[Castlevania] Brothers (Alucard x Hector)

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Source: mentalfloss.com

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: General

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

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

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

Warning: mention of bullying

Summary:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like a family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian took the bus to school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you doing here?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian politely declined and exited the kitchen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian’s stomach churned for no obvious reason.

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

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

Now Adrian’s stomach churned with a reason.

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

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

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

Cigarette smoke.

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

Following the smell was a series of coughs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that effectively shut the blond boy up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s not true!”

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

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

Adrian could tell suspicion was rising in him.

“Ya gonna pay for it, ain’t ya?”

“Of course.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Hector…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey!”

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

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

“You have me and Sypha though.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Was he in detention?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It turned out Hector had never been to the infirmary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait…

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

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

Adrian nodded, deciding to trust his gut feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You? Waiting for me?”

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

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

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

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

“No Internet?”

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

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

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

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

Adrian held out a hand.

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

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

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

“Why did she do that?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian resisted the urge to scoff.

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

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

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

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

“For real?”

“Yeah, for real.”

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

“Okay.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes. Wish she were here with us.”

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

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

End


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

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

Anyone caught the X-Men Easter Egg?

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

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

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

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

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

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

Summary:

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


IV.

Godbrand was in some sort of a dilemma.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But-but this is the Count’s order—”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You drank a fucking vampire’s blood!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Godbrand shot him an incredulous look.

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

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

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

“What did you do? Spat it out?”

“I savored every drop of him.”

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

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

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

To be continued


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

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

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Hector x Joachim) (3)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

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

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

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

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

Summary:

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


III.

Hector, as he had expected, did not regard him with kind eyes when Joachim showed up at the entrance to his forge, a bottle of wine and two glasses floating beside him.

“What do you want?” Hector asked, washing his hands in a basin. The blood-splattered slab was empty, as was his forge. It seemed he had just finished today’s workload and was going to take a break.

Perfect timing, Joachim mused. He put on a smile, careful not to show his fangs, and said, “I want to apologize for my earlier behavior. It was inappropriate.”

Hector scoffed, carefully drying his hands with a towel. The boy had long fingers and his nails were kept very short, Joachim noticed, unlike his own. He wondered if Hector was averse to long nails. He would have to do something about his claws if he was.

“Two vampire aristocrats apologized to me, a mere human, in one night?” Hector said, moving to put away the towel and washbasin for the servants to collect. “Must be my lucky day.”

“The other was Godbrand, I suppose?” Joachim asked. “Well, vampirism does not negate manners.”

Hector didn’t look convinced but made no comment. He glanced sideway at the bottle and glasses. “What are those?”

“A bottle of wine and two glasses.” Joachim feigned ignorance, earning a scowl from the human.

“I have eyes to tell what they are. I just don’t get why you brought them here with you.”

“They are peace offerings,” Joachim replied, twirling his forefinger. The three objects circled his body like eager puppies. “You would not mind sharing a drink or two with me, would you?”

Hector watched the show with unblinking eyes. “How did you do that?”

Joachim graced him with another smile. “You have your tricks and I have mine. This is one of the gifts vampirism gave me, and just between you and me, it is quite rare even among vampires.”

“And this constant levitation… Is this how you’re flaunting your special gifts?”

“It is an old habit that refuses to die, just like myself,” Joachim replied, chuckling. “Now, will you invite me in or do you prefer us to have a conversation like this? Twelve feet apart because stranger, danger?”

“I’m not aware that we’re having a conversation.”

Joachim arched a comical eyebrow at his remark. He had bites, this boy. Not a cute, harmless puppy as his looks suggested. Then again Joachim shouldn’t be surprised. No one whose first impression included the use of “fuck” would be a cute, harmless puppy. “I have not been conversing with that stained slab, have I?” he asked, gesturing to Hector’s worktable. “Invite me in, pretty please?”

Hector stifled a laugh at his high note at the end. “I don’t own the castle so why don’t you just waltz in? Godbrand apparently didn’t need to ask for my permission.”

“Sure,” Joachim agreed, shrugging, “but this workstation is yours for the time being, and I will not just barge in. Like I said, vampirism does not negate manners, at least not mine.”

“Fine, come in.”

“Thank you.”

In the span of a finger snap, Joachim was in front of Hector, who looked at him with wary eyes as he handed him a glass.

“I dug this bottle out of Dracula’s cellar,” Joachim explained, uncorking the bottle with a wave of his hand and pouring each of them a glass. “The old bat has an impressive collection, with a few hundred-year-old bottles — I believe he might have forgotten and had left them down there to gather dust. For us I picked a moderate ten-year-old white, which would taste better chilled but I could not find a vampire wielding ice magic.”

Hector eyed the pale yellow liquid with a hint of suspicion before sipping it. “It’s good,” he commented. “Though I haven’t had much wine to make adequate comparison. I’ve always thought vampires preferred red wines because, well, they look like blood.”

Joachim took a sip from his own glass. “Sound logic but blood has unique allures that make wine a cheap imitation. The taste, the smell… they are all different.”

Hector’s brows furrowed. “Back in the corridor you said that I smelled good. You meant my blood, didn’t you?”

Joachim’s laughter startled him, deepening the frown. “Of course,” the vampire said, finding the crease between his silver brows rather cute. “Vampire senses are naturally geared toward picking up the scent of human blood, and yours and Isaac’s are exquisite, probably thanks to the magical properties in them. You had every single vampire in the throne room aroused, just so you know.”

To Joachim’s pleasant surprise, a pretty pink dusted Hector’s cheeks, and it was definitely not because of the alcohol, as he had only consumed one third of his glass’s content.

“Including you?” he asked, timidity seeping into his tone.

“Alas I am but a slave to my primal urges. That is why I am here hoping to make amends.”

As if to prove his point, Joachim clinked his glass with Hector and drank it up. He then refilled it.

“Others don’t seem to share your sentiment,” he said with a tiny sigh. “It’s one thing to have them hiss and bare their teeth at me out of disdain, but to think they lusted after my blood…”

“Why are you surprised?”

Hector shook his head. “I suppose I shouldn’t be. Still, it’s hard to shake off the feeling of dread.”

“Then you would do well to keep your armor on,” Joachim said, tapping his sharp nails on the metal of his breastplate. “You are a lamb walking amongst wolves after all.”

Hector didn’t flinch as he stared at the vampire’s fingers — long and starkly pale against the dark material like a white spider’s legs. His eyes squinted at the blackened nails at the tips, and Joachim could sense a dozen questions in his lingering gaze, as well as his restraint to voice any of them. Too soon to probe into personal matters. Joachim felt the same. Instead he said, “Even when I’m with you, like right now?”

Joachim laughed, and Hector did flinch. “Especially with me,” he drawled, eyes flashing red for a split second before returning to their normal gray. He was certain Hector had gotten his warning, for now he looked like a startled rabbit with wide eyes and mouth slightly agape.

Better get the boy accustomed to his antics one at a time.

Swirling his glass, Joachim waited for Hector to recoil and likely tell him to leave. He would oblige him, gaining his trust by first giving him some semblance of control over the situation.

Just like Walter had given him. The thought of that man quickly soured his mouth, all the more so when he realized that it had worked…

marvelously.

Hector did no such thing. Instead he raised his glass and said, “I should thank you for your advice and also your candor.”

So, the boy valued candor, which shed some light on his personality and thinking. Joachim made sure to tuck this important detail in a safe place for future reference.

He recalled Dracula’s abrupt silence when he had spoken about Hector and briefly wondered what the deal between them had been, and whether it would be of any use to him. Perhaps he could find a chance to extract it from either of them.

“It is a grievous flaw of my kind to see a human as nothing but a walking blood vessel while they have so much more,” Joachim said, looking into Hector’s eyes and holding him with his gaze. It seemed to work. “Talents, a sharp wit, a clever tongue…”

The boy kept very still when his palm came in contact with his cheek. “A beautiful face with beautiful eyes,” he finished, savoring the humanly warmth on his skin.

He counted it a small victory when Hector didn’t bat his hand away or fight his cold touch, which he knew to be quite uncomfortable to a warm-blooded being.

“You think I’m-I’m beautiful?” Hector stuttered, bafflement, incredulity and insecurity all rolled into his barely audible volume.

“Why, of course. Has no one ever told you that you are extremely pleasant to the eyes? Some blushing village girl or buxom barmaid with a flirtatious streak? No?”

“I lived at the edge of the town, very quietly, and tried to minimize contact with the townspeople.”

In fear of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks and burning stakes, Joachim could easily fathom the reason.

“I am honored to be the first,” Joachim drawled, mapping Hector’s jawline with the pad of his thumb, careful not to cut smooth olive skin. The boy was well-groomed, another detail to note.

Should he lean in and claim his lips, because right now they were tempting him with their shape and their light rosy shade and gleaming sheen of moisture from the wine Hector had drunk? Was the timing premature and he would risk scaring the boy off because he had yet to learn whichever way he swung? He seemed to abhor neither a touch from the same sex nor his personal space being subtly invaded, but that alone wasn’t enough to determine if he would welcome and enjoy it the way an ancient vampire who had tasted every pleasure there was would.

A series of yips punctured the awkward bubble enveloping them. Joachim would be quite furious to have his moment shattered if he wasn’t saved from a potentially catastrophic decision. He looked away from Hector’s face and saw a small creature rushing to them on tiny paws.

“What is that?”

“A dog,” Hector answered with a roll of his eyes, as if he couldn’t believe this vampire had just asked an incredibly dumb question. “My dog. Come here, little Cezar.”

Joachim eyed the little black fur ball running to Hector’s side with its pink tongue lolling from its mouth and its single blue eye sparkling with enthusiasm. “So, a night creature,” he concluded. How fitting it was for Hector to have an undead animal as his familiar. While the thing didn’t look nearly as intimidating or useful as Joachim had expected a necromancer’s familiar should, its quirky appearance sort of made up for that. To each his own, he guessed.

“A dog,” Hector corrected him, putting his glass on the slab and crouching down to pet the creature’s head—skull. “He may look a bit different but he behaves just like any other dogs.”

“If you say so,” Joachim said, shrugging. His eyes wandered the room in search for nothing in particular. Then he found it: a piece of bone under the forging slab which must have belonged to a burst-open rib cage of some unfortunate corpse. The servants must have missed it when they cleaned Hector’s place.

“Does he play catch?” Joachim asked, holding his palm up for the bone to fly into it.

Hector looked up at him and blinked. “Yes,” he replied, “like any other dogs.” He nudged Cezar toward the floating vampire and watched with amusement as the pup jumped up and down, panting while trying to grab onto Joachim’s foot. His repeated failures didn’t deter him, and he would probably go on and on if Joachim didn’t fling the bone across the room. It hit the wall and bounced off, landing on the floor and immediately Cezar sprinted toward it.

Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Hector raised an eyebrow at Joachim and smiled, his point proven. The vampire grinned, not bothering to hide his fangs, and lifted Cezar up with his powers.

“No, not my face,” Joachim said firmly, holding Cezar at a safe distance when the pup attempted to lick him. “If I happened to drop him, would he perish like a normal dog?”

Hector stiffened and glared at him. “Don’t you dare!”

“Just pulling your leg,” the vampire sing-sang, bouncing the dog lightly. “I used to have dogs, you know. A whole pack of fierce, robust dogs which could corner and kill a wolf.”

“You did?”

“I found them to be most loyal companions. Still, after a while, I stopped having them in my place.”

“Why was that?”

“Their lives were too short,” the vampire replied in soft tone, petting Cezar’s head before gently lowering him on the ground. The pup whimpered, already missing his ministrations. “How long will your creatures live?”

“As long as I do.”

Joachim hummed happily. “Perhaps next time you could show me how your gifts work.”

“Next time?” Hector parroted, somewhat incredulously.

“Of course there will be a next time. I enjoy talking to you. I wonder if you share my sentiment.”

“I…” A moment of hesitation, as if he was choosing what to say. “You’re the one I’ve talked to the most since I got here.”

Joachim allowed a triumphant smile to creep up his lips. “Well, it has been a pleasure talking to you, Hector,” he said, slowly floating to the entrance. “I am looking forward to our next conversation.”

“Wait,” Hector called after him, prompting Joachim to halt and turn back. “I haven’t learned your name.”

“Oh right, we have missed the initial introduction,” Joachim said, tapping a finger on his temple. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Joachim Armster.”

“I’m Hector, but you’ve already known.”

“No last name?”

Hector shook his head, his gaze lowered as if ashamed. Joachim would like to know why.

Perhaps next time.

“Sweet dream, Hector.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Joachim vanished from the Forgemaster’s sight.

He purposely left the glasses and the wine in his forge.

To be continued

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Joachim x Hector) (2)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

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

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

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

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

Summary:

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


II.

“Godbrand, you’ve never met anything you didn’t immediately kill, fuck or make a boat out of.”

Joachim chuckled to himself in recollection while he floated along the seemingly endless corridor to Dracula’s private study, the swoosh of air through his silver strands being the only sound to disturb the sepulchral silence.

Although he had cackled at the merciless dressing-down the human had delivered to Godbrand, Joachim couldn’t defend the glaring flaw in its logic: after all, the Viking vampire had met all of them, Joachim, his fellow vampire and human generals and even Dracula, and yet he had not killed, fucked or made a boat out of any of them. Joachim would love to see him try; whether kill, fuck or make a boat, it guaranteed to be one hell of a lot of fun.

Definitely more fun than listening to the vampires spewing their discontent over Dracula’s controversial decision.

Appointing the sole humans in the castle as the heads of his crusade was an unpredictable, yet also unsurprising, move Joachim had not anticipated. He supposed Dracula had had his reasons, which he had not deigned to share with the rest of his court and thus, caused an uproar.

Joachim had exited the throne room when the noise became too grating, too overwhelming. He had little interest in the war with humanity, and even less interest in who was going to lead it.

He had more fascinating matters in mind.

Joachim arrived at Dracula’s study to find the two human generals at the entrance, having just finished a talk with their master and were getting to leave. The older, sterner-looking man gave him a onceover, his russet eyes harboring as much enthusiasm as before, which was close to none. The younger one, whose olive skin and rhythmic beats in breastplated chest had had him magnetized, demonstrated a strange curiosity in his blatant scrutiny of the vampire’s booted feet, hovering above the ground. Joachim flashed them both a fanged smile, gray eyes narrowing into slender crescents.

“Isaac and… Hector, right?” Joachim asked, gesturing vaguely between the duo.

“Yes,” the silver-haired one, Hector, replied, looking up from Joachim’s feet to look slightly askance at him.

Ah yes, the usual distrust for someone who did not stand his ground, Joachim was used to that.

“Lord Dracula did not summon you,” Isaac said, flat-toned.

Joachim shrugged, the smile still clinging to his lips. “I need not be summoned, need I, Dracula?”

“Let him in,” a voice rose from the inside, sounding too tired to belong to a powerful vampire monarch, “before he throws a fit.”

“It wounds me to know you think so lowly of me,” Joachim said, pouting at air.

Isaac wordlessly moved from the door and strode down the corridor. Hector looked momentarily hesitant before making to follow his colleague.

The second Hector turned on his heels, Joachim pressed himself against his back, sniffing a lock of silver hair at the side of his face. “You smell good,” he whispered, voice so soft it would be inaudible if his lips were not right next to Hector’s ear.

He would smell even better without the high collar in the way, Joachim mused. Dracula was wise to have given the Forgemasters those rigid armors.

When Hector swerved his body sharply around to glare daggers at him, Joachim was already back at his original spot, hands behind his back and a smirk painted on his face. “Off you go,” he urged with glee and floated into the open door instead of waiting for the human’s reply, if he had any at all.

It was a medium-sized study, with a fireplace burning in a corner. Dracula sat in an armchair, his head propped up by one arm and his eyes staring into the fire, which cast an orangish hue on his face.

He looked like an imposing statue being very still like that, and Joachim was reminded of how he had caught Walter in similar state several centuries ago. The side effect of aging, his sire had said, brushing the matter aside without providing further explanation. Joachim had not dared to raise the question again.

“Why did you come here, Joachim?”

“To have a casual chat with an old friend, what else,” Joachim replied, floating to Dracula’s side and resting a hand on the edge of his chair.

“You know that is not what I am asking.”

“How rude,” Joachim commented, tapping a long nail on the wood to a rhythm only he knew. “You should at least offer me a drink before starting to interrogate me. Surely you were aware that I came a very long way.”

“There is a fifty-year-old vintage on the opposite shelf,” Dracula said with a sigh. “Help yourself.”

