim The Sixth Sense — Giác quan thứ sáu (có ai biết chiếc meme “I can see dead people” không?), thật ra đang nói chuyện với em trai chứ không phải lên cơn mê sảng.

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Tình tiết Số 6 aka Ben Hargreeves chết rồi không phải plot twist gì, cậu đã chết nhiều năm trước khi câu chuyện trong phim bắt đầu và nguyên mùa 1 TUA cậu là người em trai/người bạn đã chết/tưởng tượng (hẳn tớ nên bỏ hết mấy dấu này đi và gọi ‘bạn ma’ cho nhanh gọn) của Số 4. Do cậu bị gắn dính với Số 4 vì lý do nào đó chưa rõ nên thời lượng của cậu hoàn toàn phụ thuộc vào việc anh cậu tỉnh táo hay không — hoá chất kiềm hãm sức mạnh của Số 4, vậy nên khi hắn phê không biết trời đất, Số 6 khỏi lên sóng luôn. Do ít screentime hơn những người còn lại, Số 6 là một bí ẩn mà những chi tiết ít ỏi về cậu chỉ được rải rác khắp 10 tập mùa 1. Khán giả biết cậu sinh ngày 1 tháng 10 năm 1989 (như các anh chị em cậu cùng 36 đứa trẻ khác trên khắp thế giới bởi đây là premise của show); cậu gốc Đông Á (Trung, Hàn, Nhật, Việt không biết); siêu năng lực của cậu là mấy cái xúc tu như kiểu quái vật của H. P. Lovecraft (người Châu Á, đặc biệt là Nhật Bổn, và mối quan hệ khắng khít với xúc tu ấy mà) và hiển nhiên và dễ hiểu là cậu ghét cái sức mạnh mang màu sắc hentai này lắm; cuối cùng, cái chết của cậu là giọt nước tràn ly khiến gia đình Hargreeves vốn đầy vết nứt chính thức sụp đổ, các anh chị em đường ai nấy đi và chỉ tụ họp lại vào năm 2019 (thời điểm mở đầu phim). Phim chưa làm rõ nguyên nhân Số 6 chết (hy vọng mùa 2 sẽ hé lộ) mà chỉ rải chút hint cho biết cậu chết không dễ coi, cậu chết trẻ và cái chết của cậu liên quan đến mớ xúc tu trong người.

Và từ đó bắt đầu bi kịch của Số 6.

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Trước khi tiếp tục, cho bạn khẳng định rằng bạn không xem nhẹ đau khổ của bất cứ đứa nào trong gia đình này: đứa nào cũng khổ sở trong quá trình lớn lên nhờ bàn tay ‘người cha già kính yêu’ và điều này định hình cuộc sống khi trưởng thành của cả bọn và trở thành nguyên nhân tiềm tàng dẫn đến tận thế (cha mẹ tồi -> tận thế). So sánh ai đau khổ hơn ai là hiểu sai hoàn toàn ý đồ mà phim cố gắng nhấn mạnh, tức hệ quả lâu dài của bạo hành, sang chấn tâm lý khi còn nhỏ và sự giáo dục, dạy bảo sai bét nhè của vị tỷ phú gì cũng biết chỉ không biết nuôi con. Tuy nhiên, trong khi khán giả chứng kiến các nhân vật khác đau khổ thế nào thì bi kịch của Số 6 chỉ được imply vì cậu không nhiều screentime (một điểm nữa mùa 2 cần cải thiện). Một giả thuyết cho rằng cậu mất kiểm soát con quái trong người dẫn đến việc nó xé nát cậu từ trong ra ngoài(!). Giả thuyết này khá có lý vì qua hai lần mấy cái xúc tu được dịp xuất hiện có thể thấy chúng bạo lực và tàn phá đến mức nào, hơn nữa chúng còn khiến Số 6 đau đến mức gào thét (kể cả khi là ma!). Nếu giả thuyết này đúng thì nó sẽ giải thích được vấn đề ngoại hình của Số 6 vốn thỉnh thoảng bị coi là plot hole. Phim có hint rằng cậu chết trẻ (ít nhất là trước 23 tuổi theo flashback của Số 1) nhưng hồn ma của cậu trông cũng ngang ngang tuổi các anh chị em trong nhà (30 tuổi theo timeline mùa 1), trẻ hơn chút chắc vì cậu là người Châu Á. Điều này khá lạ vì ma trong TUA thường giữ hình dạng khi chết — ít nhất trong mắt Số 4 là vậy. Nếu Số 6 bị xúc tu xé nát thì có khả năng Số 4 đã ‘vá’ cậu lại, đồng thời vô thức thay đổi hình dạng để cậu trông lớn hơn tuổi thật (vì nhìn em trai và biết nó sẽ không bao giờ đến được tuổi trưởng thành hẳn rất đau lòng?). Vì hai người không thể chia lìa theo nghĩa đen, phim cũng ngầm cho thấy mức độ sức mạnh của Số 4 ảnh hưởng lên hình dạng Số 6 theo mức nào đó: càng về sau Số 6 trông càng ‘sinh động’, khác hẳn bộ dạng tái nhợt, mệt mỏi, buồn bã như sắp tạ thế ở tập 1.

Càng xem các cảnh của cậu thì bạn Joel càng tin tưởng thật sự Số 6 chết khi cậu mới ngấp nghé ngưỡng cửa trưởng thành, và nhiều trường hợp cho thấy cách nói chuyện và hành vi của cậu khá con nít. Chẳng hạn trong lần đầu cậu hiện ra, Số 4 đã bàn với cậu về chuyện chẳng có gì đáng bàn là nên ăn trứng hay bánh quế; nhìn lại thì dường như đây là cuộc đối thoại thường diễn ra giữa hai anh em và hẳn là cả hai trò chuyện với nhau không ít. Một ví dụ khác là khi Số 4 đang chổng mông bới thùng rác tìm cuốn sổ quý báu của Cha yêu quý thì Số 6 ngồi vắt vẻo trên cầu thang và đề nghị hai đứa đi xem phim hay ra biển chơi bằng cách nói giống như một đứa trẻ đòi anh trai dẫn đi xem phim. Và khó quên nhất là khoảnh khắc “Wheeee” ấn tượng khi Số 6 ngồi trên mũi xe tải bán kem, cầm một que kem trong tay (Số 4 cúng cho cậu chăng?) và reo lên thích thú khi ông anh đạp ga.

Chết trẻ bản thân nó đã là một bi kịch và càng buồn hơn khi Số 6 lại gắn liền với người anh em dễ tổn thương nhất, đồng thời ‘kém lành lặn’ nhất trong 6 anh chị em bởi vì trong 7 đứa trẻ nhà Hargreeves, chỉ Số 4 có mối liên hệ mãnh liệt với cái chết và hồn ma. Có lẽ cậu sẽ bớt đau đớn hơn một chút nếu ở cùng một trong những người còn lại (trừ Số 5 vì Số 5 không tồn tại trong timeline này) thay vì Số 4, người sợ hãi và bị chính năng lực của mình hành hạ đến nỗi hắn tìm đến thuốc và rượu. Mỗi ngày đều phải nhìn hắn mua thuốc, chơi thuốc rồi phê đến độ hắn không nhìn thấy cũng không nói chuyện với cậu. Mỗi ngày đều cố gắng vô ích khuyên hắn dứt ra khỏi cái vòng tự hủy diệt đó rồi lại bị hắn gạt sang một bên. Đó là tra tấn thực sự, như Số 6 bộc bạch trong một cảnh nhói lòng, khi cứ phải nhìn anh mình xem nhẹ mọi thứ mình đã đánh mất. Ẩn đi hoặc biến mất luôn, để Số 4 tự sinh tự diệt hẳn đã dễ dàng cho cậu hơn nhiều, thế nhưng Số 6 vẫn ở lại bên hắn, cùng trải qua những đợt cai nghiện, qua đợt bắt cóc và tra tấn, qua chiến tranh và Dave, làm giọng nói của lý trí, động viên lẫn an ủi khi hắn cần nhất.

Khán giả không đoán được phim có dự định gì cho Số 6 bởi thẳng thắn mà nói thì một hồn ma có thể có tương lai gì? Tuy nhiên, vai trò của cậu đã vượt xa Số 6 trong nguyên tác và đây là tín hiệu khả quan. Vì càng ngày Số 6 càng được góp mặt nhiều hơn trong các sản phẩm quảng bá như poster, đoạn clip nhảy và hình ảnh, bạn Joel có thể tự tin rằng vai trò của cậu được nâng lên và cậu có nhiều đất diễn hơn ở mùa 2. Dẫu sao TUA cũng là phim chú trọng tình cảm gia đình, làm sao bỏ rơi một thành viên trong gia đình đó được, phải không?


 

The Tragic Story of No. 6 (Ben Hargreeves)

I woke up feeling like having an episode (wrong side of the bed probably) and while I was shoving breakfast into my mouth, it suddenly hit me that I should share my thoughts and feelings on the story of No. 6 (Ben Hargreeves) in The Umbrella Academy (TUA for short) and with that came a rush of much-needed adrenaline which kind of got me through the day, so here we go.

