[Siegfried x Karna] If We Close Our Eyes

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Fate/Grand Order

Rating: K

Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna

Genres: fanfiction, AU

Characters: Karna, Siegfried

Preview:

“I was in some sort of pool, afloat though I don’t know how. But instead of water, it was some dark and viscous liquid much like mud. And it was boiling, although I wasn’t burnt. It was hard to describe; the heat was there and I felt it – terrifyingly real for a dream, as I recalled later. I wasn’t burnt in the sense that my skin wasn’t blistered and come off or anything; rather, I was melting, no, the right should be dissolving.”

Sequel to Till I Break You

Karna stirred and opened his bleary eyes to the burning sunlight flowing through the open window. He squinted his eyes out of reflex and grimaced, until a figure blocked the sun and provided the much-needed shade.

“You were kinda drooling on the textbook, you know,” a familiar voice said, and a hand handed him some tissues.

Karna lifted his head and caught sight of Siegfried’s face. His lips were slightly curling at both ends and he was having a Slurpee in his other hand. His long hair was tied back in a high ponytail, his tie was loosened and the top button of his white shirt was undone.

Spring was receding rapidly to make place for summer and the weather was getting hotter by the day. Along with the heat came the conclusion of their semester and the long-awaited summer vacation.

Karna consciously touched the corner of his lips and found no traces of drool. He shot Siegfried a glare but snatched the tissues nonetheless. Just in case.

“Stayed up late last night?” Siegfried asked, sitting down on Karna’s table, which earned a reprimanding look from Karna. It wasn’t that Karna disapproved his act; Siegfried had done it countless times before, and Karna was fine with it. Mr. Steinfield, however, wasn’t, and he was more than happy to give Siegfried a detention should he catch him.

Siegfried shrugged and didn’t budge.

Karna nodded. “Got into a fight with Arjuna last night over moronic things.”

“How moronic?”

“Video games. Someone was being a sore loser.”

“So you had a hard time falling asleep? You often do when you two fight.”

“Not this time though,” Karna bleated, pillowing his head on his arm. What he would trade for a real pillow right here, right now. “I… was having a nightmare. When I woke up, it felt like I hadn’t slept a wink.”

He motioned his hand for Siegfried to share the Slurpee with him, which the other student did. Siegfried was even thoughtful enough to bring the straw to his lips. “What was it about?” he asked.

Karna lazily took a long drag of the refreshing cold drink. Wild cherry huh? Siegfried’s favorite while his was watermelon but wild cherry wasn’t too bad. The sweet coolness on his tongue dispersed somewhat the cloying mist in his head and soothed his rampaging headache. “It was weird,” Karna began. “I was in some sort of pool, afloat though I don’t know how. But instead of water, it was some dark and viscous liquid much like mud. And it was boiling, although I wasn’t burnt. It was hard to describe; the heat was there and I felt it – terrifyingly real for a dream, as I recalled later. I wasn’t burnt in the sense that my skin wasn’t blistered and come off or anything; rather, I was melting, no, the right should be dissolving.”

“Dissolving?” Siegfried echoed, wincing. “As in acid sulphuric?”

“Uhm.”

“Sounds horrible. It had to be excruciating.”

“The thought was, yes, but I wasn’t in pain. In fact, I felt almost nothing. Weird, huh? Could feel the heat but not the pain. I thought that too, until I realized I had no lower body and no limbs. Only my head, neck and shoulders connected to a torso. And I knew, without having learned how, that soon what was left of me would dissolve—”

“Okay, okay, okay, stop right there before that image burns into my head.”

“That’s not the worst of it,” Karna said, half irritated because Siegfried cut him and half amused by his reaction. He was too sleepy and lethargic to decide which was dominant. “The same dream came back just a few minutes ago.”

“A recurring dream huh?” Siegfried wondered, stroking his smooth chin pensively. “Maybe your subconscious was trying to tell your something.”

“Looks who has just become Sigmund Freud,” Karna deadpanned.

“That’s Fox’s major, not mine, along with horoscopes. Wanna meet her after school and consult her?”

“I want to go straight home and sleep until tomorrow,” Karna replied, yawning dramatically audible. “Maybe the day after tomorrow.”

Furrowing his eyebrows, Siegfried looked down on Karna’s I’m-a-lazy-cat form. “Then I suppose our date is canceled?”

Karna’s half-lidded eyes shot open. “What? What day is today?”

“Friday.” A beat. “And my parents are out of town until next week and yours by the end of the month.” Another beat. “I got pizza and Netflix and PS4. Just enough to last us through the weekend.”

Karna’s eyes shone the brightest this entire morning and afternoon. “It’s not canceled,” he protested. “Just let me snatch some shut-eye and I’ll be good.”

Siegfried beamed triumphantly. “But didn’t you just say you wanted to go home?”

Seeing through his taunt, Karna pouted. “Between Arjuna’s spicy tantrums and his bland curry – same thing this whole week – and Netflix and pizza, I’ll go with Netflix and pizza.”

Siegfried arched an eyebrow. “You don’t mean Netflix and chill?”

Karna gave him a hard pinch, almost sending the other student off the table. Despite that, Siegfried was laughing so hard his eyes were brimming with mirthful tears. His laugh was contagious and Karna found himself laughing along.

“Anyway, just forget that weird dream and take a nap,” Siegfried said. “I’ll wake you up when break’s over.”

“Don’t get too bored doing so,” Karna replied, resting his head on his folding arms.

Mouthing “I won’t”, Siegfried looked around the class. Once he had made sure they were definitely alone, he bent down to place a light kiss atop Karna’s spiky head. His heartbeat quickened, excited by the prospect of spending the whole private weekend with Karna.

With his eyes shut tight, the corners of Karna’s lips curved into a smile as he tried to do as he’d been told, pushing that horrible nightmare to the far corner of his mind.

… along with a tidbit of truth he had withhold from Siegfried so as not to worry him: he wasn’t alone in that dream, because Siegfried was right next to him…

… dissolving.

Karna stirred and opened his bleary eyes to the purple sky that stretched far beyond his eyesight. The sun was present in the sky yet he felt none of the familiar assuring warmth from the sunlight, for the sun was not the blazing wheel of his father’s chariot but a gigantic black hole outlined with ominous light, from which dark mud continuously poured down the vast sea under. Hot and cold engaged in a continuous battle, each with its own ferocity.

Soaked in lethargy, Karna let out a feather-soft sigh and attempted to move his limbs, only to be sharply reminded that they were no longer attached to his body. Already dissolved in this sinister mud, their presences a lingering phantom in his fading memory. It would be a matter of time before the rest of his body and his consciousness succumbed to the same fate.

“You awake?”

The familiar voice was a gentle breeze that dispersed some of the soupy mist in his mind.

Coming into his sight was a face of doleful horror: where the skin had been smooth and adorned with the light pattern indicating the powerful dragon blood was now charred and falling off, partly revealing the teeth. The other half of the face, unmarred and still retaining its handsomeness, was masked by unspoken sorrow and agony.

Karna wished he still had a hand – just one hand was enough – so that he could press his palm against Siegfried’s cheek and hope to ease away the sadness and pain he had endured.

“I was dreaming,” Karna whispered, forcefully taking his eyes away from the horrific wound on Siegfried’s face while they were being magnetized towards it. It wasn’t its grotesqueness that shook him; rather it was the jarring truth of whose hand had inflicted such cruelty: his own. “It was a bizarre drea—”

His speech stopped short when his gaze landed on Siegfried’s shoulders. His usual armor had been stripped off, and in Karna’s sight was a blood-crusted stump. “Your arm…” His breath got stuck in his lungs, pressed down with incredible pressure.

“Ah,” Siegfried let out a sigh of resignation. It made a weird soft wheezing sound through his wound. “It’s only inevitable. My only regret is that now I’m unable to hold you with both arms.”

Jabbed by the sharp pain clouding Karna’s irises, he quickly added, “It didn’t hurt at all, only a minor discomfort, the nagging feeling of phantom limbs.”

He cut himself short, realizing Karna probably knew it all too well; after all he had been submerged in this dark mud long before Siegfried.

“Tell me about your dream. I want to hear it.”

“It was a… strange dream,” Karna began. “It wasn’t a nightmare, no, maybe it was but let’s say it wasn’t a nightmare in the conventional sense.”

“How strange?”

“It was… peaceful and normal and these two alone were the telltale signs of bizarreness.”

“Because peaceful and normal do not apply to us Servants?”

It was a question that came out of his mouth but his tone indicated a statement.

“We were humans in that dream. Not just you and I but Tamamo, Kiyohime and every other Servant we’ve acquainted. Humans living human lives, going to school, fooling around, having fun.”

“That sounds…… tempting,” Siegfried sighed.

It took him a while to find the word, and the courage to voice it.

“It was… beautiful. Sunlight pouring through the wide-open window, enveloping me in its pleasant warmth, like Father’s large hand softly patting my head, my shoulders. So beautiful that it was terrifying.”

“Can we Servants even dream?”

“If it wasn’t a dream then what was it?”

Silence, only the bubbling of the mud to fill the space.

“Another world, perhaps?” Siegfried said, at last.

“You mean a parallel world?”

“Yes. I prefer to think there is another world out there where we are humans. Maybe there are myriads versions of us.”

Karna temporarily shut his eyes, contemplating Siegfried’s theory. It fascinated him, excited him even, to imagine himself and Siegfried as humans as in his dream. Humans who weren’t heroes having to shoulder the weight of saving an incinerated world. Humans who led their lives as carefreely and ignorantly as humans could.

“Perhaps there is,” he replied, his tone hinting a sliver of joy. “It was blissful to be able to catch a glimpse of such a dazzlingly peaceful world.” A pause. Long enough for Siegfried to start pondering if he should interrupt his train of thought or wait. “Is it selfish to wish to be in that world even for just a few moments?”

“It’s a little odd hearing the selfless Hero of Charity claim to have a wish,” Siegfried teased. “Might take a while for me to get used to it.”

Karna managed a smile and even a gesture as small as that seemed like great exertion. His time was probably not long. The next time he closed his eyes, perhaps…

“I didn’t have a wish when I was summoned,” he said, “and then I met you. I wished to fight side-by-side with you for as long as our time in this world allowed. And now…”

“And now?”

“I only wish to be with you, even though it seems impossible now.”

“It’s not impossible. I’ll be with you till the very end.”

As if to assure Karna as well as himself, he kissed him on the lips, which had become even paler than normal and long lost its warmth, together with the rest of his body. What he was holding in his arms resembled a cadaver, with almost no life left in it.

“And I with you,” Karna said. He felt warmth and moisture on his cheek, and was unsure whose tears they were.

“If we were ever summoned again…”

“If we ever were summoned again…”

They said in unison and their sentences were cut short almost at the same time because Karna had closed his eyes. With that his body disintegrated into thousands light particles.

Karna stirred and opened his bleary eyes to the sounds of plastic bags being rustled. One glance at the window told him that dust had already settled in. The sky was dyed a purplish color and the sun was a half ball of dimming light disappearing behind the countless houses and buildings. The temperature had become a bit milder with the soft breezes scented with the faint smell of roses from the garden one story below. The honking of vehicles echoed from the distance. He straightened his back and sat up from his half-sitting, half-lying position on the couch. He had always loved this couch in Siegfried’s living room – so fluffy and comfy that once you sat down, you never wanted to stand up. In front of him Siegfried was busy laying the boxes of pizza, fries and drinks on the coffee table. It seemed a bit too much for the two of them; luckily they were both big eaters.

“Caught a nap?” Siegfried asked, opening the boxes of pizza to reveal a Seafood Deluxe and a Pepperoni Superb. Steam was raising and an enticing aroma fought off the scent of roses to fill the living room. Despite the uneasy feeling in his stomach, Karna felt his mouth water at the sight and scent. His appetite was catching up to him.

“Yeah,” Karna replied, ruffling his spiky hair. His hair was probably sticking in all directions but he couldn’t care less.

“I just went out to grab some drinks, just in time for the pizza delivery guy to arrive. Here.”

Siegfried opened a coke can and handed it over. Their fingers brushed and Karna received it with silent appreciation; his throat was often very parched after waking up. The cool liquid quickly washed away his thirst. “I was having a dream,” he said.

“Don’t tell me it was that dream again. If you keep having the same dream like that it’s really worrying.”

“I’m pretty certain this is the last time it visits me.”

“Why?”

“Well, the ‘me’ in that dream died. No, more like vanished or erased. I’m not so sure what that was supposed to be. His body became countless spots of lights and disappeared. Anyway, I knew that ‘me’ no longer existed.”

“That’s disturbing,” Siegfried commented.

“It was a just a dream, nothing more. And I want a slice with that juicy prawn.”

“Right,” Siegfried said, handing Karna what was seemingly the biggest slice. As for himself, he took a piece of pepperoni pizza. “After dinner, what’s the plan? Netflix or game?”

With his mouth half-full with pizza, Karna said. “We still have to decide who’s gonna clean up and take out the trash. That means game.”

“Oh? Is that a challenge? Alright. Game on.”

Karna shrugged and finished his slice, savory and chewy. Just the right kind of junk food to soothe his hunger. As he stretched his arm to get another, he tried to temporary push the last vestige of his dream to the back of his mind: the look on Siegfried’s scarred face while watching Karna turn into particles of light. He had a hunch that look was likely going to haunt him for some time before the memory worn off.

End

 [Siegfried x Karna] All the Valentine’s Chocolate Combined

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Fate/Grand Order

Rating: T

Pairing(s): Siegfried x Karna, (implied) Cú Chulainn x Diarmuid, Vlad III x Nero, Yan Qing x Sasaki Kojirou, Achilles x Atalanta

Genres: fanfiction, fluff, humor

Characters: Siegfried, Karna, Kiyohime, Yan Qing, Sasaki Kojirou, Gilgamesh (kid), original character

Summary:

Valentine’s Day. Chocolate. Love confessions. Kabedon. And Servants.

Sequel to Sharing Warmth and A Drunken Mishap

“It’s called kabedon, KA-BE-DON.”

“Kabedon?” Siegfried mechanically echoed. The sound felt odd on his tongue even if he tried his best to imitate Kiyohime’s pronunciation. Despite having a couple Japanese friends, Kojirou and Kiyohime being his closest chums, not to mention his Master, he was still unconfident articulating Japanese names or words.

“What is it?”

“It’s super popular in Japanese pop culture, just so you know. When a guy uses that on his intended partner, his love confession will have one hundred percent chance of success. Works like A-rank magecraft.”

“Does it?” Siegfried asked, somewhat incredulously. He might not be an expert in the field of magecraft, but he had never heard about such a powerful… spell, or ritual, or whatever that ‘kabedon’ was – he still hadn’t learned of its form. Was it some Oriental secret?

“You baka dragon,” Kiyohime chided, not unkindly. Siegfried was sure her combination of words would be quite a painful prick in many linguists’ eardrums but he wasn’t going to point it out to her. “You know nothing.” This seemed to be her catchphrase these days – someone had spent most of her free nights binge-watching that fantasy show on TV, her most recent obsession beside their Master.

Sumanai.”

“That’s alright. Now, remember, no, learn it by heart, the key to kabedon is the force you put into your hands when you have him against the wall, or any flat surface. It shouldn’t be too strong or else he’ll mistakenly think you want to assault him and probably respond in kind, not to mention the risk of punching a hole through the wall, which I seriously doubt our Master’d appreciate. But it shouldn’t be too weak either, or else you’ll end up looking like a wimp. It should be gentle, yet intimidating, to highlight your masculinity…”

“Aren’t he and I both male? Why should I need to emphasize my masculinity?”

Kiyohime sighed deeply – she had a penchant for being dramatic, that dragon girl. “Needn’t I tell you everything? Hah, I’ll be blunt so you can grasp it. Do you want to be seme or not?”

“Uhm… I’m not sure what ‘seme’ means.”

“Geez, it means being on top, and you put your d*** into his b***! For goodness’s sake, do some research!”

Siegfried looked absolutely horrified like a little lamb in front of a furious lion. “Kiyohime, yo-your language!” Siegfried stammered. “That’s not lady-like at all.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve never thought of that before. I won’t buy it.”

Siegfried’s face went from ghastly pale like he’d seen a ghost to red as though a can of tomato sauce had just spilled beneath his skin. He admitted he had fantasized that a couple times, when he was sleepless and buzzing with energy – their young Master had a rather impressive pool of mana for a Magus of his age – and the quiet hours called for some dynamic activities. Nevertheless, he was deeply aware that although they might be sharing a bedroom and some body contact, the road to Siegfried’s daring fantasy to become a reality was still much long.

“I… I still haven’t told him my feelings.”

“Do you think they’re reciprocated?”

“I think so…yes…” Siegfried replied, his voice lower, bearing a hint of doubt. “He certainly doesn’t abhor the room sharing or the body contact. That proves we aren’t just friends, right? Then that one time he kissed me… it was a drunk kiss but once he knew what he had done, he didn’t seem disgusted or anything. And he also defended me against his brother…”

Kiyohime sported a serious look foreign to her countenance. Her eyebrows furrowed, her lips were set in a neat straight line and she stroked her chin. For some reason, looking at her, Siegfried felt a sense of unease. “You want to know what I think?” Kiyohime asked.

Siegfried nodded.

“I thought he liked you before, and that’s why I went to talk to you about this whole ‘kabedon’ thing, but I was wrong. He didn’t like you, buddy…”

Siegfried’s heart literally dropped. So… Karna didn’t really like him, and everything up until this moment had been his misinterpretation of Karna’s friendly acts due to their cultural differences. Or worse, his own shameful distortion of their friendship. Gott, from now on he couldn’t bear looking straight at Karna anymore, let alone staying in his room or fighting alongside him…

“Hey, Sumanai-kun, you listening to me?”

Kiyohime asked in a worried tone, waving her hand in front of Siegfried’s red-rimmed eyes before his self-flagellation trainwreck went further south. “I haven’t finished my sentence. I said he didn’t just like you, buddy, he likes you. So rest assured, the feelings are mutual.”

Eh?

Siegfried had heard about the light at the end of the tunnel. This had to be it.

“Ho-How do you tell?”

“Maybe he’s always close to you so you haven’t realized but Karna is pretty distant to every other Servant and staff here. Polite, well-mannered but distant nonetheless. Even to our Master. I can tell he has a miniscule comfort zone and he doesn’t let anyone in easily. And you, you got right into the heart of it, invited and welcomed by him, no less. That’s saying something.”

Siegfried got elevated into the sky but his pessimism had to pull it down to earth; that way it’d hurt less when his bad luck kicked in. “What is that something?” he murmured.

“That something means he regards you highly, probably higher than he does the rest of us. He cherishes you, Dragon-kun, is that clear enough for you?”

“Is that so?”

“That’s right,” Kiyohime replied, patting his shoulder. “I’d say it’s the most opportune time to confess your feelings – though I suspect he’s already known. What else is Valentine’s Day for?”

So it was that time of the year in Chaldea. Technically Valentine’s Day lasted one day but in here, people kind of stretched it to a whole week. Although missions were still carried out – because the world was helpless in saving itself, there was no overnight ones as the evenings were saved for partying, boozing, playing games and, ahem, some adult activities of course; they were mostly grown-ups here save a few kid Servants. Since this was his first year in Chaldea, Siegfried was somewhat surprised by how lively this place became at this time. Then his surprise quickly turned into bafflement when he witnessed Cú Chulainn pulled a flustered Diarmuid into a shady corner and…

Well, he averted his eyes and went the other way, afraid that his presence was interfering with their intimate moment. That the two of them were courting each other, or to use the modern vernacular – hooking up, was no secret in Chaldea, and everyone here was perfectly cool with it. It was just they were usually a little less open with their affection.

By the time he witnessed Achilles offering a brightly decorated box of chocolate to Atalanta, who turned him down for like the twentieth time, Siegfried had gotten used to it. It was certainly fun to see the Servants engage in human activities, and it reminded him that before they were Servants, summoned here by the earnest wish to protect this world, they were human beings with emotions.

“So,” Siegfried turned back to the subject, “once I have him against the wall with that kabedon thing, what should I do next? Just say how I feel?”

“Of course that’s what you’ll do, but before that, you’ll look into his eyes and make sure your gaze is filled to the brim with your passion, as if he were the only person in the whole world you have your eyes for, the center of your universe.”

“That sounds… abstract and I doubt that I can pull that off.”

“You can, trust me. I’ve seen you gazing at him several times,” Kiyohime said with a wide, confident beam which made Siegfried redden. “That will have him speechless and his heart go fonder. As you entrance him with you fiery stare, you bring your face closer and closer to his, until they are only inches apart and you can feel each other’s breath. And then, in your sultry voice, you tell the three magic words.”

“I’m not sure that I have a sultry voice,” Siegfried meekly confessed. He was quite convinced that his voice was rather bland.

“Don’t worry. Just use that voice you used when you and Sasaki-kun performed that duet on Master’s birthday. Honestly I was surprised by how sexy your voice could be.”

The tips of Siegfried’s ears peeking out from his silver mane turned bright red.

“What if he rejected? I mean, it could be too sudden and—”

“Oh boy, you’ve gotta believe in the magic of kabedon. If a man did it to me, I’d surely melt in his arms and be his faithful wife for ever and ever.”

Only if you didn’t bake him first, Siegfried mused but kept his lips tight because Kiyohime was hugging herself with that absolute look of euphoria on her face, and everyone in Chaldea knew better than to intervene with her fantasies lest them got flambéed by her Berserker temper.

Siegfried waited for Kiyohime to come down to earth again with patience. She did, after a while, and clapped his biceps with a grin on her face. “Go for it, Dragon-kun. We shall wait for your good news.”

“We?” Siegfried echoed incredulously.

“Oops,” Kiyohime mumbled, covering her mouth using the sleeve of her black kimono. “Well, that you’re into Karna is no breaking news to us lot. You’re quite transparent when it comes to feelings, you know.”

“Right,” Siegfried heaved a sign, having already heard from Kojirou about the long list of Servants who had seen through his discreet growing affection for the Lancer. It still felt a little embarrassed, though.

“By the way, Emiya sent me a message to tell you to drop by the kitchen to get some chocolate. Before you ask what it’s for, it’s for you to give Karna and it’s complimentary, so don’t worry about paying him back later. And be hurry before Altria hogs them all. Emiya always has a soft spot for her never-ending appetite.”