Humming softly, Joachim held his palm up in a beckoning gesture. From the shelf a bottle and a crystal goblet flew out, floating in the air. “A drink?” he asked, fingers wriggling. The bottle uncorked itself and filled the goblet with dark red liquid that could almost pass for blood but for its viscosity.

“No.”

Joachim sniffed the content of his goblet and took a measured sip, sloshing the liquid in his mouth before swallowing, savoring the pleasant burn down his throat. “A real shame,” he lamented. “Even though I am no wine connoisseur, I can tell this is rather good. Still, I prefer something a little thicker.”

“There is fresh pig blood in the basement. Tell any soldier and they will get you some.”

Joachim swirled his goblet, studying the motion of the liquid as he spoke, “So it is true that you plan to wipe out all of humanity.”

Dracula turned his head to look at him for the first time since Joachim entered the room. “You have not suddenly developed compassion for humans, have you, Joachim? Because that would easily be the most outrageous thing I have heard for centuries.”

Joachim scoffed. “Humans are our vital nutrition source. Without them what would we feed on?”

“Vampires can digest animal blood just fine.”

“True, but us drinking animal blood is no different than a man eating moldy bread and spoilt meat. Weaker and weaker we will grow, until we become husks of ourselves.”

Dracula’s eyes moved from Joachim’s face to the logs crackling in the fireplace as he withheld his reply.

“I can tell it is not your concern,” Joachim said, tracing the intricate gold carvings on his goblet with a finger. “It is not mine, either. I could not care less if humanity were to be wiped clean from this Earth, but I need your word on one thing: I want none of your creatures or generals on my territory.”

“You strutted into my house uninvited and now you are making demands. Such audacity,” Dracula said in even tone, his eyes never moving from the fire. “What if I refuse? Do you intend to fight me?”

Joachim tilted his head and leaned in. “I have humans in my territory and they never played a hand in your precious wife’s murder, far removed from the rest of the world as they have always been. Yes, I am ready to fight you if needs be. It is a lord’s duty to defend his land, is it not?”

“You think you can win against me? Do you need a reminder that you lost against Walter?”

“Don’t spit his name,” Joachim snapped, eyes glowing and nails raking the back of Dracula’s chair, splintering the wood.

“Still a sore spot?”

“It had not been a fair fight and you know it.”

“All I know is that you would have rotten in that water cage but for his mercy.”

Joachim huffed, clenching his clawed hand into a fist. “True, and I owed him my life,” he said, voice hoarse. He inhaled deeply, trying to regain his state of calm. “I can tell from your sunken eyes that you have been starving yourself, Dracula,” he said. “This self-harming behavior baffles me and we both understand your strength is greatly diminished because of it. Meanwhile I am older and well fed. It will not be an easy fight, I assure you.”

“Indeed it will not,” he agreed without rebuke, to Joachim’s surprise. A long, pensive pause testing the older vampire’s patience before he resumed his speech, sounding tired beyond comprehension. “Fine. Your land will remain untouched. You have my word, Joachim Armster.”

“I did not expect you to be so… agreeable,” Joachim replied with a smile. “You have my gratitude, old friend.”

“We have never been friends.”

Joachim laughed out loud, tightening his grip on the goblet. The bottle shook in the air with his sudden outburst. “Have we?” he asked between laughter. “I am in pain. We shared a deep and personal history, did we not? I might even say our fates have been interwoven since you arrived at Walter’s lair, Mat—”

“Now that you have achieved what you came for,” Dracula cut him, “do you intend to pack and go home tomorrow at the first ray of moonlight?”

Joachim finished his wine and waved his hand for the bottle to float over and refill it. “I have to admit, it was ennui that drove me out here. It is safe and comfortable in my castle but were you not the one who told me that perhaps I should get out sometimes?”

“Careful, Joachim, or you may turn into a second Walter.”

“My hatred for him runs too deep for me to become him, rest assured. Besides, I believe I have found something truly captivating in your war council.”

Dracula let out a small snort, the first sound to indicate his emotions throughout their conversation. “One of the generals? I find it hard to believe you would take an interest in any of them. Do you not have a whole assembly of vivid night creatures to choose from back in your castle?”

“Perhaps, but there has never been a human in my court, let alone a Devil Forgemaster. They sure are a rare species. One of the few true wonders in the world.”

“You would do well to tuck your fangs and claws away from Isaac and Hector,” Dracula growled.

Joachim giggled, his shoulders shaking. His half-finished wine threatened to spill. “Quite protective, are we? In our long acquaintance I have never seen you get your feathers ruffled when someone other than your wife is threatened.”

“They are the most valuable assets to this war and I need them.”

“You will not need them once it is over,” Joachim said, sipping the red liquid in his goblet, imagining it was blood. Hector’s blood, warm and heady as its exquisite taste enveloped his tongue. “You intend to kill all humans. When the war ends, will you kill them also?”

“I intend to let them live.”

“Alone and unloved in a desolate world until they succumb to the years and their bodies become food for maggots? How cruel. Even I would not subject my worst foes to such a fate.”

“Isaac has made peace with it, and Hector…”

He trailed off, stiffening in his uncertainty. Joachim grinned at the visible shift. “My oh my, what have you done, Dracula?”

Silence was the only answer he could pry out of the vampire lord.

“You would not mind if I stayed for a while and seduced your pretty human boy, would you? I find myself gravitating toward him right from the moment I saw him in the throne room, wearing a face that might just belong to my twin. Perhaps he could be my descendant by a strange twist of fate.”

“That does not stop you from lusting after him? Sometimes I wonder if I have underestimated the depth of your amorality.”

“I harbor no desire to abuse him, in case you are concern. Nor do I have any use for his talents; my place is already teeming with night creatures. My interest in his person, I dare say, is pure.”

Dracula let out a soft sigh that indicated neither approval nor disapproval. “Even if I told you to stay away from Hector, you would not listen.”

“No,” Joachim agreed, downing the rest of the wine. He snapped his fingers, and the bottle returned to its old spot on the shelf.

“Do as you please,” Dracula conceded, waving his hand, “as long as it does not interfere with the course of the war.”

“Oh, I may just count it as a blessing from the master of the house.”

“However, I will intervene in the event that you force yourself on him,” Dracula warned. “Hector is a naive, unfortunate child. He does not deserve to be subjected to the depravity of our kind.”

Joachim stared at the sediment in his empty goblet with hooded eyes for a while. When he spoke again, it was with a measured tone, devoid of his trademark flair. “I am not Walter, and I never will be him.”

“Let us see if we could count on that” came Dracula’s reply.

To be continue

[Castlevania] War Strategies (Joachim x Hector) (1)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

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

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, AU, crossover

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

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

Summary:

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


I.

It was bloody noisy.

Crossing his arms in front of his chest, feeling mildly annoyed by his breastplate digging into his flesh, Joachim scanned the vast throne room. From his vantage point he was able to get a good view of the crowd. The majority of them was made up of the uniformed soldiers who all looked like they had come from a single, boring mold. The cowls that obscured half of their faces certainly did not help in distinguishing them from their next brother. Joachim supposed that was the point: foot soldiers did not need a face, for they were not so much individuals as cells in a body that served their master’s will.

At the head of the body was a motley group of vampires. Like Joachim himself, they were distinctly dressed, their outfits and accessories shouting out to the cultures from which they hailed. Despite his accumulated knowledge, he failed to identify every ethnicity present; all he could tell was that the two females and one male who weren’t plagued with the deathlike pallor of vampirism must have come from the far, far East. It seemed Dracula had indeed succeeded in assembling a truly diverse group of generals, something Walter had never managed to back in the day.

They were mostly responsible for the noise and his subsequent migraine. Maybe it was his age catching up to him, causing him to be hypersensitive to strong stimulations; maybe he had been too accustomed to the quietude enclosed within the stone walls of his lair that the exposure to noise was really grinding his nerves. Were it his castle and these vampires his vassals, he would gladly skewer them just so they would shut their traps. Alas, Castlevania was Dracula’s and Joachim Armster, despite being the oldest bat in the lot, was as much a guest as the rest of those vampires. In that aspect they were considered ‘equals’, and although he might be relatively unhinged, he could indeed afford to be civil. Still, that didn’t mean he would get along or find any common ground with them.

The latter, quite literally.

“Oy, pretty boy over there.”

A booming voice bludgeoned his reverie. Joachim steered his faraway gaze back to the group of colorful vampires and zeroed in the redhead — Godbrand, was it? — who was crossing his arms in front of his bare chest. His fiery unkempt mane reminded the ancient vampire of a certain someone, which added another reason to Joachim’s instant dislike of him, beside his boisterousness and flair for wild gesticulations.

“You mean me?” Joachim asked, not bothering to mask the boredom in his tone.

“Yes, you, who else’s flapping around like a pair of drawers on a drying pole?”

Joachim sniggered, uncrossing his arms to cross them behind his back and lowering his body to be at eye level with Godbrand and the rest. Still, he kept his feet above the ground and his distance from them. “My sincere apology if you find it disturbing,” he said, as sincerely as a priest who was telling a headsman to have mercy on the condemned.

“I’m not disturbed. I’m annoyed that some fresh-faced vampire is flaunting his little tricks in front of us.”

Joachim graced him with a tight-lipped smile that definitely didn’t reach his pale eyes. “You must excuse me. Where I came from, the vampires have long renounced the act of letting our feet scrape against the ground, deeming it vilely human.”

Godbrand scoffed and a couple vampires in the group threw Joachim a cold glance, which he promptly ignored. He knew he had vexed them and couldn’t bring himself to care. None of them had captured his attention, all dull-looking, impassive vampire faces which he would likely forget the moment they were out of his sight, and that didn’t exclude the three exotic ones from the East. If they wanted to round on him, he would be glad to take them on at once. He would have a flawless excuse to dice them then, wouldn’t he?

“And where did you come from?” Godbrand asked, once again disrupting his flow of thought. “Because I have never seen you around here.”

“Oh? You must be around here a lot.”

Godbrand huffed. “Not just me but every other general. No one knows where you’re from or what the heck your name is.”

Joachim giggled, earning a frown from a heavily robed female vampire, and gave a mock curtsy, his feet still several feet above the floor. “My apologies,” he said, bowing his head briefly, “allow me to introduce myself. I am Joachim Armster. I came from a faraway land, where my humble abode lays deep in the embrace of the gnarled trees and the eternal night.”

Godbrand raised his bushy brows in a crossbreed between confoundment and annoyance. “The heck does that mean?” he spat.

“It means I am but an obscure recluse who is not worth your attention,” Joachim replied with an airy tone.

“How come the Count was able to dig you out of your hole?”

“You know him. He has a knack to sniff out the bizarreries in life. I heard some rumors that there were two humans amongst us.”

Godbrand scoffed derisively. “Not rumors, there are humans in this castle. The old bat might have lost it when he appointed his food as his generals.”

A smile crept up Joachim’s lips and the gray in his irises shifted to a glowing red. He inhaled lengthily, feeling the warm, familiar tendrils coiling around his core. Arousal, he realized. It had been a while since he last got singed by its flare. Being intrigued had surely stoked its embers.

“They have been willingly participating in their own kind’s annihilation. You don’t think they are qualified for more than just food?”

Godbrand stared at him for a good five seconds. “Maybe they have a few loose screws in the head, who knows,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “Doesn’t change the fact that their necks are fucking susceptible to bites.”

Joachim chuckled to himself but made no reply. Having witnessed with his eyes how thorough the man who would later become Dracula had been, Joachim was fairly sure he wasn’t the type to bring a pair of lambs into the wolves’ den without any insurance against the very probability that they could be chowed down. In fact, it would be fascinating to see what he would do if any harm came to his humans. After all, hadn’t he started a genocidal war to avenge one of them?

Joachim smelled them before his mind registered their arrival. It was impossible not to, for his supernatural senses were inherently seduced by the scent from living veins, sharp and clear like a full-bodied vintage despite layers of dampening garments. Tantalizingly alive in its human character, the scent dangled above a sea of cold, dead bloods, stagnant in fossilized veins, and taunted his teeth to seek its source and rip it apart.

His previous arousal returned twofold and for a moment, Joachim yielded to its allure. Inside his mouth his fangs elongated until they threatened to pierce his flesh. He let them, relishing the astringent taste wrapping around his taste buds. He hadn’t been thirsty before; now his parched mouth craved a sip of hot sweet blood, preferably delivered in a swan neck, perfumed and pliant to his clawed fingers. Noises rose, snapping Joachim out of his trance. He wetted his lips, breathing through his mouth in hope to disperse the rich, cloying smell in his nostrils.

Aristocrats or soldiers, his fellow vampires didn’t have the same level of restraint, and Joachim watched them hiss and bare their teeth like starving animals at the human who had just entered the throne room. The man kept his head high and his spine straight, hands clasping behind his tall back as he made his way to the throne and stopped before it. His dark gaze swept over the menacing vampire generals as well as Joachim as if they were mere pieces of broken furniture before focusing on the empty ornamented chair. His browned-skinned face, beautiful in its indifference, and the vigorous beats behind his sternum held the ancient vampire captivated until the second sets of footsteps rose above the din.

The second human entered not too long after the first. Although his steady gaze and his lips set in a determined line as well as his confident gait painted a picture of calmness, his slightly increased heartbeats betrayed a hint of anxiety. It was but a tiny irregularity and Joachim wondered curiously if any vampire here beside himself was able to detect it.

When their eyes met across the throne room, the vampire heard the human heart skip a beat and smiled. His own heart would have done the same, provided it wasn’t particularly dead behind his rib cage.

His castle, once belonged to Walter, hosted a melange of night creatures, and amongst which was a peculiar doppelgänger. If he hadn’t locked the mischievous thing with a binding spell to ensure they stayed behind and watched their home, he would be convinced that they had tagged along and were now playing their usual party tricks right in the heart of Dracula’s castle.

However, no matter how flawless a facade the doppelgänger could pull off, they would never be able to recreate a human’s heartbeat and the intoxicating aroma of his warm blood. That, Joachim was deadly sure.

So, a real human, not a doppelgänger, who was wearing a face that resembled Joachim’s own so much they might as well be long-lost siblings.

Except Joachim’s siblings, if he’d had any — his memory had become quite muddled, courtesy of a certain Walter Bernhard, must have all turned to ashes and dirt.

So very interesting.

“Oy, pretty boy,” Godbrand said, laying an unwelcoming paw on Joachim’s shoulder, “looks like we’ve found your twin. Too bad he’s one step from becoming snacks.”

Joachim smiled at the Viking vampire, flashing his full-grown fangs, and brushed his paw off his shoulder. “If only,” came his cryptic reply.

Perhaps this trip to Castlevania might prove to be not a waste of time after all.

To be continued


Here are two official pictures of Joachim Armster.

Slender form, shoulder-length silver/white hair parted in the middle, doesn’t he look like a pale-skinned Hector? And yes, that serves as an inspiration for me to write this story.

[Castlevania] In the Morning Light You Shine (Alucard x Hector)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: Mature

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector

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

Characters: Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, Hector

Warning: sexual content

Preview:

He reached into his pocket for his phone and scrolled down his album. “I have just one photo, which I had to bribe Hector to get.”

“I’m afraid to ask what you bribed him to get it.”

Adrian gave Trevor a dirty look as he held up his screen to show a photo of Hector hugging Cezar to his chest while early sunlight from a nearby window made his silver hair shimmer.

This is the story about how the photo came into being.

A missing scene of One-Night Stands at Workplace: What If I Slept with My Boss

When Adrian woke up, he thought he was still in a dream.

A beautiful dream in the form of a beautiful face, framed by tousled silver waves and brightened by the smile clinging at kissable lips.

Adrian very much wanted to ravish those lips, morning breath be damned.

He did not move an inch.

From his spot on the couch, Adrian languidly drank in the sight of Hector lying on his belly, propped up on his elbows. The young man had nothing but a pair of boxer briefs on, the expanse of olive skin stretched over toned back and protruding shoulder blades offering a treat to Adrian’s bleary eyes as well as triggering the reenactment of last night’s passion in his sleep-addled mind. Hector straddling his thighs, his pupils blown like he was high on drugs and his jaws slack as he thrusted into Adrian’s hand with abandonment; Hector arching his back like a gorgeous bow, his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth opening in a muted scream as he reached his climax; Hector slumping against his body, shaky hand working unrelentingly to bring Adrian over the edge; their bodies, sated and drained, slotting together like two puzzle pieces on the narrow couch.

The pleasant heat simmering in his core did wonders for keeping his hangover, which had awoken with himself, at bay. Mimicking Hector, he propped his chin up with one elbow and crossed his thighs to preserve some semblance of modesty in his nude state.

“Morning,” Hector said, tilting his head and giving Adrian a lopsided grin.