Warnings: intense spoilers if you haven’t watched the first season of TUA

There’s a sequence near the end of the pilot of TUA that goes like this: No. 2 (Diego) and No. 4 (Klaus) were driving in a car. Just the two of them, no one else. No. 2 parked, got out to do some plot-related brooding, leaving No. 4 inside alone. Then out of sudden we see someone sitting in the back seat with him. It’s a young man who dresses all in black, with a hoodie over his head, who looks pale and dead-tired and is mostly unresponsive to No. 4’s pointless rant about whether he should have eggs or waffles because he’s hungry. At this point we’re unsure whether No. 4 is actually communicating with the mysterious young man or he’s merely talking to himself, which is quite in-character since it’s been established that No. 4 is a junkie who’s high most of the episode and has a tendency to sprout nonsense. Then, No. 2 comes back from his brooding episode and the young man disappears just as suddenly as when he appeared. That’s not all, though, because when the camera changes angles, he can be seen again, at the same spot and still looking like he’s on the verge of death, which spells out his nature in case you haven’t guessed already. The creep factors end here since TUA isn’t a horror show, and it’s quickly revealed that the young man is the ghost of No. 6, the deceased brother of No. 2 and No. 4, and so No. 4, being the fucked up adult druggie version of the kid in The Sixth Sense (“I can see dead people” memes, anyone?), was just talking to him.

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It’s no plot twist that No. 6 aka Ben Hargreeves is dead, has died several years prior to the story and spends the first season of TUA being the imaginary/dead friend/brother (or I could just omit all the slashes and say ‘ghostly companion’) of No. 4. Since he’s been tethered to No. 4 for some unknown reasons, No. 6’s screen time entirely depends on No. 4’s sobriety — chemical substances dampen his powers so when he’s high as a kite, No. 6 gets no onscreen appearance. As a result of having less screen time than the rest of the cast, No. 6 is an enigma whose scant details have been sparsely sprinkled throughout the season. We learn that he was born on October 1, 1989 (like the rest of his siblings plus 36 other babies because that’s the show’s premise); he was East-Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese?); he had Lovecraftian tentacles as his super powers (the joke about Asians, Japanese especially, and their intimacy with tentacles), which he understandably and reasonably hated; and lastly, his death broke the already fragile Hargreeves household, leading to them go their separate ways and are only united in 2019. The show has yet to shed light on No. 6’s death — which hopefully will be remedied come season 2 — aside from a few hints that it wasn’t pretty, it came when he was quite young and that it had something to do with the tentacle-thingy inside him.

And there it lies the tragic story of No. 6.

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Before we continue, allow me to make it straight that I don’t make light of any Hargreeves sibling’s torments: those kids have all suffered growing up, which has shaped their adult lives and been the underlying force that brings about the literal end of the world (bad parenting -> the Apocalypse); to compare their pains is to entirely miss the point the show has tried so hard to drive home, which is the lasting effects of abuses and childhood traumas and fucked up upbringings. However, while the audience gets to see how the other siblings have suffered, No. 6’s tragedy is much implied due to his limited screen time (another thing to be fixed in season 2). One theory suggests that he lost control of the monstrous creature and consequently, it tore him apart from the inside (nasty!). This is backed by how violent and destructive these tentacles are in two instances they’re shown in the season, and that they’re painful enough to make No. 6 scream (even as a ghost!). If this theory turns out to be true then it offers a good explanation for the dissonance in No. 6’s ghostly appearance which is sometimes considered a plot hole. While it’s hinted that he died young (at least before 23 thanks to No. 1’s flashback), his ghost appears to be around the same age as the rest of his siblings (30 in the first season’s timeline), only slightly younger because Asians, maybe. And this is strange given ghosts in TUA often keep the form they had when they died — at least to No. 4’s perspective. If he had been torn to pieces by the tentacles, there’s a possibility No. 4 might have patched him up and subconsciously altered his appearance so that he looks older than his age at the time of death (because it’s agonizing to look at your brother and know he’ll never be a grownup?). Since the two are literally inseparable, it’s been subtly shown that the levels of No. 4’s powers affect No. 6’s looks to some degree: his getting livelier and more active as the season progresses as opposed to his exhausted, depressed and deadly self in the pilot.

The more I watch his scenes, the more I’m convinced that No. 6 indeed died when he barely reached adulthood, and it is shown in various instances that his speeches and behaviors are quite childish. For example, his very first appearance has No. 4 discussing with him about something as trivial and irrelevant as waffles and eggs and on hindsight, it appears this is a conversation they often have with each other, and they converse with each other a lot. Another instance is when No. 4 is rummaging through the dumpster for Daddy’s precious journal and No. 6 just sits on the stairs and suggests that they go to a movie or the beach in a similar manner to a kid asking his older brother to take him to the movies. And let’s not forget the iconic “Wheeee” moment when No. 6 sits at the head of an ice cream truck, holding a lollipop in his hand (offering made by No. 4?) and letting out an excited noise as his brother speeds up the truck.

So, dying young is in itself a tragedy, and it gets sadder when No. 6 finds himself attached to the most damaged and vulnerable of all his siblings because out of the seven Hargreeves kids, No. 4 is the only one with a strong affiliation with death and the deceased. Perhaps it would have been a little less painful to be with any other sibling (save No. 5 because he isn’t in this timeline) than No. 4, who has been so scared and tortured by his own powers that he has turned to drugs and alcohol. Every day is a repetition of watching him buying pills, consuming them and getting high to the point he no long sees and speaks to him. Every day is a repetition of trying in vain to talk him out of his self-destructive cycle and getting brushed aside. That’s real torture, as No. 6 expresses in a heart-wrenching scene, to watch his brother take for granted everything he lost. It would have been easier to just not show himself or disappear, leaving No. 4 to himself and yet No. 6 stays with him, through the rehab stints, through the kidnap and torture, through the war and Dave, offering a voice of reason, encouragement and comfort when No. 4 needs it most.

No viewer can be sure what the show has in store for No. 6, because frankly what could the future be for a ghost? However, his role in the show has far exceeded that of his comic counterpart and that’s one positive sign. And since No. 6 has been included in more promotional materials, including posters, a dance sequence and stills, I can’t help being positive that his role will be expanded and his screen time increased in the second season. After all, this is a show with the focus on family; it would not do to exclude one of the siblings, would it?

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Joachim x Hector) (5)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

Pairing(s): Joachim Armster x Hector, implied Walter Bernhard x Joachim Armster

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

Characters: Joachim Armster (Lament of Innocence), Hector, Dracula, Isaac, Carmilla, Godbrand

Warnings: sexual content, blood drinking, swearing, ratings may change, Joachim is a little… unhinged

Summary:

What if Joachim Armster had survived the events of Lament of Innocence and was now a member of Dracula’s war council? And he had his eyes on a certain Devil Forgemaster with silver hair.


Where Joachim had once lived, long before the eternal night, long before Walter, there had been a saying, “When the sun rises, the night and her children go sleep.”

Right now, the sun was high in the sky, and yet Joachim, beloved child of night as he was, wasn’t in his bed.

Or coffin.

Joachim hadn’t brought his coffin with him to Castlevania, deeming it too cumbersome for such a fleeting trip, and now he regretted it. Sort of. Dracula was an agreeable host and naturally, he had had rooms prepared for an influx of long-term guests. Joachim had specifically asked for the room just conveniently adjacent to Hector’s forge, and his choice had caused a serious eye roll from the servants because what kind of vampire could sleep with such infernal noises of hammering and beastly screeches? To each his own, he had told them, grinning as he entered his lair for the time being, his few belongings trailing after him like loyal hounds. In his room there was a spacious, velvet-lined coffins not unlike the one he had at home, which promised an average vampire a death-like sleep and yet Joachim had barely made use of it. He had touched it once when he first stepped in, scraping his fingernails lightly against the inside only for the soft velvet to completely muffled any sound, and once was enough to decide it wasn’t for him. It was a matter of familiarity, he wagered, rather than luxury or comfort, and he realized with an exasperated huff that he would not likely get a good, sound sleep in a coffin that wasn’t pervaded by the haunting scent of Walter, miraculously preserved despite the decades. It could have been a case of phantom memory created by a disturbed mind, and Joachim found it more preferable than the jarring suspicion that all these years he’d been unconsciously lulled to sleep by the bastard’s lingering presence.

Never mind. He didn’t have plenty of shuteye back home anyway; when he did crawl into the coffin and pull the lid over his head, it was more often out of exhaustion than a normal, healthy routine. Being coddled by the eternal darkness had its ups and downs: while Joachim and his few fledglings never had to fear the fiery kiss of the sun, their systems were also unable to distinguish day from night, messed up to the point they went on for days without sleep, even weeks with the younger ones, until not even the warmest blood could replenish their depleted energy and finally, they answered the desperate beckon of their coffin. Briefly he wondered if the two humans here had a similar problem: had their routine experienced a drastic change to adapt to their vampire peers’ lifestyle or had it stayed the same, nocturnal since even before their residence in this castle?

When Joachim couldn’t sleep, he roamed the castle like a ghost, silent and pale, with his feet above the floor, casting no shadow on the sleek granite surface since the corridors were nearly pitch-black with all the thick curtains shut. Castlevania during the day was an entirely different creature than it was after sunset: torches and candles had been put out, the vampires had locked themselves in their ornamented coffins, and the vast halls and long corridors were ceded to the powerful reign of silence. “The day, when allowed to set foot in here, would be a far more compelling master of the castle than I am,” Walter had told him once upon a time, when his sire had expressed his favoritism by cuddling with Joachim in an enormous coffin instead of tossing him into the water dungeon with nary a thought. “Why?” the young, naive and generally stupid Joachim had asked, and Walter had replied, “Because I could never impose silence on all of you at once, could I? There will always be one of you to voice your mind, testing how far you could push my limits and get away with it.”

Never had it crossed Joachim’s head that Walter’s seemingly harmless remark had foreshadowed what was to come.