Probably as adept in dessert-making as in weapon-tracing, Emiya had sort of opened a small startup of handing out chocolate on demand. That meant any Servants and even Masters who wanted to follow Valentine tradition or just simply yearned for some sweet delicacy could ask him in exchange for a little IOU at a later time – mostly just getting him some exotic cooking ingredients on their missions. All the heart-shaped chocolate candies Achilles had been using in hope of winning Atalanta’s heart had come from Emiya. For those who were a bit closer to him, mostly sharing the team with him, the red Archer, however, would offer them his culinary artworks without charge.

“I will, thank you,” Siegfried replied.

He just hoped Karna did have a sweet tooth for Western confectionary.

Siegfried was strolling along the corridor, an oval red box secured in his palm. This was what he had gotten from Emiya, and although it was rather small as compared to the Archer’s usual boxes, he had assured Siegfried that the quality was on par, if not a tad superior. This was his experimental récipe and so far he had only received positive feedback – had pleased even royal tastebuds like Nero’s or Vlad’s. How did he know? Well, after that both of them had come to him separately to give compliment on the other’s chocolate. Anyway, since he and Siegfried was on friendly terms – those with shit luck tended to band together, to quote Cú Chulainn, the red Archer had thought Siegfried should try it.

The next step in executing his plan (despite its absurdity but that was what he got asking love advice from a Berserker) would be to find Karna and a suitable place, or alternatively, to find Karna at a suitable place. It was a bit difficulty to meet the Lancer outside their shared room recently because one, he and Siegfried had been assigned to different tasks related to their class and as such, they hadn’t had a chance to fight alongside each other for a couple days; and two, when both of them actually had some spare time fighting-free, Karna was swept away by the newly arrived Arjuna, who had insisted on challenging his older brother to a duel whenever he could, or felt like to, which not only occupied all Karna’s time but also left him all wound up and frustrated when he retired to the bedroom. And that was really something because Karna rarely displayed his emotions. The brotherly feud was even worse than Siegfried had read about them, and as far as he was concerned, Arjuna’s obsession with Karna seemed to be treading on the thin line between natural – as they had been arch enemies in life – and unhealthy. In Kiyohime’s eyes, however, all of that was meant to minimize the time Siegfried could spend with the Lancer as a certain someone was red-flagging ‘brother complex’ everywhere and it had her feeling somewhat uncomfortable. Although Siegfried had no idea what a ‘brother complex’ was, if it was something that could cause even Kiyohime to be uncomfortable then he was sure he did not want to know.

Siegfried stopped short when he reached a turn and gazed at a spot on the wall with nostalgic expression. Right here, just a few months ago, that incident had happened. Embarrassing and crazy as it had been, it was also a fond memorial trinket. Despite the sore fact that it had been purely alcohol-induced, it was their first-ever lip-to-lip encounter and it never failed to heat up the tips of his ears every time the memory surfaced. Come to think of it, Karna could have drunk-kissed just about any of the Greek heroes at that table, even Hektor or Achilles, who was on good terms with him; nonetheless, somehow he had managed to perfectly time the exact moment of Siegfried’s approaching him. Coincidental or not, it proved that finally Lady Luck had graced him with her smile; perhaps, for once, he could allow himself some hope that Kiyohime was right about his feelings being reciprocated.

So engrossed in his thought that Siegfried didn’t sense the presence – or rather presences – coming towards him. Everyone in Chaldea exuded unique presence, although the nuance could be not easy to point out. Servants, however, could effortlessly distinguish between a staff member, their own Master, or a Servant. Still, that was only plausible when they weren’t spacing out like Siegfried was at the moment.

On hindsight, Siegfried couldn’t have detected the presences coming towards him given the nature of the Servants. That didn’t not make the experience any less mortifying on his side.

All of Siegfried’s scales on his tail stood on their ends when a hand tapped him on the shoulder, startling his nostalgia into shattering. He was one step from materializing Balmung when he heard a voice.

“Oi, Brother Dragon, why are you staring at the empty wall?”

The voice registered in Siegfried’s mind as overly familiar so he turned around and was faced with Yan Qing and Kojirou. Yan Qing had one arm casually slung on Kojirou’s shoulder, and Kojirou didn’t seem to mind the gesture. These two were getting rather close these days, Siegfried noted, and it made sense as they had a lot in common culture-wise. He had also heard that Yan Qing was Kojirou’s brand-new roommate.

“I was spacing out, honestly,” admitted Siegfried.

“Is that a chocolate box from Emiya?” Kojirou pointed.

Only now did Siegfried remember he was having something in his hand. Well, there was no use hiding something once it was spied, so he nodded, abashed.

Kojirou and Yan Qing exchanged a mirroring smirk.

“We just saw Karna talking to our Master,” Yan Qing, jerking his thumb towards the direction they had come from. “They’re likely still there.”

“And that troublesome brother of his has been accompanying his Master on a mission and probably won’t return until the evening,” Kojirou helpfully added.

Siegfried couldn’t contain an internal defeated sigh, fully aware that his affection for Karna was now officially the most badly hidden secret in all Chaldea.

“Well, best of luck, Brother Dragon,” Yan Qing said, “and if you want to surprise Karna, trying hiding that box somewhere other than your hands.”

And off he went on with Kojirou to do whatever Assassins liked to do in their free time.

It was either his luck had been upgraded overnight or his Master, like many Servants in Chaldea, could clearly read his motif, because by the time Siegfried approached the pair, their Master and Karna’s discussion had just finished. Leaving the Servants to themselves, their Master bid them goodbye to leave for the Master Hall, but not before he (un)intentionally winked at Siegfried.

The corridor suddenly became so engulfing with only the two of them.

The course of actions for his plan were spinning in Siegfried’s head like a roulette. Pin him against the wall, gaze into his eyes, confess your feelings, finish with a breath-taking kiss, his mental voice was undoubted Kiyohime’s. It sounded simple enough, the plan, and it was indeed simple, which required no-brainer, yet Siegfried found it to be the most energy-draining, nerve-wrecking thing he’d ever done in his entire existence. His heart was certainly not helping at all, banging its fleshy self against the rib cages with an iron will to be liberated.

But to chicken out at this crucial moment was not what Siegfried – not as a dragon-slaying hero but as a man – would ever do, so he balled his fists and made up his mind. “Karna…” he took one step up, swallowing the molasses in his throat and getting himself prepared for battle, urgh, for action; there wasn’t that much difference after all. But alas, fate was not so kind-hearted as to allow him this chance because Karna suddenly raised his voice, effectively halting Siegfried. “I have something to tell you,” he said in his ever-cool tone, not indicating any hint as to what he was about to speak.

Eh?

Not expecting this turn of event, Siegfried postponed his intended words and looked into Karna’s pale face, which turned out to be a fatal mistake as he was instantly captivated by the Lancer’s intense gaze. He always thought Karna’s eyes, a clear, icy blue like a frozen lake during winter, to possess a mystic spell to pin someone’s down and demand their undiluted intention so that they couldn’t not focus on anything else but him. Sabers were known for their high magic resistance and still, more than once Siegfried had found himself at the mercy of that enchanted gaze. Or perhaps it was something other than magic, something more complex that subtly penetrated his consciousness to beckon his suppressed desires. Whatever it was, it was sure to get him every time. He wondered if Karna was aware of his effect on Siegfried as he slowly but steadily advanced, causing the Dragon Slayer’s feet to take unconscious steps backward.

By Karna’s commanding gaze, Siegfried was soon backed against the wall. His eyes not straying from the Saber’s face for even a split second, not even to blink, he raised his hands as if about to deal a blow. Siegfried knew he wouldn’t, though; it was completely uncharacteristic of him to attack a stranger out of the blue, least of all his ally and friend. Unlike his hot-tempered, irrational brother.

With a soft – but still edible – sound to let Siegfried be aware that he’d used a modicum of his god-blessed strength, Karna planted his palms against the walls, caging the Saber, and brought his face close enough to Siegfried’s that they could feel each other’s breath. His sharp, feline eyes were scrutinizing the Saber’s expressions. Despite his shorter stature and much leaner frame, Karna looked intimidating, predatory even, with Siegfried regrettably being his chosen prey. Worse, the prey had already given in the moment he got mesmerized by those frosty blue eyes, pitifully without resistance.

“Uhm… you have something to tell me?” Siegfried opened his mouth, struggling to find his voice, which came out a little hoarse. He needed to somewhat dispel the intensity in the charging atmosphere and his own anxiety of waiting for Karna’s response.

Being almost chest-to-chest, Siegfried could inspect the crimson jewel embedded on Karna’s flesh. It was a secret of Karna’s, which he’d discovered after spending months in close proximity with the Lancer, that his jewel seemed to convey his feelings far better than his impassive expressions. The stronger his emotions got, be that joy, grief, excitement or anger, the clearer and shinier the gem became. Siegfried was startled to see its gleam, which, coupled with his rising body heat, denounced that the Saber wasn’t the only affected by their situation. Siegfried hoped against hope that nobody would pass by this corridor and ruined this moment for them.

“From the day we first accompanied our Master into battles,” Karna began rather solemnly, after a moderate pause, his eyes boring into Siegfried’s, “I’ve always considered you a reliable comrade, to whom I could trust to cover my back, an opponent worthy of my spear, and a friend whom I can talk and laugh with. But that isn’t all…”

The heat radiating from him was getting stronger, to the point that Siegfried thought it might sear his skin. Alright, technically it couldn’t, but he wouldn’t mind if it did.

“As a matter of fact, I really like you,” Karna hesitated, “and it’s much different from comradeship or friendship. It’s similar to the special bond shared between Diarmuid and Cú Chulainn, or Emiya and Altria, or Nero and Vlad…”

Siegfried just stared at Karna, his need to blink forgotten as he was stunned by the raw honesty in his voice and the earnest fire burning in his eyes. Even in his wildest dreams had he never dared to imagine Karna confessing his feelings to him, and in such straightforward manners. Sure he had heeded Kiyohime’s advice and gathered up his courage to tell Karna the exact same words, yet always a part of him, a not-so-tiny part, was prepared to take rejection, and possibly awkwardness following afterward. If Karna wasn’t having him against the wall, he might want to do the silly thing of giving himself a good punch just so he knew he wasn’t in a twisted dream.

Wait a minute! The caging, the intense gaze, the confession… all of these struck him as familiar.

“So, what do you say?” asked Karna.

“The three magic words!” yelled the chibified Kiyohime dressed in pink kimono with a pair of fluffy wings behind her back. Siegfried mentally winced at her shrill voice inside his head.

“Is this… kabedon?”

So much for the three magic words. The chibi angel Kiyohime banged her head on his shoulder pad.

In a rare astounded expression which Siegfried had thought as nonexistent in his repertoire, Karna widened his eyes. His jaws were slightly slack but no words came out. After a few good seconds, it was a curt admittance: “Yes.”

“Did you, by any chance, get it from Foxy Lady?”

Foxy was Tamamo no Mae’s nickname in Chaldea because her full name was a bit cumbersome. Technically she wasn’t a fox spirit but as she had once said, she didn’t mind being referred as one, having been mistaken by thousands before. That foxes were extremely adorable was an added bonus. Besides, what irked her much more than being mistaken for another species was being addressed by a generic name, which, once called, would turn at least a dozen heads around.

To put it short, the relationship between Karna and Tamamo no Mae was similar to that between Siegfried and Kiyohime: odd, yes, but genuine in spite of their vast cultural differences, beliefs and moral codes.

Another “Yes” came from Karna. Was Siegfried imagining or his pitch just got a bit higher?

No wonder, Siegfried thought. Those two Servants were very close friends and essentially partners-in-crime. He wouldn’t be too shocked if they had had this all set up.

“Funny enough,” Siegfried said, “Kiyohime gave me the same advice and I was going to tell you the same thing.”

“So…… that was why you came looking for me?”

“Yes.”

An awkward silence stretched between the two grownup Heroic Spirits, who were staring at each other – no intensity this time – like two clueless adolescents who’d just learned that their feelings were mutual but had no idea what the next step should be because, well, they were utterly clueless. It appeared although both of them had carefully thought it through and carried it out, neither was prepared for the possibility that it might actually succeed.

Siegfried did know what to do. Back in his era and country, when a man proposed he’d just get on one knee, offer his intended partner a flower, preferably a red rose, and promise to fight and triumph all her other suitors… or try to win her family’s favor so that he could ask for her hand. However, that was only applicable when his intended partner’s gender wasn’t the same as his and he wouldn’t risk looking like a crazy fool or worse, provoking Karna to anger. Karna had never shown his temper but who knew how calamitous it could be. Best not to try it.

“So…” both said in unison and fell into silence again.

The faintest shade of cherry dusted Karna’s white cheeks, and the ice in his eyes had thawed enough to put a glaze over his irises. Looking at him, Siegfried was reminded of that New Year’s Eve, and of the drunken but turned out to be the most marvelous kiss he’d had in centuries. It ignited in him so fervent a desire to relive that scene right here, right now, that all the confusion and hesitation were swept clean. This time, their minds would be the clearest state and there was no one around to spoil this intimate moment.

So he stopped thinking and just sprang into action. His hand went to touch the side of Karna’s neck, feeling the cool warmth of the earring dangling near his shoulder, and as the Lancer’s eyes enlarged, Siegfried bent his head and gently capture his parted lips.

It felt natural when Karna, after a moment of stillness due to being taken off guard, responded with the same gentleness the Saber offered. His mouth closed, and his lips glided leisurely against Siegfried’s. It felt natural when Karna’s arms rested limply on Siegfried’s shoulders, caging him in a loose embrace. It felt natural when Siegfried pressed his body against Karna’s, immersing himself in the precious, one-of-a-kind warmth that emitted from the son of the sun god, and his hands palmed the sides of Karna’s slender hips. It felt also natural when Karna tried to press harder into Siegfried’s form even though it was impossible, and his fingers threaded into Siegfried’s silver mane, drawing idle circles at the sensitive skin on the back of his neck, sending shiver down his spine.

Everything in this moment felt just natural while nothing of it should, and truth was, both of them paid it no mind, focusing instead on the sweetly unique flavor that spelt of the other. Out of a taciturn agreement, they kept the kiss chaste as to commemorate the cement of their relationship, knowing this was their first true kiss, and with a swelling confidence, not their last.

A sheen of moisture coated Karna’s lips once they parted and he unconsciously licked them. Siegfried’s Adam’s apple bobbed.

“I, uhm, got this from the red Archer,” Karna said, rummaging through his fiery cloak for a while and pulled out a red square-shaped box. Siegfried was baffled to see that it had such use. Wasn’t it weaved of fire? Shouldn’t it burn? But the box wasn’t, though. Maybe Karna put a spell or a charm on it or it was just how the cloak’s magic worked – burnt not what its owner wished no harm.

The box looked perfect and Siegfried didn’t need to see the inside to know its content. Hadn’t him gotten a similar one from Emiya?

“Tamamo said it was a modern tradition to share this treat with your loved one…”

As he spoke, his fingers carefully unwrapped the ribbons and opened it to reveal… shapeless brown goo that might appear disgusting if not for its strong, pleasant aroma. Karna immediately paled.

Siegfried tried so hard not to laugh that it actually hurt. “I guess that’s why Emiya traced that gargantuan fridge first thing when he entered the kitchen. These chocolates can’t stand the heat, not even room temperature,” said Siegfried, clearing his throat. Being that close to Karna’s body, it was sure to catch some of his body temperature, which was tad higher than a normal person’s.

“Point taken,” Karna deeply sighed.

“I got some from him too,” Siegfried said, taking out the chocolate box he had hidden in his cloak of invisibility, hoping that his chocolate would fare better. His tone dropped once he saw the box in his hand. Inside, the once-beautiful oval box of chocolate, though not melted, had been misshapen and became the very symbol of a trampled heart. Must have been the result of his being backed against the wall.

“Yours is melted and mine is crushed,” Siegfried sighed, “we’ll make quite a pair.”

They both burst into hearty laughter.

This might be the first time he’d heard Karna laugh, loud and true, and the sound was music to his ears; he would much love to hear it every day from now on.

“But we can still have what they call,” Siegfried said, dipping a piece of his chocolate into Karna’s melted chocolate, “a mockery of chocolate fondue.” As he finished, he brought the piece to Karna’s lips, which the Lancer took into his mouth. His gorgeous eyes shone as he exclaimed, “It’s so delicious!”

“It is,” Siegfried agreed, licking his fingers. He bent down and claimed the second kiss only minutes after the first. Sure the chocolate was sweet, but the lingering aftertaste on Karna’s tongue was sweeter than all the Valentine’s chocolate combined.

Epilogue 1

I immediately noticed something weird as soon as I entered the main cafeteria looking for dinner after relaxing in a long, hot bath. I had taken my time in the bath, partly to soak my fatigue off and partly to avoid the rush hour at the cafeteria, when Masters and Servants came back from their missions, all clamoring for steaming-hot food and beverages. After that, they spread out to enjoy their leisure time, and the cafeteria would be mostly vacant save a few staff members.

But today was different. Rush hour had been over for at least half an hour, and still there was hardly an empty table in the space. On closer inspection, the cafeteria was occupied mostly by Servants, not Masters, and the majority of them being Heroic Spirits of the bow. Why they gathered here was a bafflement to me because the cafeteria wasn’t the Archers’ favorite hangout; they much preferred the training ground, where they could compete with one another to see who was the best marksman or markswoman.

I quickly grabbed my portion of foods – mashed potatoes, salads and honeyed chicken, and an extra-large cup of goat milk yoghurt – and strode to a table at a corner, who had been claimed by a Servant. A small one in both size and age, who was in contract with me, he had his eyes glued on the iPad screen, watching some sort of anime, and a spoon was dangling from his mouth while a half-full bowl of fruit salads topped with whipped cream sat on the table. Were he a normal kid, I would like to remind him it wasn’t a good habit to watch TV while eating, but to do that with the ancient king of Uruk, I’d risk exposing myself to a month of pranks. The king, no matter a child or an adult, never fancied being told what to do.

“Oh hi, Master,” Gilgamesh put out the spoon and greeted, peering at me through his golden lashes.

“This place is so packed today,” I commented. “Any idea why the Archers are gathering here like it’s an Archer convention?”

“Well, a certain Archer is taking the whole training ground as his personal punching bag and no one wants to get accidentally skewed by his divine arrows, so, here we all are.”

“And by ‘a certain Archer’ you mean…”

“Look around Master and see if you can spy the one who isn’t present.”

“Is that a challenge for me?” I asked, winking.

Gilgamesh winked back but gave no answer.

I did a quick scan of the cafeteria and quickly gave up. “Beats me. I don’t have hawk eyes like you Archers.”

“Lazy as ever, Master,” Gilgamesh giggled. “It’s Arjuna. He seemed to be in particularly foul mood when he entered the training ground, and before the Servants there knew what or who had pissed His Highness off, he was ready to shoot anything and anyone.”

“Any idea who or what?” My gossipy bone was tickled just by hearing this.

“I can’t be sure, Master, but I have a good guess.”

“And what may that be?”

“To your far left, Master.”

I did as I was told and found a table where Emiya, David and Robin were bickering about something. Again.

“Not sure how they are related to Arjuna.”

A puzzled look crossed Gilgamesh’s face. He stood up from his seat for the added height and said, “Not them, Master, behind them.”

“Oh.”

I craned my neck to see what Gilgamesh was trying to show me. Once I see who were sitting there, a sense of understanding swept over me.

It was Siegfried and Karna at that table, sitting side by side. In front of them was a chocolate fondue, and they were taking turn dipping pieces of diced fruits or biscuits in the chocolate while having shining eyes and a wide smile on their faces as they did. It seemed they were tightly wrapped in their own pink bubble that neither was able to sense my stare. My Servants looked happy though, happier than I’d ever seen them, in each other’s company. My best shot was that one of them, or both, had finally worked up the nerves and worked out the tension between them.

Turning to the petite king, I nodded and said, “I think I have to agree with you.”

“Too bad Arjuna probably doesn’t,” replied the king in a childish voice and adult wisdom.

Epilogue 2

Much later, when all the suppressed feelings had been told and the chocolate converted to a minuscule amount of mana, as they were about to go to sleep, wrapped in each other’s warmth as they usually did, a question struck Siegfried.

“I was wondering about something,” Siegfried said.

“Huhm?”

“When Foxy Lady told you about this kabedon thing, did she mention anything about ‘seme’?”

“‘Seme’? What does it mean?”

Unbeknownst to Karna, Siegfried breathed a sigh of relief. “Never mind that, probably just some Japanese slangs she and Kiyohime picked up surfing the net.”

Compared to heavy warriors like Siegfried and Karna, Kiyohime and Tamamo no Mae were summoned to battles less often because their Master had a problem with the former’s mana consumption and the latter’s skills were better suited to specific missions.

Karna didn’t ask anything else, seemingly brushing the matter off as Siegfried had told him. But the Dragon Knight knew tomorrow he’d likely consult with his close Japanese friend. That was alright though. Better he hear from Tamamo no Mae than Siegfried himself.

End

[Siegfried x Karna] Sharing Warmth

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Source: pixiv.net

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Fate/Grand Order

Rating: T

Pairing: Siegfried x Karna

Genres: fanfiction, fluff, humor

Characters: Siegfried, Karna

Summary:

Siegfried needs warmth. Karna is warmth.

Surrounding Chaldea was a boundless area of rocky mountain ranges, gnarly trees that had only branches on which snow clung instead of leaves and blinding white. Siegfried didn’t know how the outside world, the actual world, was like – he had accidentally overheard the Doctor and Mash discuss a few times but hadn’t really paid any attention – but here, in this world where Chaldea resided, Chaldea itself was the only spot where life could be found, and even that was a bit stretched since the major population of this facility wasn’t qualified as ‘living’.