“It’s amazing,” he commented, half-lidded gaze tracing Hector’s smooth jawline down his neck and lingering at his Adam’s apple. For a few moments Adrian indulged himself in his fantasy that the unblemished skin there was marred by the impression of his teeth. The idea had presented itself to him in the throes of passion but thankfully with what little rationality left in his mind amidst intoxication and arousal, Adrian had thought better of it; the last thing he wanted was to come off as freaky and ruined the moment for both of them. Second time was still a little too soon to be discussing kinks and fetishes. By the sixth or seventh maybe, hopefully.

“What is?”

“How you managed to disentangle yourself without waking me. It’s a case of either misplaced memory or misplaced limbs because I remember having an arm around your waist and a knee between your leg as I fell asleep last night — or was it this morning? I half-expected to be roused by silver hair tickling my nose.”

Hector’s shoulders shook lightly as he chuckled, face flushed. “I was afraid I’d break your sleeping spell but it turned out you didn’t even stir when I slipped and landed my ass on the floor.”

“Did I?” wondered Adrian. “I’m normally a light sleeper so it must have been the alcohol. As a matter of fact I’m having a hangover right now. How about you?”

“So am I, though I expected it to be more severe due to the mixed drinks we’d had. You need something to fight it off?”

“You have some hair of the dog?”

“No, but I have some aspirin.”

“Thanks, I’m used to it. I’ll just grab a double espresso on the way. Are you an early riser?”

Hector nodded. “I have classes in the morning and sometimes I like to take Cezar for a walk.”

As if summoned by the utterance of his name, the little pug showed up at the entrance and announced his arrival with a series of gleeful yips, his pink tongue lolling from his mouth. Hector smiled indulgently and beckoned Cezar over. Tiny paws crossed the room in just a few seconds before the pup nestled in the crook of his arm.

“Do you have classes today?” Adrian asked, shifting into an upright position and hearing his joints pop in protest. Feeling weirdly conscious in the presence of a ‘third party’, he bended over and reached for the pile of his haphazardly discarded clothes. He left his shirt and tie on the couch and began to put on his briefs and pants. He could still afford to look disheveled and indecent until leaving Hector’s apartment to start another day at the office.

“Not until the afternoon.”

As Adrian buttoned his pants, he looked over his shoulders and met Hector’s unblinking stare, proving his hunch that the younger man had been ogling him the whole time. He smirked, amused by the guilty-but-not-too-guilty look on Hector’s face.

“Then why didn’t you snatch a few more minutes to sleep? It was still so early.”

“Once I woke, it was impossible to fall back into sleep given the sight presented to my eyes, so I decided to watch.”

“What sight?” Adrian asked, despite having guessed already.

“The slumbering angel,” Hector drawled, his hand absent-mindedness stroking Cezar behind the ear. “Golden hair fanning out like a halo as he was deep in sleep. The painting on the church’s stained glass, in flesh.”

The unexpected answer had Adrian stunned for a good five seconds. “Oh,” he said, feeling a tiny hand plucking the strings that connected his heart to his thoughts. It felt strange, this emotion whose name he had yet to learn. “I didn’t take you to be the religious type.”

Hector smiled and the tiny, invisible hand increased its pace. “Don’t I look like someone who wears his Sunday best and goes to church every week?”

Adrian’s eyes briefly traveled the length of his spine and arrived at the curves of his buttocks, accentuated by his black boxer briefs. “No, you don’t,” he said.

“I used to,” Hector divulged, “when I was a wee little boy. The only thing that got me through the sermon was the painting of angel on the stained glass window. I remember being strongly fascinated by the way sunlight filtering through the glass caused a multitude of colors to dance on the church-goers’ faces. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope.”

The mention of sunlight made Adrian suddenly aware that the living room was quite dim. He left the couch and walked to the window. “This is the second time I’ve thought that perhaps a literature major would have suited you better than an IT one,” Adrian said, pulling open the curtain, allowing the early morning sun to pour in.

“I’m not sure about that,” Hector said, turning his face to the light like a sunflower, and beamed. Silver hair and eyelashes shimmered under the sun’s kiss as if each strand was delicately spun from real silver. It was nothing short of breathtaking.

Adrian’s fingers itched for his camera, forgotten and left to gather dust in a cardboard box under his bed. With his mother gone, his passion for photography had also gotten a premature death. Now, as he watched the picturesque scene of Hector basking in sunlight, it was being revived and it scorched his insides with a desire to capture and preserve this moment in something more tangible and reliable than his memory.

“Can I bribe you to do something?”

Hector blinked at him, the residue of the smile clinging to his lips even as they moved to speak. “The way you said it, I can’t be sure whether you’re joking or not,” he said. “You could have just asked though.”

“A little compensation can go a long way.”

“What is it? I’m not sure if I can help but I can try.”

“I’d like you to pose for a photo.”

Any trace of the previous smile instantly evaporated from his features. A pregnant pause followed. “… You don’t mean nudes, do you?”

If there was a crossbreed between concern and amusement, it was currently on Adrian’s expression. “Absolutely not,” he denied, his voice unconsciously raising. “Why would you think so?”

Eyebrows knitting, Hector glanced sideways and munched his lower lip, seeming far too troubled for the bashful look that had endeared itself to Adrian in the short period of their acquaintance. “My ex, well, she sometimes, you know…”

Adrian couldn’t know, but he could guess, and he didn’t like where this particular line of thinking was going. Another tick went in the expanding list of reasons to loathe someone he had never met; it was quite extraordinary when he thought about it. “If it makes you uncomfortable then just forget what I said.”

“Nothing risqué, right?”

“No,” Adrian stressed. “The light is just very good here and I thought it’d be wonderful to capture it.”

“In that case then alright,” Hector said, pushing himself up into a sitting position and laying Cezar down on the floor. The pup whimpered at the loss of his ministrations. “Also, I’m curious about what the bribe’s gonna be.”

Adrian found his smile contagious because a similar curve was making its way to his lips. “I’m going to make cheese omelet. I remember last time you really enjoyed it. Or would you like something else for breakfast?”

Hector’s smile faltered. “I’d love a cheese omelet but we’ve run out of eggs and cheese… along with pretty much everything else. I’m supposed to go grocery shopping later today.”

“Is there absolutely nothing in the kitchen?”

“There’s some pancake batter in the pantry. Can you make pancake?”

“Pancake it is.”

“Could you pass me my shirt?”

Before Adrian’s fingers came in contact with said item, he heard Hector clicking his tongue. “On second thought, that may not be the best idea.”

Adrian lifted the gray shirt up, eyeing the suspicious spots on the fabric and feeling laughter bubbling in his chest as he recalled how Hector, luxuriating in post-coital languor, had carried out a perfunctory cleaning, and himself, diagnosed cleanliness freak in sobriety, had not minded it. “Guess it’s a lost cause,” he quipped, dropping the stained article.

“Guess I also have to do the laundry today,” Hector replied, rising to his feet. “Let me fetch another shirt from my room.”

An idea popped in Adrian’s head and he reached for his own shirt, scanning it for anything weird and finding none, save a few creases. “You can wear my shirt,” he told Hector, tossing him the item.

“Alright.”

Hector briefly looked at the shirt before slipping his arm into a sleeve.

It appeared to be his size, which was no surprise given that they had similar build. Watching Hector’s tanned fingers working the buttons, Adrian took a mental note for future reference. White became him; perhaps he could get him something white as a celebratory gift once Hector passed the test. He wondered if Hector shared his sentiment for the color.

The thought of Hector wearing his gift to the office caused tiny butterflies in his stomach. Adrian decided it was not unpleasant.

“How do you want me?”

Hector’s question sliced through his reverie and caught him off-guard. Adrian gave him an appreciative once-over, eyes zooming in the nice stretch of his chest. Hector seemed to have read his mind and thus had left two of the top buttons undone, teasing a window of slender, shapely collarbones, which were his second-sexiest feature in Adrian’s list right after his expressive Aegean eyes. “No pants?” he asked with a jerk of his chin.

“My pants are as much a lost cause as my shirt. I guess this’ll have to do, unless you’re going to lend me your pants.”

Adrian chuckled. “Nothing risqué,” he echoed the earlier words, making Hector blush slightly.

“How do you want me? By the window?”

“Yes, please,” Adrian replied, taking out his phone and unlocking it. “The light is most beautiful there. Just act natural, no need to pose.”

“Okay,” Hector said, lifting up Cezar. Leaning on the window pane, he held the pup against his chest and started stroking under his chin. Soon enough, his lips stretched into a grin, his eyes crinkling.

It was perfect, how sunlight filtering through dusty glass to illuminate his silver hair and profile. How it highlighted the straight bridge of his nose and the generous cut of his mouth, all perfectly sculpted like a Greek masterpiece. Only a Greek masterpiece wasn’t alive, Hector was. A lively person with warm blood running under smooth olive skin, whose firm, pliable flesh yielded easily to his exploratory touches and lips trembled, blowing hot breaths into his ears and stoking the embers of last night’s passion in the pit of his stomach.

He was perfect.

A snapping sound and Adrian announced, “It’s done.”

“Can I see it?” He lowered himself to let Cezar down and walked over to Adrian, who gave him the phone. “Oh,” he exclaimed, widening his eyes at the screen. “It’s so beautiful. No, I mean the light, the reflections and, and Cezar, not myself.”

You are beautiful,” Adrian whispered low, leaning in until their faces were so close that Hector only needed to tilt his head to the right and Adrian’s lips would brush against his cheek.

Hector stared at him. “I’m-I’m beautiful?”

“I find it hard to believe no one has ever told you that,” Adrian said, his urge to tease fanned by Hector’s stammer and confused look. “Have you looked in the mirror lately?”

“No, no one has, really,” came Hector’s timid reply. Too honest for his good.

“Glad to be your first.”

Then Adrian did what he had intended to do first thing after waking up. One hand landing on his waist while the other cradling the nape of his neck, he ravished Hector’s lips like the hungry man he was every morning post-workout. And the best thing about it wasn’t the surprising absence of morning breath but rather the enthusiasm with which Hector was responding, licking the seams of his lips and sucking his tongue while tangling his hand in Adrian’s bed—well, couch hair.

“I feel like I should thank you for the photo,” Adrian said into the corner of Hector’s mouth between quick pants. He sank to his knees, dipping just the tips of his fingers into the hem of Hector’s boxer briefs. With their bodies pressed close during the kiss, he had taken notice of the growing hardness the thin fabric had failed to conceal; now, coming face to face with it, he was confident in his assumption that Hector had been pretty aroused. “May I?” he asked coyly, eyes half-lidded and tongue peeking between his parted lips.

“You don’t have to—”

“I want to.”

He meant it.

A shy nod from the younger man was all Adrian needed to proceed, hooking his fingers under the elastic band and pulling the snug piece of underwear down to Hector’s calves. He spent a few seconds admiring the elegant shaft and the neatly trimmed curls at its root — the carpet did match the drapes after all — before giving the flushed head a close-mouthed kiss, flicking his tongue at the slit. He smirked, feeling righteously smug at the instant reaction in the form of a full-body shudder, and took Hector into his mouth.

Once his lips stretched around the girth, Adrian’s hand slid down his stomach to wrap around the root. As he began to bob his head, hollowing his cheeks in the process, his hand also moved up and down the length where his mouth failed to cover. It took him a little while to establish a rhythm that was both satisfying and comfortable for himself — giving head was pretty new territory to him but Adrian prided himself on being a fast learner, and then he started working in earnest, focusing his intention into driving Hector to the precipice. Another time and he would like to take it slow, drawing out the pleasure until both of them went a little mad with sensory overload, but a Friday morning where he still had to lead the morning briefing at nine o’ clock was not that time. Plus, he had a promise of breakfast to keep. Judging by the ragged breaths above his head, Adrian believed it wouldn’t be too long before Hector became undone.

“Adrian, I’m close,” Hector warned, his blunt nails digging into the meat of Adrian’s shoulders, his knees buckling.

Adrian let him go with a ‘pop’ but his hand stayed and increased its pace, almost brutal in its determination to bring Hector over the edge. And over the edge he stumbled, coming with a loud gasp and spilling into Adrian’s hand. His body slumped over, chest heaving as his arms clutched Adrian’s frame for support.

With his clean hand Adrian rubbed idle circles on the small of his back for comfort. Several moments passed before Hector came down from riding his post-orgasmic waves. He sat down on the floor, face red and tiny beads of sweat clinging to his forehead like morning dew on blades of grass. “That was… amazing,” he panted, grinning like a fool. A gorgeous, lovable fool that had delicately curled his fingers around Adrian’s heart and tormented him with gentle squeezes.

No, it was far too soon to call it love, Adrian mused. However, it was not that far from it if he allowed himself to admit.

“Glad to hear so,” he replied, masking the swelling affection in his chest with playful smugness.

“Here, let me,” Hector offered, his hands reaching for the buttons on Adrian’s pants, only for Adrian to stop him by catching his wrists.

“It’s alright, there’s no need to.”

Hector’s voice betrayed a hint of disappointment, which brought a rush of warmth to Adrian’s sternum when he spoke, “I think I should, you know, return the favor.”

Adrian couldn’t help a light scowl at his word choice. “I don’t believe there’s such thing as ‘favor’ in the matter of pleasure,” he corrected him, unharshly. “Pleasure can be sought in receiving as well as giving and as for the latter, let me assure you that I’ve got plenty.”

“Are you okay with it?” Hector asked, sounding hesitant and unconvinced, and it made Adrian wonder — inappropriately, he was aware — if this had been the dynamic between the younger man and his godawful ex.

“Absolutely,” he said, extending one arm to grab a bunch of tissues on the coffee table and wiping away a few come stains that were starting to dry on the floor as well as Hector’s skin. “Besides, we still have many chances for that, don’t we?”

“Sure we do,” Hector agreed with a faint blush as he craned his neck and kissed Adrian, who could feel his soft smile on his lips.

“Now, why don’t you show me where the batter and utensils are so I can make good on my promise?”

End

[Dịch] Tình một đêm ở công sở: Nếu tôi ngủ với sếp của mình (Alucard x Hector) (3)

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Disclaimer: Nhân vật thuộc quyền sở hữu của những người đã tạo ra họ

Tên gốc: One-Night Stands at Workplace: What If I Slept with My Boss

Link: https://archiveofourown.org/works/23605486/chapters/56646385

Thể loại: BL, fanfiction, AU hiện đại, hài

Fandom: Castlevania (Netflix)

Rating: Teen và lớn hơn

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector, Trevor Belmont x Sypha Belnades (cp phụ)

Nhân vật: Isaac, Hector, Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, có nhắc đến Carmilla và Lenore

Cảnh báo: OOC, có nhắc đến tình tiết bạo hành

Preview:

Hector uống hết chỗ sữa hạnh nhân trong ca như thể hành động đó đổ đầy can đảm để cậu thú nhận một bí mật đen tối. Isaac kiên nhẫn nhìn yết hầu cậu chuyển động. Đặt cái ca lên bàn, Hector thở dài. “Đó là tiếng lóng mạng. Nghĩa là tôi tiêu rồi. Tôi xoạc một người không nên xoạc. Hôm nay tôi mới biết thân phận anh ấy. Giờ thì toang thật sự.”

Hector uống say và có tình một đêm với một người cực kỳ quyến rũ cậu gặp ở quán bar. Chàng trai đó hóa ra là người giám sát trực tiếp của cậu ở công ty.

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


III.

Có vài thứ Isaac dự đoán — nhưng không hề mong muốn — sẽ nhìn thấy khi về nhà lúc bảy giờ ba mươi phút sau một ca làm đêm đột xuất. Những thứ như bãi nôn của Cezar gần lối ra vào (vị trí yêu thích của nó vì lý do nào đó) vì Hector lại đổ quá nhiều thức ăn vào tô; hay cái đầu bù xù của Hector gục xuống bàn uống nước trong phòng khách, một vũng nước miếng nho nhỏ kế bên miệng còn quanh người nào là sách bìa cứng, ghi chú viết nguệch ngoạc, giấy vụn, laptop còn đang chạy và mấy cái ca chưa rửa vì ai đó đã thức trắng đêm học bài và chỉ vừa bất tỉnh nhân sự; hoặc kết hợp cả hai thứ trên vì khi căng thẳng thì Hector thường đãng trí vô cùng. Vào ngày đẹp trời, anh về nhà và thấy căn hộ ngăn nắp, sạch sẽ và trống trải vì Hector đã dắt Cezar đi dạo trong công viên rồi. Vào ngày xấu trời, anh được tiếp đón bằng hàng loạt câu từ đay nghiến và anh bước vào chỉ vừa kịp để ngăn những ngón tay búp măng của Lenore đánh dấu lên má Hector. Nhớ lại những sáng như thế có khả năng làm anh hỏng cả ngày nên Isaac hít một hơi và quét chúng vào một góc khuất trong đầu đồng thời thầm gửi lời biết ơn đến Chúa vì Ngài đã giúp Hector tỉnh ra và cắt đứt với con nhỏ đó.