Joachim stopped dead in his track. When he roamed, he usually didn’t give a fig about where his body floated — that was the whole point of roaming, wasn’t it? Still, the thing about roaming was his mind roamed as well, and left unchecked, it tended to relapse into the habit of unearthing his memories of Walter, both good and terrible, indiscriminately buried yet never quite dead, and for the love of all things unholy, Joachim did not wish to be reminded of how addictive it had been when Walter’s fingers stroked his hair. He needed a distraction, something to steer his stray thoughts away from that fiery red hair and shit-eating grin he’d loved and loathed in equal measure. His most likely candidate emerged in the form of olive skin and silver waves, with eyes that brought to his mind the sight of sparking seawater he had only ever seen in paintings. His body moved on its own accord, sparing him no time to consider the likeliness of Hector being deep in his sleep.

Not until Joachim was at his own door did the thought finally catch up with him. Mumbling a particularly obscene curse under his breath, he reconsidered his options. He could either continue his aimless exploration of Castlevania and try (but mostly fail) to banish Walter-shaped thoughts or pay Dracula plus his half-full bottle a visit and spend the few next hours until sunset brooding alongside a moody statue in his dimly lit study. Besides, that was based on the rickety assumption that Dracula was awake and welcomed his company, which Joachim doubted the vampire lord would given the lukewarm greeting he’d received. Neither option was appealing and Joachim let out a frustrated sigh, half-ready to give up and retreat to his coffin for a sleepless day. Still, a small part in him willfully clung to hope and he floated a little closer, ears strained for Hector’s steady heartbeats.

The lack of the indication of a heart threw Joachim off. For a moment he thought his sense had deceived him, but it was quickly proven wrong as he listened to the cacophony of Hector’s pets just fine, even able to discern what sort of animal each was (he had that many?), and thus arrived at the conclusion that Hector wasn’t in his living quarters.

What could he be doing in the middle of the day? Getting some sun in his skin?

“Oh, you again,” Joachim said, tilting his head at the quirky little thing trying to jump his leg in vain. He picked the mutt up, keeping him at a safe distance from his face. “Where, oh, where is your master?” he sing-sang.

Cezar panted and craned his short neck, determined to smear his saliva on the vampire’s cheek but to no avail, and so he settled for Joachim’s fingers instead.

Startled, Joachim dropped Cezar but his quick reflex saved the naughty pup from a potential lethal fate. Part of him wanted to test his earlier theory about reanimated animals, but he didn’t think it wise to risk the human’s rage in this early stage of seduction. Gently he lowered Cezar to the ground and said, “Take me to your master.”

Somehow his order got through Cezar’s dead brain and he wagged his stump, racing down the corridor in a blur.

Joachim didn’t expect the pup to lead him to the kitchen, where he hadn’t thought to pay a visit due to his lack of culinary interest. The closer he got, the clearer Hector’s heartbeats became, as did the tantalizing scent of his blood. Fortunately he had fed beforehand, which made it easier to resist the temptation.

Joachim leaned against the wooden frame of the entrance, watching Cezar run in and butt his head against Hector’s calf in lieu of greeting. Hector wiped his hand on a clean-looking cloth on the table and bended over to pick the pup up. That was when he caught sight of Joachim’s boots and straightened himself to look at the vampire floating at the door with terribly disguised confusion written all over his face. “What are you doing here?” he asked, blinking slowly.

Joachim didn’t think a bewildered look could be quite endearing. “You are really careless,” he remarked, gray, cold gaze unabashedly raking over the column of Hector’s neck, exposed by the low collar of his simple cotton shirt.

“Excuse me?”

Arching an eyebrow, Joachim gestured to his own neck. “The armor is specifically for protection against vampire teeth, but you have taken it off.”

Hector scoffed, putting Cezar down so that the pup could play in a corner. “Have you ever seen anyone wear an armor in the kitchen?” he said. “Moreover, I didn’t think there would be any vampire wandering the castle in the early afternoon.”

“Well, here I am, and I did warn you about me, did I not?”

“If you truly wanted my neck, I doubt a piece of armor would be enough to deter you.”

Joachim shrugged, neither agreeing or disagreeing. “What are you doing here, Hector? I was under the impression that you should be in bed at this hour, catching the sleep you will not have at night because work, work, work.”

“I don’t need a lot of sleep and the hours in the morning is sufficient,” he replied, washing his hands under a faucet — one of Dracula’s invention that spewed water from a copper mouth when a lever was turned. “So I figured I could use the spare time to do something. And you? Shouldn’t you be in your-your—”

“Coffin,” Joachim filled in for him, mildly distracted by the sound of running water. “Yes, vampires sleep in a coffin, and it is a known fact. However, I have been avoiding mine since I arrived here.”

“Why? If you don’t mind my asking.”

“You know how humans often complain about being unable to sleep in a strange bed, and in my case it is a strange coffin.”

To his surprise, Hector chuckled, his shoulders shaking lightly under the thin white fabric. “I didn’t know vampires could be insomniac,” he said. “That’s new information. Since you’ve already come here, why not try something to while away the time?”

Hector pointed to what looked like piece of dough lying on top of a thin sheet dusted with white flour.

“What is it?” Joachim asked, gliding over for a better look. It was indeed a piece of dough. He intended to poke it with a finger but was stopped by Hector. “You must wash your hands first,” he told him. “I want to make some buns out of it later.”

Joachim glanced at the faucet and smiled. “Would you mind filling a basin for me? I am afraid I cannot put my hands directly under the faucet.”

“Really?” Hector was having a dubious look but he obliged him anyway. “Why is that?”

“Vampires cannot touch running water,” Joachim explained, slowly dipping a hand in the basin, testing. “Surely you have heard about it.”

“Actually, no. There’re many things I haven’t grasped about vampire culture and habits. What happened if you did?”

“It is not unlike when you put your hands in boiling oil. My skin would peel off like a glove.”

Hector visibly winced. “Sounds horrible.”

“There, I have just exposed one of my weaknesses to you,” Joachim said. “Exploit it to your heart’s content.”

Hector moved to the table and started working the dough. “Why would I do that?”

So naive, Joachim thought, where had Dracula snatched such a rare creature?

“To escape from my death grip in case I jump you, perhaps?”

“And splashing water on a vampire’s face will force him to release me?”

“You would be surprised how devastatingly effective it could be.”

“Yes, suppose I was quick enough, which I’m not, to be honest. Thanks for the advice anyway.”

“You said you would have some buns later. Is that what you are doing? Baking?”

Joachim could name a dozen pastimes he thought a necromancer would enjoy, and none of them involved bakery.

“The buns are byproducts, really. What I’m doing is just, this.”

Joachim’s gaze followed the movements of his hands. “Kneading?”

“Yes, I find it relaxing, so when the world becomes too much, all the sights and smells and noises, I make a piece of dough and start kneading it. It calms my nerves. Plus, I have some buns or bread to eat later.”

Joachim could relate to that overwhelming feeling, though his coping method had nothing to do with baking and much to do with piercing a few bodies. “Now I see why cats are fond of that.”

Hector scoffed. “I thought you were more of a dog person, or, vampire?”

“I never had cats but watching those predators can be quite… educational and entertaining.”

“Would you like to try?” Hector suggested. “It’s so simple even a child can do it.”

Joachim floated over to the table and stabbed a neat, round hole in the dough with his finger. “Taunting me, aren’t you?”

“Maybe less poking and more pressing and squeezing… gently with your fingers, like you’re messaging, er, someone’s shoulders.”

Joachim burst into laughter, grabbing Hector’s hand. “Like this?” he teased, giving the human’s hand the lightest squeeze and feeling satisfied with a jump of his heart.

“Yeah, uhm, like that,” Hector replied, his gaze landing on Joachim’s hand, paler than the dough itself. “Ar-Are your nails always like this?”

Joachim released Hector and started kneading the dough with semi-seriousness. “Black? No, they were not black when I was turned. Nor was my hair silver.”

“I assumed vampires were incapable of changing. Apparently that was wrong.”

The dough yielded in his hands, soft and pliable and easily molded into whatever shape he wanted, not too different than a piece of clay. Joachim could understand how such simple act could reduce stress and help one unwind; still, understanding was one thing and actually feeling its effects was another.

“Not completely. It is true that vampires do not change; however, we are not unsusceptible to changes. Quite a paradox, is it not?”

Look how grief had changed the once-arrogant and mighty Dracula.

“What caused these changes of yours?”

Joachim’s hands ceased their motion and he squinted his eyes at his shapeless ‘sculpture’. “Malnutrition,” he said breezily, washing his hands in the basin and drying them. He then summoned a chair over and sat down with his legs crossed.

Hector watched him with a raised eyebrow. “Bored already?” he asked over his shoulders, resuming his task.

“The wonderful relaxing effect of kneading might have been lost on me,” Joachim replied, propping his arm to support his head. “You do not want to know about the malnutrition?”

“Oh, I’m curious, but somehow I have a feeling it’s a private story you may not want to share.”

“Long and boring, yes but private, not so much. Still, I prefer listening to you to hearing my own rant. You have a mesmerizing voice, Hector.”

Hector was having his back to him so Joachim couldn’t see his expression, but it took the human a while to reply. “You won’t ask me to serenade you, right, because you will no longer think my voice pleasant once you hear my singing.”

Joachim chuckled. “No, but I would love to hear you speak.”

“About what?”

“Anything.”

Another long moment followed. “I can recite The Illiad, if you’d like to listen.”

Oh.

“You memorized it all? In Greek?”

“It was the only book I was allowed throughout my childhood, so I read it again and again, until I sort of learned it by heart.”

“Then, please.”