The inhospitable, desolate environment, of course, didn’t bother Siegfried at all; he had seen, had been to, worse areas, being a traveling knight during his lifetime. Moreover, in Chaldea it was always bustling with all sorts of activities that it was impossible to be distressed over the lifelessness of the landscape. What bothered the fabled Dragon Slayer was the weather, trivial as it might sound. Under normal circumstances, Servants weren’t affected by temperature, and even in the most severe condition, a number of them were still wearing entirely weather-inappropriate outfits – bearing too much skin or burying their whole bodies in fur. The same could be said about Siegfried: his outfit wasn’t the most covering, showing most of his chest and back and not once had he felt the slightest touch of chill. However, all had changed when Siegfried’s Master succeeded in his third stage ascension. Fafnir’s blood flowing in his veins had given him both significant boost in all stats and draconian features: he had grown a pair of curved horns, wings and, to his own embarrassment, a scaly tail, all of which he still hadn’t figured out the uses for; it wasn’t like he would use his horns to gorge or his tail to whip his enemies – that was unsightly and unknightly. And his wings could only carry his own weight in a short distance at best, never minding another. His youthful Master was quite fond of his new half-dragon hybrid look though, and he had openly announced Siegfried his “coolest-looking Servant”, much to a couple other Servants’ chagrin. As long as his Master was pleased, he guessed he didn’t mind Elisabeth’s childish nagging or the looks of disdain from a certain King of Heroes; the king had nothing but insults and scorn for just about everyone in Chaldea anyway, deeming them all “lowly mongrels”.

Siegfried supposed it made perfect sense that once his humanity receded for him to lean toward the slumbering dragon inside, drawing its powers and using them with more ease, he would share its weaknesses, too. Dragons, big and small, were creatures of fire and even the strongest of them wouldn’t fare so well in freezing weather.

In short, Siegfried felt cold. Much as he was bothered by this newfound affliction, he didn’t breathe a word to his Master; the young Magus had already had his hands full with fixing the singularities and seeking required items (most of them painfully rare) for his Servants’ ascensions, so Siegfried wouldn’t want to add to the heap of responsibilities. This issue of his was entirely personal, as he appeared to be the only Servant to be at inconvenience. Kiyohime seemed comfortable enough in her usual thin kimono, but again he and Kiyohime were fundamentally different from each other – her full-blooded while him only a human imbued with dragon blood.

So, the Dragon Knight dealt with this matter in his own way of solving most problems in his life: if he could not fight it and triumph then he would endure it with all the stoicism his years as a knight had trained him with. It was not something fatal, Siegfried told himself, and his stats as well as fighting capability were not reduced so he could still go to battles when his Master required him to. Compared to that, his own discomfort was trivial.

Nonetheless, he still subconsciously expressed some reluctance when asked by Karna for a sparring session.

Siegfried and Karna had been summoned to Chaldea in the same occasion. Needless to say how elated their young Master had been to see their forms materializing in front of his eyes; the chance of summon each of them was abysmally low and it could be a miracle itself to get them both at once. Their Master had declared that he had used up all his luck in this lifetime, jumping into the magic circle right after the completion of the ritual, flinging his arms on Siegfried’s shoulders – he would have done the same with Karna but for the fear of being charred by the Lancer’s cloak of fire. His grin had been so wide that Siegfried had feared that it might hurt.

Perhaps his Master’s delight has been contagious, perhaps he had been immensely pleased with this unexpected turn of event, Siegfried had felt a warm tinge of happiness in his heart. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt such a pleasant feeling. Always putting others’ needs and wants before his own, such was the essence of his knighthood, and he had followed that way of life to the extent he had forgotten how it felt to be happy on his own, not because he had fulfilled others’ wishes, making them happy. When he looked to his left side, Siegfried saw a small smile clinging at the corners of Karna’s lips, and he knew it was mirrored on his own.

Not so long after their collective arrival, on a random day when they had scavenged some time to relax before the next fighting chapter began, Karna had asked Siegfried to spar with him. There had been no malice or challenge in his even tone, only an earnest desire to cross weapons with a worthy opponent. Naturally Siegfried had agreed; he too had been yearning for a chance to see for himself if the son of the Sun God Surya was as great a warrior as history had recorded.

It didn’t surprise Siegfried in the least that Karna had chosen the vast landscape outside Chaldea to be their fighting ground. Siegfried would have suggested the same location for two reasons: one, the training ground in the facility, although huge, was never not crowded. The number of Servants were growing by the week and not all of them were taken to the battlefield, so naturally, those who found themselves off-mission would want to sharpen their skills or simply have some constructive fun with a like-minded fellow. Siegfried didn’t fancy the rambunctious atmosphere and closed, crowded space – his Master had told him that he might be a little claustrophobic, and he suspected neither did Karna. Another reason was that both his fighting styles and Karna’s were highly destructive in nature, therefore a large space in the wild where they could stretch their limbs freely was much preferred than an indoor area. When Karna suggested that they headed out of Chaldea, Siegfried simply nodded.

From then on, they had been continuing their sessions on a weekly basis at least, or whenever they could procure some free time and wanted a little exercise. The Saber had enjoyed them to a great extent; the Lancer had proven that he was true to his legend and much more. Siegfried had an impression that he had crossed swords with Karna before, perhaps in a different timeline, but even if he raked his brain, he couldn’t recall it. That didn’t matter though; to be able to encounter an opponent of such caliber, Siegfried considered himself extremely fortunate in spite of his pathetic E-rank luck.

It hadn’t posed a problem to Siegfried, fighting in this lethal weather that would normally kill a mortal, until recently. He felt the sharp blade of the chill acutely in his marrows and to say it was inconvenient was a blank understatement. Much as he tried, the Saber sometimes failed to contain the light quiver in his arms. Needless to say, his sparring companion had seen right through him.

Karna, being Karna, had to point it out. “You are shivering,” he said.

Someone else might find the Lancer’s bluntness offending but not Siegfried. He hadn’t detected any malice the first time he had found himself at the receiving end of Karna’s straightforwardness, and over the time, he had grown rather fond of this particular quirk. Honesty made for a more relaxing relationship.

It was no use hiding things from Karna, who was hailed as a walking lie-detector, so Siegfried opted for the truth. “I’m cold. It wasn’t an issue before but after my third ascension, I’ve inherited more of Fafnir’s traits. Being susceptible to cold weather is unfortunately one of them.”

If Karna was someone else, he might suggest the Dragon Slayer do something about the cold, perhaps putting on more fabric or covering his bare chest, but this was Karna and it’d rain candies in Chaldea before he said such things. Instead, to Siegfried’s surprise, he simply stepped closer and took the Saber’s hand into his slightly smaller one. Karna’s fingers were long and delicate and it was a mystery how he was able to wield his enormous lance with them. However, such thought did not occur to Siegfried until their sparring session was over, late into the night. Right now, all that was on the Wandering Hero’s mind was how warm Karna’s skin was. Not the kind of warmth that made you uncomfortable but the pleasant warmth like the first sunlight signifying spring’s arrival after a long, arduous winter. That kind of warmth had spread from his fingers – where their hands were connected – to his every muscle and bone like a gentle stream of water chasing away the cold that had been nestling in his body. Siegfried could help neither the small sign from his lips nor the blush on his cheeks.

“Do you feel better?” Karna asked, his face still wearing that serenely emotionless mask. Yet somehow Siegfried could detect an iota of concern in his voice. It could be his optimistic imagination though.

“Yes, it’s really warm,” replied Siegfried. He didn’t clarify whether “it” referred to Karna’s hand or the bloom in his heart. Unconsciously he touched the light on his chest with his free hand while the other remained in Karna’s, daring to interlace his fingers with the Lancer’s nimble yet powerful ones. Karna didn’t comment on Siegfried’s remark or object to the small gesture.

The vast barren landscape outside Chaldea suddenly became small and its flesh-biting blizzard seemed a little more tolerable.

The Wandering Hero’s cold could only be warded off for a while but not vanquished and so from then on Karna continued providing Siegfried with his sun-warmth in a similar manner: touching. Somewhere along the line, Karna’s touch extended to other parts of Siegfried’s body, not only his hand. And he did it so casually, so naturally, that Siegfried almost couldn’t believe it had happened. One late afternoon, after a satisfying fight, Karna asked in his usual, familiar even tone whether Siegfried felt cold. Siegfried was about to open his mouth when he had to swallow his words back because a warm palm was pressed against his chest, right on the pattern of light. Jaws slack and speechless, he searched Karna’s face for any unordinary signs and found none, his face still pale and beautiful and showing no visible emotions. Yet he was touching Siegfried’s chest, causing his dragon heart to jump in surprise and then thump wildly against his rib cages. He wondered what was in Karna’s mind if he felt his raging heartbeats.

And if he really did, he said not a thing; the riddle of whether Karna was aware of his effect on his sparring partner remained Siegfried’s to be solved.

Karna did ask for his permission if he could touch the Saber’s back. It might be cold, he explained, feeling the need to assure the Saber as it was a sensitive spot for him, pun not intended. Siegfried momentarily tensed, startled by the sudden offer, and then relaxed. Indeed it was a spot he’d rather have no one touch, not even his past lovers. The only time it had been touched, with the tip of the betrayal blade, he had ended up on the side of an untrodden road, bleeding to his death. Yet Karna would never hurt him in such a cruel manner, stabbing him behind the back, and he trusted Karna and his sense of fairness and honor more than he trusted anything in his life. Then, with a light nod, Siegfried gave his consent.

For a millisecond Siegfried thought he had been scalded, that despite his trust for the revered Indian Heroic Spirit, Karna had tried to harm him. It had felt so hot where Karna’s hand made contact with his skin but Siegfried soon came to the realization that it was an overreaction produced by the very sensitive, very human part of him that had been neglected by touch for so long. The heat quickly faded into a warmth which was just a notch higher than the one he had grown accustomed to. It made his toes curl and a strange sensation traveled down his spine. Siegfried wasn’t sure what it was but he didn’t like it, so he tried to quench it down with the shameful thought that he had hastily doubted the purity of Karna’s intention. Seeing how he was unable to restrain a soft moan from escaping his throat, Siegfried was sure he had failed.

It took a while for him to notice that Karna had retreated his hand. The heat pooled on his leaf-shape patch of skin and wormed its way into his flesh. It would keep him warm for days, he didn’t doubt, while Karna was taken on a new mission.

Karna was as expressionless as ever but somehow, by a trick of light or a transient hallucination, he thought he had seen the Lancer’s lips form a tiny smile. His heart skipped a beat; his gaze was magnetized towards those pale, thin lips. Had they always looked so tempting or he had only realized it just now? Tempting enough to touch them with his own lips, feeling the texture, tasting the flavor, if there should be any. What was wrong with him? Siegfried mentally slapped himself. To harbor such thought toward his respectful opponent and companion, how could he?

Fortunately for him, Karna saved him from dwelling deeper into his own embarrassment and probably not finding his way out: he brushed his hand on Siegfried’s wings, making the Dragon Knight nearly jump out of his skin. “Can you fly with these?” he asked, his tone hiding a childish curiosity.

“Not really far,” Siegfried answered, feeling the urge to scratch his… horns, “and I’m unable to carry an extra weight.”

He was not sure if Karna’s soft hums were of disapproval or something else. He seemed to be quite fascinated with Siegfried’s wings, smoothing his palm over the thin, velvety skin that made up most of the wings or lightly picking a scale with his fingernails. He had probably never seen a dragon in his life before, and Siegfried had heard that the Eastern concept of a dragon was vastly different from the Western one.

The Dragon Knight nearly dropped his jaws when Karna asked him for a demonstration.

At the end of the day, Siegfried obliged the Lancer’s request, seeing no point in not granting such a simple wish and disappointing a friend although he found the notion that Karna would be disheartened by something so trivial very unlikely.

Siegfried was not fine. The blizzard had been raging outside the walls of Chaldea for a few days, resulting in the temperature dropping abysmally lower than normal, which, of course, was bad news for Servants with draconian traits. Even Kiyohime, who never appeared to care about the weather, was complaining. For Siegfried, it was another example of how his E-rank luck was trying to screw with his life. Between the diving temperature and Kojirou’s snores (the Assassin usually didn’t but it appeared to be a temporary condition caused by the weather; otherwise the Japanese swordsman was fine), Siegfried had been having sleepless nights.

Technically, Servants didn’t need sleep. Nor did they require food, drinks, rooms or entertainment. Nonetheless, here in Chaldea, the staff had aimed to provide the majority of the population the living conditions as human as possible. Servants were spirits now, but they used to be flesh and blood and though some of them might never admit it, they did miss being a human and indulge in mortal pleasures. They might not need food to fill their stomach, but their taste buds delighted in flavors. They didn’t drink to survive but to enjoy the pretense of getting lightheaded from alcohol. And some, like Siegfried, found comfort in having a feather-soft mattress under their back after a hard fighting day and just drifting off to dreamland.

Siegfried hadn’t known he was having circles around his eyes – or capable of having them for that matter – until Karna pointed it out. Their young Master was quick to confirm that.

“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed the magus in a rather dramatic tone – such was his flair. “Did you not sleep well, Saber?”

Shame burnt his cheeks hotly for allowing such trifle to concern his Master. “I’m sorry, Master…” he opened his mouth, ready to brush the matter off by telling his Master that he was alright and it wasn’t something worth his attention.

“He’s been cold,” Karna said matter-of-factly.

“Karna…” Siegfried groaned softly. Some time ago he had shifted to calling the Lancer by his true name instead of his class like the normal courtesy between Servants. In turn, Karna had grown used to addressing Siegfried by his name.

His Master’s face lit up as if he had made a great discovery. “Right! The weather has been beyond horrible these days. I keep hearing Kiyohime’s complaints but have never realized that you’re affected too. Sorry, Saber. What terrible Master I am.”

“No, Master. It’s not your fault.”

“Siegfried can come to my room.”

Eh?

Did he hear it right, Karna’s suggestion, or were his ears deceiving him?

“Brilliant idea, Lancer!” the young magus applauded. “You’re the only occupant so there’s plenty of room, it’s super-warm and Siegfried’s half-dragon so he should be fine.”

“… half-dragon so he should be fine”, what was the meaning of that?

Karna nodded in agreement.

While Siegfried was busy picking up his jaws from the ground to voice his protest, his Master had already made the arrangements for his moving into Karna’s room.

Thus when the night came, the Wandering Swordsman found himself wandering the corridor outside Karna’s room, his pillow in hand. The door was closed, and no sound was coming from the inside. Should he knock or just wait? It would be rude if the Lancer was taking a shower or doing something private.

The door was noiselessly pushed open and Siegfried’s dilemma was solved. Karna’s sharp gaze softened to see the swordsman towering awkwardly in the glaring fluorescent light, a pillow stuffed under his arm. His glacial eyes sparked with amusement when they lingered on the white pillow case, decorated with a chubby dragon. There was only one Servant whose pastime was embroidery in Chaldea and sometimes, he’d give out his products to those he deemed a worthy warrior. Karna himself had a towel with a sun sewn on it.

Karna opened the door fully in an inviting gesture and Siegfried wordlessly entered.

Karna’s room was about the same size as his and Kojirou’s but the sparseness of furniture made it appear more spacious. This was due to a rather unpleasant fact that his cloak of fire tended to spread fire to the things around it and to prevent such a grievous disaster from taking place, his room was especially insinuated to be fireproof and furniture was kept to minimum. Having led a minimalistic lifestyle, the son of Surya had never breathed a complaint.

“So… we’re going to sleep on the floor, aren’t we?” Siegfried asked after scanning the place and finding no sight of a bed. Frankly he didn’t mind lying on the marble tiles; soon as he set foot inside the room, he had immediately felt the gentle warmth – Karna’s warmth – dancing on his skin. Having been a traveler in a dark age for most of his life, he found this to be a luxury.

“Not really,” answered Karna before laying his cloak of fire on the floor. Without its fluffiness, the Lancer looked really thin and fragile, as if he could be easily swept away by a gush of wind. Siegfried could trace the outlines of his protruding hip bones underneath the skin-clad suit. His face felt hot for no obvious reason. Karna lied down on the cloak and gestured Siegfried to do the same.

Fire could not harm a dragon, Siegfried had learned that from his battle with Fafnir. That explained why when his skin was touched by Karna’s cloak, although he immediately knew it was neither fur nor fabric but a flame mystically shaped and weaved into a piece of garment, he wasn’t burned. The distinctive heat of fire was there and were it not because of his dragon blood, he would be instantly reduced to smoking charcoal. The grim realization did not deter him from curling on the cloak so that he could get the maximum contact. It felt so nice, really, to have the heat coursing through his body, chasing away every vestige of the cold. The dragon in him reveled in the fire, energized by it. Siegfried nuzzled his cheek into the cloak, feeing blissful sleep descending on his eyelids.

Never did he know that from a short distance from him, Karna was watching his exposed back with a smile.

The nights after that, they continued sleeping in the same room even after the blizzard had passed and Siegfried was no longer plagued with chill. He hadn’t felt it for a while; Karna’s warmth during the night was more than sufficient to keep him well during the day. Still, he was hesitant to return to his former dwelling: for the very first time in his life he had harbored a selfish desire. After having spent most of his existence being a wish-granting hero, to want something for himself was a foreign and thrilling experience. As long as Karna was willing to accept him, Siegfried was determined to indulge himself, and as far as he was concern, the Indian Heroic Spirit didn’t seem to mind.

Days turned into weeks and weeks to months since Siegfried’s migration to Karna’s room. During that time the distance they’d put between their bodies out of a taciturn agreement had grown shortened little by little every night so that every morning, they woke up just a little closer to each other than the night before. Neither paid any mind to their body’s tendency to gravitate towards the other, thinking it a natural occurrence, until one day…

Siegfried woke up somewhat disoriented, not knowing what time it was or whether it was day or night; there was neither clock nor window in Karna’s room – their room now – to tell the time. Judging by his grogginess he assumed his Master wasn’t in need of him; otherwise his Servant system would flare in full operation in response to the Master’s summon. In a rare bout of indolence, the Saber decided to close his eyes and treated himself to some more sleep when he was jolted by a newfound realization. He was pretty sure he had he had kept his arms by his side when he drifted off to sleep last night, and yet at the moment he found his left arm in a rather compromising position: draping on someone’s waist, with his hand splayed over said someone’s stomach. Okay, it wasn’t “someone” since this room had no third inhabitant. Siegfried’s face felt scorching as though his skin was set aflame, and he’d rather face Fafnir one hundred times than learn what had happened during the night for him and the Lancer to be loosely spooning. This position spelt intimacy and though Siegfried wasn’t abhorred by the idea of getting intimate with Karna (maybe because it was Karna and not someone else), the thought of them lying together, back to chest, and sharing more than just warmth had never crossed his mind. His era had had a less than accepting attitude towards intimacy between two men and Siegfried doubted if Karna’s had been any different. But time had changed, and humans had become more tolerant of one another’s differences. It was the knowledge the Grand system had given him, perhaps so that he wouldn’t experience a social shock. He hadn’t thought it was necessary, seeing that he had not been exactly averse to that kind of relationship as a human. As a Spirit, he had even fewer reasons to care. This thing between him and Karna was just… overwhelming, to say the least, but not necessarily bad.

On a trivial side note, Karna’s waist was really small, or should he say “slender”; he was not stranger to the Lancer’s figure – the spearman’s outfit didn’t leave much to imagination, but to actually trace its hard curves… Thin and fragile though might he look, Karna was still a man in every sense and his body didn’t possess the softness of a female one. Siegfried preferred the hardness anyway, as it was partially proof of his merit as a warrior. And to hold a warrior in his embrace, feeling his waist fit into his hands… Verdammter Mist! He had to stop this train of thought before it got out of hand. It was… indecent to think about your friend and companion that way! What had gotten to him these days? Had he been possessed by some unknown force lurking in Chaldea? His magic resistance wasn’t the highest of all Sabers but it was certainly not that bad.

Anyway, first thing first, he had to take his disobedient arm back and put some appropriate distance between himself and the Lancer. Quietly as the shadow of the moon moved so that Karna wouldn’t be roused from his sleep. And then he only needed to think this was a passing incident and act like it had never happened. Just like that and they were back to friends and sparring partners.

“You’re awake?”

A voice drenched in silky drowsiness startled Siegfried, causing his dragon heart to skip several beats and race up to make up for that. Almost at the same time, a hand quickly caught his wrist midway so that any hope of quiet retreat had become a pipe dream. The Dragon Knight felt as though he had been caught red-handed, pun somewhat intended.

“Ah… y-yes… I j-just woke up,” Siegfried stuttered. He was mildly relieved Karna had his back to him so he couldn’t see the Saber’s flustered face.

“We have a day off,” Karna casually replied. “Master informed me no mission is carried out today so every Servant has the day to do whatever they want.”

Siegfried had no idea while Karna was telling him this – actually he did understand why Karna was telling him this: yesterday he had missed the Master-Servant session – but what puzzled him was why Karna was using such a relaxed tone. Was he not aware that the Saber had had his arm around his waist and they had been spooning throughout the night? Was he not offended by such an unchivalrous and disrespectful act?

“What’s your plan?” Karna’s voice once again disconnected him from his thoughts.

“I… Actually I don’t have any plan.” Five minutes ago he hadn’t even known that their Master allowed them a day to do as they pleased.

“Good, I have a plan,” Karna said, and to push Siegfried to a whole new level of confusion, his hand catching Siegfried’s wrist pulled with a subtle yet unyielding force so that the Saber’s arm resumed its former position: on Karna’s waist. Siegfried was pretty certain that was a deliberate act; he just failed to fathom the message Karna sent him. So, not only was he not offended, but he actually… encouraged the intimacy? Whatever it was, it made Siegfried blush so hard the tips of his horns might be turning red.

Karna, whether genuinely ignorant of his effect on Siegfried or feigning to be, continued seamlessly, “I’m thinking about spending the morning replenishing our energy with sleep. How does that sound?”

Others might be surprised by Karna’s proposal but not Siegfried. For his time of acquaintance with the Lancer, Siegfried had learned that he was quite a sleepworm whose greatest pastime beside fighting worthy opponents was holing up in his room and slumbering the day away. He had knocked on Karna’s door one day only to find the Heroic Spirit flesh out of sleep even though it was mid-noon.

Wait, the key word in Karna’s sentence was “our”. Did he mean for Siegfried to join him?

“You mean, you and I?” Siegfried blurted, somehow getting his hope up for no sound reason.

“Yes, unless you are occupied with another plan.”

Karna’s hand hadn’t let go off his wrist but he could sense a molecule of hesitation. “No, I have no plan,” Siegfried answered truthfully. Sleeping didn’t sound too bad, especially with Karna. Especially with Karna spooning against him. Gott, what had happened to him?

“Good. How about a little fun after lunch?”

Blood rushed hotly to Siegfried’s face. “A little fun?” he echoed, his mind running amok on what this “little fun” could be.

“A spar outside, how about that?”

Right. A spar. What else could he be expecting? Siegfried mentally exhaled a sigh of relief. “A spar would be great. Since Master won’t be expecting us, we could fight to our heart’s desire.”