Isaac không bắt gặp bãi nôn nào khi mở cửa bước vào căn hộ thuê chung và anh rất cảm kích điều đó. Tuy nhiên, tâm trạng tương đối tốt liền chùng xuống khi anh trông thấy trên kệ giày dép có một đôi giày tây bóng loáng không thuộc về người nào sống trong căn hộ này, được đặt gọn gàng bên cạnh đôi giày thể thao của Hector. Cậu bạn chung nhà của anh có khách chăng? Isaac thắc mắc trong lúc cởi giày và vớ. Nhưng loại khách nào lại đến nhà người ta vào lúc bảy giờ rưỡi sáng, ngoại trừ… Isaac nhớ lại cuộc nói chuyện với Hector gần một tuần trước và thấy mình chẳng vui thích nổi với kết luận mà mạch suy nghĩ này hướng đến. Nghi ngờ trong anh càng được chứng minh bằng cảnh tượng một chiếc áo sơmi trắng và một chiếc cà vạt màu vang đỏ bị vứt bừa trên salông. Isaac nheo mắt, nhặt hai món đó lên và sau khi xem kỹ anh dám chắc một trăm phần trăm chúng không thuộc về Hector vì 1. anh là kiểu người biết rõ cậu bạn chung nhà sở hữu bao nhiêu áo sơmi và cà vạt và 2. Hector không có nhiều quần áo cho lắm. Trên cà vạt có vài vệt trăng trắng và Isaac nhăn mũi, thả cả hai món đồ xuống ghế. Đến lúc này thì anh hầu như khẳng định trong nhà đang chứa loại khách gì và người đó đã cùng Hector làm gì tối qua. Isaac lầm bầm, cảm thấy cơn bực mình đang dâng lên trong ruột gan. Chết tiệt, Hector. Cậu lại ôm phải củ khoai nóng nào nữa đây?

Nhìn về mặt tích cực thì anh nên mừng vì áo sơmi và cà vạt không thể nào là đồ của Lenore.

Isaac ngạc nhiên với sự bình tĩnh của bản thân khi trông thấy một người lạ trong bếp, sử dụng bếp như thể đây là bếp nhà mình. Mái tóc vàng vấn bừa thành một búi rối và lưng quần trễ một cách đáng quan ngại trên xương hông, người đó đang lật chiếc bánh kếp trong chảo bằng sự thành thạo của một đầu bếp chuyên nghiệp, nếu đầu bếp chuyên nghiệp chịu làm bánh kếp từ bột chế biến sẵn mua ở cửa hàng vì chạn bếp nhà họ chỉ có thứ đó thôi. Mùi bơ thơm ngậy thoảng trước mũi Isaac, khiến bao tử anh réo ầm ĩ. Anh hắng giọng báo hiệu sự hiện diện của mình với người thanh niên kia, hẳn vì quá chú tâm đến thao tác nên không hề nghe thấy tiếng bước chân đến gần.

Người lạ hơi giật mình nhưng bàn tay nắm cán chảo vẫn rất vững, nhờ vậy chiếc bánh kếp mới chín một nửa được an toàn. Isaac ghét phải nghĩ đến tình huống vừa lãng phí thức ăn vừa phải dọn dẹp cực khổ nếu anh ta giật mình đánh rơi cái chảo. Việc đó từng xảy ra một lần trong tháng đầu Hector sống ở đây và ngoài dọn dẹp đống bừa bộn trong bếp, Isaac còn phải chở cậu đến bệnh viện chữa vết bỏng. Điều tích cực duy nhất đến từ vụ đó là hai người biết được nhiều điều về nhau trong vài giờ ngắn ngủi ở phòng cấp cứu hơn nguyên một tháng sống cùng dưới một mái nhà.

Liệu Isaac muốn tìm hiểu người khách lạ này qua một tình huống tương tự không? Chắc chắn là không nhé.

“Anh là ai?”

Họ đồng thời mở miệng. Âm lượng, cao độ, giọng điệu đều đều giống hệt nhau.

Tình huống ngượng ngập hết sức. Gần bằng lần đầu Isaac về nhà và chứng kiến Lenore ngồi chơi trong bếp, trên người chẳng mặc gì ngoài chiếc áo thun cũ của Hector. Nhưng ít ra khi đó anh được báo trước là bạn gái của Hector sẽ ghé sang còn anh chàng này, người trông như vừa bước ra từ bìa tạp chí người lớn, Isaac chẳng biết anh ta là ai hết. Còn nữa, Hector biến đi đâu quái rồi?

Như thể đáp lại tiếng lòng của anh, giọng của Hector vọng ra từ phòng tắm. “Anh chắc mình không muốn tắm một cái cho mát không Adrian?”

Hector xuất hiện trước cửa phòng tắm, đi chân đất và trên người chỉ quấn một chiếc khăn tắm. Nước từ những lọn tóc ướt nhỏ thành vũng trên sàn và cậu dùng ngón chân di tấm thảm chùi đi. “… chào anh,” cậu nói lí nhí.

Isaac tự nhiên có cảm giác mình đã gặp cảnh này ở đâu rồi.

“Tôi không cần tắm đâu Hector,” Adrian đáp, ánh mắt kín đáo dạo khắp nửa thân trên của Hector trước khi quay lại Isaac và hiển nhiên Isaac chứng kiến toàn bộ. “Cậu giới thiệu hai chúng tôi được không?”

“Ô, được, được. Adrian, đây là Isaac. Isaac, đây là Adrian.”

“Có lẽ cậu nên mặc quần vào rồi chúng ta hẵng ngồi xuống nói chuyện,” Isaac nói, nhướng hàng lông mày đầy ẩn ý.

“P-Phải,” Hector lắp bắp, ráng hồng từ từ bò lên cần cổ. “Ch-Chờ chút nhé. Tôi quay lại ngay.”

Isaac chưa từng thấy cậu bốc hơi lẹ như thế.

“Cậu ta thường nói năng lưu loát hơn khi mặc đồ đàng hoàng,” Isaac bình luận.

“Phải.”

“Tôi là bạn sống chung nhà với Hector,” Isaac nói, đưa tay ra.

Cái bắt tay của Adrian vững chắc và mạnh mẽ, lòng bàn tay khô ráo, không có vết chai, hoàn toàn phù hợp với vẻ ngoài công tử. Isaac đoán anh chàng có gia cảnh giàu có. “Tôi là Adrian, người giám sát trực tiếp Hector ở công ty V&L.”

“À, anh chàng Lông Mi Cong Vút.”

Nhìn gần thì đúng là anh chàng sở hữu lông mi rất dài và cong, tạo thành bóng mờ mờ trên gò má cao. Trong ánh nắng sớm, mắt anh dường như cùng màu với mái tóc vàng óng như vầng hào quang của thiên thần bao quanh khuôn mặt với những đường nét như tạc. Dù xỉn nhưng Hector miêu tả chuẩn ra phết.

“Xin lỗi?” Adrian nói, sự phật ý hiện lên trong cặp mắt nheo lại nhưng rồi nét mặt anh nhanh chóng giãn thành nụ cười mang đôi phần xấu hổ khi nhận ra ý tứ của Isaac. “Ô,” anh lẩm bẩm, cẩn thận lật chiếc bánh kếp ra đĩa. “Hẳn cậu ấy đã nói với anh.” Anh đặt đĩa lên mặt quầy bếp, dùng một khối bơ nhỏ tráng lòng chảo rồi rót chỗ bột bánh còn lại vào.

Isaac gật đầu, thầm thán phục khả năng vừa nấu vừa tiếp chuyện ở anh.

“Thường thì tôi sẽ nói Hân hạnh gặp anh nhưng tình huống này khá ngượng ngập nên…”

“Đồng ý.”

Im lặng bao trùm cả hai chẵn ba mươi giây trước khi Adrian phá vỡ nó. “Anh thích bánh kếp không? Tôi định làm trứng tráng nhưng tủ lạnh hết trứng rồi nên đành làm bánh kếp thôi.”

“Bánh kếp cũng được.”

Im lặng tiếp.

Hector bước vào bếp cùng lúc Adrian đặt hai đĩa bánh lên bàn ăn. “Anh không ăn sáng cùng chúng tôi à?” cậu liếc hai chiếc bánh, hỏi.

Adrian mỉm cười rồi tháo búi tóc, mái tóc dài buông thả xuống vai. “Xin lỗi, tôi cũng muốn thế nhưng tôi cần về nhà lấy mấy tài liệu cho buổi họp báo cáo sáng nay.”

“Vậy à?” cậu nói, trong giọng hiện lên nỗi thất vọng.

Isaac chẳng thất vọng chút nào, trái lại là đằng khác.

“Thế tôi gặp anh ở công ty nhé.”

“Ừ,” Adrian đáp, quay sang Isaac. “Chúc anh một ngày thuận lợi.”

“Cảm ơn anh vì mấy chiếc bánh,” Isaac gật đầu, nói. “Chúc anh một ngày thuận lợi.”

Anh quan sát Adrian rời khỏi bếp, Hector theo sau. Họ dừng ở phòng khách, Adrian mặc lại chiếc áo sơmi hơi nhàu, bỏ áo ngoài quần và nhét cà vạt vào túi quần. Anh mổ nhẹ lên môi Hector rồi biến mất khỏi tầm nhìn của Isaac.

Không lâu sau, Hector ngồi vào bàn ăn.

“Đó là để tránh bữa sáng diễn ra trong bầu không khí gượng gạo phải không?” Isaac hỏi, nhìn Hector xắn tay áo của chiếc áo len chui đầu rộng thinh đang mặc trên người.

“… đúng là vậy,” Hector thừa nhận. “Hơn nữa cũng chỉ đủ bột cho hai chiếc bánh.”

“Có vẻ tôi vừa làm kỳ đà cản mũi hai người nhỉ?”

“Không đâu. Ngoài hai lý do đó thì Adrian thực sự phải về nhà chuẩn bị cho buổi họp báo cáo buổi sáng. Tối qua ảnh có nói nhưng tôi đang bị phân tâm nên quên mất.”

“Phân tâm?” Isaac lặp lại. Anh với tay lấy chai xirô cây thích và rưới một lượng vừa phải lên bánh.

Hector cúi đầu, bóp gần một phần ba chai xirô lên phần bánh của mình, khiến Isaac nhăn mặt. Làm thế nào cậu giữ được thân hình chuẩn dù hảo ngọt như thế đến giờ vẫn là một bí ẩn. “Phải, ừm, anh biết đấy…” cậu bỏ lửng câu, né tránh ánh mắt Isaac.

“Chuyện gì xảy ra thế? Lần trước cậu nói anh ta cư xử như không hề có chuyện gì xảy ra nhưng giờ hai người lại thân thiết lạ lùng vậy.”

“Tôi cũng bất ngờ lắm,” cậu tiết lộ. “Mấy ngày qua tôi cố gắng nghe lời anh và cư xử một cách chuyên nghiệp. Chúng tôi không nói chuyện nhiều và khi nói thì chỉ nói về công việc. Rồi hôm qua ảnh rủ tôi đến quán bar sau giờ làm việc.”

“Quán Silver Spoon hả?” Isaac hỏi, dùng nĩa xắn một miếng bánh. Anh nhai từ từ trước khi nuốt. Vị cũng không đến nỗi nào dù Isaac chẳng ưa gì bột bánh pha sẵn bán ở cửa hàng.

Hector gật. “Ảnh mời tôi một ly. Chúng tôi trò chuyện. Tôi mời lại ảnh một ly. Chúng tôi tiếp tục trò chuyện đến khuya, khi đó cả hai đều không lái xe được nữa.”

Isaac liếc về phía phòng khách. “Tôi thấy được cuộc trò chuyện đó dẫn đến kết quả gì rồi.”

Khuôn mặt Hector trông như toàn bộ máu đều chạy hết lên đó. Cậu không nhìn thẳng vào mắt Isaac, chậm rãi nhai một miếng bánh kếp để làm cớ trì hoãn đáp lời anh. Trong khi đó, Isaac nhấm nháp thức ăn, cho cậu thời gian lẫn không gian để xử lý suy nghĩ của mình trước khi tiếp tục. Anh cho rằng mình sẽ không phải chờ quá lâu.

Anh đã đúng, tuy những gì thốt ra từ miệng Hector không hẳn như anh dự đoán.

“Xin lỗi vì cái ghế salông,” Hector nhỏ giọng nói, gần như thì thào.

Isaac bị giằng xé giữa xúc động muốn cười lớn — một hành động lâu rồi anh không thực hiện — và xúc động muốn táng một phát vào đầu Hector. “Cần tôi nhắc cậu là cậu có phòng riêng và một chiếc giường rất thoải mái không?”

Mặt đỏ dừ, Hector đặt nĩa xuống để nghịch vu vơ mấy ngón tay. “Thực tình mà nói thì bọn tôi chỉ kịp đến ghế salông thôi. Rõ ràng là uống whiskey chung với tequila rất không ổn.”

“Tôi thấy cực kỳ bất công khi cậu và anh ta đều không bị cảm giác sau cơn say hành.”

“Tôi đang bị đấy. Adrian cũng thế nhưng ảnh giỏi giấu thôi. Ảnh nói mình quen rồi. Ảnh chỉ cần một ly đúp espresso là hết.”

Isaac đã ăn xong. “Tốt cho anh ta thôi,” anh lạnh nhạt nói. “Cậu cần cà phê đặc không?”

“Thôi. Caffeine và chứng rối loạn lo âu của tôi vốn không ưa nhau.”

“Hector, tôi biết tôi không có quyền can thiệp vào đời sống riêng của cậu nhưng có lẽ cậu nên thận trọng với anh chàng Adrian này. Không biết cậu có nhận ra hay không nhưng cậu là nam châm hút—”

“Người đẹp mà thần kinh. Có, tôi có nghe người ta nói.”

“Còn Adrian thì quá đẹp.”

“Anh ấy không giống người bị thần kinh… trừ khi anh nộp cho ảnh một bản báo cáo sai ngữ pháp tùm lum.” Hector tự cười với mình. “Không phải đâu, ý tôi là ảnh rất tử tế.”

“Ban đầu Lenore cũng thế.”

“Đúng vậy,” Hector đồng tình, dẫu giọng cậu cho thấy sự do dự. “Tôi sẽ không lặp lại sai lầm là đâm đầu ngay vào một mối quan hệ nghiêm túc. Lần này tôi sẽ từ từ, trò chuyện, tìm hiểu về nhau, vân vân. Chúng tôi đã thống nhất như vậy để khỏi khiến nơi làm việc trở nên quá kỳ cục.”

Một biểu cảm buồn cười hiếm hoi hiện lên trên mặt Isaac. “Tôi hiểu rồi. Tìm hiểu về nhau theo nhiều cách.”

“Anh cũng công nhận là ảnh đẹp còn gì,” Hector nói, cười bẽn lẽn và cầm nĩa chọc chọc chiếc bánh kếp đang ăn dở. “Nhưng mà anh nói đúng. Tôi sẽ thận trọng với Adrian. Cảm ơn anh, Isaac, vì làm người bạn chung nhà tốt nhất thế giới.”

“Không có chi,” Isaac đáp, mỉm cười. Anh đứng lên, vỗ vai Hector rồi để đĩa và nĩa vào bồn rửa chén.

“Mà này, Hector, có chút chuyện cần nói trước khi tôi đi chợp mắt một lát.”

“Gì vậy?”

“Đốt cái ghế salông đi.”

“Bên này, Adrian.”

Quán Shaw’s vào tối thứ sáu đầy nhóc người và Adrian phải kiễng chân mới nhìn qua được vài mái đầu đủ màu sắc. Anh thấy được mái đầu vàng cam của Sypha và cánh tay cô đang vẫy ở một chiếc bàn trong góc. Anh len qua một nhóm thanh niên ồn ào và bị va phải — vô tình hay cố ý — mấy cái trước khi đến được bàn của hai người bạn.

“Xin lỗi, tớ đến trễ,” Adrian nói, ngồi xuống ghế và lập tức nới lỏng cà vạt đồng thời cởi hai nút áo trên cùng. “Tớ phải giải quyết cho xong vài việc ở văn phòng và tình hình giao thông cực dễ điên.”

“Tối thứ sáu mà,” Sypha nói. “Bọn tớ còn chưa ấm chỗ thì cậu đã đến.”