Joachim was sure he must have dozed off somewhere along the line because there was a fresh blank in his memory he was unable to fill in with any recent events from the beginning of The Illiad to the part where Achilles slayed Hector. That and the real-life Hector’s expression which clearly spelled how hard he was trying to stifle his laugh.

“Now who’s the careless one?” he asked in airy tone, putting on a pair of mitts and going to the oven. “I could have staked you.”

A warm, buttery scent wafted in front the vampire’s nose. “With what? Freshly baked buns?”

“Maybe,” Hector replied, setting a steamy tray on the table, already clean with the flour and the rolling pin put away. There were a dozen baby-fist-sized buns on the tray, baked to a perfect golden brown and giving off an appetizing aroma. “You must have been exhausted to drift off like that. That’s also new to me. I thought vampires would fall into a corpse-like state when they slumber, not just falling asleep like you did. Like most humans do, actually.”

Joachim smiled, though it was pinched. Had he really been that careless in Hector’s company, lulled into a sense of security by the boy’s naivety?

“All thanks to your voice.”

Hector’s smile was much more genuine than his, and it brightened up the windowless kitchen in a way the artificial lamps on the wall never could. “I’ll try to be positive and take that as a compliment, not sarcasm,” said Hector.

“It was a compliment. Sarcasm meanders around when I snooze and takes some time to find its way back.”

Hector didn’t look like he totally bought it but he didn’t press the matter. “You’re a strange vampire, Joachim Armster.”

“So I have been told.”

“Can vampires digest food? I’ve seen Lord Dracula partake wine once but I’m not sure about food.”

“I am afraid the nutritional values are all lost on my system. Flavors, however, are always a delight.”

“Would you like one?”

The bun felt soft and warm on Joachim’s cold palm and he couldn’t help squeezing it a little just to tease Hector, who indeed was sporting a comical look. He took a measured bite, flashing his fangs at the Forgemaster. He chewed slowly to savor the light sweetness of sugar, butter and cinnamon blended together in his mouth. It had been so long since he ate something sweet, so long Joachim had almost forgotten how the sweetness from sugar and honey differed from the sweetness of fresh blood. “It was good,” he complimented once he’d finished and saw the light dance in Hector’s irises. “Thank you.”

“You can take some more if you like,” Hector offered, cheeks dusted with pink.

And so, Joachim returned to his room with a handful of freshly baked buns to munch on as he lied on top of his coffin and rewound The Illiad recited by a certain Forgemaster’s voice in his head.

Not once had his thoughts creeped to Walter.

To be continued


I headcanoned Hector as being Greek.

[Castlevania] Brothers (Alucard x Hector)

Capture
Source: mentalfloss.com

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: General

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector (they’re just kids here so don’t expect any romantic aspect yet)

Genres: Fanfiction, modern AU (all human, no powers), pre-slash

Characters: Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, Hector, Dracula/Vlad Ţepeş, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, Lenore, mention of Lisa Ţepeş and Carmilla

Warning: mention of bullying

Summary:

When Adrian first met Hector, he decided on the spot that he hated him.

*AU hiện đại, không cần xem Castlevania mới nắm được tình tiết


When Adrian first met Hector, he decided on the spot that he hated him.

He was tugged neatly in the reading nook by the bow window, a light blanket covering his laps and the family photo album laid open on top of it. He had been staring at one particular photo for a while, his eyes straining and getting blurrier by the second, when a knock on the door snapped him out of his trance.

He couldn’t see Hector at first because the boy was completely hidden behind his father’s towering figure.

Adrian shook his unruly mob of blond locks to get rid of the forming tears in his eyes. “Yes, Dad?” he said, setting the album down on a cushion.

His father was standing at the door, nearly blocking it.

“Adrian, I’d like you to meet someone,” he said, stepping aside to reveal a boy with wavy silver-gray hair framing a tanned face with downcast eyes. He looked about Adrian’s age but was shorter and so skinny that his worn-looking, oversized hoodie and baggy jeans only accentuated his stick figure.

“Who’s he?” Adrian asked, a feeling of dread slowly expanding behind his rib cage. He might have already known what his father was going to tell him, and it scared him.

“This is Hector,” his father said, gently nudging Hector forward. “From now on he’s family. Now Hector, why don’t you say hi to your brother?”

Hector craned his neck at his father and only after receiving an encouraging nod did he step forward, tentatively holding out his hand. “Hello, I’m He—”

“No!” Adrian barked. That feeling had taken up his chest and morphed into something ugly. The air was suddenly too tight and the walls seemed to be closing on him.

Hector was taken aback by his harsh tone and looked to his father, who laid a reassuring hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Adrian,” he said, weariness evident in his knitted brows and pleading tone, “your mom and I had talked about it. We had decided to adopt Hector. That’s what your mom would have wanted, the two of you becoming brothers—”

“No, I don’t want a brother!” Adrian yelled, springing to the door, bumping into Hector on his way. Not looking back to see what happened to the boy, he ran and ran on his bare feet. Down the empty corridor, down the spiral staircase and into the garden.

He found the arbor and the white swing where he and his mom used to sit, taking refuge from the summer heat with a glass of iced lemonade in hand.

Adrian climbed into the swing, hugging his knees and resting his head on them. Like a dam that was no longer able to hold the water, the tears which he had tried to hold back earlier streamed down his face, darkening the denim of his pants.

How could he bring a stranger into their house and add another disturbance to their life, already turned upside down after Adrian’s mother untimely death?

How could he call another boy his son and carve out a sizable chunk of his attention for him when it was his own son who should have it all, severely dwindled as it had been due to his pervasive grief?

And how could he make Adrian call Hector his brother when his mother had died on her way to the orphanage where had been the boy’s home for the last eight years?

It had been an unfortunate accident. An ill-timed swerve, a slip of the hand and no one’s fault but a wicked twist of fate. The rational part in Adrian’s head knew it could never have been a twelve-year-old boy’s fault and it would be entirely unfair, cruel even, to pin it on Hector — his loving, kind-hearted late mother would have chastised him for harboring such poisoned thought. Still, it was so much easier to put the blame on someone and let it out in shouts and tears and unkind words than to tightly compress it and bury it in his heart, only to feel its teeth gnawing his softest part day in and day out, because Adrian understood that however big a tantrum he threw, it would not change his stern father’s decision once he had made it final; introducing Hector to Adrian had been as final as final could get.

He felt drained physically and mentally once his sobs died out, leaving his nose stuffed, his throat dry and his eyes puffy. The knees of his pants had been soaked through and his bare feet were cramping so hard he had to message them to help the blood circulate. He was tired and all he wanted when he hobbled back inside was that by some miraculous, mysterious means, Hector had gone and there were just Adrian and his father and Ms. Maria plus a handful of helpers who came and went so fast he barely remembered any of them.

Of course Hector stayed and of course, the three of them would have dinner together.

Like a family.

“Why don’t you sit next to Adrian?” his father instructed as he sat down in his usual tall-backed chair, its companion on the right achingly empty.

Hector chanced a glance at Adrian, who crossed his arms in front of his chest, and took the seat one chair away from him.

His father’s deep baritone voice was the only sound in the dining room beside the metallic clinks of cutlery.

Hector ate like he hadn’t gotten a full meal since forever while Adrian picked at his favorite paella and barely finished half of his portion even though he had had only some light soup at noon. Ms. Maria would probably be disheartened — proud of her cooking skills as she was, and rightfully so — when she cleaned up the table but he couldn’t help it.

When his father suggested that they go to school together and Adrian show Hector around — he had had him enrolled in the same school as Adrian, the blond boy excused himself and stood up, scraping his chair against the floor, and fled the dining room.

He leapt two steps at a time and locked the door behind him once he reached his room. Adrian plopped himself down on his soft bed, hugging Aniki, the stuffed wolf his mother had handmade for him on his fifth birthday, to his chest, and squeezed his eyes shut.

Adrian took the bus to school.

He could have been chauffeured to school and anywhere he wanted to, the fencing club, the swimming pool and even the central park, but his mother had insisted that her son not be too different from other kids; after all he went to a public school, not a private one where kids wore fancy uniforms and pretended they were more mature than their age. It was alright; Adrian preferred the bus anyway, because instead of sitting in a confined box next to a driver with closed-off expression twice a day, he got to chat with the kids from his school, some of whom were really cool and had become his friends. He had met his now best friends, Trevor and Sypha, on a bus.

Adrian noticed Hector as soon as he was out of the gate. No longer in his worn hoodie and faded jeans, the boy was now dressed in a nice cobalt sweater and khaki pants that fitted and didn’t make him look like he was passed down secondhand clothes from his much bigger sibling. He had a brand-new pair of sneakers too and was crouching on the ground to tie his shoelaces when Adrian walked to him. Hearing his footsteps, Hector looked up, blue-green meeting honey-brown, and his lips stretched into a smile. “Hi,” he greeted. “Let’s go—”

Adrian strode past him, his silence and scowl instantly shutting Hector up. His feet were light and quick, and he did not once look behind to check whether his ‘brother’ could keep up with him. If Hector was late for the bus, it was entirely on him; his father never said anything about his so-called responsibility to babysit Hector. Well, he might have, if Adrian hadn’t fled to his room before the meal finished.

Hector wasn’t late for the bus and got in only a few minutes later than Adrian. His eyes scanned the space, searching for a blond head, and his face lit up when he spotted Adrian by a window. Nonetheless, his bright expression immediately dimmed when his gaze fell to the seat next to him, already occupied by Adrian’s backpack. Wordlessly he passed Adrian, heading for the back row. Adrian vacated the seat as soon as he was sure Hector had settled in his seat, putting the backpack on his laps and hugging it.