It was likely his imagination running wild but he heard Karna’s light chuckles. They were contagious and Siegfried soon found himself smiling. They were decidedly his favorite sounds.

After a while, Karna became quiet, his body going lax and inching closer to Siegfried’s, his back pressing against Siegfried’s bare chest. The warmth seemed to go all the way into his heart. It made him lightheaded and drowsy. Sleep found his way back to his eyelids easy enough.

Little could Siegfried guess this was the beginning of something special.

Epilogue

I had considered myself extremely lucky to be able to summon both Siegfried and Karna in one go. Perhaps I had used up all my luck in this lifetime and if I ever became a Heroic Spirit (unlikely) or a Counter Guardian, I would be granted with an E-rank luck. Perhaps the fabled wish-granting Hero had heeded my wish and the Hero of Charity had decided to show his charity. It was impossible to tell really; all I knew was that I was on clouds nine to have the both of them in my little party.

And the icing on the cake was the two seemed to get along pretty well. The biggest pain in the ass was having two archenemies on the same team. Trust me I’d been through that once. On a good day they’d go at each other’s throat every chance they got, giving me a migraine and grating the nerves of every other Servant. On a bad day I’d have to use a Command Spell to stop them from killing each other. In the end I was forced to give up both of them for peace’s sake. And so I’d clasped my hands and thanked The Man Upstairs I hadn’t summoned both Karna and Arjuna (how low was the odds?).

I felt terribly bad once I’d learned Siegfried had been enduring the cold. My poor Dragon Knight, too polite, too gentle to demand his Master’s help even though it was my responsibility to keep my Servants in their best condition. While I was raking my brain for a solution, Karna offered one. A perfect one, if I might add. The world needed more people like this ethereally beautiful Lancer, who was always so eager to give his help to those in need.

So far, so good.

Wearing a beam on my face, I strode to Siegfried and Karna once the battle was over to give them my congratulations.

“So, how’re you doing? No longer feeling cold?” I asked.

“Thank you for your concern, Master. I’m not cold anymore and ready to fight in full strength.”

That was just Siegfried being Siegfried.

“I’m just wondering if you’d want to move back to your room. Kojirou made a passing comment the other day about the room being too empty without you. I think the guy kinda misses his roomie.”

Soon as the words left my mouth, I felt a surge of heat licking my back. An enemy’s sudden attack? How could this be? I was having Siegfried in front of me and Karna a few steps behind my back; how could they not sense anything and act? Taking a gulp, I whipped my head to see what had just happened. To my surprise, there was no sign of a threat, just my Lancer casually leaning against his over-sized spear. The heat kept rolling though and I soon realized the source was Karna’s eyes. Had I ever mentioned that he could shoot sun beam from his eyes?

Oh, allow me to clarify myself. Karna wasn’t shooting sun beam at my back – he was too nice a Servant to try that; in fact, he was just standing there, leaning on his giant spear and staring at us with his glacial blue eyes. And yet somehow in his stare I could feel the heat. I knew I wasn’t imagining because when I turned to Siegfried, the big guy was giving me one of his smiles that spelt “I’m sorry”.

He really needed to change his habit of over-apologizing.

But why was he apologizing anyway?

“Sorry, Master, but I think I’d like to stay at Karna’s.”

Wow, wasn’t this the first time I’d ever hear him express his preference. Before, when it came to personal matters like this, he’d merely gone with whichever assigned to him. That was definitely an innovation.

“Well, that’s fine as well,” I said to him, patting his armored shoulder. “Karna’s is good. Fire and dragon, can’t find a better match.”

Just like that, the heat on my back vanished.

Siegfried lightly bowed to me and walked over to Karna’s side. He flashed Karna a smile, and the son of the Sun God instantly returned the gesture with a small but genuine one. Wasn’t that something new? I hadn’t seen him smile at any other Servant. Then Siegfried leaned down a little and whispered into the Lancer’s ears, which broadened the smile on his lips.

Looking at them, I couldn’t help an inkling that there was absolutely something going on.

Huhm, very interesting.

End

[Desus] (The World Was on Fire) and No One Could Save Me But You (5)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms: The Walking Dead

Rating: K+

Pairing: Desus – Daryl Dixon x Paul “Jesus” Rovia

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, vampire AU

Characters: Paul “Jesus” Rovia, Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes

Summary:

For all the short time Paul had been acquainted with Rick Grimes, he had never heard the tough police officer’s voice break like when he informed Paul, “Daryl was shot.”

Alternate universe. Established relationship.


Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4


 

… And No One Could Save Me But You

Wicked Game

The rain had toned down to a drizzle.

Daryl had cut down his speed to no longer be at break-neck level, just barely within the speed limit. The impulse to indulge in reckless speed had died with the rain and now it was merely a scratch at his guts.

Something on the side caught his sight, and the brain part that was responsible for his curiosity deemed it worth a stop for closer inspection. He supposed he wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere and could spare a minute or two.

It was the decomposing carcass of some pretty large animal, probably a buck, that he saw in the grass. Daryl got off his motorcycle and squatted in front of it. It was easy to tell the creature been dead for some time by the bones with brown chunks of flesh clinging to them. The eyeballs were gone, leaving vacant sockets from which streams of red ants poured out. It was a disturbing sight from which most humans should avert their eyes as they hurried past and yet somehow Daryl had been inexplicably drawn in. A part of him, a feeble, normal and human part, was weirded out and wanted to just get on his bike and ride away while another, stronger, more pressing part had his eyes fixed on the gouged out sockets as if there was an enigmatic pull from within the twin voids. His hand was halfway reaching out when he had to stop himself from actually touching it.

It was death, Daryl rationalized, which had prompted this bizarre fixation. Death was the one thing that he and this creature had in common. All living things had to die – that he had learned from a young age with his dearly departed mom, and the scene his eyes so drank in was the inevitable end of every human. It was his mom’s end when Daryl was but a snotty five-year-old and twenty-two years later, his old man’s. It was Merle’s end eight years ago and it would soon be his. Except it could not be his. While the concept of immortality was unnatural according to nature, it was also ironically nature that had permitted its occurrence. Paul had expired his lifespan for a couple centuries and his could be not be a unique existence – many times Daryl had pondered about all the vampires out there, cloaking themselves under civilian guise and blending in amongst their designated preys. Now the same existence was offered to Daryl. Had he ever thought about it or wanted it during the late nights he went to bed and woke up in the morning with a vampire snuggling to his side? Would he want it now that it was his only option to continue that mundane domestic routine, one that he would give the world for? Daryl couldn’t answer it, not yet. But he was beginning to consider it, whether he truly desired immortality. Weird as it may sound, the mortal fear of death inflicted upon him by studying this macabre scene did spark a light in his fog-shrouded mind. The light grew in intensity until it pierced through the confusion and uncertainty plaguing him since his body sprang from the bed. A final, concrete decision wasn’t within his grasp yet but he had seen a vague outline of it. Although there was a haunting dreadfulness in the notion of walking the earth till the end of time, he couldn’t deny a forbidden sense of thrill lacing with it.

When the rain had stopped he couldn’t tell, lost in his own mental world. Daryl stood up and made to his motorcycle. Not too keen on wearing a stuffy helmet with his dripping hair, he decided to forgo it.

The scenery was laminated in gold and silver when Daryl entered the woods – gold from the radiant sunlight after a heavy rain and silver from the myriad droplets of water clinging to the tree branches and leaves. He had switched off the engine and was walking his motorcycle so as not to wreck the perfect serenity of nature and scare off the little creatures making this place home. He took a moment to close his eyes, take a deep breath to enjoy the clear, cool air spiced with the soothing scent of damp wood before parking his vehicle a few feet from a particular tree. Under its canopy he spotted a figure that couldn’t be more familiar to him. He was leaning casually against the trunk, his hair wet and crudely swept back. His thin white shirt appeared transparent and sticking to his skin. In his hands was a small brown squirrel which his fingers were petting now and then. Signing softly, Daryl thought he should be surprised to find Paul here but in fact, he wasn’t in the least. Being a sneaky prick was one of Paul’s less endearing vice Daryl had learned to tolerate.

“Ain’t ya gonna eat it? Why bother playin’ with yer food?”

Paul’s huge eyes left the critter and traveled to Daryl, and the detective could feel his gaze lingering on the strands of dark hair cupping the sides of his face. Huffing, Paul laid the squirrel on the ground. It immediately ran off and disappeared in a blink.

“Detective Dixon,” said Paul, “please don’t jump right to the conclusion that I bore any ill will toward that poor animal when you’re having no evidence.”

“First time I met ya, ya were chompin’ a squirrel,” Daryl snorted, “an’ havin’ a couple more layin’ dead at yer feet.”

“Good Lord, you caught me at a bad time once and I’m never going to live it down. Firstly, that wasn’t our first meeting. We first met when I moved into the derelict house opposite from yours.”

“A brief glance–”

“But still counts. Secondly, I hadn’t made my contact with the local blood bank yet and was on the brink of starvation. You don’t like me when I’m starving.”

“I thought ya a weirdo. Turns out it ain’t too far from the truth.”

“So I’ve been told,” Paul replied with a small smile. He crossed the distance and stood close to Daryl. “You didn’t break up with me because of my quirks, crazy as they are.”

“I’ve met worse,” Daryl said, his hand itching to tug a loose strands of hair behind Paul’s ears. So he did, earning a wider smile from the shorter man. “Ya followed me here, didn’t ya?”

To his surprise, Paul declined, “No, believe me I did want to, but I didn’t. I just didn’t feel like showing up at my class so I called in sick. Having plenty of sick leave can come in handy. I thought a lot, you know, about us, about our life together all these years, about our future, if we have one. And I had a feeling that you would come here, seeing how this place has claimed a special spot in your heart. Now here we are. Must be destiny.”

Paul punctuated his speech with a nervous chuckle.

“I thought a lot too, ‘bout–”

Out of sudden, Daryl felt as if his legs had vaporized right under him. He would collapse face first into the thick carpet of decayed leaves on the ground if Paul weren’t extra-quick to catch him. His ample strength made up for his smaller stature and he supported Daryl’s most of weight with ease. Gently and slowly, he helped Daryl sit down under the tree. All the carefreeness had drained from his handsome countenance; now he was wearing the same pained expression Daryl had seen earlier in the morning. It caused an ache in Daryl’s side and erased his concern about his own condition, even just temporarily.

“What’s happenin’ to me? Why can’t I feel my legs?”

“It’s beginning,” Paul explained. “The paralysis that signals your time is running out and continues until you’re…”

“I’m dyin’, got it. Shoulda known I’m runnin’ on borrowed time. First it’s my leg, then my arms an’ torso and finally my head, righ’. Fuckin’ sadistic, I’d say.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Paul replied. “Have heard about it but never been through it myself, though.”

“How long did it take ya to make yer decision?”

Since they were sitting shoulder to shoulder, with Daryl leaning against Paul’s chest, he felt a puff of air on his cheek from Paul’s laughter. It wasn’t the full, hearty laughter Daryl had gotten used to hear; it was soft and deprived most of humor. “I practically leapt at the chance to be turned, so you can guess it took me no time at all. I was a vampire before I had even registered the weight of my own death.” Taking a short pause, he continued, “I had been severely sick for a while and my family ended up taking me to the House of Death, where they expected me to spend the rest of my remaining days. Fewer mouths to feed. Looking back, I couldn’t blame them; I expected to die there as well. Then my sire came to me with an offer in exchange for my indentured service. I guess I just didn’t want to die.”

His voice quieted at the last sentence, and there was a slight tremble in it.

“Ya never said anythin’ about this until t’day.”

“It’s no rainbows and unicorns so I’d rather not tell it at a drinking party.”

“Ya ever regretted it? Becomin’ a vampire.”

Paul brushed his dampened fringe out of Daryl’s forehead. “It’s had its ups and downs and there were some dark periods when all I wanted was to lie desiccated in the coffin like a dead man that I was. But, to be honest, I’ve never regretted. It’s a wonder beyond measure to see the world change little by little until it’s no longer the one you were born in, and to see yourself change with it in order to adapt. Given the chance a second time and I would have made the same choice again.”

Silence stretched between them after Paul finished. Daryl seemed to be in contemplation of what he’d said so Paul didn’t feel the urge to break the silence. Instead, he laced his fingers with his lover’s.

Daryl’s fingers only twitched but gave no otherwise response. Paul’s heart sank like a stone thrown into a cold, bottomless lake.

“Take my left hand,” Daryl said. “Ain’t numb as shit yet.”

Paul took his hand, the one that could feel, and brought it to his lips. He kissed every knuckle, mumbling, “I’m sorry.”

“Because you compelled Rick to forget what he saw?”

“Yes, Rick, the doctor, the nurses. I’m sorry I broke my vow.”

Daryl felt Paul’s hand gently squeezing his.

“On the way here, I thought a lot, ‘bout many things,” he said, picking up from earlier. “I thought ‘bout whether ya’d undo Rick’s compulsion, how he, Carol an’ a handful of people I know would react.”

“The compulsion would instantly wear off with a vampire’s end,” Paul said. Although his tone was light and maintaining its casualness that was very Paul-like, Daryl’s lungs felt chilled as he took in a cold breath.

“But ya won’t…”

“Nothing lasts forever, Daryl, even vampires. Sometimes the end comes sooner than we expect.”

“Where would vampires go?”

“Frankly I don’t know. No one has ever told me and I don’t know who to ask. Well, certainly not my late sire, God bless his soul, if he had one. Where do you think humans would go? I know you aren’t the most religious man I’ve met but ever given it a thought?”

Daryl shook his head. Paul shifted to give him a little more comfort even though Daryl’s torso was heavy like lead and just as numb. It took no Einstein to figure at this rate, he’d soon be completely paralyzed.

“I spotted some carcass on the road. Probably a buck an’ dead for some time. I was magnetized to it – death attracts death, I guess. As I looked, I remembered my mom an’ Merle, even the sick bastard I called my dad, how they all looked like this beneath the earth, an’ how I’d look like that too. I thought ‘Well, death sucks’.”

Daryl had always a man of few words and more actions; this was by far his longest speech. Thus Paul patiently waited for him to perhaps regain his breath and gather his thoughts.

“I ain’t hopin’ we’d be united in some sunlit heaven or shit. Ain’t no teenager. Maybe I’d end up in that dark limbo again, all by myself, an’ that’s fuckin’ scary. But what’s even scarier is that I know I won’t never see ya again, won’t never wake up to yer shit-eatin’ grin again, won’t never feel yer touch or yer warmth again. That hurts so much, ya know.”

“I know,” Paul whispered, his breath fanning Daryl’s cheek. “I know.”

“I don’t wanna die. There’s a chance I’ll regret it one day but right now I don’t wanna die an’ leave ya.”

A drop of water fell onto the skin below Daryl’s eyes, too hot to be the rainwater dangling on the leaves.

“So you’ve decided…” Paul croaked.

“Ya don’t mind haulin’ my immobile ass back to the house, right, ‘cuz I don’t suppose ya brought a blood bag along.”

When Daryl craned his neck and looked up, he saw Paul frantically wiping his eyes. A smile had formed on his lips, wide enough to show his white teeth. This was the first true smile Daryl had gotten from him today, same as the one which had caused his heart to skip a beat when he stared a little too long at the ponytailed young man carrying his stuff into the derelict house across from his. While his torso was still numb, the heaviness on his chest had been lifted.

“On the contrary, I always come prepared” was Paul’s reply.

To be continued

Finished it for a while but I was busy writing another Desus fic so I delayed editing and posting it. Immense apologies to you who have been waiting for an update. Next chapter is the last.

[Desus] (The World Was on Fire) and No One Could Save Me But You (4)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms: The Walking Dead

Rating: K+

Pairing: Desus – Daryl Dixon x Paul “Jesus” Rovia

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, vampire AU

Characters: Paul “Jesus” Rovia, Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes

Summary:

For all the short time Paul had been acquainted with Rick Grimes, he had never heard the tough police officer’s voice break like when he informed Paul, “Daryl was shot.”

Alternate universe. Established relationship.


Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3


The World Was on Fire…

Wicked Game

As Daryl was riding down the route the rain showed no sign of stopping anytime soon and the incessant noise on his helmet became more maddening, as if it was possible. He had traveled in worse weather, so this had never been a huge issue to him. Yet back then he hadn’t had supernaturally enhanced senses, which translated into overactive reception of each and every stimulus, however small and would be easily brushed aside were he normal.

Normal. Daryl received a mental kick at that word. Thinking of himself as formerly normal brought forth an implication that Paul was different, strange, abnormal, all of which accompanied by negative connotations according to Daryl’s conservative and biased upbringing that he had fought to leave behind in the dust. Daryl had not once thought Paul was the ‘other’ despite having learned the seemingly younger man was anything but an ordinary thirty-something. Heck, for Daryl’s limited knowledge of vampires, Paul defied lots of stereotypical traits of a vampire as portrayed in pop culture. He didn’t look pale, for one. While his skin tone was decidedly fairer than Daryl, who preferred spending his time in the sun than in an office, he was nowhere near chalky. He wasn’t brooding nor would he sit for hours wallowing in his existential crisis and guilt while having his victim’s blood on his chin and their lifeless body by his legs. At least Daryl had never seen him in such state during their two years of living under the same roof. He opted to live in a modest two-story house and drive an economic car and wasn’t filthy rich. He taught teenagers self-defense martial arts at the local center Monday to Thursday, volunteered on Friday, loved tending to his little garden of flowers and herbs and sometimes had friends – a majority of which being humans – over on Friday night to trash the living room and get wasted. He went to see the latest movies, often dragging Daryl with him if the cop wasn’t working overtime, teared up at particularly emotional scenes and ranted about it later on his wall; his Facebook account had quite a number of followers. All in all, Paul posed extremely well as a human, aside from a couple quirks like his personal blood stash (supplied by the local blood bank) in his fridge or his inability to have hickeys, but hey, many humans possessed more peculiar quirks. Daryl would say he blended in with humans even better than the homicidal detective himself did in some of his more trying days.

This line of thought was going nowhere so with a soft grunt, Daryl abandoned it for another. Ironically enough, to not think was entirely the point of racing his motorcycle along this straightforward route leading into the woods. To feel the wind, the sun or the rain on his skin allowed him a temporary getaway from his jumbled thoughts while the woods with all its wild animals provided him with solace, just like it had given him shelter from his old man’s temper and leather belt. A couple hours later, he rode back the track feeling lighter, better and ready to deal with whatever shit coming his way given his line of profession.

Nevertheless, it was impossible to sweep all his thoughts under the rug and not think of anything for a while no matter how much Daryl wanted to; heck, even if he was hypothetically able to shut them all up, he knew he wouldn’t gain a fragment of peace for his mind. Literally going through death and being pulled back to life was no shit joke and anyone with a mind couldn’t spare it no thought at all. As a matter of fact, there were so many thoughts bustling about inside Daryl’s head that he had no idea which to focus on. It was similar to working on a case where there were so many clues, many suspects and many motives, all lurking behind a thick veil that Daryl had to lift so as to see for himself which was relevant and which was red herrings. Right now his helmet was the veil. Rivulet after rivulet of water blurred his visor and distorted his view. With his left hand he undid the clasp around his chin and took off his helmet.

Drops of rain felt like nails being hammered on Daryl’s face. Soon his hair was soaked, strands of his long bang clinging to his forehead and temples. He brushed them back with a sweep of his hand, recalling how Paul loved to do this when Daryl was fresh out of shower so that he could plant a kiss on Daryl’s forehead, on the lines that had formed there. His eyes saw the road better without his visor as his mind was clearer without the torturous noise and a prominent thought emerged from numerous others. Like a man lost at sea spotting a lighthouse, he swam toward it. Going back to be human was impossible, so he had but one option to go forward from there and make the decision: to die today as a human or to live forever as another sort of existence. Other questions all paled in front of this crucial one, to which he had promised Paul an answer before the sun went down the sky.

Daryl was not surprised to find out Paul hadn’t slept a wink that night. He himself had had only brief patches of sleep interlacing with extended moments of lying with his eyes shut but his mind open, conscious and drifting between the dark limbo realm and the real world. And when he had indeed slept, his dreams were fragments of his dying instant rewinded over and over. He had thought not of his own death but of his untimely parting with Paul, and regret penetrated deeper than the iron in his chest.

Daryl opened his eyes to the sight of Paul propped up by his side, his hand caressing Daryl’s cheek gentle and cool as a ghost’s touch. His eyes were sunken, and the usual light in them dimmed. His lips were set in a straight line. Daryl hated that he saw every sign of exhaustion etched on Paul’s handsome countenance with such clarity.

Dawn had already broken, the sun was up and their bedroom was enveloped in a glowing silken veil.

“Morning,” said Paul, softly. There was a hint of hoarseness in his voice Daryl only scarcely heard. “Did you sleep well?”

“Did ya?”

“No,” Paul admitted. “I closed my eyes and tried to find sleep but to no avail. Technically I don’t really need sleep to function so I figured I could afford a sleepless night. And you?”

“I got some sleep an’ a couple of dreams.”

“Bad dreams?”

“Past dreams. Didn’t matter no more.”

The answer he gave didn’t soothe the worry in Paul’s eyes but he didn’t push Daryl for more detail. He pecked Daryl on the lips before sliding out of the duvet and sitting at the edge. “What do you fancy for breakfast? Bacon and sunny-side eggs? Cereal? Or pancakes and maple syrup?”

Before Paul finished listing the choices, Daryl too had slid out from under the duvet. The air instantly raised goosebumps on his bare skin as he padded to their wardrobe.

“Daryl?”

“I… I need some time,” said Daryl, picking a simple button-down navy blue shirt and a pair of washed blue jeans from the clothes rack. “To process it, to think abou’ it. On my own. I hope ya understand.” He threw his black leather jacket over the shirt and put on his leather fingerless gloves.

Paul’s gaze dropped to the dip in the mattress where they had laid. “Of course,” he replied softly, head nodding.

He looked as though he was enduring a silent pain that Daryl couldn’t help but crossing the room and pulling him into his embrace. He felt Paul’s breath ghosting on the skin of his forearm and shivered. It still mesmerized him how a vampire’s breath could be this warm.

“Give yourself as much time to think as you’d like,” Paul murmured against his skin, “but please come to me before sundown.” He sniffed. “No matter what your decision is, I need to know… and I will respect it.”

The last words seemed real struggle for him.