“Ấy thế mà Trevor đã kiếm ngay được cho mình một cốc bia.”

“Phải thử loại bia tự ủ nổi tiếng của quán Shaw’s mà mọi người không ngừng ca ngợi chứ.”

“Cậu thấy vị thế nào?”

“Em hy vọng là Tuyệt hơn cả sex.”

Biểu cảm của Trevor lập tức biến thành vẻ nhăn nhó và cốc bia đông cứng khi chỉ còn cách miệng anh vài milimét. “Ôi thôi nào Sypha. Một tuần rồi đó. Em không thể còn ghen với một lon bia chết tiệt được.”

“Thực ra là em hoàn toàn có thể.”

“Địa ngục cũng không phẫn nộ bằng một người phụ nữ nổi đoá đâu Trevor. Lẽ ra cậu nên biết rồi mới phải,” Adrian nói, cười thành tiếng. “Được rồi, hôm nay tớ khao.”

“Ai đó đang có tâm trạng ăn mừng kìa,” Sypha reo lên. “Nếu thế thì cho tớ một ly margarita có đá.”

“Còn cậu, Trevor? Một cốc bia tự ủ xuất sắc nữa?”

“Cho tớ một ly cosmo,” Trevor nói, khi anh ngẩng đầu thì bắt gặp hai cặp lông mày đang nhướng lên với anh. “Gì chứ? Đàn ông thì không được thưởng thức cocktail màu hồng à?”

“Được chứ sao không được,” Adrian đáp, quăng đến Trevor nụ cười nửa miệng mà anh chắc chắn sẽ làm anh bạn của mình phát bực. “Lựa chọn can đảm đấy. Được rồi, tớ sẽ quay lại với đồ uống.”

Mười phút sau anh trở lại cùng một ly margarita cho Sypha, một ly cosmo cho Trevor và một ly Bloody Mary cho mình.

“Chúng ta ăn mừng gì nào?” Sypha, với lấy ly margarita từ khay. “Tớ đoán nhé. Một chuyện gì đó về cậu thực tập sinh phải không? Ôôi, cậu ấy đồng ý rồi à? Giờ hai cậu thành một cặp rồi hả?”

“Nhanh vậy?”

Sypha huých yêu vào mạn sườn anh bạn trai. “Ôi Trevor, có yêu thì nên mà.”

“Anh tưởng là có chí thì nên chứ.”

Cú huých kế tiếp chẳng còn yêu thương gì nữa.

Adrian cười khúc khích. “Tớ ghét phải chứng minh cậu sai nhưng tớ bị từ chối rồi.”

Anh thấy thật đáng kinh ngạc làm sao khi Sypha có thể chuyển từ câu “Cái gì?” sửng sốt sang câu “Tại sao chứ?” rên rỉ và cuối cùng là câu “Tớ rất, rất tiếc, Adrian” cảm thông nghẹn ngào như thể cô sắp khóc đến nơi trong vòng vài giây.

“Chán vậy,” Trevor bình luận. “Tớ chân thành bày tỏ lòng cảm thông sâu—anh bạn này, sao cậu còn cười toét miệng được thế? Cậu bị đá mà.”

“Thực ra thì chưa chính thức bước vào mối quan hệ thì chưa gọi là bị đá đâu.”

“Như nhau thôi, Sypha.”

“Tớ bị từ chối, không phải bị đá. Có khác biệt đấy.”

“Tớ không hiểu sao cậu còn cười được. Tin này buồn chết mất. Cậu đang trong tình trạng từ chối chấp nhận sự thật sao?”

“Không có,” Adrian đáp, nhấp một ngụm cocktail. “Hai cậu buồn cười quá thôi.”

“Cậu nói chuyện với cậu ta rồi à?” Trevor hỏi.

“Phải, tan làm tớ rủ cậu ấy đi uống một ly. Vẫn là quán lần trước bọn tớ gặp nhau. Bọn tớ nói chuyện hàng mấy tiếng rồi cuối cùng đạt được thỏa thuận.”

“Cậu nói nghe như đang bàn chuyện làm ăn ấy.”

“Để Adrian nói hết đi Trevor.”

Adrian mỉm cười. “Đúng là nghe như đang bàn chuyện làm ăn thật. Tuy hiện tại chưa muốn bước vào một mối quan hệ nghiêm túc, cũng dễ hiểu thôi vì mới chia tay bạn gái mà, cậu ấy không bài xích chuyện đó. Giờ thì bọn tớ đang tiến từ từ, chắc là cùng ăn trưa hay rủ nhau đi đâu đó sau khi tan làm, tìm hiểu nhau, hai cậu biết đấy, như hai người bạn.”

“Bạn tình?” Trevor ngọ nguậy cặp lông mày và nhấp ly cosmo hệt như Carrie Bradshaw trong phim Sex and the City. Không người bạn nào dám nghi ngờ tư cách fan chân chính của anh được cả.

“Ai hiểu sao thì hiểu thôi.”

“Vậy tức là cậu đang hẹn hò?” Sypha hỏi. “Ôi Chúa ơi, cậu đang hẹn hò!”

“Tớ không chắc về việc đó đâu Sypha. Ý tớ là nguyên khái niệm quan hệ tình cảm này còn khá mới mẻ với tớ nhưng tớ tôn trọng quyết định của cậu ấy và tớ cứ để tự nhiên xem chuyện này sẽ thành công hay không.”

“Xem hai người có hợp nhau không nhỉ?”

“Ừ. Một điều chắc chắn là tớ chưa gọi cậu ấy là bạn trai và cậu ấy cũng vậy. Ở công ty bọn tớ thuần tuý là người giám sát và thực tập sinh mà thôi.”

“Cậu ấy thực tập bao lâu?” Sypha hỏi, nhấp một ngụm nhỏ ly cocktail nãy giờ cô bỏ quên.

“Ba tháng,” Adrian đáp. “Vào cuối kỳ thực tập, mọi thực tập sinh đều phải làm kiểm tra công ty đưa ra để xem họ đủ tiêu chuẩn làm việc tại đây hay không.”

Một nếp nhăn nhỏ xuất hiện giữa đôi lông mày xinh đẹp của cô. “Liệu điều đó có gây vấn đề gì cho hai người không? Tớ biết cậu không phải loại người lẫn lộn quan hệ cá nhân và công việc nhưng đôi khi khó tách rời hai cái đó lắm.”

“Nhất là khi cậu phụ trách đánh giá cậu ta,” Trevor thêm vào.

“Thực ra tớ không phụ trách việc đó đâu.”

“Không hả?”

“Tớ nhận vai trò giám sát trong quá trình thực tập nhưng biểu hiện của cậu ấy trong kỳ kiểm tra thì được một ban nhân viên có thâm niên đánh giá, mà tớ thì không ở trong ban đó. Họ sẽ quyết định cậu ấy ở lại làm việc hay không.”

“Cậu nghĩ cậu ấy qua được không?” Sypha hỏi.

“Còn sớm quá chưa nói được,” Adrian nói, ngả người vào ghế. “Nhưng tớ nghĩ cậu ấy sẽ làm tốt thôi. Cậu ấy chăm chỉ và miệng mồm cực kỳ linh hoạt.”

Khi mặc đồ đàng hoàng. Một nụ cười nhẹ hiện lên khoé môi Adrian khi nhớ lại cảnh tượng buổi sáng ở nhà Hector.

“Đệt, chưa gì đã nhảy sang chủ đề 18+ rồi à?” Trevor đùa. Anh ngửa đầu ra sau và bật cười lớn, làm Sypha cười khúc khích theo. Cái bàn ọp ẹp rung lên.

Adrian nhìn hai người bạn bằng ánh mắt trìu mến pha lẫn bực bội trong khi cố giữ cho ba ly cocktail không đổ.

“Ý tớ là khả năng ăn nói, trình bày và biện luận ấy. Bớt suy nghĩ đen tối dùm,” anh trách, đấm nhẹ vào cánh tay Trevor.

Vẫn hục hặc cười, Trevor xoa xoa chỗ bị đấm. “Tớ cá miệng mồm không phải ưu điểm duy nhất của cậu ta.”

“Cậu ấy dễ dàng làm thân với động vật. Cậu nhớ con Rottweiler tên Công Chúa của bác Carl sống dưới tầng hầm công ty không?”

“Con chó đó đến từ địa ngục, tớ bảo cậu rồi mà,” Trevor lầm bầm. “Em giai nhà cậu thuần được nó hay sao?”

“Cậu ấy Không phải em giai nhà tớ.”

“Nói tới mới nhớ, bọn tớ chưa biết tên cậu ấy nha,” Sypha chen vào.

“Cậu ấy tên Hector. Hôm nào Hector cũng đến sớm để cho nó ăn mấy miếng bánh qui chó rồi dành thời gian vuốt ve nó. Trước mặt cậu ấy Công Chúa liền biến thành cún con to xác.”

“Vậy là cậu ấy yêu chó,” Sypha nói, xoè ngón tay ra đếm. “Cậu ấy chăm chỉ. Cậu ấy đẹp trai và nhất là miệng mồm cực kỳ linh hoạt.”

“Sypha…” Adrian rên rỉ.

“Có vẻ là một cậu trai rất được. Nào, chúng ta nâng ly vì Hector.”

Hai người còn lại cùng nâng ly.

“Lúc nào đó bọn tớ gặp cậu ấy được không? Tớ hứa bọn tớ sẽ không nói gì kỳ cục đâu, chỉ làm quen với nhau rồi mở rộng vòng bạn bè thôi.”

“Vẫn còn hơi sớm cho việc đó nhưng tớ sẽ hỏi cậu ấy.”

“Cậu có tấm hình nào không? Tớ tò mò không biết cậu ấy trông thế nào.”

Trevor hắng giọng thật lớn.

“Em là cô gái đơn giản với những thú vui đơn giản,” Sypha thỏ thẻ. “Và Treffy nhỏ là thú vui bự nhất của em.”

Trevor sặc một ngụm cocktail. Dưới ánh sáng mờ mờ của quán, trông anh hồng gần bằng ly cosmo của mình.

“Hai cậu,” Adrian nói, nhịn cười. Anh thò tay vào túi lấy điện thoại rồi kéo xuống thư mục hình. “Tớ có đúng một tấm mà còn phải hối lộ Hector mới có được đấy.”

“Tớ sợ không dám hỏi cậu hối lộ cái gì luôn.”

Adrian lườm Trevor rồi giơ điện thoại lên cho hai người bạn thấy hình Hector đang ôm Cezar vào ngực trong khi nắng sớm từ cánh cửa sổ gần đó khiến mái tóc bạc của cậu như phát sáng.

“Ôi chao,” Sypha thốt lên, “đẹp thế. Cậu ấy đẹp thế. Đây là màu tóc tự nhiên phải không?”

Adrian gật đầu, cảm giác tự hào căng đầy lồng ngực. Dù nhìn qua rất đơn giản nhưng tấm hình ẩn chứa một bí mật anh sẽ giữ riêng cho mình: Hector đang mặc áo của anh lúc Adrian chụp tấm này bằng điện thoại.

“Chờ tý,” Trevor nói, nheo mắt nhìn. “Tớ biết cậu này. Sinh viên trường tớ đó.”

“Gì?” Adrian và Sypha cùng hỏi.

“Cậu ta có cô bạn gái tuần trước đến trường làm ầm ĩ một trận. Mặt xinh nhưng tính quá xấu. Sau đó cu cậu phải lên văn phòng tớ trao đổi một hồi lâu. Tên nhóc tội nghiệp chấn động dữ lắm.”

“Đó chắc chắn là cô bạn gái cũ rồi,” Adrian nói khi vừa nhận ra. Đồng thời cơn giận bốc lên trong lòng và anh uống một hơi cạn ly. Trong vòng vài giây anh đã nghĩ ra ít nhất một tá cách khiến cho cuộc sống cô nàng kia khó khăn hơn nhiều nếu cô ta tình cờ gặp anh.

Không ổn, không ổn, máu Ţepeş trong mình lại nổi lên rồi. Phải dằn nó xuống.

“Ôi trời,” Sypha nói kèm một tiếng thở dài. “Nếu mai mốt tụi mình hẹn hò đôi thì sẽ khá ngượng ngập đây.”

Hết


Adrian vừa là nam thần, vừa là nam thần… kinh, có chút — chỉ chút thôi — máu điên điên đặc trưng của nhà Ţepeş. Bạn biết Vlad Ţepeş không? Ừm, điên cỡ đó đó.

Bạn nào đọc bản tiếng Anh rồi chắc sẽ thấy hai bản có nhiều chỗ khác biệt. Chẳng là có những từ ngữ, cách nói, chơi chữ trong tiếng Anh khá buồn cười nhưng nếu dịch sát nghĩa sang tiếng Việt thì một là mất hết hài hước, hai là chẳng hiểu gì luôn :((. Thế nên tớ phải thay đổi cho phù hợp với tiếng Việt (fic mình viết nên mạnh dạn thay đổi chứ fic người khác viết mình chỉ dịch thôi chắc không dám đâu).

Vụ Hector ‘miệng mồm linh hoạt’ là canon nhé. Thật tình tớ thấy người sống thế kỷ 15 mà biết chơi cunninglus thì có hơi… phi thực tế nhưng tớ cũng không dám chắc bắt đầu từ lúc nào họ biết đến cái này nên… thôi, kệ đi. Bên cạnh đó, canon cũng ấn định Hector ‘good at sex’ nữa. Vậy nên trong fic này Adrian tuy lớn hơn 4,5 tuổi nhưng kinh nghiệm thì không bằng.

Khi viết thì tớ xác định Adrian là công/seme/top (sở thích vậy thôi), không biết bạn đọc thì cảm thấy thế nào.

Tớ có ý định dịch nốt fic By Chance (cũng về cặp này và là AU hiện đại, không cần xem phim cũng hiểu) nhưng bị cái là fic hơi dài còn tớ hơi lười. Thêm nữa là fic khúc đầu thì hài nhưng khúc sau hơi ngược. Nếu bạn nào muốn đọc thì cho tớ biết nhé (để tớ có chút động lực dịch :(().

[Castlevania] By Chance (Alucard x Hector) (2)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: Teen and up

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector, side Dracula x Lisa, side Trevor Belmont x Sypha Belnades

Genres: Fanfiction, slash, humor, modern AU (still have powers)

Characters: Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, Dracula/Vlad Ţepeş, Lisa Ţepeş, Kid Dracula, Isaac, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, Hector, Carmilla

Warnings: crack, OOC, some strong language, implied abuse

Summary: Modern AU where humans, vampires and some other night creatures lived together in peace. Vlad “Dracula” Ţepeş was still the vampire monarch and his presence was required at many vampire social gatherings. However, Vlad asked his son, Adrian, to come to one such gathering on his behalf. Dragging his best friends Trevor and Sypha with him, Adrian grudgingly attended the party and expected to while away the time until it was acceptable to leave. He didn’t expect to see an old face there, one that (still) caused little butterflies in his stomach despite all those months.


II. Hector

The absence of the cool weight on his clavicles was unfamiliar to him.

Hector’s fingers caressed his exposed throat, where the skin was chafed by constant friction. The collar itself was a paradox: on the one hand, it wasn’t finely made — the inside wasn’t lined with velvet or some soft, pricey material like many collars he’d seen and touched, and the edges weren’t filed, leaving them rough and jagged, eager to bite into his skin. On the other hand, it had likely cost Carmilla a handsome sum because no cheap, mass-produced collar could be inscribed with Elochian script to make it a true collaring device; it had to be commissioned and then handmade from scratch. Years of being an unwilling apprentice in his father’s workshop instead of playing basketball or video games like every other kid had taught him such. He suspected it had been Carmilla’s purpose all along: the metal band was not so much a physical embodiment of partnership as a humiliating device, just like Hector, as well as many other pets before him, was not so much a human companion as a toy at her disposal. He reflected on how stupid he had been in those first days of captivity for clutching some flimsy hope that his mistress would be kind or at least reasonable, and couldn’t resist the urge to dig his fingernails into his chafed wounds.