He did not wait for Hector when the kids got off the bus, running to Sypha and Trevor instead.

“Hey, isn’t that the new kid?” Sypha asked, pointing to a corner of the school cafeteria.

“Where?” Trevor asked, whipping his head around. “Don’t see him.”

He speared a mushroom spring roll from Sypha’s homemade lunchbox, earning a light elbow from her.

“There, at the table near the vending machine.”

“Oh right, the one with silver hair? It’s cool.”

“He’s sitting by himself. It’s kind of lonely,” Sypha commented, stealing a slice of ham from Trevor’s sandwich in retaliation and munching on it.

Adrian looked to the edge of the cafeteria and found Hector easily thanks to his silver hair. He was indeed sitting alone in a table, consuming his lunch, which consisted of a sandwich, a green apple and a carton of orange juice, same as Adrian’s.

“Maybe we should ask him to sit with us,” Sypha suggested.

“No!”

Adrian’s raised tone had his two friends round their eyes at him. “Why?” Sypha asked, looking bewildered.

He couldn’t tell them Hector was his adopted brother and that he didn’t want to be anywhere near him. Close as they were, he was not ready to explain his feelings to them; he was aware what he had been feeling was irrational and unfair and petty, but he couldn’t help it, and he dreaded his best friends judging him for being so mean to Hector when the boy hadn’t done anything to deserve that cold shoulder.

“I’m sorry but I just remember that I have to go to the library for a while,” Adrian said, standing up. “See you after school.”

“Yeah, sure,” Trevor replied, blinking in confusion.

He glanced at Hector on his way out of the cafeteria. Their eyes didn’t meet because Hector’s were glued to the textbook he laid open on the table. Algebra.

They didn’t go home together. After school, Adrian, Trevor and Sypha all went to Trevor’s house, where they did homework together, ate some ice cream and played video games on the brand-new PS4 console Trevor’s brother had just bought.

When he got home at six thirty, Adrian was hungry (in spite of the ice cream!) and so he went straight to the kitchen. Dinner was in half an hour but may be Ms. Maria could sneaked him a cookie or some other snack; Adrian knew the brunette indulged him even though it sometimes went against her employer’s instructions.

He didn’t expect to see Hector at the small table Maria used when she needed to check her groceries and see if she’d missed anything on the shopping list. He had a textbook open in front of him and was scribbling furiously on a scrap of paper. Adrian glanced at the page. Algebra again.

Hector lifted his head from whatever problem he was solving to look at Adrian. “Uhm… hi,” he greeted with a small smile, his voice uncertain.

“What are you doing here?”

Adrian didn’t mean it to sound interrogative; it just did.

Wide blue-green eyes stared at Adrian as if he didn’t understand the question. “I’m doing my homework,” he replied. “Algebra.”

“Why aren’t you doing it in the living room or your room? It’s hot and noisy in here.”

“I’m used to it. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen back at the orphanage, doing homework while helping with the many kitchen chores.”

“He’s been helping me although I told him he could just sit there and do his math,” Ms. Maria chimed in. “He actually helped prepare tonight’s main dish, potatoes au gratin, by slicing the onions. The most tear-jerking part, obviously.”

Potatoes au gratin had been his mom’s favorite dish and they used to fool around in the kitchen for the whole afternoon making it. The thought misted his eyes and squashed his appetite.

“Are you feeling peckish, Adrian dear?” Ms. Maria asked. “I have some oatmeal cookies you can munch on before dinner starts. Just don’t tell Mr. Ţepeş.”

Adrian politely declined and exited the kitchen.

When his dad asked Hector how his first day at school had been, Adrian expected the boy to complain about Adrian’s abandoning him on the way to the bus stop and braced himself for a scolding. However, all Hector gushed about was how big the school was and everything looked new and pretty and how delicious Ms. Maria’s club sandwich had been.

He looked sort of like an excited puppy and Adrian couldn’t decide whether to be amused or annoyed at such over-enthusiasm, which managed to put a small smile on his father’s face. He settled for silence, shoving food into his mouth as quick as he could so he wouldn’t be there for the part where his father started inquiring about how he’d helped Hector get accustomed to the new academic environment.

The next morning Adrian saw Hector at the gate, meticulously tying his shoelaces. The way he did the knots had Adrian stop on his track out of curiosity: his mom had taught him the same technique when he was old enough to put on his own shoes. “Before you run, you should know how to properly tie your shoelaces,” she had told him, ruffling his mob of wheat-yellow locks. Was it a coincidence or had his mom also taught Hector like she’d done her own son, smiling and patting his head and showering him with encouraging words when he did it right?

Hector raised his head once he was done and the two of them just stood in front of the gate, staring at each other for several moments. Hector didn’t greet him or ask to go to the bus stop with him and Adrian felt inextricably frustrated. With a huff, he turned on his heels and took long strides forward. Though he didn’t look back, he could tell by the close footsteps that Hector was keeping a small distance with him.

When they got on the bus, instead of looking around for Adrian’s blond head, he went straight to the back row.

Adrian told himself there was no reason for his frustration to grow. He failed.

Sypha squinted her eyes while chewing a prawn dumpling — her homemade lunch for today. After swallowing the bite, she said, “Isn’t that the redhead from Carmilla’s gang who’s sitting with the new kid? What’s her name again? Something like Leona or Leone?”

“Lenore,” Trevor corrected, picking a dumpling from Sypha’s lunchbox — with her permission this time — and opening his mouth wide to devour the whole thing. “Yeah, definitely her. There aren’t many redheads in the school.”

Sypha scrunched up her face at his less-than-impeccable manners.

Adrian dropped his half-eaten apple on his tray and turned his head towards the table he knew Hector to occupy during lunch break. He found them sitting pretty close to each other, Hector and the redhead Lenore, who was leaning in and showing him something on her phone that made his eyes shine and his face brighten.

Adrian’s stomach churned for no obvious reason.

“I wonder why she’s hanging with a younger student though,” Sypha wondered out loud, slurping her banana smoothie. “And a boy, no less. Doesn’t Carmilla’s gang, like, despise boys or something?”

“Yeah. They pick on boys all the time, especially those who’re timid and can’t stand up for themselves. I kinda feel sorry for the new kid.”

Now Adrian’s stomach churned with a reason.

“Hey, let’s ask him to sit with us tomorrow,” Sypha suggested. “What do you think, Adrian? You have chemistry and biology classes with him, don’t you?”

Adrian couldn’t answer her because his head was filled with thoughts.

He smelled it in the air when he got close to the arbor and wrinkled his nose.

Cigarette smoke.

Of course he knew the smell. His father had been a chain smoker several years ago before his mom made him quit. Although he had never smoked when he was in the same room with his son, Adrian had once caught him out in the balcony, blowing nicotine smoke into funny-looking rings.

Following the smell was a series of coughs.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Adrian nearly yelled at Hector, who was sitting on the ground, one hand covering his mouth and the other having a cigarette tucked between the fingers. There were hints of reflex tears in his red-rimmed eyes, which stared at Adrian in a mixture of surprise, horror and mortification.

He worried his lips but didn’t say a word.

“Who gave you this? Did you buy it yourself?” Adrian asked, attempting to snatch the cigarette from his fingers.

Hector withdrew his hand so fast all Adrian caught was air. “Why do you care?” Hector barked, voice hoarse. “It’s not your concern anyway.”

Hector caught him off-guard for two reasons: one, these were the first longest, full sentences he’d spoken with Adrian — without the blond boy cutting him; two, he had never raised his voice, and Adrian had come to associate him with the soft, timid boy that was too eager to please.

Most importantly, why did he care? Hadn’t he decided to do his best to ignore this brother who had entered his tight-knit family without warning, drawing a line between himself and Hector and never intending to cross it? If so, why did the sight of Hector smoking — or attempting to — disturb him so much Adrian just wanted to yank the cigarette from Hector’s hand and throw it into the nearest trash can?

“Well, Dad does care, doesn’t he?” Adrian rebuked, feeling oddly satisfied with himself because the smoke had slipped from Hector’s fingers.

The feeling of satisfaction didn’t last long when he saw his brother paling visibly. In the afternoon sun the boy looked like he was having a terrible fever, beads of sweats gathering at his brows and his Adam’s apple bobbing. He looked genuinely scared and Adrian suddenly regretted having said that.

“You will tell him?” Hector asked, a light quiver in his voice, suddenly too small.

“If you stop what you were doing, I won’t tell Dad,” Adrian replied, then felt the need to add, “I promise, but you also promise me you won’t try to smoke again.”

Hector nodded, lowering his gaze in the way that was reminiscent of the first time they had met in the family library.

“Did that girl tell you to do it?” Adrian inquired. “Lenore, with long red hair and maroon eyes?”

“She didn’t but she told me everyone else in the group was smoking and it was no big deal and I could try it too. She gave me her pack of cigarette.”

Adrian scoffed. “So you tried to impress her so that you can become a part of her gang? Because hanging out with older girls is so cool, huh?”

There was a sheen of moisture over Hector’s blue-green eyes when he lifted his head. “Lenore was the first one to speak to me,” he said, gazing into Adrian’s eyes.

And that effectively shut the blond boy up.

True to his words, Adrian did not tell his father — their father? — when they sat down for dinner in the evening. Still, he could feel Hector sneaking nervous glances at him throughout the meal as if he expected Adrian to go against his promise any moment and their father would be so furious that he would drive Hector back to the orphanage and disown him. Adrian wouldn’t deny he had never imagined such a scenario, which made his insides twist with guilt and left a bad taste in his mouth as their eyes happened to meet across the table. Hopefully their father didn’t notice the awkwardness between his sons, exhausted after a day’s work and quite used to the boys acting weird around each other.