Daryl kissed the top of his head. “I will.”

And then he let go, feeling Paul’s eyes on him even when he was descending the stairs.

The first thing Daryl did once he was standing on the threshold of the door was stretch his arm out to the early morning sun. He had half expected the heat and his skin being set aflame despite Paul’s previous explanation that he wasn’t yet a vampire. Instead he only felt a light warmth, and his skin remained perfectly normal, no blistering, no bursting into flame. Stupid. Daryl chastised himself before stepping out to his motorcycle. He put on his helmet and ignited the engine.

Daryl hadn’t had a definite destination in mind but before he was able to come up with something, his body had autopiloted and taken him down the path he traveled every morning to work. On that path there was a diner where he often had a decent breakfast of eggs and bacon and a hefty dose of caffeine to brace himself against another crazy day at the office. Sometimes Rick joined him, sometimes he ate alone, savoring the comfortable silence in his usual booth by the window and away from the rest of the patrons.

Daryl felt a familiar tug once he was close enough to the diner and could see it. Since he had nowhere else he wanted to go first, he decided he could stop by, ordered his usual food and figured out what to do with his last day as human. His heart was weighed down a little with the word ‘last’; after today, there would either be a vampire or a cadaver buried six feet under.

That remained to be seen.

His footsteps halted just before his hand pushed the glass door open. What if Rick was also here? After all, this diner was a part of his best friend’s morning routine as much as it was his, although recently both of them had not frequented it as much as they used to, favoring homemade meals instead.

The last thing Daryl wanted right now was to run into his best friend, who had witnessed his death and was likely to flood him with questions should he see him walking around all fine and alive, so he turned on his heels. Just when he was about to stride back to his bike, the door opened.

“Daryl!” called a voice. “Been a while since you came here. Come in, come in.”

For a second, all the blood in Daryl’s veins seemed to stop flowing and he stood frozen in his spot. That was unmistakably Carol’s voice. Carol was good friend to Rick and Daryl and the reason why they had become regulars here was because Carol owned and ran this little cozy diner.

“Yeah…” Daryl managed a hoarse respond. “Been a while.”

“I almost thought I’d lost my two loyal customers. But what can I say? Nothing beats homemade food made by gorgeous partners.”

Carol winked playfully at him and Daryl forced a small smile despite the uneasiness twisting his guts. From her tone and demeanor, it appeared she might not have heard about his incident. Something didn’t click right. Had Rick not told her anything?

“You’re looking a little pale. Is everything alright?”

“Nah. Just been lackin’ some sleep’s all. Work’s been hectic.”

Carol held his hand gently, jerking her head toward the door. “Come on in. I’ll have them prepare your usual.”

A refusal was formed in the back of his throat but never found its way out of his mouth, so he allowed her to lead him inside. The air was stiff since there weren’t a lot of customers yet, and Daryl was surprised to be able to sense it so acutely, almost as if he could ‘read’ the currents. His preferred booth was fortunately unoccupied. After telling her employees to prepare his order, she lingered by his table to catch up with his life since the last time they had had a chat. He tried his best to carry the conversation as casually as he normally did, but he knew for sure he must have slipped a note of reluctance in his tone or his body language, which Carol was likely to pick up on, keen woman that she was. Still, if she noticed something off about her friend, she didn’t point it out at once or even gave away her suspicion with a frown and for which he was grateful. Carol was sharp but she also respected privacy – she wouldn’t prod the subject unless her friends decided to tell her, eventually. This was one of the many reasons they had been close friends for years.

Nevertheless, Daryl was mentally relieved when the young waitress brought out his order and a rush of customers came through the door and Carol had no choice but to leave him. Sitting by himself, Daryl stared at the food laid out before him for several seconds as though hypnotized by the tendrils of steam rising from the sizzling eggs and the coffee. The smell was the same as he remembered, and so did the taste when he slowly chewed a mouthful of egg. The only difference was his sore absence of appetite. His empty stomach was still grumbling at the sight of food, but when he actually swallowed it down he felt… unfulfilled, like having swallowed nothing. He put down his forks and reached for the coffee mug. Again, same warm smell, same bitter-sweet taste, just the lack of savory on his side. He guessed he shouldn’t be surprised. After all he was dead, and whereas his senses were overloaded with sensations, they were at the same time desensitized to the normal delights of a human. Food did not arouse his appetite, unlike blood, whose sight and scent had caused his throat to constrict and his mouth to parch.

The noises and chatters that were typical to this place had become too much for him to bear. Not wanting to upset Carol by leaving food on the plate, Daryl finished the meal with haste and made to the door, giving a quick goodbye to his friend on the way out.

The fresh air somewhat soothed his nerves. Inside his pocket, his phone buzzed and Daryl pulled it out, half-expecting it was Paul sending him a text. Instead it was Rick, asking Daryl to take a day off to recover from his… flu and not to worry about the case because he had it covered. Daryl peered at his screen, trying to register what was going on. Rick had been at the scene and there was no way he would have confused a fatal shot with the common flu, unless Paul had altered his memory – one of the vampire tricks Paul had up his sleeves. Daryl had always thought compulsion, or the tempering with the human mind and free will, to be absolutely repulsive and Paul had sworn to never use it on Daryl or his friends. Perhaps this was the first and only time Daryl actually didn’t feel a spark of anger and betrayal when finding out that Paul had broken his vow.

Daryl typed a short reply to Rick. As he hit the button ‘send’, a question raised in his head of how his friends, Rick and Carol, and everyone he knew would react if he were to die today. He wondered if Paul would undo his compulsion and give them the truth or he would make up something else, something that was less sudden and more expected like a terminal disease. That wasn’t the real reason for the sudden chill creeping up his spine though; he shuddered at what he would do if he was the one to possess compulsion. He’d rather no one remember him than anyone be grief-stricken by his death. Especially Paul, with his heightened emotions that always made things take a turn for the worse.

That thought refused to be shaken off his mind long after Daryl revved up the engine and rode off.

To be continued

Sorry about the slow update. Here’s a little confession: this was supposed to be the last chapter but as I wrote, the number of words kept increasing to the point I decided that I should split it up into more chapters. If nothing changes, there’s two chapters left.

Carol wasn’t in my original idea at all.

 

[Desus] (The World Was on Fire) and No One Could Save Me But You (3)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms: The Walking Dead

Rating: K+

Pairing: Desus – Daryl Dixon x Paul “Jesus” Rovia

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, vampire AU

Characters: Paul “Jesus” Rovia, Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes

Summary:

For all the short time Paul had been acquainted with Rick Grimes, he had never heard the tough police officer’s voice break like when he informed Paul, “Daryl was shot.”

Alternate universe. Established relationship.


Chapter 1     Chapter 2


The World Was on Fire…

Wicked Game

The morning after…

The rain battering his helmet had never felt so maddening as Daryl was riding his trusted old friend at break-neck speed. This was beaten track for him, one he had raced down countless times before, many of which during a downpour just like this. Odd torrential rains had never much bothered him; as a matter of fact, he rather enjoyed a cool down after a series of sweltering days. The smell of the first drops of rain splattering on the burned asphalt road was unpleasant to some but not Daryl, quite the opposite actually, and the heavier the shower hitting his body became, the better his mood improved. The sound of water violently beating down on plastic was not infuriating in the least; rather, it had a calming effect on his mind. Daryl supposed this was subconsciously tied to his less-than-peaceful childhood, of which he had spent the better part hiding from his father and his dear old leather belt, taking shelter somewhere in the woods whenever the old man was ‘under the weather’, hoping the heavy rain and rolls of thunder would mask the deafening beats of his scared heart.

The old man had been gone for years, and the sight of a worn leather belt no longer made him on edge, but remnants of the past were still residing deep within his psyche, at times manifesting into sporadic bouts of anxiety and depression, of which the rain proved to be an effective, albeit temporary, therapy. It gave him a sense of security to race down the empty lane on a rainy day.

But this time it wasn’t the same, and Daryl doubted things would be the same after yesterday’s afternoon.

Before Daryl was aware that he had been shot, there had already been a bullet bursting out of his back. As he fell down to the tile floor, all he saw was a huge shapeless bright red blotch on the wall behind. The blotch swelled until it occupied all his vision and he went blind. He heard Rick’s panicked shouts somewhere across the room but he couldn’t picture his best friend’s face. Daryl knew he was done for and the only thing on his mind was the mute sadness overflowing from Paul’s ocean-blue eyes.

And then there was darkness. It sounded like some cliché shit but that was exactly what it was for Daryl. Nothing but undiluted darkness that caused him to doubt whether he had lost his sight. In fact, all five of his senses were rendered completely useless: no light to see, no sound to hear, no scent to smell in the air – provided there was air after all, no flavor to taste – even the tang of blood in his mouth had gone – and nothing to feel. He found out soon enough that he couldn’t move his fingers, his limbs, his head, his whole body. Total paralysis was a terror Daryl had never experienced before, which made his father’s inebriated rage and merciless leather belt a child’s play in comparison. Nothing beat being entirely alone in the dark where you were unable to move an inch. Despair in its most appalling form. He wanted to scream, to hear his voice. He did, and discovered grimly that he had none. A burning need to cry was hurting his head but he didn’t, doubting if he had tears. He thought of Paul, of his blue eyes, twinkling with mischief, and his kind smile in that morning. Regret cut through Daryl like a hot knife through butter at how he hadn’t a chance to say goodbye to Paul, and at how Paul would feel upon receiving his body. At how Paul would grieve over his corpse, his tears filling the hole dug out by an ill- but actually well-aimed iron. Vampires were emotionally fragile creatures – the words were reverberating in Daryl’s mind – and dangerously so. Over his course of six centuries, Paul had only lost once, and once was enough to scar him for life. Daryl had never thought it would be this soon when he made Paul relive that cycle of agony and century-long recovery process. His regret already transformed into guilt.

And guilt seemed to be a way to pass the time in this limbo state because at some indefinite point of time, Daryl’s guilt receded into the dark at a slight tug at his fingers. All of sudden he could feel now. His overwhelming relief was short-lived however, since the tug hastily became a violent pull. It hurt, really. By instinct Daryl rattled his sleep-addled limbs and tried to fight the pull. His struggle was only promised more pain and an inevitable defeat as he was dragged forward into an invisible gaping hole…

… whose other side was a tight, lung-crushing embrace, which only loosened at his gasp. He didn’t gasp due to the crude embrace – frankly it was nothing compared to the pull – but rather by the earth-whooping swift from dead to alive. Daryl’s ears were ringing with his name being repeated over and over but he couldn’t respond just yet. His head was spinning so he was reluctant to open his eyes. Still he recognized the voice and that, coupled with a warm, living presence washed away the horror of the limbo. He found his quivering lips mumble a name and though it came out softer than a whisper against snow, he knew it would be heard. For why else there was a hand gently messaging his nape and a pair of full lips lightly pressing on the sweaty tip of his ear?

“I thought I’d lost you…” Paul rasped. Then he immediately captured Daryl’s lips. It was very passive, the kiss, and like none of the passionate make out sessions they’d had before; no gliding, no sucking and certainly no tongue, and yet in it passiveness it profoundly conveyed his hopeless attempt to reach inward to Daryl’s soul and touch it just so he knew his lover was not lost to the Ripper’s clutch. There was salt on Paul’s lips from his unrestrained tears.

When they finally pulled apart and Daryl opened his eyes, he was greeted with the sight of a tear-stained face. Paul’s eyes appeared huge not only because they were wide-open but also due to the twin hollows under his lower lashes. Grief affected the inhuman as much as they did human, Daryl noticed with a twitch of pain in his chest. His thumbs caressed the skin below Paul’s eyes as if this mere simple gesture could rub away the impact of his death on the vampire.

“When we kissed this morning, you…”

Paul exhaled. “Yes,” he admitted, “I made you take my blood with neither your consent nor your knowledge. I can bear you getting mad at me, lashing out at me, never speaking to me or looking at me again; it’d give me hell but I can live with it. But I can’t bear the thought that something terrible might happen to you out there, an armed robber, a drunken driver, an accident, and you’d be taken away from me. So I’m glad I did it, I really am. Easily the wisest thing this old bat has done for centuries.”

Daryl waited patiently for him to finish. Then, to Paul’s utter surprise, he said two words:

“Thank you.”

Daryl didn’t know what he thanked Paul for. Saving his life? Not quite. Their relationship had gone past that point of saying those words because if the situation had been reversed, Daryl knew he would have done exactly the same. That was the reason why he had not found it in his heart to immediately confront Paul upon first discovering his sneaky act even though Daryl Dixon liked it the least when people did something behind his back. But it seemed to be the words that needed to be said at this moment despite their artificial meaning, even more so since he didn’t know what else to say. He wasn’t mad at Paul, no; why should he be? He was just exhausted, body and soul.

“Thank you,” Paul whispered against his temple, “for forgiving me.”

In an attempt to change the subject, Daryl did a quick scan of his surroundings, feeling strangely relieved that this was their bedroom rather than a hospital room or worse, the morgue.

“I was in the dark,” said Daryl. “Pitch black. No light, no sound, nothin’.”

“I know,” Paul replied, nodding. “I was there. All vampires were. We dub it the ‘threshold of death’.”

“I thought about ya, about how abrupt things were, how we didn’t get to say goodbye at least.”

“We don’t have to say goodbye,” Paul hushed, pressing his palm to Daryl’s cheek. Daryl’s stubbles tickled his soft, thin skin. “Not yet. Hopefully never.”

“Am I like you now?”

Outside the open window the crescent moon was high in the starless sky. Were it daylight, Daryl would be stretching out his arm to test if the sun should make his skin sizzle like rashers of bacon in hot oil. In order to provide evidence to his confession, Paul had taken his daylight ring – his sole protection from the sun – off his right ring finger and exposed his hand to sunlight. Daryl remembered having to use the fire distinguisher before his boyfriend became a living torch.

Paul shook his head. “Not yet,” he said. “Just a moment.”

He flashed out of the room a blurred of colors using his preternatural speed. It still struck Daryl as both awed and unsettling even though he had witnessed Paul’s abilities countless times before; he guess it was a grim reminder of Paul’s inhuman nature despite his very human appearance – too human that Daryl subconsciously chose to forget their fundamental difference. But this time, alongside awe and unsettlement, there was a rising curiosity. Daryl wondered how it felt to move at a speed the human eyes couldn’t follow, and whether Paul had trained himself to get adjusted to it or it had naturally become a part of him amongst other vampiric attributes.

Paul returned with a blood bag in his hand, retrieved from his personal stash. Daryl’s throat and mouth suddenly felt very parched while his stomach churned with the sight of crimson. In spite of the sealed plastic container, the sanguineous scent hung thickly in the air.

It appeared the blood flipped a switch inside Daryl. His senses became much too keen – his eyes being able to make out the creases in the curtains and his ears picking up the distant roars of vehicles even though their home resided in a quieter suburban residence – and he was overwhelmed. To say it was uncomfortable was an understatement. The pricking underneath his skin did nothing to help but aggravate his condition.

“It must feel terrible,” Paul said, sitting down on the edge of their bed and reaching out to Daryl with his empty hand. “The enhanced senses and the sudden acute awareness of your surroundings.”

“Ya went through the same things?”

Soon as the question left his lips, Daryl realized it was stupid and redundant.

Paul nodded. “You’re in transition,” he explained. “Neither human nor vampire. Neither dead nor alive. My sire told me that it’s because you’re trapped between two worlds: one foot is in the living world while the other stays in limbo until your decision.”

“My decision?” Daryl echoed.

“To take the final step and become a vampire or…” his throat clogged and the struggle to finish the sentence was evident in his creased eyebrows and his mouth agape. “… to die. This time for real.”

“The final step bein’ this?”

As if handling a fragile and sacred object, Paul handed the blood bag to Daryl with both hands.

Daryl looked down on the tempting object in his hand, thinking about how its content was practically singing to him. Just one gulp and this current discomfort would be gone. And so would the man named Daryl Dixon. He locked eyes with Paul. Although the vampire was sitting as quiet as a statue, his whole body was radiating a silent plea. His straight, stiff back. His fingers curling into fists on his laps. The tight press of his lips. The blue of his eyes shifted ever slightly when the feeble moonlight hit them as if there was a miniature ocean in each. The oceans were shadowed with an imminent storm.

Daryl’s left chest where the bullet had hit ached. Without looking, he fingered the wound, finding it bloodless, mended and whole. He bit the inside of his cheeks until he tasted copper.

His heart throbbed as Daryl gingerly set the blood bag on the nightstand. “How much time do I have before I kick the bucket for real?” he asked.

Paul’s voice was uneven. “Twenty-four hours, the exact same amount of time as the vampire blood stays in your system. Starting when you wake up from your limbo.”

“Tomorrow evenin’ then?”

Paul nodded.

Something about his downcast eyes told Daryl that Paul had already known what he was to say next. The vampire had always had good intuition.

“Tomorrow evenin’ then.”

To be continued

Sorry about another cliffhanger.

So if a person dies with vampire blood in their system, they stays dead for some time (I made up the limbo stuff in this fic) and wakes up neither human nor vampire. Then they have 24 hours to decide if they want to live as a vampire or die a human. If they want to become a vampire, all they need to do is consume human blood.

[Diệp Phó] Hải Thị Thận Lâu (4)

Pairing: Diệp Phó – Diệp Khai x Phó Hồng Tuyết

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe

Rating: 10+

Nhân vật: Diệp Khai

Chú ý: còn 1 cp khác nhưng chưa được tiết lộ

Preview:

Là bằng hữu cùng vào sinh ra tử, là huynh đệ bất kể huyết thống, cũng là nguyên nhân của cơn ác mộng đáng sợ nhất với hắn.

Trên hết, là một người đã chết.

“Phó… Hồng… Tuyết,” Diệp Khai khó nhọc thốt lên ba chữ.

Chương 1    Chương 2     Chương 3

4. Phó Hồng Tuyết

Diệp Khai tỉnh lại cùng với cảm giác một bàn tay lành lạnh, mềm mại vuốt ve khuôn mặt hắn. Hắn không nhớ mình đã thiếp đi lúc nào, không, chính xác thì hắn không thiếp đi. Sau ba chén Niệm tửu, hắn thấy trước mắt tối sầm rồi mất đi tri giác. Khả năng đầu tiên hắn nghĩ đến là mê dược, nhưng nếu đây là mê dược thì lạ quá, cảm giác đầu tiên khi hắn tỉnh lại không giống mê dược chút nào! Mê dược có rất nhiều loại, thế nhưng cảm giác đầu tiên khi tỉnh hầu như chỉ một: thần trí rối loạn, đầu óc bưng bưng do tác dụng của thuốc chưa rút đi hoàn toàn. Hắn dám khẳng định vì hắn tự tin mình đã thử qua rất nhiều loại mê dược trên thế gian, từ nhẹ đến nặng, từ phổ biến đến hiếm lạ. Với kẻ mất ngủ kinh niên, mê dược là giải pháp cuối cùng nhưng xem ra ngay đến nó cũng không cho hắn được giấc ngủ trọn vẹn.

Diệp Khai loại bỏ nghi vấn bị hạ dược. Hắn cảm thấy như mình vừa thức dậy sau một giấc ngủ dài không bị gián đoạn, một giấc ngủ thật sự, yên bình và không bị những ký ức xa xưa quấy nhiễu. Cảm giác thư thái không biết bao lâu rồi mới được biết đến khiến Diệp Khai gạt qua một bên vô vàn nghi vấn khi hắn thức dậy ở một nơi hắn không biết là đâu, bên cạnh một người hắn không biết là ai. Cơ bắp toàn thân thả lỏng, mắt vẫn còn nhắm, hắn cho phép bản thân buông lơi cảnh giác, hạ xuống đề phòng để tận hưởng sự chăm sóc dịu dàng từ bàn tay người lạ. Rụt rè như thể hắn sợ bàn tay chỉ là ảo giác, sẽ tan biến nếu hắn lỗ mãng, Diệp Khai chạm vào bàn tay.

Bàn tay ngưng động tác nhưng không hề biến mất. Những ngón tay thon dài, mát lạnh nhẹ nhàng đan lấy ngón tay hắn.

Trong ký ức của Diệp Khai, hắn chỉ biết một bàn tay có nhiệt độ thấp như vậy. Hiển nhiên, bàn tay đó không hề mịn màng, cũng chưa từng ban phát cho hắn nửa điểm dịu dàng bất kể hắn thèm khát điều đó thế nào.

Nếu vậy, hắn đã thật sự tỉnh chưa, hay đây là một giấc mộng đẹp đẽ, ngọt ngào và không thật?

“Khách quan, ngài đã tỉnh.”

Một giọng thiếu niên trong trẻo như suối lọt vào tai Diệp Khai. Giọng nói này sao mà quen quá, hắn đã nghe ở đâu rồi thì phải. Cả cách xưng hô trang trọng nữa, lâu lắm rồi không ai gọi hắn là “ngài”, cũng phải thôi, ai đi gọi một lão già lôi thôi, rách rưới, trong hầu bao chỉ vài đồng tiền lại nay đây mai đó là “ngài”. Diệp Khai chỉ lờ mờ nhớ mình đã ngạc nhiên thế nào khi đặt chân vào căn lầu và được tiếp đãi như khách quý bất kể bề ngoài thế nào… Căn lầu… phải, căn lầu mang tên Niệm Lâu. Còn giọng nói như thế chỉ có thể là gã tiểu nhị tuổi đời còn nhỏ nhưng ăn nói lễ độ, hơn nữa còn rất biết làm vừa lòng khách. Vân Thâu… một cái tên rất ý nghĩa.