The expected sting was familiar to him. It felt real while everything else from the second his eyes caught sight of Adrian to the deafening clang of metal hitting the floor felt like a dream. Hector had given up on dreams some time ago, when his dreams started turning into nightmares that left him shaken and fidgety and prone to make the very mistakes the varied punishments for which had caused his nightmares in the first place. Mistakes like letting his defiance surface when he was to play a mute, docile pet, or failing to give a proper response when required. It was a vicious circle which robbed him off the only luxury he was allowed in this prison: sleep. Having to stay awake until dawn while being allotted only a couple hours to doze at noon had already messed up his biological clock; to make matters worse, lately he often found himself staring at a specific spider web on the ceiling for hours on end for no obvious purpose than wasting his precious time. As a result of prolonged sleep deprivation, he began to lose touch with reality. Left alone in the tight, mostly furniture-less cube serving as his ‘room’, sometimes he spaced out for an unknown period, only to come back bewildered and uncertain who and where he was, whether it was day or night, and whether he was awake or it was just another dream. Whether he was real. It was like taking drugs except he was clean — had managed to stay clean even in those days on the streets. It confused him, scared him, forced him to question his own sanity, and the answer that he might be losing it shook him to the core. That was when he turned to pain.

Pain.

Hector was no stranger to pain. His earliest memory was a slap from his mother, who had been furious because—because of what he couldn’t remember. He had probably dirtied the floor with his messy eating or grated her nerves with his incessant wails. Typical toddler antics to drive their parents crazy. And his parents… well, his parents weren’t exactly the conventional type. His father had indulged him in his own eccentric way, by not giving a damn about whatever Hector did as long as it did not get in the way of his business. And his mother, one thing Hector was sure about her was that she had never wanted him. It’d been a mistake, she had reminded him again and again, had pounded it into his head until he believed it. He had grown up learning every detail of her hands by heart, how white her knuckles turned when she clenched her fist, how long she’d like to keep her nails, whether she’d like them blunt or sharp, what color she loved to paint them. Deep red. Same as the blood seeping from the shallow cuts on his cheeks, hands and forearms. Same as Carmilla’s nails. Like his mother, she too fancied red. Red lips, red nails, red flowing gowns, red heels. Unlike his mother, she liked to use her hands for one thing and one thing only: giving him long, neat cuts that were as aesthetically pleasing as geometric tattoos. An art connoisseur she considered herself: everything she touched had to be tasteful, even inflicting pain. Little did she know that her favorite method to put him in line was also what Hector turned to when he needed something tangible to ground himself in reality. It wasn’t pain that he relished, quite the opposite actually; still, it didn’t stop him from picking at the scabs on his wounds because only then was he reminded that a person called Hector was alive, and that he was real. If his wounds took longer to heal than they should, it was a slight disadvantage he could bear.

More than pain, what Hector couldn’t bear was being passed around like a cheap toy. Carmilla liked to consider herself magnanimous and when she got her hands on something ‘exquisite’, be it wines, clothes, cosmetics, accessories, shoes or pets, the rest of her gang should enjoy it also. First, he had been sent to Striga and Morana, whom he had soon learned to be a couple. It turned out to be a blessing because that meant they were too occupied with each other to spare him any interest. At best, he became a punching bag for Striga, who had to greatly restrain herself so as not to break a lent pet, and so he counted himself lucky to only acquire about a dozen bruises after a night spent at her den. Nothing broken or unfixable. At worst, he was subjected to Morana’s inventions because hearing screams and groans soothed her nerves, as he had discovered by overhearing her conversation with Striga. Like her lover, she too took precautions to not totally wreck him, and if his throat felt bloody raw and he missed one or two fingernails after a session with her, Hector would choose her over Lenore any day.

Lenore. Lenore was… something. During his first days at Carmilla’s mansion, Lenore had been his angel. His salvation. His light in a pitch-black tunnel. A kind-hearted, beautiful woman who had sneaked food to him when he starved in the basement for vexing Carmilla; who had draped a woolen cloth over his naked shoulders and even tended to his cuts and bruises. Once or twice she had even stood up to him in front of Carmilla, even if it had always earned him more ire from his mistress. Drunk on her intoxicating kindness, Hector had thought he might have fallen in love with her. Nonetheless, that was before he learned that Lenore’s good-heartedness had been all a facade, meticulously made up to be stripped down the moment he was alone with her in her room.

Meticulous. That was the word to describe Lenore. She was meticulous in her approaches to gain his trust and then peel off his guard, layer by layer. A game of cat and mouse where the cat subverted the mouse’s instincts and played with its head. She was meticulous in her methods to train him, pushing him until he had one foot in the air and one nudge was all it needed to tip him over the edge and fall into the chasm. Only then did she pull him back in by his proverbial and literal leash, pouring sweet nothings into his ears while laying his head on her laps and stroking his hair with dainty fingers. The same fingers gifting him with scars that couldn’t be seen. All of the sisters were architects of his terrors, but none of the other three terrified him the way Lenore did. The more time he spent with her, the more fragmented he became until he feared he couldn’t be put back together and would eventually turn into a mindless meat doll he suspected to have been her purpose all along. She would then ask Carmilla to give him to her permanently and Carmilla, generous big sister that she was, wouldn’t think twice about an already broken toy. She had told him such while having him kneel at the foot of her bed, and the glee in her tone had injected poison into his veins.

The tips of his fingers were warm and wet when Hector removed his hand from the wounds on his throat. Warm and wet like Lenore’s tongue as she took his finger into her mouth, sucking lightly at the pad before nipping at his skin with her fangs in a silent, chilling reminder that she could bite it clean if she so wished. The ring finger on his left hand was her favorite, and it was shown by the scar in the shape of her teeth. Watching him clutch the bloodied finger to his chest, she had leaned in and whispered into his ear, “Looks like a ring, doesn’t it? Perhaps I should get us a pair — Carmilla’s reaction would be quite hilarious if she saw our matching rings, I bet. But for now that will have to do.”

Alone in the dark room populated by the vampires’ pets, he was hearing Lenore’s voice now. What are you thinking, Hector dear? she taunted, her girly giggles ringing like wind chimes, drowning all sounds from the pets. You honestly believe that pretty boy will save you from this hole? You the damsel in distress and he the Prince Charming coming to your rescue? He certainly looks the part, I give him that.

Shut up, Hector thought, fingers curling and spasming.

She did not. How naive and dumb can you be? I thought I’d trained you better than that. Do you really think he wants you?

Shut up. Memories surged in his mind, reminding him how close they had been sitting, their legs touching; how close their faces had been, close enough to feel the other’s breath, to touch the other’s lips with their own; and how close their hearts had been, pouring the truths out to each other despite all those months of separation.

You lie, Lenore, Hector thought, shaking his head. Nothing but lies.

Am I? Let’s not kid ourselves. Have you looked in the mirror lately, Hector? Do you think he would want you if he saw what’s on your body? What you did to yourself?

Shut up. Shut up.

He’s whole, he’s loved and he’s perfect in every sense while you’re broken, jagged around the edges. He’d be disgusted. Even Carmilla has begun to grow tired of you. Only I am willing to embrace you in spite of your splinters. I make you whole. I make you feel loved.

“Shut up!”

“Who are you talking to, Hector?”

Adrian’s voice cut through his muddled mind like a razor blade, silencing Lenore and shoving her to a deep corner. Hector blinked rapidly, and although he could see nothing in this pitch-blackness, he was able to feel Adrian’s presence like a warm spot in a cold, damp cave. He forced a small smile on his lips in spite of the thunders in his chest.

He came back for you. He didn’t abandon you, a voice said in his head. Hector refused to give it a name yet.

“No one in particular,” he lied. “I think I just dozed off so that must have been sleep-talking.”

“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” Adrian said, taking Hector’s hand in his. “Wait, are you injured somewhere because I smell blood?”

The concern note in Adrian’s voice made his heart skip a beat. Hector’s hand, sticky with congealed blood, instantly went to cover his throat. “Just chafes where the collar bit into my skin, nothing serious.”

Soon as he finished Hector felt his hand gently pried off and then soft and cool fabric dabbing at his inflamed wounds. Right, always trust a vampire’s sense to find the blood. A strong lemony cologne wafted in front of his nose.

“If we’re lucky and fast, those vampires out there won’t pick up the scent of your blood.”

“Sorry to dirty your handkerchief.”

“What are you talking about?” Adrian chided, not harshly, as he cleaned the blood on Hector’s finger. “I want to know why you even have blood on your hand but right now is not the time. Let’s get out of this place first.”

Hector heard the rustle of fabric before his hand was once again in Adrian’s. He heard the werewolf’s whimper somewhere in a dark corner and felt a tiny pang of guilt for having completely forgotten its existence.

“I didn’t ask how you got into this room.”

“I turned into a bat and squeezed myself in through cracks,” Adrian replied, his voice followed by a dry cracking sound and a clang. “Hah, there goes the lock.”

“Wouldn’t turning into mist be easier?”

“I hate that airy feel when doing that. By the way, you should shield your eyes against the light in the corridor,” he warned, pushing the door.

Hector did as he was told and after a few seconds, he lowered his arm and gingerly opened his eyes, blinking rapidly to adjust to the yellow light in the corridor.

He turned his head to his left and really saw Adrian for the first time.

Hair like the sun he’d so missed spun into fine threads, marmoreal skin and eyes of liquid gold indicating his vampiric heritage, the boy by his side was every bit breathtaking as his recollections. When Hector first saw him, a lifetime ago, the Adrian that was leaning against the rail and illuminated by the porch lights reminded him of the angels on stained glass. And now, like an angel, he was going to lift Hector out of this pit of vipers and fly him to the world of freedom. It was too good to be true. Was he in a dream? No, he had given up on dreams. It had to be another nightmare and any moment the floor would open like a monster’s jaws to swallow him whole and then he would be in his windowless cell again, lying restlessly on his flat mattress in waiting for Carmilla’s summon. Would it be Striga’s fist or Lenore’s poisoned honey? The thought of Lenore’s plump lips kissing his throat sucked all the air from his lungs. Adrian’s face blurred and blurred until his features dissolved like watercolor. His shoulders heaved and his knees buckled.

Strong hands caught Hector by his shoulders and shook him. “Hector, are you alright?” Adrian said in hurried tone. “You’re awfully still and I can’t hear you breathe and your heart is beating too fast.”

“I… it’s just anxiety. I’m not used to walking without a leash.”

Lie again. Hector’s palm was slick with sweat but Adrian just tightened his grip, to the point of pain. The young man found himself welcoming it. He desperately needed an anchor to keep himself from drifting away.

“Let’s go.”

The closer they got to the ballroom, the noisier it got. It seemed there was some sort of commotion going on because he picked up a few shouts emerging from the sea of indistinct chatters.

“What’s going on?”

“Distraction” came Adrian’s terse reply. They took a left turn and hurried down a larger, more adorned corridor. Hector’s eyes darted from left to right, anxiously awaiting a hand with painted claws to shoot out and snatch him.

“Sir.”

Hector’s heart jumped at the voice and a flash of gray uniform. Before he had a chance to properly panic, Hector was slammed into the wall. One hand cradled his skull to cushion the impact and the other was splayed across the small of his back, and any half-formed groan was swallowed by cool lips pressed against his own. He squeezed his eyes shut, inhaling the lemony cologne, and tried not to squirm under Adrian’s body after the initial shock. Whatever he was doing, the young dhampir had to have his reason; Hector trusted he wasn’t the type to assault his friend out of the blue.

His body stiffened nonetheless.

“Sir… I’m afraid your companions are making quite a scene in the ballroom.”

This voice! Hector recognized this voice with a distinguished Southern accent. It belonged to the young vampire who had stopped Carmilla at the entrance when she came in with Hector.

Cool lips parted from his mouth and Hector sucked in a small breath through his teeth in an attempt to calm his racing heart. “Don’t you see I’m busy?” Adrian growled. He did not lift his head, letting his hair fall like a curtain and hide Hector’s face from the vampire’s sight.

“But sir—”

“Leave!” Adrian’s commanded, his timbre sliding towards the inhuman spectrum. Hector imagined he had fanged out and couldn’t help a shiver. “Don’t make me repeat myself.”

The young vampire was immediately cowed. “Yes, sir!”

A weight was lifted off his heart as the same time the physical weight pinning him into the wall disappeared. Hector almost lamented the loss. Worrying his lips, he looked up to Adrian’s flushed face.

“I’m sorry,” Adrian breathed.

Unsure of how he should reply, Hector kept his mouth shut in fear of saying the wrong thing. Adrian had probably misinterpreted his silence as humiliation and anger, so he averted his gaze. “I’ll give you a proper apology later, but first we have to get out of here,” he said in low voice. “The distraction won’t distract them for too long.”

His remorseful tone and downcast eyes prodded at Hector’s heart. He frowned, liking neither this discomfort in his chest nor its cause. Surely the kiss had taken him by surprise but Hector was by no means offended; though sudden and quite unconventional, it had proven effective in chasing away the vampire who could have foiled his only chance of escape. He let out a huff, hating that they had no time for him to explain to Adrian, and laced his fingers with his. The young dhampir’s countenance brightened at the gesture. “This way,” he said, resuming their pace.

His thin, sweat-damp shirt provided little warmth against the chilling air outside and goosebumps raised on every inch of his skin, covered or exposed. Hector couldn’t bring himself to care either about the cold or the sting inside his nostrils as he breathed in the crisp air that smelled faintly of the grass under his soles. How heavenly it was to fill his lungs with something other than the stagnant perfumed air pervading every nook and canny of Carmilla’s mansion. Noises from the vampire affairs inside faded, replaced by the chirps of insects and the distant rumbles of vehicles. The sky overhead was cloudy, the moons and stars hidden from view but to Hector, it was the most alluring night sky he had seen in a long while because there was no collar on his neck and no cruel mistress to yank his leash and tell him to keep his head low and behave.

The two of them threaded their way through a maze of luxury cars until they reached a limousine. Adrian knocked on the window and the tinted window rolled down, revealing a gaunt, pale face in the driver’s seat. The thin eyebrows knitted as a pair of slanting eyes gave Hector a once-over. “Who is this, Young Master?” he asked in a monotone, showing a hint of fangs.

“This is my friend. I’m going inside to fetch the other two and in that time, do not let anyone open the door and take him, OK? Do not let any harm come to him.”

“Understood.”

Opening the car door, Adrian turned to Hector. “I’m going to get my friends. Don’t get out of the limo. I’ll be back shortly. Meanwhile Sebastian will keep you safe.”

Hector sneaked a peek at the driver and mutely nodded, suppressing a surge of doubt for those with fangs other than Adrian. He climbed into the limo and sat down in the middle, away from the windows on both sides. Adrian closed the door and the window rolled up.

Hector sat perfectly still, not daring to turn on the light. The inside was feebly lit by a nearby garden lamp post and was utterly quiet — no radio, no music, no rustle of fabric or any sounds indicating movement. It was as if Sebastian was a specter in the driver’s seat. Hector did not find it too bizarre; vampires only allowed you to hear them when they wanted to be heard. He closed his eyes and began to count, gradually slipping into a trance-like state where his mental voice was the only thing in his mind.

He couldn’t tell how much time had passed when there were a series of knocks on the window, breaking his peaceful trance and plunging him into minor panic. Hector looked around the confined space, searching in vain for a place to hide in case the knocking came from Carmilla. Relief flooded him when the door was opened and he saw a blond head. Adrian climbed into the seat next to him, followed by his two friends who took the opposite seats. He switched on the light and order Sebastian to start the engine. Hector scooted over to the far left, almost flattening himself against the window.

“Hector, these are my friends,” Adrian spoke once the vehicle began moving. He gestured to the young woman with strawberry blonde hair and electric blue eyes. “This is Sypha.”

Sypha beamed at him, unconsciously flashing her pearly fangs. “I’m Sypha. The situation could have been better but nice to meet you,” she said, offering her hand. “You’re Hector, aren’t you?”

Hector scanned his right hand for any trace of blood before shyly taking her hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“And this Trevor,” Adrian introduced with a jerk of his thumb toward the young man beside Sypha, who was loosening his tie with one hand and rubbing his cheek with the other. “Yeah, nice to meet you, I guess.”

“Is something wrong with your cheek?” Hector asked.

“Her hand met my face is what happened.”

Hector’s gaze strayed to Sypha’s hands folding on her laps. She had pretty hands with manicured fingers, just like Lenore’s. Hector knew better than to judge their strength based on their delicate look.

“I’m sorry,” Sypha pled, clasping her hands together. “But you gotta admit it was the perfect climax to our little act.”

Adrian stifled a laugh and opened the minibar, tossing a soda can at Trevor, who caught it and rubbed it again his cheek.

“It was totally unscripted and I dare say you got carried away with it.” He opened the can and drank from it.

“I improvised, yes, but it seemed natural to get a little physical in the heat of a fight. Did you see their faces? Totally bought it.”

“Thanks to that now the three of us may be banned for the next century.”

Adrian laughed. “No, we may not, though I wouldn’t mind if we were. The Ţepeş name is too heavy for them to ban any of us from their future events. But really, Trevor, you don’t find this sort of affair distasteful?”

“At least the food was superb, like you said.”