Adrian didn’t try to eat his meal quickly and flee to his room. Thanks to that, he learned it from their father rather than Ms. Maria that he was going on a business trip for a week.

“What do you think?” Trevor asked, holding up three colorful plastic bottles in his hands. “Vanilla or tropical fruit or brown sugar? Which one does she like?”

Sypha had come down with the flu and taken today off and so, Adrian and Trevor had spent the last half hour in the convenience store adjacent to their school picking up bubble teas and various snacks to cheer her up.

“She likes brown sugar most but let’s take all three to be on the safe side,” Adrian said, holding out the plastic basket for Trevor to drop the bottles in. “I remember she also likes the adzuki bean mochi. I’ll get it.”

Adrian was scanning the store for the shelf where they kept the sweet stuff when he spotted a head of gray-silver hair. Surprised, he went on tiptoe and one look at the boy’s face confirmed that he was indeed Hector. That was a bit strange. He usually went straight home after school, or so Adrian thought; he had never gone home with him, always hanging out at Sypha’s or Trevor’s instead.

He seemed to be nervous about something because his eyes were moving back and forth between the cashier whose fingers were jabbing at his phone screen and the shelf in front of him. Adrian’s gut feeling told him that Hector was about to do something real bad and he didn’t like it one bit. His heart speeding up, just this time he hoped that his intuition was wrong.

It wasn’t wrong, much to his dismay. Munching his lips, Hector darted one last glance at the cashier before snatching a candy bar and shoving both the item and his hand into the pocket of his jacket as though he was afraid the man would see his empty hand and get suspicious. He was about to turn on his heels when his forearm was caught.

Hector whipped his head around and came face to face with Adrian. His blue-green eyes went impossibly big.

“What do you think you are doing?” Adrian asked in hushed voice. He couldn’t raise his volume but the scowl on his face right now should be enough to convey how serious he was.

“I-I…” Hector stammered, unable to say another word.

“First you were smoking and now you’re shoplifting? What’s next, huh?”

Hector squirmed in his grip and chanced a brief look at the sliding door. “Let go off me,” he said, voice barely a whisper.

Adrian lifted Hector’s hand out of the pocket and pried the candy bar from his loose fingers. “Did that girl Lenore tell you to do this?” he asked, anger coiling in his guts. “Today it’s a candy bar and tomorrow? Someone’s wallet or car keys?”

“That’s not true!”

Hector’s volume alerted the cashier, who slipped his phone into his jeans pocket and marched to Adrian and Hector. “What’s goin’ on here?” he asked, his broad, stocky body looming over the two boys. He pushed his horn-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose, squinting his rather small eyes at the plastic-wrapped treat.

“It’s nothing,” Adrian lied. “We’re having a bit of a quarrel, is all.”

Adrian could tell suspicion was rising in him.

“Ya gonna pay for it, ain’t ya?”

“Of course.”

“On second thought, I don’t actually want that,” Hector said, surprising Adrian by grabbing the candy bar and putting it back on the shelf. “I hate cashews.”

His casual shrug failed to hide the tremor in his shoulders, at least to Adrian’s eyes.

The cashier pointed two fingers to his spectacled eyes before walking back to his seat behind the counter.

Hector yanked his hand out of Adrian’s grip and ran to the door so fast the blond boy was almost afraid he might be colliding with the glass.

Trevor walked up to him, carrying the basket holding their purchases. “Was that the new kid?” he asked. “You talked to him?”

“His name’s Hector,” Adrian said, his earlier anger deflating like a punctured balloon. “Let’s get the mochi and go to Sypha’s.”

Hector had already eaten dinner when Adrian got home, Ms. Maria told him when she put a steaming bowl of curry rice in front of him and sat down beside him; when his father was away on business, she sat with him through dinner because she believed no kid should eat their food alone in a vast, empty dining room. He’d had his meal in the kitchen and gone straight to his room afterwards. Did something happen at school? she asked, and went on to remark that Hector had looked quite shaken when he went into the kitchen. Adrian feigned ignorance and promised to ask on him.

Adrian stood in front of Hector’s door, opposite from his own, and noticed for the first time how quiet he was. Had he gone to sleep already? No way, it was only eight thirty and no twelve-year-old kid would go to bed at this hour and miss all the fun shows on TV. Adrian didn’t doubt there was a TV set in Hector’s room despite having never entered it because there was one in his own room and his father believed in fair treatment. But if he was watching TV then it shouldn’t be so quiet.

Adrian’s hand hovered above the wood panel for a while before he gave up and went back to his room.

Sypha hadn’t recovered from her flu and took another day off, and so there were just Adrian and Trevor sitting under the tree, eating their sandwiches. Trevor had begun to sorely miss Sypha’s homemade foods and he’d made it known by incessantly whining about how his store-bought lunch was lame compared to her tasteful spring rolls and dumplings and whatever else she usually had. Although Adrian had no complaints about Ms. Maria’s various kinds of sandwiches, maybe he could ask her for something different like pasta or rice. Hector would probably appreciate the change too.

Speaking of Hector…

“Isn’t that the new kid — you said his name was Hector, right? — with Carmilla’s gang?”

Adrian followed the tip of his forefinger and saw Hector, dressed in his P.E. uniform, with Lenore by his side, grabbing his upper arm and dragging him forward. Somehow the sight of her together with Hector always unsettled him. Carmilla’s girl gang had the reputation for being queen bees (alpha bitches in Trevor’s A+ vocabulary) in school and there was no way Lenore, pretty and popular and always having a throng of boys after her, would be genuinely interested in a new, younger kid who sat alone at lunch doing algebra. Adrian had seen her effects on Hector and couldn’t think of anything good to come out of his hanging out with her and the rest of her gang.

“Yes,” Adrian replied, his eyes following the two of them until they disappeared behind the building. “Is that the direction to the old storage room?”

“Yeah, I guess so. He probably has P. E class later. Hey Adrian, is there something between you and that kid Hector because lately you’ve been acting pretty weird when he’s mentioned? You have classes together, right? Did something happen?”

Adrian turned his head to look at Trevor, startled by his friend’s perceptiveness when he almost always acted goofy around Sypha. The truth was on the tip of his tongue, but could he tell his friend and not risk his judgment?

“I…” he trailed off, twiddling with his fingers. “Hector is-he is my adopted brother. My parents had decided to adopt him before my mom, uhm, you know. I’d known beforehand that-that I was going to have a sibling but when I actually met him, I was bitter and angry and frustrated and I’ve been deliberately ignoring him since.”

Trevor listened to him, making no comment as he consumed his sandwich in two big bites (how he could do it Adrian never knew). He slurped his chocolate milk and put the empty carton down at the same time Adrian finished.

“You know,” he began, “I felt exactly like that when Richter was born.”

“You did? But you and your little brother are so close.”

“Before Richter, I was the youngest one in the family and I had my parents’ and Leon’s attention all to myself. Then came Richter and everything suddenly revolved around that pink-faced little bundle. I felt ignored and I sulked and sometimes even cried myself to sleep. Don’t tell Sypha the last bit.”

Adrian chuckled. “She probably knows you’re crybaby already.”

Trevor tsked him. “But Leon noticed it and he sat me down and talked me through it with his typical French accent nobody knows where he acquired. It took a while but eventually I warmed up to Richter. Now I have a playmate.”

“Who beats you at Guilty Gear and just about every other game.”

“Hey!”

Adrian burst into laughter, prompting Trevor to laugh with him.

“Point is, it’s cool to have a brother of the same age,” Trevor said, wiping mirthful tears from his eyes, “who you can talk about school and do homework with. Sometimes I wish I had a brother like that. Richter’s too young to help me with homework and Leon’s too busy with his college projects.”

“You have me and Sypha though.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“How can I start though? I’ve been giving him cold shoulder since he came.”

“Maybe go home together and talk about school, or video games or comics for a start. And tomorrow ask him to sit with us at lunch instead of the alpha bitches. Seriously nothing good comes out of being around them.”

Adrian couldn’t agree more. “I’ll do that,” he said. “Just don’t call him a nerd though. He does algebra at lunch.”

Trevor gave his shoulder a lighthearted slap. “Dude, Sypha probably joins him and leaves both of us staring at the ceiling!”

Adrian’s feet was starting to go numb from standing.

He rushed out of the classroom when the bell rang and was the first to reach the school gate. Leaning against the brick wall, he waited for Hector to come out and asked the boy to take the bus home with him like he and Trevor had talked about during lunch. There was no other exit and Hector had to pass this gate in order to get out and so, Adrian was confident that he would be able to catch his brother.

Time passed, student after student went by and still, there was no sight of Hector. He even caught sight of Carmilla and her gang — Morana, Striga and Lenore — talking and laughing amongst themselves as they walked to a waiting car. Adrian checked his watch. It had been forty-five minutes since the classes ended and unless Hector had a detention, he should have been here some time ago.

Was he in detention?

“Mr. Howlett,” Adrian called, running to the tall, muscular man who was striding to the parking lot.

Mr. Howlett stopped in his track and turned around, arching an eyebrow at him. “Yes, Adrian? How can I help you?”

“I’ve been waiting for Hector but I haven’t seen him. Is he in detention?”

“Hector huh? Is that the new kid with gray hair?”

“Yes, I think he had P. E. class this afternoon.”

“But he didn’t show up this afternoon,” Mr. Howlett said with a crease between his bushy brows. “A boy, Nathan, said he was sick and went to the infirmary.”