Diệp Khai từ từ mở mắt, một gương mặt mờ mờ xuất hiện trong tầm mắt hắn. Hắn chớp mắt vài lần, đưa bàn tay không cầm tay Vân Thâu lên dụi mắt. Gương mặt Vân Thâu trở nên rõ ràng, gã đang cười, nụ cười ôn hoà, ấm áp như vạt nắng xuyên qua cửa sổ, chiếu xuống đầu vai hắn. Cảm giác chệnh choạng khi vừa tỉnh giấc đã rút, thần trí hoàn toàn tỉnh táo, Diệp Khai nhận ra hai điều: một, bây giờ là buổi sáng, xét theo cường độ của nắng thì có lẽ hiện đang là giờ Thìn. Hôm qua hắn đến Niệm Lâu vào buổi chiều, bây giờ là buổi sáng, chẳng lẽ hắn đã ngủ một đêm ở đây? Nhắc đến việc ngủ, điều thứ hai Diệp Khai nhận ra là hắn đang nằm trên một chiếc giường vô cùng êm ái, khác xa những tấm gỗ ép ngụy trang giường ở những quán trọ xập xệ hắn thường trú. Và có giường tất có phòng, hắn đảo mắt một vòng quanh phòng, thu thập những chi tiết về nơi đã chứa chấp hắn một đêm. Phòng không lớn hơn một căn phòng trọ phổ thông bao nhiêu; ngoài chiếc giường hắn đang nằm, trong phòng còn một chiếc bàn, vài chiếc ghế cùng một chiếc tủ trong góc, tất cả đều được chế tạo từ gỗ mun đen bóng. Trong không khí tản mác hương hoa nhưng hắn không thấy một nhành hoa nào, cũng không dám khẳng định đó là loại hoa gì. Giống như diện mạo của Vân Thâu, hương hoa cho hắn cảm giác vô cùng quen thuộc nhưng đào bới ký ức một hồi, hắn vẫn không tìm ra nửa điểm manh mối. Bỏ cuộc, hắn thở dài, bàn tay đang đan lấy tay Vân Thâu bất giác xiết lại. Thật kỳ lạ, tiếp xúc với da hắn nãy giờ vậy mà bàn tay của Vân Thâu vẫn hệt như ban đầu, tựa hồ thân nhiệt hắn vô phương thẩm thấu qua làn da mong manh của gã. Diệp Khai biết trên thế gian có một môn công phu kỳ dị như thế: thân nhiệt người luyện luôn luôn thấp, dù phơi mình dưới nắng nóng hay ủ trong chăn bông cũng không thể nào ấm lên. Nhưng với tuổi đời của thiếu niên này ư? Không thể nào… trừ khi gã bắt đầu luyện từ khi mới lọt lòng hoặc giả, tuổi thật của gã lớn hơn diện mạo rất nhiều.

Công phu có thể cải lão hoàn đồng Diệp Khai không phải chưa từng nghe qua.

Tính tò mò nổi lên, ngón tay Diệp Khai lần xuống cổ tay của Vân Thâu, nhưng hắn chưa kịp bắt mạch môn thì gã thiếu niên như linh cảm được ý đồ của hắn, nhẹ nhàng thu lại bàn tay.

Không rõ vì sao Diệp Khai chợt cảm thấy có chút hụt hẫng. “Đây vẫn là Niệm Lâu sao?” hắn hỏi.

“Đây vẫn là Niệm Lâu,” Vân Thâu cười đáp. “Tiểu nhân được lệnh thu xếp để ngài ở lại căn phòng này. Vì gấp gáp nên có chi sơ sót, mong ngài lượng thứ.”

Diệp Khai cười nhạt, ngồi dậy. “Chỉ sợ hầu bao của ta chẳng đủ chi trả ba ly rượu chứ đừng nói đến tiền phòng.”

“Về chi phí thì xin ngài đừng bận tâm. Được tiếp đãi ngài là vinh hạnh của lâu.”

Cười nhạt biến thành cười lớn. “Vinh hạnh sao? Một gã ăn mày như ta thì đem lại vinh hạnh gì?”

“Xin ngài đừng nói thế, danh tiếng Tiểu Lý phi đao Diệp Khai thúc phụ ngưỡng mộ đã lâu, chỉ mong được một lần tiếp đãi. Thúc phụ đã căn dặn rất kỹ, nếu là ngài thì mọi chi phí đều thuộc về lâu.”

Tiếng cười của Diệp Khai tắt hẳn, nét trào phúng trên mặt hắn cũng biến mất, chỉ còn lại sự nghiêm túc. “Tại hạ cũng rất mong được diện kiến chủ nhân Niệm Lâu để đích thân cảm tạ sự rộng lượng của người.”

“Xin ngài thứ lỗi, thúc phụ đã giao Niệm Lâu cho tiểu nhân tiếp quản, một mình ngao du sơn thủy, chưa biết chừng nào mới trở về.”

“Thật đáng tiếc,” Diệp Khai chép miệng, đứng dậy, phủi phủi những nếp nhăn không thể nhìn thấy trên y phục cũ nát đến hắn còn chẳng nhớ mình đã mặc từ khi nào. Câu hắn vừa thốt hoàn toàn không phải lời khách sáo; hắn thật sự thấy tiếc vì lỡ mất cơ hội diện kiến vị chủ nhân của căn lầu truyền kỳ này. Niệm Lâu là chốn tàng chứa vô vàn bí ẩn, đến gã tiểu nhị cũng không phải một thiếu niên tầm thường, chủ nhân của nó liệu sẽ là nhân vật thế nào, Diệp Khai rất hiếu kỳ. Tiếc là hắn còn việc muốn làm, vả lại ăn uống trên sự chiêu đãi của người chưa từng gặp mặt, hắn không quen.

Vân Thâu cũng đứng dậy, lùi lại, giữ một khoảng cách cố định với Diệp Khai.

“Tại hạ vẫn còn một số việc cần làm, không tiện làm phiền quý lâu. Nếu còn duyên hạnh ngộ rất muốn cùng thúc phụ của ngươi hàn huyên,” Diệp Khai nói.

“Thúc phụ cũng đã nghĩ đến việc này nên đã căn dặn tiểu nhân không được phiền nhiễu công chuyện của ngài. Chỉ là, trước khi rời lâu, xin ngài cho phép tiểu nhân đưa ngài đi tham quan một vòng quanh lâu. Đây cũng là dặn dò của thúc phụ.”

Diệp Khai dĩ nhiên không thể khước từ. Người ta tận tình tiếp đãi hắn mà hắn còn khăng khăng từ chối thì chẳng phải thất lễ lắm sao? Hơn nữa, hắn thật lòng muốn biết bên trong căn lầu này nhìn như thế nào.

“Xin dẫn đường.”

Vân Thâu mỉm cười, chậm rãi bước đến cửa. “Thỉnh khách quan.”

Bên ngoài cánh cửa là một hành lang dài hun hút khiến Diệp Khai không khỏi ngỡ ngàng. Hắn mường tượng Niệm Lâu rộng lớn hơn vẻ bề ngoài rất nhiều nhưng đến mức này thì hắn chưa nghĩ tới. Hai bên hành lang là những cánh cửa sơn đen giống hệt nhau, khi Vân Thâu đóng cánh cửa sau lưng Diệp Khai, nó liền gia nhập hàng ngũ những cánh cửa khác, không hề phân biệt. Trên cửa không hề có số hay bất cứ ký hiệu nào làm dấu, Diệp Khai tự hỏi bằng cách nào khách trọ có thể tìm được căn phòng của mình.

Như đọc được suy nghĩ của hắn, Vân Thâu cười, đáp, “Khách quan đừng lo lắng. Tuy những cánh cửa giống hệt nhau nhưng tiểu nhân xin đảm bảo ngài luôn tìm được căn phòng của mình. Đó là điểm đặc biệt của Niệm Lâu.”

Diệp Khai nhẹ gật đầu, không tiện hỏi sâu thêm.

Hành lang tưởng chừng không có điểm dừng, vậy mà hai người chỉ đi mấy bước chân đã đến cầu thang. Tiếng nhạc, tiếng trò chuyện huyên náo từ đại sảnh bên dưới vọng lên.

“Căn phòng ngài đã ở thuộc cánh đông,” Vân Thâu giải thích. “Niệm Lâu có bốn cánh: đông, tây, nam, bắc, tất cả đều dẫn xuống đại sảnh nơi ngài đã xem Điệp Vũ tiểu thư biểu diễn…”

Trong khi Vân Thâu tiếp tục thuyết minh, Diệp Khai chầm chậm bước xuống bậc thang.

“Ngoài ra Niệm Lâu còn một hậu viện. Bây giờ đương mùa mai nở, hậu viện một mảnh trắng xoá…”

Đến giữa cầu thang, bước chân Diệp Khai đột ngột ngưng lại còn người hắn như hoá thành một pho tượng đá. Ánh mắt hắn đăm đắm nhìn vào góc phía tây của đại sảnh.

Góc phía tây như thế nào? Chỉ là một góc ít náo nhiệt hơn phần còn lại của đại sảnh, giống như góc mà Diệp Khai đã ngồi uống Niệm tửu hôm qua.

Bàn trong góc chỉ có hai người ngồi, một người áo trắng, một người áo đen. Tuy bên người họ không thấy bóng dáng của kiếm, đao nhưng hai tấm lưng thẳng băng như thân trúc chẳng khác hai thanh kiếm, đao sắc bén đã tuốt vỏ. Người áo trắng nhất định dùng kiếm, Diệp Khai dám đem tính mạng ra khẳng định, thậm chí Diệp Khai còn có thể hình dung thanh kiếm y không mang theo cũng trắng toát, lạnh lẽo hệt như chủ nhân của nó. Còn người áo đen chắc chắn dùng đao, thanh đao vốn là vật bất ly thân của hắn cũng đen tuyền như hận thù chủ nhân nó mang trong tâm. Đây không phải suy đoán mà là điều Diệp Khai biết, cơ bản vì hắn biết người áo đen, cũng từng nếm thử sự bén nhọn của thanh hắc đao trên chính da thịt mình. Trong cuộc đời mình, Diệp Khai đã trải qua vô số thương tích nặng hơn, nguy hiểm hơn nhưng vết đao đó là thứ duy nhất để lại một vết sẹo trong lòng hắn.

Và người dùng đao chính là người duy nhất có thể tổn thương hắn.

Là bằng hữu cùng vào sinh ra tử, là huynh đệ bất kể huyết thống, cũng là nguyên nhân của cơn ác mộng đáng sợ nhất với hắn.

Trên hết, là một người đã chết.

“Phó… Hồng… Tuyết,” Diệp Khai khó nhọc thốt lên ba chữ.

Còn tiếp

[Fanfic] Doppelgängers (2)

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms: The Boondock Saints, Blade

Rating: Mature

Pairings: Connor MacManus x Murphy MacManus (yeah, it’s incest, or twincest), Deacon Frost x Joshua “Josh” Frohmeyer aka Scud

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, zombie apocalypse

Characters: Connor MacManus, Murphy MacManus, Scud, Deacon Frost

Warnings: incest/twincest, vampirism

Summary: On their journey to the south, Connor and Murphy encounters some of Murphy’s doppelgängers along the way.

Sequel to Methuselahs – might turn into a series

Scud – Joshua “Josh” Frohmeyer (Blade II)

Part I

Part II. To Wake a Vampire

With the cooler snuggled under his arm, Scud scanned the mostly vacant space, hoping to find none of the intruding signs. He let out a puff of breath in relief before tiptoeing his way to the rusty door in the left corner, avoiding stepping on all sorts of hazards littered on the ground: usual garbage, bricks, dissembled metal parts, jagged glass pieces, broken syringes, et cetera, et cetera. He was fairly sure the place had seen better days before zombie apocalypse. The bolt creaked as Scud slid it out and opened the door just enough to reveal a dark passage. He squeezed his frame through the rather small opening, wincing as the cool, damp air hit his face. He slid the bolt back in place, checking that it was secure enough to barricade intruders and descended the staircase, the soles of his boots on metal loud enough to wake the dead. The bottom of the staircase was a confined cellar lighted only by a stained bulb on the low ceiling. Scud had to crouch a little so as not to give his head a concussion. The air was stagnant, and layer upon layer of dust produced a smell that tempted his nostrils into a sneeze. Good thing Scud kind of got used to it so he was able to contain his sneeze.

“I’m back, D,” Scud announced, placing the cooler on the ground, causing the dust to flutter in the air. “Look what I’ve brought. I consider myself very lucky today.”

No response came out of the shadow where the feeble light of the bulb was shy of reaching. The eerie silence, coupled with the lighting and atmosphere, gave off the vibes of an old tomb which hadn’t seen daylight since forever. That it was buried beneath the earth surface didn’t really help.

A tomb for a dead man, how fitting, Scud mused. He stepped gingerly to the edge of the shadow and rummaged with his hands for a couple seconds before his fingers found an arm that was so cold and rigid that it might very well belong to a cadaver. Instead of jolting with fright, Scud smiled fondly to himself as he grabbed the arm and started pulling it out of darkness with all his strength. Inch by inch, the arm was revealed to the light, followed by the messy head, the torso under a shirt that was sullied to the point its original color was no longer recognizable, and finally the whole body. “You sure sleep like a log, D, a very heavy log,” Scud panted, a light sheen of sweat glazing his forehead, sticking his long bang together despite the generally lower temperature in the cellar. He had landed his ass on the ground and was now supporting the unconscious man’s torso with his own, slinging his left arm around the stiff shoulders. “D, wake up,” he called, patting the hollow cheek. “C’mon D, open your eyes, I brought your favorite for dinner.”

Between the cadaverous skin tone, the absence of body temperature and pulse and the unresponsiveness, Scud couldn’t decide which made the corpse in his embrace more……. corpse-like. But Scud knew as clear as the sun that Deacon Frost, his former master and suckhead in his care, wasn’t dead. Well, technically dead, but not dead-dead but rather dead-alive; he was just hibernating like a couple of animals did when winter arrived and the food supply became too scarce, the only difference being that he wouldn’t wake up at the first creak of spring and would hibernate into oblivion if no one was kind enough to put food into his mouth.

Joshua Frohmeyer considered himself kind enough; that was why he was rolling up his sleeve. The pristine white gauze had been besmirched with a shapeless maroon blotch but it was still good thanks to Murphy. Scud clucked his tongue, wishing that the older man hadn’t been so good in bandaging that now the tight knot was giving him a hard time trying to undo it with one hand and a considerable weight leaning against his torso. After some unsuccessful minutes, he resorted to using his teeth to tear the bandage. He fingered the gash, finding it dry. The bleeding had long stopped and the skin had begun to tighten in the initial process of healing. Without giving himself a proper warning, Scud jabbed his forefinger and middle finger into the wound. Blood spurted out instantly in response and although he was hissing – having low tolerance of pain used to be the reason for Josh to be jeered at and name-called various degrading terms, he was rather satisfied with the result. The tips of his fingers dipped into the crimson liquid and smeared it on the vampire’s ashen lips. The vivid red contrasted horribly with the pasty complexion, giving the vampire a look that was ridiculous and terrifying at the same time. It briefly reminded Scud of some Asian horror movie he had watched on a worn VHS as a kid (blame his double-shift, stressed-out single mother), of the ghosts with stringy black hair, skin too pale and lips too red that would haunt his sleeps for weeks to come

“C’mon D,” Scud pled, caressing the vampire’s lips, pressing a finger into the small crease between the upper and lower lips. Then he waited for his blood to drip in the cavern of the vampire’s mouth. Scud could be very patient when he needed to; after all, patience was the one factor that had made his relationship with the notoriously short-tempered Deacon Frost work through. His arm had become mostly numb when he received a reaction: the jaw twitched and the cold, dry tongue slowly licked his finger before wrapping itself around the digit. Shriveled eyelids pulled back to reveal the frosty blue Scud was all too familiar. The pupils were enlarged and unfocused while the irises were veiled; all signs pointed out that Deacon was not yet fully himself, his mind swinging back and forth between the light of consciousness and the need to feed like a relentless pendulum. Scud really shouldn’t be surprised when his finger was pricked by something pointy; he let an undignified yelp escape his lips nonetheless.

“I thought we were way past nibbling, D,” Scud complained. For some reason unclear even to himself, he kept his finger in the bloodsucker’s mouth.

A deep, animalistic growl from Deacon’s throat reverberated in the confined cellar when he allowed Scud’s finger, shimmering with a mixture of blood and saliva, to slip from his mouth. The cracking of bones immobile for too long was heard as he mechanically peeled himself off his former pet’s body and lowered his head to the source of the strong coppery tang teasing his newly awakened sense. Scud expected the pain of being punctured where his flesh was already damaged but there was none; instead, he was caught off guard by the clammy sensation of a tongue lapping his raw wound. Soon after a pair of chapped lips scraped his skin and suction applied. He felt keenly how his blood was drawn out of his veins in small but steady streams. It was odd, really, and he couldn’t say if he’d ever get accustomed to it. After the initial nick of the finger, Deacon only sucked, not bit and for that, Scud was rather grateful. The vampire held his wrist in his steely grip even though he didn’t have to; Scud wouldn’t move an inch when being fed on, a lasting habit instilled in him during his days as a pet: if he struggled he’d be hurt; if he remained still he might even gain some pleasure from the act – some shit about vampire saliva containing aphrodisiac elements, aside from anti-coagulant, he had read that somewhere, perhaps Whistler’s archives. A reimbursement of sort, and Scud certainly wouldn’t complain as he draped his other arm over the vampire’s shoulder.

Scud lost track of the time – he always did while feeding happened – and he might as well die sorely without the knowledge of the exact moment his last breath was squeezed out of his lungs and his mortal coil severed. Willingly or not, every time he allowed master to sink his teeth in his flesh, he was put in a trance that was not unlike riding a fucking drug high: everything was hazy and nothing seemed to matter as much as the sound of blood rushing in his veins in a hurry to be extracted from his body. Again, the chemical substances in vampire saliva working its magic on a calm, pliant prey. Thankfully for Scud, his bloodsucker had excellent control of his own body functions, honed over the decades, and he knew precisely the moment to stop so that no irrevocable damage was done. With one last lick Deacon loosened his grip on Scud’s wrist and lifted his head, gazing into the glassy blue eyes with his bright, piercing ones full of life from the warm, new blood in his system. Their situation was reversed: it was now the vampire that supported the human’s weight.

It wasn’t until there were lips crashing onto his own and a tongue demanding entrance with purposeful licks did Scud finally snap out of his trance and into immediate response. While his tongue joined Deacon’s in a hungry, passionate tango, his hand grabbed the back of Deacon’s head, bony fingers weaving through the dirty strands, pulling them, forcing the vampire to crane his neck backward so as to have an illusion of gaining dominance from a powerful creature that could off him with a flick of his wrist. Deacon allowed his former pet the pretense, even played along with him; he was in exceptional mood after waking from so long a slumber to a scrumptious hot meal. Not entirely satisfied but enough to keep him active for a while. Scud tasted mostly the same as he had remembered, minus the slight bitterness of nicotine; he wondered if Scud had willingly given up the killer joints or it was simply too difficult to find cigarettes in this apocalyptic world.

It was very much like feeding, when they made out, in that Scud lost track of the time until they separated at last, Scud flushed and panting heavily whereas Deacon looked pale and calm as ever, with only a gleaming sheen of saliva on his lips as evidence.

“Why didn’t you just go away?” he asked.

“What?” Scud was feeling lightheaded from the blood loss and the head-reeling kiss, so he didn’t grasp the meaning of Deacon’s question.

“I ask why you didn’t just go away,” Deacon repeated. “You’re no longer my familiar, or any vampire’s for that matter. You’re free to go wherever you want, do whatever you want. And frankly there was nothing I could do if you let me down here to rot.”

“You hit your head on something or old age’s finally catching up with you?” Scud scoffed, wrapping the wound on his arm with the bandage he had undone earlier. The human grunted in frustration as he struggled to tie the knot with only one hand until Deacon unceremoniously patted his hand away to finish the task himself. “I’m no one’s pet now, true, so whatever I’ve been doing since the world literally ended is my own free will. How many times have I already explained this to you, huh?”

“It’d be easier for you if you didn’t have to drag a desiccated body around, wouldn’t it?”

“I don’t know, D,” Scud replied, shrugging, “but I’d have better chance at survival keeping an active vampire with me in the world swamped with zombies.”

“The thing is, Scud, I can’t be active without blood—”

“That’s why I brought this,” Scud said, tapping his forefinger on the cooler. “Pocketed it among other supplies from a medical facility only infected recently. If you go on a stringent diet, it should last you a while. After that, well, there’s me.”

“I understand the free will and all but why’re you doing this?”

Scud exhaled an exasperated sigh like he was fed up with explaining himself to this muddle-headed suckhead, which, of course, he wouldn’t say out loud. Deacon’s temper had gotten tamer since their master-pet dynamics was broken but it still wasn’t something to be taken lightly.

Cupping Deacon’s cheeks with both hands, Scud said, “Because you, Deacon Frost, is a good fuck. That and yours is the only cock around that isn’t festered and falling off.”

Deacon smirked, flashing the human his gleaming fangs. Cupping the back of Scud’s neck with one hand, he brought their faces closer until their lips were merely a couple inches apart. His breath ghosted over Scud’s nose and lips, chilling and blissfully not stale. On the other hand, it didn’t give the feeling of human breath either, more like a puff of cool air than anything. With those frosty blue eyes, Deacon mesmerized the human as he got rid of Scud’s tattered jacket and slipped a hand under the shirt, drawing imperfect circles with the tips of his fingers on bare skin. Scud shivered with the touch, goosebumps raising on his skin.

“So eager to drain me right after you pumped some energy in me, huh?”

“God knows I’ve been starving,” Scud whispered, pouring truth in every syllable and capturing Deacon’s lips to punctuate. The coppery taste was still there but since Scud was too used to tasting his own blood that he wouldn’t mind. He wasted no time in decimating the chasteness of the kiss, transforming it into rough smashing of tongues and teeth. The temperature in the cellar had risen up a few notches and their clothes were in the way, so Scud sought to rid themselves of the offending garments, an incredible feat considering he did it without destroying the fabric or breaking the contact. Once they were bare skin against bare skin, Scud instantly wrapped his legs around Deacon’s waist as the vampire laid him down on their scattered clothes. As Deacon brought three fingers to Scud’s mouth, he took the cue and dedicatedly coated them with his spits. They’d need more than just saliva for proper lubrication but Scud simply couldn’t give a damn; it wasn’t like he had been lucky enough to come across an adult shop with its merchandise untrashed. A soft moan escaped his lips as Deacon dipped the first finger inside him, from the pain of having been neglected for so long rather than pain from the intrusion itself. The second and third fingers joined in easily enough since Scud had already been slick with his arousal. His body reactions spelling loud and clear how much he yearned for Deacon brought a wave of affection surging in the vampire’s cold, dead and still heart. He prepared himself by smearing the early dews along his shaft and eased his way in Scud’s entrance, kissing the human with a tenderness that surprised even himself as he did. Only when he was fully inside Scud did Deacon allow a sharp breath to be exhaled from his pale lips. He too had been waiting too long for this moment.