Hector, who had remained a passive listener, turned to Adrian. “I’m sorry but what are you talking about? Why may you be banned?” A hesitant pause. “Did they find out about… me?”

“No, they didn’t,” Adrian replied, eyes soft. “Remember the distraction I told you? It was Sypha and Trevor’s act to attract the guests and staff’s attention so that we could get out of the building.”

“Lover’s quarrel, the classic,” Sypha cheerfully chimed in. “Everyone loves a little drama.”

“So when that vampire found us…” Hector trailed off, feeling heat flooding beneath the skin of his face. He resisted the urge to lick his chapped lips.

“Yeah, he was trying to find and get me into the ballroom to deal with Sypha and Trevor.”

“Ten bucks you sent the poor fellow running with your deep Dracula’s voice and game face,” Trevor said, smirking.

Adrian shrugged.

“Speaking of game face,” Sypha said, pointing a finger at her mouth, “it’s about time we put away these ‘cosmetics’.”

Stroking his smooth chin, Trevor studied his reflection in the window pane. “I kinda want to keep these cute little things for a while, you know, to see how Simon and Richter will freak out.”

“I don’t know much about Simon but I bet Richter will snatch the Morning Star and give you a good old whipping,” Adrian said.

“Simon will choke me with the Morning Star, after he jams all these vials of holy water down my throat like Conan the Barbarian. On second thought, that’s probably a terrible idea.”

Hector seemed to be the only one whose eyes widened at Trevor’s violent description while Sypha and Adrian did not so much as bat an eye.

“Trevor’s brothers,” Sypha explained. “They’re the Belmonts.”

“The famed vampire-killing clan?”

“You know them, Hector?” Adrian asked.

“Mis—Carmilla mentioned them a few times around the dinner table.”

While he was chained to a pillar and occasionally had her scraps thrown at him. This, he would not share with Adrian and the rest.

“Monster hunting is a thing of the past,” Trevor said, draining the soda can. “But Belmont boys and girls still practice the old way just in case.”

“Or for fun,” Sypha casually chimed in, raising her hand, which was enveloped in soft blue glow. At the snap of her fingers, blinding light engulfed the place for a second before vanishing. The changes were instantly visible: the long, pointed ears were replaced with human ones and their skin shed the deathlike pallor to regain the healthy, slightly tanned complexion.

“Incredible,” Hector exclaimed, somewhat breathless. “Are you a magician?”

“Thanks,” Sypha replied, checking herself in a compact mirror she took out from her purse. “Like the Belmonts, us Speakers also practice the old way just in case.”

“Or for shits and giggles.”

“And for convenience too,” Sypha continued, unoffended by Trevor’s words. “We couldn’t have attended the fancy vampire-exclusive party without the glamor spell.”

“Why did you and Trevor attend a vampire event?”

“I’ve always been curious about the vampire culture and this party provided a perfect glimpse into it.”

“I heard there would be food and booze.”

With that, Trevor earned a playful elbow from Sypha. He mock-groaned, making Adrian chuckle.

Must be nice to have friends who you could laugh with, Hector looked at the three of them and got an unexpected pang of envy. Instantly shame followed; how could he envy their friendship when they had risked their own safety to save him?

“I’m sorry you didn’t get to enjoy the party,” Hector said ruefully. He meant it.

Sypha’s brows pinched and it looked like she wanted to offer him her sympathy with a pat on his shoulder but in the end thought better of it, unsure if her touch would be welcomed.

Hector appreciated her thoughtfulness.

“Actually it was the most fun party I’ve been to,” Sypha said with a small, reassuring smile. “It’s not very often we get to enjoy exquisite food, make a ruckus, and get away with it. Right, Trevor?”

“Yeah, sure,” Trevor agreed, scratching his head and looking somewhat bashful. “We had fun and we got to smuggle someone out of an evil vampire’s claw. Sounds like a movie to me.”

“They make excellent partners in crime,” Adrian quipped and the three of them laughed.

Warmth tingled under Hector’s skin, raising goosebumps, but they were the good kind of goosebumps. “Thank you,” he said, voice barely above a whisper.

They heard it just fine.

Isaac looked far too intimidating for the picture Adrian had painted but at the same time inextricably, perfectly matched Hector’s mental image of him: the badass nerd none in their right mind should mess with because he could kungfu-kick them to the ground faster than they could utter Jesus’s name and then insult them in perfect Latin.

Hector had learned beforehand that the fabled Castlevania was huge, but to witness it with his eyes was a different experience altogether. Carmilla’s mansion, which he’d initially thought to be a castle, simply couldn’t compare.

Isaac approached them while Hector was marveling at the intricate carvings on the huge pillars, his footsteps so light they were almost nonexistent. “Home so soon, brother?” he asked, eyes zeroing on a startled Hector by Adrian’s side. “It’s barely midnight.”

“We were kicked out before the party was over,” Adrian answered with a shrug. “Not that it bothered me; the party was a bore. Where’s Junior?”

“Tucked in and soundly asleep. I see you bought a guest home. How about going upstairs and updating me on tonight’s events?”

“Don’t you have to study for your exam?”

“Because Junior was an angel, I was able to finish everything before you returned.”

Hector witnessed Adrian’s expression sour and briefly wondered why.

“It’s so unfair when he’s an angel to you but a devil to me,” Adrian muttered.

It was Adrian’s room the three of them entered and it was huge! The space was larger than his parents’ apartment and fully furnished with a four-poster bed (Hector rolled his eyes), an ornate desk with chair in a corner, a fireplace with a few armchairs scattered in front and a fully stocked bookcase that reached the ceiling. The burgundy carpeted floor muffled their footsteps as Adrian guided him to the bed. They both sat down, Hector showing some hesitance, whereas Isaac leaned against the wall. Hector imagined it couldn’t be super comfortable standing like he was but Isaac’s stoic face gave nothing away.

He maintained that posture throughout Adrian’s summary of tonight’s event, which left out a few irrelevant details like the kiss-to-flee situation.

“You do realize what you did was pretty illegal, don’t you, brother?” Isaac asked at the end of the story. “Kidnapping a highborn vampire’s pet is not joking matter. If Carmilla finds out she can file a lawsuit.”

Hector’s chest throbbed and he looked sideways at Adrian, who appeared unfazed by the grim prospect. “I’m 17,” he said with nonchalance. “By either human or vampire law, she can’t press charge against me.”

“Playing the minor card will only get you a fine and a warning at best and a few lines in your records at worst but what about him?” His calm russet eyes bored into Hector’s as he spoke.

“If I says that I willingly went with him, Carmilla can’t sue him for kidnapping, can she?”

“Then you will be the one in trouble. You will be retrieved by your mistress, and by law she is allowed to mete out any form of discipline as she sees fit.”

Hector’s hands balled into fists on the satin duvet. He was right. It was too good to be true. It was time to burst his rose-tinted bubble.

“So what you were saying is I did something rash and stupid which is likely to bite us both in the ass?”

“From an average law student’s point of view, yes, but as your brother, I have to say it was the rightest thing you’ve done and I’m swelling with pride for you.”

Again, Isaac’s expression and even tone didn’t reveal whether he meant it or not.

“But you’re never an average student so Mr. Top-of-the-Honor-Roll, may I seek your wise counsel on this matter?”

Adrian’s overly formal phrasing put a small smile on Hector’s face despite his sunken mood.

“Would you care for a crash course in the pet owning matter, brother?”

“Please make it short. I have no intention to ever own a human pet or to become a law student.”

“Thought you’d say that. Basically there are two essential elements in solidifying ownership: one is a legalized and signed contract and the other is the claim mark plus the first drink. Hector, did you sign any contract at the beginning?”

“No, I—Yes, when I came for their ‘job interview’, they had me sign a work contract. It looked normal, for the most part, only the shifts were a bit unconventional. After I was sent to Carmilla’s place, I never saw it again, nor did I sign another contract.”

“Was there any witness, and I mean legitimate, impartial witness?”

“There were only those ‘agents’.”

“Shady as fuck,” Adrian remarked.

“Language, Adrian. You know Father isn’t very pleased when you use the four-letter word.”

“Too bad I’m not antique,” Adrian said, sticking his tongue out at Isaac, who ignored his petulance and continued, “I agree that sounded illegal. We could use that to our advantage in order to build a case.”

We?”

“Our legal team consisting of hardworking, ingenious and esteemed lawyers you often reduce to just ‘Dad’s subordinates’.”

“Which they essentially are. I’m going to give Dad a call and claim my IOU. What time is it now in Rio?”

“You can Google it later. Now, for the second element: did Carmilla mark you and have a sip of your blood in front of legitimate witnesses?”

“No.”

Isaac and Adrian both looked at him. “She didn’t?” Adrian asked.

“Carmilla has never drunk from me.”

Come to think of it, none of her sisters had taken his blood, even Lenore, who was fond of marking him.

Isaac stood next to him and leaned in for a closer look at Hector’s neck. Though anxious, Hector endured his scrutiny.

“The claim mark should be on either of your carotid arteries but you have none, which is strange,” Isaac said. “You were wearing a collar, weren’t you?”

“Yes,” Hector replied, feeling the phantom weight and coldness of the metal band. “Carmilla put it on me just a few days after I arrived. She’d never taken it off since.”

“The marks on his skin suggest the collar covered most of his neck. Did it?”

Adrian wordlessly confirmed with a nod.

“I suspect it served another purpose than simply collaring, which is—”

“Preventing vampires from sinking their teeth into Hector’s neck,” Adrian finished the sentence. “It’s impossible to chomp through enchanted metal.”

Hector smiled although there was no mirth in his eyes. “I suppose I should have been grateful to Carmilla for her thoughtfulness.”

“She was certainly thorough in making no one could claim you — pardon the word — when she hadn’t herself,” Isaac said. “I wonder what had hindered her.”

“When I first arrived, I was cut so that Carmilla could sample my blood. I overheard her telling her sisters that my blood was pungent and indigestible. I believe the exact words were it ‘tasted like death, if death had a taste’.” Hector snorted. “It was rich coming from a vampire. No offense.”

“None taken,” Adrian replied.

Isaac’s defined brows furrowed. “Can I ask you something?”

Hector’s instinct was to be on defense. “Uhm… yes,” he hesitated, prepared to lie should Isaac’s query be something he wasn’t ready to share with anyone, not even Adrian.

“Have you ever resurrected a dead animal?” Isaac measured his words.

“I…” he trailed off, caught off guard. Memories of his mother’s hand and words flooded his mind. “I don’t quite understand your question.”

Isaac didn’t seem to buy it. “Do you? Have you ever touched a dead animal and felt something like a tingle of a buzz at your fingertips? An inexplicable urge to alter its state?”

“What are you trying to ask, Isaac?”

“I’m trying to find out if Hector is like me,” he replied. “Someone with innate necromantic properties, or a Forgemaster, a term Father coined.”

His blunt words prompted two different reactions from the other two: a gasp from Adrian and a look of utter confusion plastered all over Hector’s face.

“Are you sure?”

“Necromantic properties?”

They spoke at the same time.

“Abilities to raise the dead and such,” Isaac explained. “That was why I asked about dead animals. And no, I’m not sure, brother; I’m trying to find out.”

“Why do you think I’m… like you, a-a…”

“Forgemaster. Due to its unique particles, Forgemaster’s blood is indigestible and, to quote a certain someone, is ‘the worst offense on a vampire’s tastebud’.”

“That was me,” Adrian said. “We were younger and were fooling around. Never again.” He punctuated with a visible shudder.

Hector raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

“Can you give me your hand?” Isaac asked.

Hector looked to Adrian, who gave a small, assuring nod, before tentatively holding out his right hand. His sleeve slid down his wrist, laying Carmilla’s handiwork bare under the fluorescent light. Only when the silence became too awkward did Hector realize what had caused it. He pulled at his sleeve, shame and fear gnawing his guts.

“Did Car—”

Isaac raised his hand and Adrian immediately clammed up. He held Hector’s hand in a firm grip and it began to warm up where their skins came in contact while red flame outlined his dark skin like a glove. Hector inhaled sharply, not due to the burn but rather the lack of it. There was a sizzle, which grew louder as blue sparks danced on his skin, growing in frequency and intensity with each second until they culminated in a flare. Blue flame rose from his hand, mixing with Isaac’s red to produce a mesmerizing purple that illuminated their countenances.

The magic show came to an abrupt end when Isaac withdrew his hand. “That confirms it,” he said to a dazed-looking Hector. “Father’s going to be quite fascinated when he learns that you snatched a Forgemaster from Carmilla’s hand.” He smiled thinly. “That harpy’s going to be so pissed when she finds out what she lost.”

“Even if Hector had been a regular human, I wouldn’t have stood by and watched Carmilla hurt him.”

“Of course, Mom wouldn’t have, either,” Isaac said and his gaze softened when it landed on Hector. “I have a book about Forgemasters which you may find useful. Adrian can come and fetch it after he gets you a room.”

“I-I can stay here?”

“Do you have any other place you want to go?”

“No, I don’t.” His parents’ home was no longer his home and the only place that accepted him was Lisa’s shelter.

“That settles then,” Isaac concluded. “If you call Father now, he’ll probably send his lawyers by tomorrow’s evening.”

“Thank you,” Hector said. He meant it from the bottom of his heart.

Hector was drying his hair with a towel, having just come out of a shower, when he heard knockings on his door. Adrian stood in front of his room, having changed out of his tux and into a cotton T-shirt and sweatpants. He was carrying a thick, leather-bound book in one hand and a tray in the other.

“I’m sorry you have to wear my clothes,” Adrian apologized as soon as he set the tray down on the nightstand. “Tomorrow we will get you some new clothes.”

Hector briefly looked down at his similar gray cotton tee and black sweatpants. “They’re very comfortable, really. What I wouldn’t give to get out of those clothes Carmilla put on me.”

“I brought you a sandwich and some warm milk. You must be hungry.”

That he was used to hunger was at the tip of his tongue but Hector swallowed it in. “Thanks, Adrian,” he said instead, fingers carefully unwrapping the plastic film. “Did you make the sandwich?”

Adrian smiled. “Isaac did. Just another bullet point in his unending list of capabilities. He also asked me to give you this book and if you have any question about the content, feel free to ask him when he’s at home.”

Hector read the embossed letters on the cover. “Remind me to thank him tomorrow and to… apologize for having lied earlier.”

“You did?”

“I played dumb when he asked me about resurrecting dead animals. The truth is I started bringing back dead animals when I was about nine. It was a stray tabby cat killed by the cruel kids in my neighborhood. As I knelt by its corpse and cried, it just occurred to me that I could bring it back and, well, I did. The magic — I guess that’s what it’s called — came naturally.”

“Wow,” Adrian exclaimed. “You could do that when you were nine? That was so young! What happened to the cat though?”

Despite his grumbling stomach and the appetizing aroma of melted cheese and grilled ham, Hector had lost his appetite once the incident played out in his mind like a fast-forwarded montage. He put down the sandwich and took a mouthful from the glass, hoping the warm milk would wash off the bitter taste on his tongue.

“My mother threw it from the balcony and it didn’t land on its feet,” he said, nursing the glass. “I learned that I couldn’t bring an animal back twice.”

The smile vanished from Adrian’s face as a frown was etched between his delicate eyebrows. “That was horrible.”

“Yes, that was what she told me — horrible things people would have done to me if they had found out what I could do. Maybe she was right. I can’t even imagine what Carmilla would have done.”

“I’m not surprised if she would have had you create an army of demons for her to take over this country and make herself president or something.”

“I-I could make demons?”

“Theoretically, yes,” Adrian said, flipping the pages. “Here, on page 74. Although it’s unadvised because of the law and stuff. Page 183. My dad helped write it even before Isaac came to live with us, to prevent those like Carmilla from taking advantage of Forgemasters like yourself.”

“Your father,” Hector said, recalling the bits he’d learned about Lord Vlad Ţepeş aka Dracula, “would he get mad because I got his son into this mess?”

“You did.not get me into this mess,” Adrian said firmly, blazing golden eyes bringing to Hector’s mind the image of an alpha wolf. “I don’t know what made you think so but let me make it clear: I did it all on my own accord. If you think because I’m only 17 so I don’t know any better, you’re making a big mistake of underestimating me.”

“I’m not underestimating you,” Hector said, trying to determine whether the cold sweat running down his spine was from fear or thrill. “Why did you help me? It’s not that I’m not grateful but it’s just…”

Too risky. Not worth it.

“If the situation was reversed and I was the one captured and you could help me, would you?”

“Of course I would.”

Adrian did not reply but the look he gave him was worth a hundred words.

“I could have lied to you about being captured. I could have willingly signed myself off to be her pet and when I got unhappy with my situation, I bailed.”