A sense of unease unfurled in Adrian’s stomach at the name. He knew Nathan, knew that the freckled boy practically worshipped Carmilla’s gang, Lenore in particular. “But he was fine earlier. I saw him at lunch.”

The crease between Mr. Howlett’s brows deepened. “Let’s go to the infirmary.”

It turned out Hector had never been to the infirmary.

“That’s very strange,” Mr. Howlett commented, lightly scratching his sideburn. “Do you know what class he had after P.E.?”

“I…” Adrian hesitated, mortified for not knowing the answer. “I don’t know.”

“Now we’re having a case of missing student. Could he have had skipped class?”

Adrian thought about the boy who had spent time during lunch and before dinner working on his algebra homework and shook his head. “No, he wouldn’t skip class without a reason.”

“This is getting serious. I should inform the principal and call his parents.”

Their father was out of the country for business and there was just Ms. Maria at home, who would likely freak out when she knew Hector was missing.

Where could he have gone? When Adrian last saw him, he was with Lenore and they were heading to the old storage room.

Wait…

“Mr. Howlett, do you know the old storage room?”

“Yes, kid, it’s behind the schoolyard and since the new storage room was built, it’s been abandoned. Wait, you think he could be there?”

Adrian nodded, deciding to trust his gut feeling.

There was a rusty bar slipped through the handles on the door and Adrian knew it was right to have trusted his gut feeling.

“Now that’s something unusual,” Mr. Howlett said, removing the bar. “There’s just old junk in here so usually nobody bothers to lock the door but I’m pretty sure there shouldn’t be a metal bar here.”

He pushed the door and they both winced with the groaning it made.

The last sunlight streamed in, illuminating a head of tousled silver hair. Still dressed in his P.E. uniform, Hector was having his back against a wooden board, his legs pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapping around his knees. He lifted his head at the noises and looked at them with puffy red eyes. It was hot and humid inside the storage room so Adrian could tell his shaking frame wasn’t because of the cold.

Mr. Howlett drove them home in his Chevy, having expressed a small surprise to learn that they lived at the same address. He didn’t press Hector for what had happened but he promised them to report this incident to the principal first thing in the morning.

Adrian sat with Hector in the back seat. Although they didn’t speak a word to each other, lost in their own thoughts and emotions, when Adrian’s hand reached out for Hector’s, the boy didn’t flinch or avoid his touch.

His palm was clammy and dirty with all the sweats and dirt in the storage room but Adrian paid it no mind.

Ms. Maria was on the verge of freaking out when Mr. Howlett rang the bell. After thanking Mr. Howlett and inviting him in for tea, which he politely declined, she nearly squished Adrian and Hector in a bear hug that was unbefitting of her petit frame. She then ushered them into the kitchen, sat them down and made sure each boy finish their portion of bread and clam chowder.

Adrian’s hand was hovering above the door to Hector’s room and this time, he had the courage to knock.

“Can I come in?” he asked when Hector’s head poked out of the opening. The boy appeared somewhat hesitant but after a few moments, he stepped aside for Adrian to enter.

As Adrian had expected, the inside of Hector’s room was similar to his own room, albeit somewhat tidier.

“How did you find me?” Hector asked as soon as they sat down on his bed.

“I was waiting for you to catch the bus home—”

“You? Waiting for me?”

“Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe,” Adrian said, scratching the back of his neck. “I talked to my friend and I realized I’ve been mean to you and, and that’s not how brothers should be, so I’m sorry.”

Hector stared at him with incredulity for a whole fifteen seconds and for the first time, Adrian had experienced discomfort under a kid’s scrutiny. Then Hector’s lips moved and Adrian anticipated him to say something, but all he did was swallow and blink.

“Well,” Adrian began, “this is the part where you say something like ‘Apology accepted’, you know, like in the TV.”

“I don’t watch much TV. Back at the orphanage, we only had an old TV set which occasionally broke down. No cables.”

“No Internet?”

“The director had a landline in her office but we didn’t.”

“I guess there were no video games as well. What did you do for entertainment?”

“We read and played with the pets. There were two tabby cats and a corgi.”

“You’re missing out on a lot of fun but hopefully we can remedy. So, will you forgive me?”

Adrian held out a hand.

Hector nodded, took his hand and gave it a light shake. “You haven’t said how you found me.”

“I asked Mr. Howlett whether you were having a detention and he said you had skipped the P.E. class. Then I remembered seeing you and Lenore going to that old storage room’s direction. Did she lock you in?”

Hector nodded, his eyes downcast. “She said she wanted to show me something and when we got there, she shoved me in and barred the door, saying that tomorrow someone would find out and let me out, maybe.”

“Why did she do that?”

“Yesterday she told me to grab Ms. Dreyfus’s car keys when I helped her bring the maps to the teacher room.”

“That’s stealing!” Adrian exclaimed, heat rising in his stomach.

“I know,” Hector said. “So I refused because I like Ms. Dreyfus and because it’s just wrong. Lenore got really mad and I almost thought she’d hit me. Then she calmed down and spoke to me like nothing had happened and I thought it was okay. Then today…”

“Mr. Howlett promised he wouldn’t let it slide and I believe him. If he asks you something you have to tell him the truth, alright?”

Nodding slowly, Hector hugged his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them, and Adrian was reminded of the moment he found him in the storage room. Ms. Maria’s delicious foods had put some meat on his bones and he was no longer looking like a malnourished child like when he first stepped foot in this house but now, in this defensive stance, he seemed smaller and younger than his actual age, a little brother that needed Adrian’s care and protection which he had been denying him out of pettiness up until now. His mom would be very disappointed in him if she were here.

If she were here, perhaps she would know how to console Hector.

“Hey,” Adrian said, laying a hand on Hector’s shoulder.

“They’re… scary, those girls,” Hector said. “Especially Carmilla. But Lenore was nice and she spoke to me and often showed me videos of her cute pets at home…”

Adrian resisted the urge to scoff.

“I thought she wanted to be my friend but then…”

“You can have other friends, friends who aren’t bullies and don’t make you do stuff for them.”

Hector perked up a little and looked at him with expectation.

“Like me and my friends Trevor and Sypha. I’ll introduce you to them. Let’s sit together at lunch tomorrow. In fact, let’s go to school together from now on.”

“For real?”

“Yeah, for real.”

Hector beamed at him, and Adrian finally understood the expression of the first sun ray lighting up the gloomy sky.

“Okay.”

They had breakfast together for the first time since Hector’s arrival, putting a broad smile on Ms. Maria’s warm, brown face. Adrian also learned that his brother had a heavy sweet tooth by the amount of maple syrup he squirted on his pancake.

“Did Mom teach you to do that?” Adrian asked, watching Hector tie up his shoelaces.

“Yeah, I tripped on my shoelaces once, scraping my knees real bad. She taught me how to tie them after she treated my wounds.”

Adrian nodded. He could totally imagine his mom doing it.

“She was so kind to me, to all the kids actually, the kindest person I’ve seen. I wished I had had a mother like her. When she told me she would like me to be her son, it was the best day in my life.”

Adrian felt the familiar pricks around his eyes and blinked hard to stop the forming tears from falling. “Wish she were here,” he murmured, more to himself than Hector.

“Yes. Wish she were here with us.”

“Come on, let’s go,” Adrian urged. “The bus won’t wait for us.”

Hector took his outstretched hand and they walked side by side to the bus stop.

End


The difficult thing about writing a kid fic is that you have to constantly ask yourself whether a twelve-year-old kid should speak like this because you can’t remember how you spoke when you were that age; plus, your English was shit back then so you wouldn’t have known anyway.

Since this is a kid fic, the kids are really just friends here; any romantic feelings won’t surface until five or six years later. When they do, the pairings are Trevor/Sypha and Adrian/Hector (let’s hope Mr. Ţepeş is gonna be okay with it).

Anyone caught the X-Men Easter Egg?

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Joachim x Hector) (4)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

Pairing(s): Joachim Armster x Hector, implied Walter Bernhard x Joachim Armster

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

Characters: Joachim Armster (Lament of Innocence), Hector, Dracula, Isaac, Carmilla, Godbrand

Warnings: sexual content, blood drinking, swearing, ratings may change, Joachim is a little… unhinged

Summary:

What if Joachim Armster had survived the events of Lament of Innocence and was now a member of Dracula’s war council? And he had his eyes on a certain Devil Forgemaster with silver hair.


IV.

Godbrand was in some sort of a dilemma.

Contrary to common belief, Godbrand actually understood the meaning of the word — in fact, he was considered quite erudite by Viking standard — and to describe his current situation, he believed it was the best choice.

He had been feeling thirsty and had gone down to the wine cellar in search of something for his dry throat; Dracula possessed an impressive collection, or so he heard. Indeed he had gotten lucky and managed to dig out a possibly ancient bottle from the bottom shelf. Well, if the old bat had left it there to gather dust, he would likely not miss it.

So Godbrand had gone ahead and chugged down the whole thing.

Dropping the empty vessel on the floor, Godbrand plopped himself down on a chair, putting his feet on the table.

Thing was, his thirst wasn’t quenched; in fact, it had become a scorching sensation that ran along his throat down to the center of his chest. That was when he realized its nature and how to soothe it.

Blood, searingly sweet, rushing in pulsating arteries, not stagnant old wine sealed in equally old bottle. He wasn’t picky about the source; a meek village girl, a reeking stable boy, a sweat-drenched, soot-covered blacksmith or a powdered harlot, he didn’t care as long as they had a pliable neck he could sink his fangs into, have his fill and then rip apart. His mind conjured up a face with smooth olive skin and sharp angles and Godbrand experienced a mini-orgasm just imagining the taste of those veins. Come to think about it, he had never drunk from a Devil Forgemaster before, rare species that they had always been.