When Deacon entered him, Scud caught a glimpse of heaven despite knowing so damn well the likes of him would never make it there; heck, hell suited him better anyway. When Deacon began moving just seconds after – the vampire had never been renowned for his patience, deep, sure thrusts that aimed for the secret spot inside that made him lose his mind, Scud felt his heart go up in his throat, chocking him, rendering any words on his tongue incoherent groans and hisses. His jagged, gnawed fingernails dug into Deacon’s shoulder blades, decorating the plane of his back with various lines ranging from pink to crimson. The vampire grunted, his hips speeding up in response to the human’s urge.

When he came Scud didn’t know that he did as his soul seemed to disengage from his body and float to heaven, his eyes temporarily blind by the pure light there. His soul did return however, and he felt Deacon’s orgasm keenly as though it was his own. He fed on the warmth spreading inside him as Deacon rode the waves of high until he came to a halt and collapsed on top of Scud.

Thoroughly drained, as he had joked. Scud found tiny pride in his heart for that.

“How did you get injured?” asked Deacon, fingering the bandage.

They were spooning on top of their discarded clothes, Deacon being the big spoon.

“Scraped myself while running for dear life. Almost got torn apart, y’know.”

Deacon’s fingers stilled.

“But I got my ass saved by a pair of Irish brothers.”

Deacon furrowed his eyebrows. “There’s still uninflected humans out there?”

“Uninflected, yes, but human, no. They didn’t tell me what they were exactly but my money’s on ‘bloodsuckers’. They had that same hungry I-wanna-bite-you look as you when they saw my blood. But they did an awesome job keeping their teeth in check, I give them that.”

“And here I though my race had been extinct by the zombie outbreak.”

“Not your race, though, as they walked unharmed under the sun.”

Deacon scoffed. “Like the Daywalker?”

“Nah, not really. I’m pretty sure B couldn’t have been able to destroy a horde of zombies bare-handedly without breaking a sweat.”

“No vampire, pureblood or not, could. Mindless as they are, those walking corpses are a force to be reckoned with.”

“The brothers wanted me to come with them.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I don’t know,” Scud admitted, half truth, half not. “Maybe because two’s a company and three’s a crowd and I don’t like crowds.”

“Or maybe because you already have one bloodsucker too many in your life,” Deacon chuckled dryly.

“Yeah. But they told me there was a human community in the south. You think we could go there? I drive by day and you by night.”

“You say it on the premise that I could drive.”

Scud’s eyebrows nearly shot to the ceiling. “And you couldn’t? What kind of vampire—”

“The kind that can afford drivers. I didn’t say I couldn’t; it’s been a while since I was behind a wheel. But I suppose can manage some driving with the junk you have there.”

Scud huffed. “Just make sure you won’t kill me in my sleep and we’ll be fine.”

“We’ll see about that,” Deacon replied, brushing the bangs out of Scud’s forehead to land a light kiss there. “My biological clock dictates there’s about two hours left till dawn. You could use some sleep.”

Scud rubbed his eyes as he tugged Deacon’s lower lip playfully. Releasing it, he said, “Do me a favor and haul yourself into the trunk before sunrise, will you?”

A snort was Deacon’s answer.

End

Sorry the smut is a bit short.

[Fanfic] Doppelgängers (1)

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms: The Boondock Saints, Blade

Rating: Mature

Pairings: Connor MacManus x Murphy MacManus (yeah, it’s incest, or twincest), Deacon Frost x Joshua “Josh” Frohmeyer aka Scud

Genres: fanfiction, alternate universe, zombie apocalypse

Characters: Connor MacManus, Murphy MacManus, Scud, Deacon Frost

Warnings: incest/twincest, vampirism

Summary: On their journey to the south, Connor and Murphy encounters some of Murphy’s doppelgängers along the way.

Sequel to Methuselahs – might turn into a series

Scud – Joshua “Josh” Frohmeyer (Blade II)

Part I. Doppelgänger

“Yer alright, lad? Can ya stand?”

There was something like a jolt of electricity shooting through his entire being once Murphy’s eyes, silver and hidden behind his shades, and the kid’s met for the first time. The very same blue (that both he and Connor had once had) changing minimally when the light was reflected on the irises, Murphy noticed, and he needed no mirror to tell the kid was wearing an eerily exact replica of his own visage, from his suntanned eyebrows, half covered under his long, messy bang, the tip of his nose, to the small dip between his lips and the little mole above his mouth. Younger, but the same. Alive, but the same. Human, but the same. He saw the black pupils boring into his face enlarging as if the kid was on drugs, undoubtedly no less flabbergasted by their uncanny resemblance than he himself was. Yet Murphy masked it better; he wouldn’t have lived for a hundred odd years and was unable to conceal his emotions.

The word ‘doppelgänger’ sprung to his mind and he couldn’t help shaking his head, smiling to himself, which confused the kid even more and it was shown on his face. Feeling a twitch of guilt at that, Murphy repeated his earlier question, offering his gloved hand.

With a wince, the kid took his hand, and Murphy all but lifted him up to his feet, gently and carefully as his inhuman strength allowed. Under the tattered red jacket and baggy khaki pants, the kid was probably quite thin, if his pale gaunt cheeks and light weight were any indications. Murphy felt sorry for the kid who bore all tell-tale signs of malnourishment and fatigue; he might not have had a decent meal and good sleep since forever. Life wasn’t particularly easy for humankind these days, what with the apocalypse and the plague spreading all over the world. A dead men’s curse that was way more sinister than just massacring humans: it turned the infected into mindless starving cannibals and damned them to keep on walking and feeding even when their maggot-infested flesh had fallen off their skeletons. War, hunger and death reigned by its side like the Four Horsemen, making the earth a more dreadful place than Hell.

Connor and Murphy had been going for months without seeing an uninflected human before they encountered this boy. It was Connor who had spotted him, a living scent so thin it was mostly buried under the sea of putrefying smell, yet it struggled, and it fought in a flimsy hope to be detected, to be saved before it resigned to its fate. Connor had always had keener senses and firmer belief than his younger twin, and if there was even one survivor within their sensing radius, it was Connor that found them first and came to their rescue. This time it was no different. The undead had been but an arm’s length from ripping the boy to pieces and making him one of them when Connor tore through the mass of rotten flesh like a furious tornado, Murphy closely behind. And now, while Murphy was speaking to the human to calm him from the shock of nearly losing his life, Connor was putting the rest of the hoard to peace.

They had recently taken this job although the Lord hadn’t assigned them any task concerning it. Their job was to destroy evil, but since evil was too scarce in this apocalyptic world, they took it upon themselves to put any dead souls crossing their path to rest.

“I am Murphy,” Murphy elucidated, his tone assuring as he felt the light tremor where his hand made contact with the kid. From shock or apprehension he couldn’t tell. Maybe both. “That’s me brother, Connor. What’s yer name?”

“Josh…” the kid replied, a mere whisper. He cleared his throat and repeated, fearing the stranger hadn’t been able to hear him, “Joshua, actually. But people call me Scud, like, y’ know, stud.” He laughed nervously. He used to make this statement every time he told people his name, thinking it his trademark default introduction. It didn’t feel right as before, and he felt like an awkward teenager making a fool of himself in front of his heaviest crush.

“Or cuddle,” Murphy quipped. “Aren’t ya tha cuddly type?”

“Close but not really.” Scud wanted to scratch his perpetual bedhead and realized his right hand was still in Murphy’s. Separated by a layer of leather and yet somehow Scud could tell his hand was cool. Like way too cool for a normal human being clad in leather in the early July weather. It should have but didn’t weird him out, and Scud decided he really didn’t mind having his hand held by another; physical contact was so rare nowadays he was almost starving and he wanted it to last as long as he could manage. Besides, he wasn’t stranger to lower-than-normal body temperature after all.

Something else tickled Scud’s spidey sense. The human often prided himself on having exceptional survival instincts; otherwise he wouldn’t have made it to today, having wormed his way through the dangerous underground world of vampires and now zombie wonderland; the incident today was but a chink in his luck. That was to say Scud could sniff it out when danger was rearing its ugly head, which was about now. There was nothing ordinary, or if he dared think, human, about his saviors. From their ubiquitously pallid skin tone, Murphy’s unusually low body temperature to the ease with which his brother Connor laid waste to the zombies with no weapon other than his gloved hands. These mindless walking corpses didn’t possess much more strength than their former human selves; still, what made them the single mass-destruction force were their gargantuan number and unrivaled savagery. Scud had had the privilege to witness them decimating a whole club of suckheads, and till this day, he had never had a more harrowing experience. Yet here none of them had been able to lay a single decomposing finger on Murphy’s brother. As a matter of fact the remaining ones appeared hesitant in attacking, milky, soulless eyes darting back and forth between their destroyer and the disembodied parts scattered around their feet in a too-human manner. If Scud didn’t know so well he might be convinced they were scared.

Maybe Scud didn’t know so well as he believed.

And, if he did know better, he too should be scared by this pair of brothers. He wasn’t afraid, perhaps a little bit wary but afraid, definitely not. That Murphy and he were bearing striking resemblance might have something to do with it. To judge a book by its cover, that was Joshua Frohmeyer.

Again, Scud was no stranger to the inhuman. Had served some, had killed some, had screwed some. Had even loved one. All before another kind of undead ruled the world.

“Ya aren’t afraid o’ us, are ya?” Murphy asked, gazing toward his brother, who was sending the last of them to the afterlife.

“Well, not really…” Scud spoke, trying to not sound like he was telling a blatant lie because he wasn’t. “How can you tell? I don’t think I’m shitting in my pants or something.”

Murphy sniggered at the kid’s lack of refinement. “No, yer not. But fear has a smell an’ it’s unlike shit, I tell ya. Yer not reekin’ o’ fear though; yer reekin’ o’ fresh blood.”

Without waiting for Scud’s response and still holding his hand, Murphy rolled up the kid’s torn and dirty sleeve. A deep-red gash that ran from Scud’s upper arm to elbow was revealed to his sight. It looked nasty and it was weeping blood, and though it had the possibility of getting infected, it wasn’t something life-threatening. Fortunately just a flesh wound. The strong alluring metallic scent, however, was rawly fraying Murphy’s nerves. His mouth felt parched, his throat constricted and a tremor passed from his head to his toes; he was very tempted to run his tongue along the gash and gathered all the ruby nectar that was all going to waste anyway.

The mesmerized look plastered on Murphy’s countenance alerted Scud. “Uhm… Murphy?” he called, none-too-subtly attempting to yank his hand from the older man’s vice-like grip. Why was he staring at his bloody gash like he hadn’t eaten for months? What was he, a suckhead?!

At Scud’s voice, Murphy snapped out of his sanguinary trance. Grunting audibly, he let go of the human’s hand and started pacing around the place they were standing, which happened to be a medical facility. After emptying a few drawers out in a devil-may-care manner, he found a bottle of antiseptic, hopefully unexpired, and roll of clean gauze. He poured almost half the bottle on the wound, feeling a sense of guilt budding in his chest at Scud’s hiss, before bandaged the kid’s forearm to his elbow. Thankfully it didn’t require a deft hand or much skill as Murphy hadn’t had to treat a wound for decades, just rolling the gauze up the arm and making sure it was secure enough but not too tight that it hindered the blood flow. Once he was done Murphy was even a little proud of himself. Not the best dressing in the world but this would do in the meantime.

“Ya should thank yer luck that ya didn’t get infected,” Murphy told Scud, his voice coming out an octave lower than normal. “If ya did, I’d have no choice but ta put ya ta rest like ‘em corpses.”

“Thank you,” Scud mumbled, examining the knot on his bandage for a few seconds before covering it with his sleeve. “Must have hurt myself while running for my life. But no, I was incredibly lucky I didn’t get my ass bitten.”

Out of the corner of his eyes Murphy saw Connor approaching, brushing off bits of flesh from his jacket and frowning as they left stains on the leather, and turned around to call out to him. “Come, Connor, the lad’s alrigh’.”

The astounded look on his twin’s face was the same as his when Connor scrutinized the kid for any other injuries than the one Murphy had bandaged, and… perhaps to catch a glimpse of his soul, a habit he didn’t share with his brother – Murphy only dissected a human’s heart when he was certain he would sink his fangs into their neck whereas Connor wanted to see for himself how each person looked like on the inside. Under Connor’s intense gaze, the kid seemed to squirm, a tiny movement one wouldn’t notice if one weren’t a sense-freak bloodsucker. His blue eyes looking at Connor spoke of distrust, his lips pressed firmly and he was clutching his wounded arm in a defensive stance. Apparently he was more comfortable in the presence of a man whose face was identical to his.

Having realized he might be intimidating the young man with his stare, Connor cast his eyes down and he cleared his throat in an attempt to break the tension he had unconsciously created. “Glad ta hear yer unaffected.” He glanced around. “There’s enough fuckin’ body parts ‘round here.”

Sudden Murphy raised his voice, startling both Connor and the kid. “Ya wanna come with us? Yer all by yerself, aren’t ya? It’s not easy ta survive on yerself. Maybe next time ya won’t be so luc—”

Murphy didn’t know why he cut himself short once Connor placed a firm hand on his shoulder, but he did shut his trap at once. In the temporary silence engulfing the three of them Murphy already regretted his offer. Not only had acted impulsively again, making big decision without consulting with his brother first, he also had broken their vow to never have a human companion again. A human would neither adapt to the peculiar lifestyle of bloodsuckers nor feel entirely safe in the company of those whom they knew well to have a crave for their vein. Plus, the inevitable agony of outliving the human was something they could do without. Knowing all that and still, Murphy felt the need to take this lonely and vulnerable young man under their wings and give him protection and care so that never again did he have to run for his life or suffer injuries. Part of his rationality doubted if he would bear the same thought if the boy didn’t look more like Murphy’s twin than his real one. There had to be some sort of mystical connection beyond their nearly identical faces; Murphy just failed to figure it out.

Scud’s eyes flicked between his two saviors, neither of whom gave him a total sense of safety, or at least that was what his instincts had been telling him for the last hour; they were far more lethal than the living dead, or even the suckheads he had spent the greener years of his youth living amongst. Despite so, he felt inexplicably drawn to one of the brother. He wanted to trust Murphy, wanted to tail behind him, even if that meant giving up his hard-earned freedom to wear the collar – he doubted he would protest if Murphy were to clasp a literal collar around his neck or tattoo his glyph on his skin, turning Josh Frohmeyer the man back to Scud the pet all over again. And this time he wouldn’t defile his master, he would obey. Better be pet than dead, torn apart and eaten.

Nonetheless, he wouldn’t come with Murphy and Connor, not while he was still breathing and moving on his will…

Still clutching his arm close to his body, Scud fingered the fabric of his sleeve, under which he knew there wasn’t only the damaged flesh but also an unmarred glyph spelling the name of a certain suckhead in suckhead language. He hoped that Murphy only thought of it as an exotic tattoo and nothing else.

Because of it, Scud would turn down Murphy’s offer for protection.

“Nah, thanks, really appreciate it but I can’t go with you,” Scud said, kicking the cooler by his legs with a childish bore. It was the sole reason why he had come here and almost lost his damned life. “Got a place to go…… and someone to go back to.”

Those last words came out light as a breath but Connor and Murphy heard them just fine. Murphy’s eyes widened as his jaw dropped slightly. On the other hand, Connor looked calm as though he had already known the answer, anticipated it even. His hand on Murphy’s shoulder gave a reassuring squeeze, his head nodding.

Murphy felt a little knot in his chest as he watched the kid haul the cooler on his shoulders. It spiked his sense with a strong familiar smell and he briefly wondered what Scud intended to do with it.

None of his business though.

“Ya take care,” said Murphy, fully aware this was farewell. “There’s a thrivin’ human community if ya move ta tha south. We’re headin’ there.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks for this information and for saving my ass.”

With that Scud began walking away from them. Murphy’s eyes were on him until the kid’s sight completely vanished. He took little assurance in that Connor had erased the undead in the vicinity and the kid should be safe. For now.

“Wow, that kid looks like yer twin than me. Ya sure ya haven’t fathered any offsprings along the way?” Connor quipped. “Should I be worried there are little Murphies runnin’ around?”

Murphy smacked his brother’s head, laughing hard. “None that ya know o’.” He took a pause to compose himself. “The doppelgänger legend is real and we jus’ saw mine.”

“‘M envious. When do we get ta see mine?”

“Hopefully tha next time we round tha corner, find a distressed human an’ ya got ta put on yer hero hair,” said Murphy. “I kinda hoped tha kid would go with us even though after Rom’s death we swore we’d never take another human. Who knows, he might not have enough luck ta see another day.”

Connor exhaled than took in a breath – all out of human habit than necessity. “‘M pretty sure tha lad has enough bloodsucker in his life already. Saw how he fidget ‘round us?

“Wait, did ya jus’ say there are bloodsuckers other than us?”

“‘M surprised yer surprised, Murph. After all we exist, an’ tha world is swarmed with walking corpses, so I don’t get why the idea that vampires exist is far-fetched. I stole a glance at his soul, didn’t I?

Murphy chuckled. “Wish I had done tha same. That way I wouldn’t be curious by how our ‘cousin’ looks like.”

“Pretty like Twilight, minus tha sparkle,” replied Connor.

(To be continued)

Note: Please excuse my attempt to write dialogues with the Irish accent.

This takes place after the events in Methuselahs, so Connor and Murphy have been vampires (created by Judas’s blood by God’s order) for roughly a century. The setting is zombie apocalypse although it’s not like The Walking Dead (I haven’t watched that series despite Daryl Dixon’s probably Norman Reedus’s most famous role). My initial was that Connor and Murphy encountered many Myrphy’s doppelgänger, or other characters Reedus’s portrayed over the year (like Scud from Blade II, Young Man from Dark Harbor, Travis from Gossip, John Rollins from Messengers II: The Scarecrow), on their way to the south (as stated at the end of Methuselahs). I started with Scud because he seems to be a fun character to write and I ship ScuDeacon pretty hard (blame Deuces Wild for that, fun movie, just watch it); let’s see if inspiration will hit me and I may write more for other characters.

The second part is for Scud and Deacon.

 

[Cảm nhận] Vice Versa (fanfiction)

Warnings: spoilers, ngôn ngữ không đứng đắn, xen lẫn tiếng Anh và tiếng Việt

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Nguồn: pixiv.net (Hình chỉ có tính chất minh họa, bạn đem vào vì thấy hợp với fic)
Tên: Vice Versa (tạm dịch là Ngược Lại)

Tác giả: drunkenCharm

Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/347153/chapters/564083

Thể loại: slash fanfiction, alternate universe, supernatural, angst

Độ dài: 10 chương/78,347 từ

Ngôn ngữ: tiếng Anh

Fandom: Blade

Pairing: Deacon Frost/Scud (Joshua Frohmeyer)

Rating: M (dành cho người trưởng thành – mature)

Tóm tắt: Scud never chose to be a pet, but somehow he ended up as one. Here comes the misery.

(Scud chưa bao giờ chọn làm pet nhưng bằng cách nào đó, gã lại trở thành pet. Đau khổ bắt đầu từ đây.)

Cảnh báo: có tình tiết rape và tra tấn

*Ghi chú: tuy là fanfiction nhưng bạn có thể xem đây là một câu chuyện hoàn toàn độc lập.

Khá lâu rồi bạn Joel không viết review cho fanfic. Không phải bạn ngừng đọc mà trái lại, bạn đọc nhiều là đằng khác. Tuy nhiên, bạn thuộc kiểu kén ăn nên số lượng fanfic khiến bạn hài lòng ít hơn rất nhiều so với số bạn đọc. Khi đánh giá mức độ hài lòng với một fanfic, điều đầu tiên bạn để ý là cách viết. Fanfic tiếng Trung không bàn đến vì bạn không biết tiếng Trung nên tác giả viết sai hay đúng ngữ pháp, câu cú lủng củng hay không thì qua bộ lọc thần thánh của Quách Tĩnh ca ca (tức QT – phần mềm Quick Translation), truyện nào cũng na ná nhau, ngôn tình giông giống đam mỹ còn kiếm hiệp với tiên hiệp là anh em một nhà (hay mỗi bạn thấy thế nhỉ?). Với fanfic tiếng Anh thì khác; do bệnh nghề nghiệp mà bạn cực khó chịu khi tác giả ẩu tả trong dấu câu, ngắt câu, ngữ pháp, trình bày… – giống như ăn cơm mà mỗi miếng lại nhai phải sạn vậy. Dẫu biết tác giả fanfic phần lớn là amateur nhưng bạn nghĩ cẩn thận luôn là một đức tính và chăm chút cho những gì mình viết ra, đứa con tinh thần của mình, không bao giờ là thừa. Vì vậy, cách viết là điểm đầu tiên bạn ‘soi’ khi đánh giá một fanfic, tiếp theo mới tính đến nội dung có ‘máu cún’ không, nhân vật có OOC một cách vô lý không, tình tiết và tính cách phát triển có hợp lý không, tác giả có quăng lôi cho mình đạp hay không, vân vân và vân vân. Cũng do kén chọn quá mà số fanfic bạn Joel cảm thấy hài lòng đã ít, số bạn muốn viết review còn ít hơn (điều này một phần còn vì bạn đọc nhiều oneshot hơn long fic mà oneshot dù hay đến mấy nhưng ngắn quá nên bạn không biết viết bài tán nhảm thế nào). Vice Versa của tác giả có bút danh drunkenCharm là một fanfic đáp ứng đầy đủ những yếu tố trên: cách viết tốt, nội dung hay, phát triển tính cách nhân vật và tình tiết ổn, không quăng lôi cho bạn đạp, và quan trọng hơn là fanfic đã hoàn thành với kết cục HE. Đọc xong một fanfic như vậy mà không có mấy dòng bày tỏ quả hơi phí, cho nên sau đây là cảm nhận của bạn Joel về nó (nãy giờ là lan man *icon packman*).

Ở đầu bài là tóm tắt truyện do chính tác giả viết, và do đây là fanfiction nên có lẽ tác giả cho rằng tóm tắt ngắn gọn như thế với người đọc – phần lớn đã quen thuộc với fandom Blade – là đủ. Nhưng với người đọc chưa biết gì về fandom thì tóm tắt này có phần sơ sài và chưa đủ lôi cuốn. Joel xin mạn phép viết lại một tóm tắt mới:

Thế giới trong Vice Versa là thế giới nơi sinh vật hút máu đặc biệt nguy hiểm – còn gọi là ma cà rồng – sống lẫn với con người. Phần lớn con người không hề hay biết sự tồn tại của ma cà rồng, chỉ một phần nhỏ được biết và phần nhỏ này chính là familiar và pet của chúng. Nếu như familiar thường lo những việc từ lớn – như đâm thuê chém mướn – đến nhỏ – như dọn dẹp nhà cửa, vườn tược – cho ma cà rồng thì pet phục vụ những nhu cầu ‘riêng tư’ hơn như ăn uống hay giường chiếu, ờ bạn hiểu ý mình rồi đấy. Nhân vật Scud của chúng ta là minh chứng của câu ‘Không có nhọ nhất, chỉ có nhọ hơn’: không những bị bắt cóc và ép trở thành pet mà gã còn gặp phải chủ nhân là một ma cà rồng biến thái lấy việc ngược đãi, tra tấn pet làm niềm vui, mặc dù việc đó bị cộng đồng ma cà rồng lên án (giống như bạn là người và bạn ngược đãi chó, mèo nuôi trong nhà ấy mà). Trong lúc bị hành hạ thừa sống thiếu chết, Scud được Deacon Frost, một ma cà rồng đối thủ của chủ nhân mình, cứu và đưa về nhà hắn. Tuy nhiên, cuộc đời lần nữa chứng minh ‘Ánh sáng cuối đường hầm là ánh sáng của đoàn tàu xe lửa’ khi Scud nhận ra Deacon tuy không hành hạ Scud nhưng dường như hắn còn nguy hiểm hơn cả chủ nhân cũ của gã. Và Deacon tuyên bố Scud là pet của hắn. Quá tuyệt luôn.

Đó là tóm tắt/giới thiệu câu chuyện về cuộc sống chung (bất đắc dĩ) giữa một con người vốn không muốn trở thành pet nhưng đã quen làm pet và một ma cà rồng chưa từng nghĩ đến việc có pet nhưng khi không lại rước pet về nhà.

Bạn Joel biết đến Scud dù bạn chưa bao giờ xem bất kỳ phần nào của Blade trilogy và cũng không có ý định xem. Bạn biết đến Scud do gã là một trong những nhân vật do Norman Reedus thể hiện và được khán giả yêu thích, bằng chứng là gã xuất hiện khá nhiều trong fanart về Norm trên pixiv.net. Dưới con mắt của họa sĩ fanart, Scud… lầy lội theo một cách rất đáng yêu: nếu không phải bu bám Daryl (và gọi thợ săn zombie siêu badass này là ‘Daryl-chan’) thì là giành giật Connor với Murphy (bằng donut mới buồn cười) hoặc cư xử như bạn trai/pet nham nhở của Blade (kiểu như thanh niên nghiêm túc Blade số nhọ vớ phải gã bf đầu óc tưng tưng). Kể cả khi đứng một mình trong fanart, Scud trông vẫn cực hài hước với mái tóc dài bờm xờm, vẻ mặt ngáo đá, thường trực bên miệng là chiếc bánh donut gần như trở thành trademark và thỉnh thoảng còn thêm ba Powerpuff Girls bên cạnh. Những fanart đó đã cho bạn Joel ấn tượng Scud là một tên cà lơ phất phơ, vào phim với mục đích gây cười là chính – một trong số ít những vai hài hước của Norm, giờ mới để ý – và những việc khác là phụ. Tất cả những điều trên đều không xuất hiện trong Scud của Vice Versa. Nếu chỉ dùng một từ để miêu tả Scud trong fanfic này thì bạn sẽ chọn từ ‘broken’, từ trên xuống dưới và từ trong ra ngoài. Số phận thử thách Scud ngay từ lúc gã còn nhỏ bằng việc bắt gã chứng kiến mẹ mình bị ma cà rồng sát hại dã man. Gã bị đưa vào viện mồ côi, gặp phải những người một là vô cảm trước bi kịch của đứa trẻ mất mẹ hai là muốn lạm dụng gã. Gã trưởng thành, thoát ly viện mồ côi và sống trong những góc tối của thành phố Los Angeles hoa lệ cho đến ngày bị bắt cóc và ‘chào đón’ đến một thế giới còn tối tăm và nguy hiểm hơn cuộc sống vốn không mấy sáng sủa của gã: thế giới của những ma cà rồng giàu có, quyền lực. Có lẽ cuộc đời cảm thấy gã chưa ăn đủ khổ nên quyết định ném gã vào bàn tay một ma cà rồng bệnh hoạn chỉ coi pet là những món đồ chơi tức thời, chơi một lúc rồi bỏ, và dĩ nhiên ‘bỏ’ đồng nghĩa với chết, hơn nữa còn chết rất đau đớn. Như một con gián, Scud lê lết qua những đày đọa đó, dù là sống hèn, sống nhục nhưng vẫn là sống, cho đến ngày gã được Deacon cứu và cuộc đời gã sang trang mới. Về một mặt nào đó, Scud rất ‘cường’ bởi trải qua bao nhiêu chuyện như thế, gã vẫn chọn sống tiếp thay vì tự chấm dứt đau khổ của mình. Tuy nhiên, vượt qua được không có nghĩa là gã còn nguyên vẹn, lành lặn. Những vết sẹo rải trên người gã, trong tâm hồn gã, khiến gã ‘broken’. Từ ‘broken’ ngụ ý rằng thứ gì đó vẫn còn thể sửa chữa được,” bạn Joel từng nghe Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals) nói; thế nhưng đã broken đến mức độ của Scud thì liệu còn sửa chữa được không, và ai nguyện gánh vác trách nhiệm đó khi người duy nhất chi phối, tác động lên cuộc sống hiện tại của Scud chỉ có Deacon Frost.

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Gif not mine
Deacon Frost là ai?

Là một ma cà rồng không thuần huyết (ma cà rồng thuần huyết sinh ra đã là ma cà rồng, chưa từng là người) những ma cà rồng khác chỉ nể hoặc ghét chứ chẳng yêu thương gì. Là một ma cà rồng vốn từng là người nhưng lại căm ghét và khinh thường con người, xem con người là đáy của chuỗi thức ăn, thái độ với pet thì không cần phải nói. Trước khi đọc fanfic này, bạn Joel chẳng có tý ấn tượng gì với nhân vật Deacon Frost; nếu như fanart Scud khá nhiều (vì Norm khá nổi) thì bạn tìm đỏ mắt may ra chắc được vài tấm fanart của Deacon. Bạn bắt đầu chú ý đến Deacon khi thấy trên AO3, số fanfic ship Deacon/Scud nhiều ngang ngửa số Blade/Scud, dù xét theo canon thì Blade và Scud mới là cặp dây dưa ân oán tình thù. Tò mò, bạn google và (không bất ngờ), Deacon hơi bị đẹp trai (khuôn mặt gần giống Wes Bentley bên American Horror Story và bạn rất thích Wes Bentley). Với máu ship trai đẹp với nhau bất chấp không gian, thời gian và logic, bạn Joel ‘duyệt’ ngay cp Deacon x Scud. Bạn cũng biết được Deacon là boss cuối của Blade phần 1, và, qua những oneshot đã đọc trước Vice Versa, bạn hình dung Deacon là một tên khốn bị điên (hay tên điên bị khốn), máu nóng (hơi lạ với ma cà rồng nhỉ), tức dễ nổi cáu, nhưng ngụy trang dưới vẻ mặt lạnh lùng cho hợp với cái tên ‘Frost’, có khuynh hướng bạo lực và thích chơi SM (tất nhiên hắn là S),… – hay ít ra thì các tác giả khác đã hình dung hắn như vậy. Cũng hợp lý thôi vì Deacon là boss cuối mà, hắn hiền lành nhân từ tốt bụng ấm áp vân vân và vân vân thì hoá ra Blade, hero của phim, thành kẻ xấu à?! Trong Vice Versa, Deacon vừa giống canon cũng như phiên bản của nhân vật này ở các fanfic khác vừa khác biệt. Giống ở chỗ hắn vẫn nóng tính – một núi lửa chực phun trào ‘cosplay’ seme băng lãnh, vẫn tàn nhẫn trong cả lời nói lẫn hành động, vẫn ưa dùng bạo lực và giết người không ghê tay, tóm lại là cách chuẩn ‘người tốt’ vài năm ánh sáng thôi, không nhiều. Hắn kéo Scud lên khỏi bờ vực cái chết không hẳn vì lòng nhân từ hay cái gì tương tự trỗi dậy mà vì mục đích cá nhân, và trong suốt chiều dài truyện, hắn không dưới một lần tổn thương Scud, tinh thần lẫn thể chất. Thế nhưng, Deacon trong đây khác biệt ở chỗ hắn vẫn còn một ‘soft spot’ dành cho gã pet hắn nhặt về (cả nghĩa đen lẫn nghĩa bóng) và tuy đúng là hắn có mục đích cá nhân với Scud – nói trắng ra là lợi dụng – hắn thật sự không muốn gã con người đã trải qua quá nhiều đau khổ này chết hay chịu (thêm) tổn thương. Đây là điểm vớt vát thiện cảm của bạn Joel với Deacon vì bạn không tiêu hoá nổi thể loại quan hệ mà một đứa bạo hành đứa còn lại, cho dù đứa bị bạo hành chấp nhận bị bạo hành.

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Gif not mine
Nếu là trong thực tế, hai kẻ kỳ lạ như vậy khó mà sống dưới một mái nhà chứ đừng nói đến phát triển tình cảm. Tuy nhiên, đây là truyện và tình tiết truyện buộc cả hai phải chung sống và phát triển tình cảm, nếu không thì lấy gì cho độc giả đọc giải trí. Cả Scud lẫn Deacon đều là những cá nhân tràn đầy mâu thuẫn và chính điều này tạo nên sự thú vị khi người đọc được quan sát hai nhân vật tương tác, ảnh hưởng lẫn nhau. Một mặt, Scud rất ham sống, gã chịu đủ mọi tủi nhục trút lên mình chỉ với mục đích là không bị vứt xuống một cái hố nào đó chồng chất những kẻ như gã, tàn tạ, rữa nát và bị lãng quên như chưa từng tồn tại. Ý chí sống còn nơi gã đủ mạnh để gã cầm cự đến thời điểm gặp Deacon thay vì cắn lưỡi ngay sau lần đầu bị lạm dụng. Thế nhưng trong đầu gã thỉnh thoảng lởn vởn những suy nghĩ mang khuynh hướng tự sát và có nhiều lúc, gã rơi vào trạng thái ‘đếch quan tâm’ – muốn đánh muốn giết ra sao cũng được. Gã sợ bị tổn thương, bị tra tấn và cố gắng hết sức để làm vừa lòng ‘chủ nhân’, cả chủ nhân cũ và chủ nhân hiện tại, Deacon; cũng chính gã lại có suy nghĩ chuyển hoá thành hành động khiêu khích Deacon để xem tên suckhead (từ Scud dùng để chỉ ma cà rồng với ý khinh miệt) ngoài lạnh trong nóng này khi nào sẽ bùng phát và dung nham sẽ tràn xuống, thiêu chết gã. Scud thèm khát sự quan tâm, chăm sóc, gã cảm động với mỗi cử chỉ lịch sự, chưa nói đến tử tế, nhỏ nhất, vậy mà bản thân gã cảm thấy mình không xứng đáng nhận được sự tử tế và tệ hơn, tất cả những gì thối tha cuộc đời quăng vào mặt gã đều do gã đáng bị như thế. Suy nghĩ thường thấy ở nạn nhân bị rape và bạo hành đây mà. Cuối cùng, Scud một mặt ghét ma cà rồng, hiển nhiên rồi, Deacon không phải ngoại lệ, mặt khác gã vô thức để mình bị Deacon thu hút; well, sao trách Scud được khi bỏ qua tính khí không mấy dễ chịu, Deacon vẫn là kẻ hấp dẫn và thực tế là hắn đã trải qua vô số (bed)partners trong cuộc đời bất tử của mình (nghe đồn trong canon Deacon là bi). Chuyện phải đến (tác giả bảo) sẽ đến: từ bị thu hút Scud dần chuyển sang có tình cảm với Deacon; tình cảm đó phát triển như thế nào và đến mức nào cũng như kết cục ra sao, Joel để bạn tự mình đọc và khám phá.

Giống như Scud, Deacon cũng đầy mâu thuẫn. Đầu tiên là việc hắn cố tỏ ra mình là kẻ lạnh lùng, tàn nhẫn. Có lẽ bao nhiêu thế kỷ lăn lộn, tranh giành quyền lực, lãnh địa trong thế giới ma cà rồng đã tạo ra một Deacon như thế bởi nếu không, hắn chẳng tồn tại quá một năm, nhất là khi hắn không phải ‘thuần huyết’. Như đã nói trên, hắn có một soft spot dành cho Scud: không chỉ lo cho Scud nơi ăn, chốn ở tử tế, hắn còn nghiêm túc thực hiện cam kết bảo vệ pet của mình khỏi mọi nguy hại trong khi chính hắn lại chán ghét việc ma cà rồng nuôi pet người. Bất tri bất giác, hắn quan tâm Scud và sự quan tâm đó thể hiện qua những hành động nho nhỏ nhưng đủ để Scud cảm kích, thậm chí có lúc hắn còn cảm thông với gã con người số khổ này. Chỉ là những lúc như thế lại có một giọng nói trong đầu Deacon nhắc nhở rằng hắn là ma cà rồng, hắn nổi tiếng vì sự căm ghét con người (lý do vì sao thì Joel sẽ không spoil để bạn đọc tự cảm nhận), để rồi hắn quay ngoắt 180 độ và tổn thương Scud bằng lời nói độc địa hay hành động. Sau mỗi lần như thế, hắn hối hận và tìm cách ‘bù đắp’ cho Scud – tất nhiên là theo cách không tổn thương đến ego của hắn, và vòng tròn lặp lại. Nói theo suy nghĩ của Scud thì cuộc sống của gã ở căn hộ sang trọng của Deacon sẽ dễ dàng hơn nhiều nếu ‘chủ nhân’ ngưng làm gã bối rối và nhất quán trong cách đối xử với gã: mặc xác gã tự sinh tự diệt hoặc dứt khoát giết quách gã cho xong. Vấn đề là ở chỗ đến chính Deacon còn không xác định được hắn nên đối xử với Scud thế nào thì làm sao Scud đòi hắn nhất quán được. Mất một lượng chữ không nhiều, không ít để hắn chạy vạy tìm lời khuyên từ những người mình tin tưởng rồi não hắn mới ‘thông’ và tìm ra giải pháp cho mối quan hệ giữa hắn với Scud.

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Nếu gọi tình cảm giữa Deacon và Scud là ‘tình yêu’ thì e rằng hơi miễn cưỡng bởi vì từ đầu đến cuối cả hai chưa từng nói yêu nhau (may mà không nói vì nếu nói thì bạn Joel thấy… sến). Tuy nhiên, tình cảm giữa Scud và Deacon là chân thật và dù nó không đẹp đẽ, không hoàn hảo thì nó vẫn tồn tại đủ mạnh để gắn kết hai kẻ lạ kỳ này với nhau đến cuối truyện và có thể là sau đó. Bạn Joel nói rằng tình cảm này không đẹp đẽ do nó không tạo nên một mối quan hệ lành mạnh. Ngay từ ban đầu nó đã mang màu sắc chiếm hữu: Deacon cứu mạng Scud nhưng hắn không hề cho Scud tự do – quyền cơ bản nhất của con người. Scud sống trong căn hộ sang trọng của Deacon đúng nghĩa từ ‘pet’: cả ngày gã quanh quẩn bên chiếc ghế xôpha và mấy mét vuông quanh nó bởi vì ngay đến ban công Deacon cũng cấm gã bước ra; cánh cửa chỉ mở khi trợ lý của Deacon mang thức ăn đến và sau đó lần nữa khoá lại. Scud cam chịu cách đối xử của Deacon giống như gã cam chịu nhiều điều tệ hại đã xảy đến với gã; dần dần, gã có tình cảm với Deacon và tình cảm sinh ra trong cảnh ‘cá chậu chim lồng’ mang hơi hướm Stockholm syndrome. Cả Scud lẫn Deacon đều không đả động đến vấn đề này, hệt như cả hai không đả động đến nhiều vấn đề khác trong mối quan hệ của họ, tỷ như Deacon chưa từng hỏi tên thật của Scud hay muốn tìm hiểu quá khứ của gã trước khi trở thành ‘Scud’, và Scud cũng không có ý định chia sẻ với Deacon, và chúng ta, người đọc, chỉ biết được quá khứ của Scud qua những đoạn flashback rời rạc. Hay như khi tình cảm đã xác định rồi thì Scud trở nên phụ thuộc vào Deacon: gã tiếp tục sống chỉ khi Deacon còn tồn tại, nếu Deacon chết, gã có thể không tự sát nhưng ý chí sống còn nơi gã đều bay biến. Điều này khá lãng mạn, nếu ta bỏ qua chuyện nó ‘độc hại’ đến việc xây dựng một mối quan hệ tình cảm lành mạnh và bình đẳng. Có lẽ tác giả ý thức được điều này nên giữa Deacon và Scud không phải love mà là “this is as close as they will ever come to love”, và về mặt nào đó, nó rất hợp với Scud và Deacon trong fanfic này. Và thay vì khẳng định một tương lai bên nhau vĩnh cửu như nhiều câu chuyện tình người–ma cà rồng khác, cái kết chỉ đưa ra một hy vọng, hay một hint về tương lai như thế. Với tư cách người đọc đã dành ra khá nhiều cảm xúc cho fanfic này, bạn Joel hài lòng với điều đó.

Bầu không khí truyện nhuốm màu ảm đạm từ những đoạn flashback và suy tư của Scud cũng như suy tư của Deacon, vì vậy bạn Joel ‘tự ý’ thêm tag angst vào thể loại. Truyện cũng rải rác một số chi tiết hài, ví dụ như khi Scud va đầu vào nắp chiếc ‘quan tài’ kiêm giường ngủ của Deacon (bạn trẻ này có chiếc giường thiết kế kiểu quan tài với nắp đóng–mở), Deacon đã rất thông cảm đưa cho gã một……. bịch máu trong tủ lạnh để áp lên vết thương giảm đau; tuy nhiên sự hài hước khá lép vế trước sự angst bao trùm suốt mười chương. Truyện có tiết tấu khá chậm, không nhiều tình tiết gay cấn vì tác giả dành khá nhiều câu chữ để đi sâu vào nội tâm của hai nhân vật chính. Chương 10 kết truyện, theo cảm nhận của bạn Joel thì hơi vội vã và anti-climatic, đặc biệt là sau cliffhanger lớn tướng cuối chương 9 “Deacon chết rồi!” Bạn đã trông chờ một cuộc showdown giữa Deacon và chủ nhân cũ của Scud sau tất cả những khiêu khích, đe doạ, dằn mặt nhau ở các chương trước, thế nhưng điều đó không xảy ra (có phải bạn đã spoil?!), và bạn có chút thất vọng, nhưng xét lại truyện này nhấn mạnh vào tâm tư, tình cảm của nhân vật mà, đòi đánh đấm, hành động, cái kết hoành tá tràng thì có vẻ làm khó nhau quá *icon packman*, vậy nên bạn hài lòng với những gì tác giả viết, dù chưa thật sự thỏa mãn.

Tóm lại, Vice Versa là một fanfic đáng đọc, và càng tuyệt vời hơn khi bạn không cần xem Blade, cũng chả cần biết Scud là ai (biết gã do Norm thể hiện thì tốt^^), Deacon đến từ vì sao nào hay chuyện gì đã xảy ra ở canon là phim mà vẫn có thể thưởng thức trọn vẹn cái hay của truyện. Với những bạn thường đọc Đam Mỹ, sao không thử đọc fanfic này nhỉ, vừa đổi gió vừa rèn luyện tiếng Anh một chút (yên tâm là tác giả không đánh đố người đọc bằng từ ngữ quá cao siêu đâu).

Chút chuyện bên lề trước khi kết thúc bài:

Chuyện bên lề 1: Đây không biết là lần thứ bao nhiêu bạn Joel gặp fanfic mà nhân vật của Norm ‘nằm dưới’ (hint: Vice Versa có cảnh ‘xôi thịt’). Không rõ anh chú ăn ở thế nào mà fan gái khi viết fanfic rất hay ‘ưu tiên’ để anh chú ‘được’ áp thôi, bất kể đối phương là ai. Ngay đến men-lì như Daryl còn không thoát nữa là các bạn còn lại.

Chuyện bên lề 2: Thú thật là bạn Joel đến giờ vẫn không hiểu fan gái dùng cơ sở gì để ship Deacon x Scud. Đồng ý là hai bạn chung series nhưng người ở phần 1 kẻ phần 2, không có tương tác gì mà sao fan gái ship như đúng rồi thế nhỉ?! Mà 1, 2 fanfic, 1, 2 fanart còn hiểu được vì đa số crack cp đều vậy (chỉ 1, 2 người ship nên hàng ít), đằng này số fanfic và fanart từ Mỹ sang Nhật ngang ngửa số Blade x Scud rồi.

(Không lẽ nên xem phim để tìm hiểu?!)

Chuyện bên lề 3: Nhà bạn Deacon bộ có cái hồ bơi lộ thiên thả một đàn vịt cao su (?!) hay sao mà sao fanfic nào cũng nhắc đến vậy??? Nếu thật thì quan ngại cho tâm sinh lý và gu thẩm mỹ của bạn suckhead này quá.

Chuyện bên lề 4: Bạn muốn viết một fanfic ship Deacon với một trong những nhân vật của anh chú Norm, nhưng đang phân vân không biết nên chọn Scud theo truyền thống hay Travis (Gossip) hoặc Young Man (Dark Harbor) cho mới lạ?

Chuyện bên lề 5: (cập nhật 28/03/17) Bạn Joel rốt cuộc đã hiểu vì sao cp Deacon Frost x Scud ra đời. Số là ngày xửa ngày xưa có một bộ phim tên là Deuces Wild nói về hai băng đảng – Deuces và Vipers – ở Brooklyn vào thập niên 50. Số là ân oán tình thù giữa thủ lĩnh băng Deuces, Leon Anthony (Stephen Dorff – Deacon Frost), và thủ lĩnh băng Vipers, Marco Vendetti (Norman Reedus – Scud) là mâu thuẫn chính của phim. Đến đây là bạn đoán được rồi nhỉ?