That was where his dilemma began. The only humans in the castle were strictly off-limits, and the old bat would not take too kindly to any vampires taking a bite out of his pets, which was… understandable given how valuable their talents were to the war; they couldn’t be making and replenishing soldiers with their veins dry as husk, could they? Godbrand would be defending the two of them within an inch of his life if his war cripplingly depended on them, too. On the other hand, he doubted those men would gladly allow a vampire anywhere near their fragile necks — just look at their rigid collars, let alone take a sip. Therefore, if he craved blood, real human blood, he would have to go out and hunt, which was another big issue because Godbrand had no idea where the fuck he was! Dracula had moved them a couple hours ago — without notice he might add — and the castle had landed in the middle of fucking nowhere. The old bat, again, didn’t bother to inform them of their new location and when Godbrand raced to the top floor to survey his surroundings, all he saw was miles and miles of endless dense forest and not the slightest sight of human settlement. With them so far removed from humanity like this, Godbrand was willing to bet if he rode out to hunt and found his food, which depended on his wildly fluctuating luck by the way, he would not be able to return to the castle before sunrise. He suspected it was Dracula’s plan to get the vampires accustomed to animal blood, because right now, he was looking at a squirming pig in a soldier’s hand, and did the lousy fool really expect him, a proud Viking vampire, to eat it? He might not be picky about which neck he was going to chomp as long as it was human, but he wouldn’t stoop so low as to sink his precious, noble fangs into an animal like he too was some sort of animal without thinking, without dignity? Hah!

“Bring me real blood, not this shit,” Godbrand spat. “This you can keep for yourself.”

“But-but this is the Count’s order—”

Godbrand shushed him, wagging his forefinger. “Let me tell you this, boy,” he drawled. “Real vampires drink real blood, and by real blood I mean the red juice from human necks. Only that nourishes our strengths and keeps us alive.”

“I find myself in agreement with you here, Godbrand,” a third voice chimed in, deceptively young and so sickeningly posh Godbrand almost choked on his spits.

To his un-surprise, he saw the vampire Joachim at the top of the narrow stairs, hovering three feet above the ground because the fancy bastard didn’t want a single speck of dirt on his fancy boots — Godbrand didn’t buy his so-called ‘vampire customs’ one bit. He was too pale even by vampire standard, the yellow light from the torches along the wall failing to slap some color into his marmoreal skin, which brought to the Viking’s mind the image of a shrunken frost giant.

“There was a time when I had to survive on rat blood,” Joachim continued, hands behind his back as he made his gradual descent. “It was hell, you see, and while the blood indeed kept me alive, foul and disgusting as it was, the effect it had on my system was abysmal. Never again, I promised myself, and I have stayed true to that since.”

The casual camaraderie implied in his breezy tone contrasted heavily with the godawful experience he described. That, coupled with the half-smile that seemed to be ever present on his lips, created a dissonance which just rubbed Godbrand the wrong way. “What did you come here for?” he snapped.

Joachim jerked his chin slightly at the empty bottle by Godbrand’s foot and said, “The same reason which had brought you down to this cellar, to find something to quench my thirst.”

“If you mean booze, turn around and take the left turn. Dracula isn’t stingy with booze and it’s pretty much an all-you-can-pick. If you mean something else, me and this fella here have been debating what’s real blood and what’s not.”

“Ah, I was hoping to find a decent bottle and it appears I have come to the right place. However, right now I am feeling quite parched.”

He lifted a suggestive silver brow at the soldier and the half-smile stretched into a full grin. He licked his gleaming fangs in a half-seductive, half-predatory manner and Godbrand could see the poor fella squirming harder than the pitiful creature in his arms.

“If-If you want s-some, I can slit the pig’s throat and-and pour the blood out,” the soldier stammered.

“Did you not hear a word I had said?” Joachim said with a disappointed shake of his head. “Now, be a dear and put the goddamned animal down, will you? I would rather not have a smelly hog ruin my meal.”

“S-Sir, I don’t understand what you mean.”

“You do not have to,” Joachim drawled, red eyes shining brighter than the torches.

Godbrand was witnessing the strangest thing in his un-life.

The pig was dropped to the floor, letting out a pained “oink” as the vampire was lifted by invisible appendages. No sooner had he produced a startled cry, his feet dangling off the ground, than Joachim was on him, tearing his throat with fangs that specialized in biting through human flesh and tendons. The vampire fought at first, but held as he was by Joachim’s magic strings like a meat puppet, his struggles were in vain and soon died out. Joachim drank greedily, blood dripping from his beardless chin onto the soldier’s uniform. In the confined, ventless cellar, the slurping noises were eerily loud, coaxing Godbrand’s dead heart to thump sporadically against his eardrums. He wondered with a sort of morbid curiosity whether a vampire could be drained to the point of death.

Joachim released the soldier once he seemed to have drank his fill. The body hit the cold, uneven stone with a thud and laid dead-still. Procuring a silk cloth from a fold in his garment, Joachim dabbled his lips and chin, digging the steel tip of his boot into the soldier’s side. It took a few seconds but the body finally moved. The poor fella scrambled to his feet, a gauntleted hand pressing down the side of his mangled neck, so painfully human a gesture. His dilated pupils brimming with unspeakable horror, he looked at the floating vampire, who was finishing his cleaning process.

“What are you waiting for?” Joachim asked with faux-innocent tone, blinking slowly. The half-smile had returned. “Leave, and bring the little piggy with you. I have no more need for the both of you, unless Lord Godbrand here also wants a sip?”

Godbrand scoffed at Joachim’s deliberate ambiguity, which scared the ever-loving shit out of the soldier and put him in a flee-for-life mode.

“The hell just happened?” Godbrand asked, squinting his eyes at Joachim, who floated closer and put the Viking vampire infinitesimally on edge.

Joachim shrugged, head tilting like a naughty child caught red-handed. “I had a drink was what happened.”

“Don’t play dumb. You know that’s not what I mean.”

“Strangely enough, this is the second time I have heard that in the same night,” Joachim replied, tapping his chin with a finger. His nails, unlike a normal vampire’s nails, had a charcoal shade to them, Godbrand noticed. Was it purely aesthetic or something else?

“You drank a fucking vampire’s blood!”

Joachim didn’t even raise an eyebrow at his accusation. “Does that disturb you?” he asked. “Scares you perhaps? I am under the impression nothing scares a Viking vampire who has lived for hundreds of years and seen it all.”

Godbrand scoffed. “I have yet to witness vampire cannibalism despite the years under my belt. What an eye-opening experience.”

“You call it ‘cannibalism’ yet I do not recall devouring him and killing him. He left relatively unscathed, minus a couple pints of blood.”

“Still fucking cannibalism as far as I’m concerned. Why did you do that?”

“My thirst needed placating before I go and meet a certain Forgemaster. First impression is vital, you see. I intend to drink with him, not drink him. I do not think I have enough time to hunt, seeing that we are stranded in the middle of nowhere.”

The candor in his answer caught Godbrand by surprise. “You could have just drunk the fucking pig,” he retorted.

It was Joachim’s turn to scoff. “It saddens me to know my deeply personal story has fallen on much deaf ears.”

“Wait, so it’s true that you once survived on rats?” Godbrand asked, scratching his nose. “How was that even possible?”

“Well, beggars cannot be choosers and it was either sucking rats or desiccating. Still, the point is not to invoke your tears, Godbrand, but rather to testify to the detrimental effects of prolonged digestion of animal blood. And so I was left with two alternatives. Rather him than you, right?”

Godbrand’s expression scrunched up and he banged his fist on the table, producing hairline cracks on the worn surface. “I would have been happy to see you try.”

Rather than being intimidated by his threatening tone, Joachim only chuckled, which further irked the Viking. “It was only practical thinking, really. He gave off the scent of young blood who was newly initiated to the night — a decade, top — so he tasted slightly better than you anyway.”

Godbrand shot him an incredulous look.

“Oh, you did not know that?” he asked. “You did not, right. Vampire blood in general lacks the alluring sweetness of human blood, and the older the vampire, the more acrid the taste is to the tongue.”

“You speak as if you’ve sampled lots of vampire blood. Another vampire custom from where you came? How old is the oldest you’ve drunk?” Godbrand challenged.

“Ancient,” Joachim replied, eyes half-lidded like he was reliving a faraway memory. “I do not know the exact number but he was older than you and I could ever imagine. His blood was pure sulfur in my mouth when I gnawed his cold, dead neck. It burned and brought tears to my eyes.”

“What did you do? Spat it out?”

“I savored every drop of him.”

His jaws went slack and Joachim was sporting a look of absolute euphoria on his countenance. Were his blood hot and running like a human, Godbrand imagined the blushes would be glaring on his alabaster cheeks. Joachim was by no means a hideous creature, quite the opposite actually; his arousal would be an arousing sight but Godbrand found out it wasn’t always the case. Watching him, the Viking only felt uneasiness unfurl in his guts. His instincts told him to always keep his guard around this eccentric vampire, and that he should never be trusted.

Joachim snapped out of his short-lived trance soon enough. “Well, I would love to further our discussion until sunrise, Godbrand, but my night is already booked. Now, if you excuse me.”

Not waiting for Godbrand to reply, which he wouldn’t, Joachim floated to the direction of the wine cellar.

To be continued


As you may have already noticed, this took place before Joachim went to Hectos’s forge in Chapter 3.

Joachim is a cannibalistic vampire and this chapter, written in Godbrand’s POV because I like the old fool, shows a more disturbed side of him.