“You could, but I got a glimpse of how she treated you,” Adrian said, taking both of Hector’s wrists. “And these, these are not lies. Carmilla did horrible things to you and once my parents return, they won’t let her get off easily, especially my mom. She adores you, you know.”

“It’s not just Carmilla,” Hector mumbled, eyes flickering to the teeth mark on his ring finger.

“Look, I won’t pretend to understand what you’ve been through but if you ever want to talk about it, I’m willing to listen.”

Tears pricked hotly at the rims of his eyes and it took all Hector’s will not to let them fall. “Thank you,” he said, voice heavy with unshed tears.

“I just spoke with my dad on the phone, told him everything and he said tomorrow the lawyers will come and they will ask you questions.” A brief pause. “Also, they will request a medical examination to assess the damage if we are to make sure Carmilla’s claim on you is annulled and she can never lay a hand on you again. Are you OK with that?”

“… Yes, I’m OK with that.”

“Do you… want me to be there with you?”

Hector considered his offer for several moments before shaking his head. “I think I can handle it.”

Too soon. There would be a day when he was ready to tell Adrian; that day, however, wasn’t tomorrow.

“Alright,” Adrian said, somewhat deflated. “Oh, one thing before we should both go to bed because it’s pretty late. I want to apologize for-for the earlier incident when we left the party. It was the only thing that came to my mind. No, it doesn’t mean that way. Sorry if that sounds weird.”

As he was saying, pink dusted his cheeks, the color made all the more prominent by his alabaster skin. Hector’s heart fluttered at the sight, pumping courage into his veins for something he wouldn’t normally dare. He seized Adrian’s face in both hands and planted a soft kiss on his pale lips.

“Now we’re even,” Hector breathed after breaking the short kiss, face still inches away from Adrian’s. The blood rushing to his head was making him dizzy.

“You’re… OK with this?… With us?”

Hector nodded and the next thing he knew was Adrian’s lips on his own. One of his hand cradled the back of Hector’s head in reminiscence of the earlier act, although this time it served to deepen the kiss rather than protecting his skull. Out of mutual understanding they kept it chaste, as there would be plenty of time and chance to explore other options, but Hector swore he could feel the ghost of Adrian’s tongue on his lips.

He didn’t mind it one bit.

When it ended, Adrian wasn’t the only one with flushed skin.

“I-I should go,” Adrian stammered, rising to his feet. “Good night.”

“Good night,” Hector replied, even though he wished for Adrian to stay a little longer. With his messed up biological clock, he was likely to have another sleepless night.

Standing by the door, Adrian turned to him. “You’re safe here,” he reassured him before disappearing from his sight.

Hector wanted nothing more than to believe it.

End


I intended to write a funny story and I think I accomplished it in the first chapter; it was much fun writing the dialogues between the characters. However, the angst slipped in and before I was aware, it took over most of the second chapter. I guess at this point it’s impossible for me to write a Hectorcard fanfic without at least a spoonful of angst.

[Castlevania] One-Night Stands at Workplace: What If I Slept with My Boss (Alucard x Hector) (3)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: Teen and up

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector, side Trevor Belmont x Sypha Belnades

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

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

Warnings: crack, OOC

Preview:

Hector downed the remaining content of his almond milk like the act would fill up his guts for a grim confession. Isaac watched his Adam’s apple bobbing with patience. Putting his mug on the table, he sighed. “Literally I screwed someone I shouldn’t have. I just learned of his identity today. Now I’m definitely screwed.”

An inebriated Hector had a one-night stand with a gorgeous man he met at a bar. That man turned out to be his direct supervisor.

III.

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Source: Food52

There were a few things Isaac expected — yet did not wish — to see when he got home at seven thirty in the morning after an irregular shift. Things like Cezar’s sick near the entrance (his favorite spot for some reason) because Hector had put too much food in his bowl again; or Hector’s tousled head on the coffee table, a puddle of drool next to his mouth while his body was surrounded by hardcovers, scribbled notes, scraps of paper, a running laptop and unwashed mugs because someone had pulled an all-nighter and just passed out; or a combination of both because Hector tended to be extremely forgetful under stress. On a good day, he came back to a neat, clean and empty apartment because Hector had taken Cezar out for a walk in the park. On a bad day, he was greeted by a flurry of barbs and he stepped in just in time to stop Lenore’s dainty fingers from marking Hector’s cheek. Recalling those mornings had the potential to ruin his entire day so Isaac took a breath to sweep them to a corner in his head and sent some silent gratitude to God that Hector had found the sense to ditch her.

He encountered no dog sick when opening the door into his shared apartment and for that Isaac was grateful. However, his relatively good mood dipped soon as he spotted a pair of shiny dress shoes that were neither his nor Hector’s on the shoe rack, neatly placed next to Hector’s sneakers. Was his roommate having a guest? Isaac wondered, taking off his shoes and socks. Still, what kind of guest would be visiting at seven thirty in the morning, except… He recalled a conversation he’d had with Hector nearly a week ago and couldn’t bring himself to be fond of where this line of thought was going. His suspicion was further proven by the sight of a white shirt and wine-colored tie discarded on the couch. Squinting his eyes, Isaac picked up the two articles and upon closer inspection, he was one-hundred percent sure these didn’t belong to Hector because, one, he was the kind of person who knew how many shirts and ties his roommate owned, and two, Hector’s wardrobe wasn’t exactly huge. There were some whitish stains on the tie and Isaac dropped both items, wrinkling his nose. At this point he’d pretty much made up his mind about what kind of guest was in his apartment and also what sort of ‘activity’ they had engaged in the night before. Isaac cursed under his breath as he felt heat rising in his guts. Damn it, Hector. What hot mess had he gotten himself into again?

Looking on the bright side, he should be glad there was no way the shirt and tie were Lenore’s.

Isaac surprised himself with his own nonchalance when he saw a stranger in the kitchen, using the kitchen as if it was his own. Blond hair tied in a messy bun and pants hanging dangerously low on his pelvis, he was flipping a pancake with the proficiency of a chef, if chefs did make pancakes from store-bought batter because that was all they got in the pantry. A buttery scent wafted before Isaac’s nostrils, causing his stomach to rumble. He cleared his throat to announce his presence to the man, who must have been too caught up in his task at hand to detect his coming footsteps.

The man jumped a little but his grip on the pan handle was steady and so the half-cooked pancake was safe. Isaac loathed to think about the waste and the amount of cleaning if he was startled into dropping the pan. It had happened once in the first month after Hector had moved in and aside from cleaning up the mess, he had also had to drive his roommate to the hospital to treat his burn. The only good thing to come out of that incident was they had learned more about each other during a couple short hours in the ER than an entire month under the same roof.

Did he want to learn more about this strange visitor via a similar circumstance? Absolutely not.

“Who are you?”

They said in unison. Same volume, same pitch, same even tone.

This was awkward. Almost as awkward as the first time Isaac had come home to find Lenore lounging in the kitchen wearing nothing but Hector’s old tee. But at least then he’d been informed beforehand that Hector’s girlfriend would come to their place. This dude, who looked like he’d stepped straight out of an adult magazine cover, Isaac had no idea who he was. And where the heck was Hector?

As if to answer his internal monologue Hector’s voice was heard from the bathroom. “You sure you don’t want to take a shower, Adrian?”

Hector appeared in front of the bathroom, barefooted and naked save a towel around his waist. Drops of water from his wet tendrils pooled on the floor and he toed the bath mat to soak them up. “… hi Isaac,” he greeted in tiny voice.

Isaac suddenly had a feeling of déjà vu.

“I’m good, Hector,” Adrian said, his gaze discreetly sweeping over Hector’s torso before returning to Isaac, who did certainty not miss that. “Can you introduce us?”

“Oh sure, sure. Adrian, this is Isaac. Isaac, Adrian.”

“Maybe you should put on some pants first before we sit down and talk,” Isaac said, arching his eyebrows suggestively.

“R-Right,” Hector stuttered, a blush creeping up his neck. “Gimme a minute. Be right back.”

Isaac had never seen him dematerialize that quickly.

“He’s usually more eloquent with his clothes on,” Isaac commented.

“He is.”

“I’m his roommate.”

The man took his outstretched hand and gave it a firm shake. His palm was dry and uncalloused, matching his princely look. Isaac imagined he had to come from a wealthy background. “I’m Adrian, Hector’s supervisor at V&L.”

“Ah, Feathery Lashes.”

On closer look, the guy did have long eyelashes that cast faint shadows on his high cheekbones. In the morning light, his eyes appeared to be the same color as his hair, which framed his chiseled face like a halo. Hector had been fairly accurate in spite of his tipsiness.

“Excuse me?” Adrian said, narrowing his eyes. His slightly offended look transformed into a bashful smile as realization dawned in. “Oh,” he muttered, carefully flipping the pancake onto a plate. “He must have told you.” He set the plate on the countertop and greased the pan with a small chunk of butter before pouring in the rest of the batter.

Isaac nodded, silently admiring his ability to cook and carry a conversation at the same time.

“Normally I’d say Pleased to meet you but this is quite awkward so…”

“Agreed.”

Silence was brewing between them for a whole thirty second before Adrian broke it. “Do you like pancake? I intended to make omelet but there were no eggs in the fridge and pancake seemed the only option left.”

“Pancake is fine.”

Silence again.

Hector entered the kitchen at the same time Adrian placed the plates on the dining table.

“You’re not joining us for breakfast?” he asked, glancing at the pancakes.

Adrian smiled and undid his bun, letting his hair cascade over his shoulders. “Sorry, I’d love to but I should go home and grab some documents for the morning briefing.”

“Oh,” Hector let out a disappointed sound.

Isaac certainly did not share his roommate’s sentiment.

“Guess I’ll see you at the office.”

“Yes,” Adrian said, turning to Isaac. “Have a nice day.”

“Thank you for the pancakes,” Isaac said with a nod. “Have a nice day.”

He watched Adrian exit the kitchen, Hector following him. They stopped at the living room and Adrian put on his wrinkled shirt, untucked, and stuffed his tie in his pants pocket. He gave Hector a peck on the lips before disappearing from Isaac’s sight.

A few moments later, Hector sat down at the table.

“That was to avoid an awkward breakfast scene, wasn’t it?” Isaac asked, watching Hector rolling up the sleeves of his loose-fitting sweater.

“… yeah,” Hector admitted. “Also, there was just enough batter for two pancakes.”

“It seems I was being a third wheel right there.”

“No, no. All those reasons aside, Adrian really had to go home and prepare for the morning briefing. Last night he did tell me but I got a little carried away and forgot.”

“Carried away?” Isaac echoed. He reached for the bottle of maple syrup and poured a moderate amount on his pancake.

Hector lowered his head as he squirted one-third of the bottle content on his own pancake, making Isaac wince. It remained a mystery how he managed to stay in such good shape despite having a huge sweet tooth. “Yeah, uhm, you know…” he trailed off, not making eye contact with Isaac.

“What happened? Last time you said he was acting like nothing had ever happened and now you two are quite chummy with each other.”

“I was surprised too,” he divulged. “For a few days I tried to follow your advice and be professional. We didn’t talk much and when we did, it was strictly work. Then yesterday he asked me to go with him to the bar after work.”

“The Silver Spoon?” Isaac asked, forking a piece of pancake. He put it into his mouth and chewed carefully before swallowing. The taste was pretty agreeable to his palate even though Isaac wasn’t a fan of store-brought batter.

Hector nodded. “He offered to buy me a drink. We talked. I bought him a drink in return. We kept talking well into the night, until neither of us was fitted to drive.”

Isaac glanced at the direction of the living room. “I can see where all that talking led to.”

It looked like all of Hector’s blood had rushed to his face. Averting his eyes, he took his time to chew a mouthful of pancake as an excuse to not reply right away. Meanwhile, Isaac savored his food, giving his roommate time and space to process his thoughts before he resumed the conversation. He expected it wouldn’t take too long.

He was right, although what came out of Hector’s mouth next wasn’t quite what he anticipated.

“Sorry about the couch,” Hector said in low voice, almost like a whisper.

Isaac was torn between laughing out loud — something he hadn’t done for a while — and whacking Hector on the head. “Need I remind you that you have a room and a comfortable bed?”

Face flushed, Hector put down his cutlery to fiddle with his fingers. “We only made it to the couch, to be honest. Apparently whiskey and tequila don’t mix well.”

“I find it shockingly unfair that neither you nor he is having a hangover.”

“I’m having one right now. Adrian too, but he hides it well. He’s used to it, is what he said. He only needs a double expresso to get over it.”

Isaac finished his pancake. “Good for him,” he said flatly. “You need some strong coffee too?”

“Nah, I’m good. Caffeine and my anxiety don’t go well together.”

“Hector, I know it’s not my place to interfere in your personal life but perhaps you should tread carefully with this Adrian dude. Don’t know if you notice this but you’re a magnet for—”

“The hot and psychotic. Yeah, I’ve been told.”

“And Adrian is definitely hot.”

“He doesn’t appear to be the psychotic type… unless you hand him a report full of sloppy grammar.” Hector chuckled to himself. “No, what I mean is he’s very nice.”

“So was Lenore.”

“True,” Hector agreed, though his tone was laced with hesitation. “I won’t repeat the mistake of diving headfirst into a relationship. This time I’m taking things slowly. Talking, getting to know each other, et cetera. We both agreed to that. Don’t want to make it too weird in the workplace.”

A rare comical look found its way to Isaac’s features. “I see. Getting to know each other in more way than one.”

“You did say he was hot,” Hector said, smiling sheepishly while poking his half-eaten pancake with his fork. “But you’re right. I’ll be careful with Adrian. Thank you, Isaac, for being world’s best roommate and friend.”

“You’re welcome,” Isaac replied with a small smile. He stood up, patted Hector on the shoulder and made to deposit his plate and fork in the sink.

“By the way, Hector, one thing before I go catch a wink.”

“Yeah?”

“Burn the couch.”

“Over here, Adrian.”

Shaw’s on a Friday night was teeming with people and Adrian had to go on tip-toe to look over a few colorful heads. He saw the top of Sypha’s strawberry blonde head and her arm waving at him at a table in the corner. He threaded his way through a group of boisterous youths, getting a few — unintentional or otherwise — bumps before reaching his friends’ table.

“Sorry, I’m late.” Adrian sat down, loosening his tie and popping two of his top buttons open. “Got to finish up a few things at the office and the traffic was insane.”

“It’s a Friday night,” Sypha said. “We barely warmed the seats when you came.”

“And yet somehow Trevor has managed to procure himself a beer.”

“Gotta try Shaw’s famous home brew everyone can’t stop raving about.”

“How do you find it?”

Better than sex I hope.”

Trevor’s expression immediately morphed into a grimace and his glass stopped millimeters from his lips. “Oh come on, Sypha. It’s been a week. You can’t possibly still be jealous of a friggin’ beer.”

“Technically I can.”

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Trevor. You should have learned that already,” Adrian said, laughing. “Alright, drinks are on me.”

“Someone’s in celebratory mood,” Sypha squealed. “In that case I’ll have a margarita on the rocks.”

“You, Trevor? Another pint of this excellent homebrew?”

“A cosmo for me,” Trevor said, then looked up to two pairs of raising eyebrows. “What? A man can’t enjoy a pink cocktail?”

“Sure he can,” Adrian replied, directing a smirk toward Trevor that he knew would rub his friend up the wrong way. “Bold choice though. Alright, guys, I’ll be back with the drinks.”

He returned about ten minutes later, with a margarita for Sypha, a cosmo for Trevor and a Bloody Mary for himself.

“So, what are we celebrating?” Sypha asked, taking her margarita from the tray. “Let me guess. Something about the intern? Ooh, did he say yes? Are you two now a thing?”

“That fast?”

Sypha gave her boyfriend a playful elbow. “Oh Trevor, where there’s love there’s a way.”

“I thought it was where there’s a will there’s a way.”

The elbow was no longer playful.

Adrian chuckled. “Hate to prove you wrong but I was rejected.”

It amazed him how Sypha could go from a shocked “What?” to a whiny “Why?” and finally, a sympathetic, possibly teary “I’m so, so sorry, Adrian” in a matter of seconds.

“What a bummer,” Trevor commented. “My sincerest condolences—dude, why’re you grinning? You were dumped.”

“Technically you can’t be dumped if you’re not yet in a relationship.”

“Tomayto, tomahto, Sypha.”

“I was rejected, not dumped, there’s a difference.”

“I don’t know why you’re smiling, Adrian. This is depressing. Are you in denial?”

“I’m not,” Adrian replied, sipping his drink. “And you guys are hilarious.”

“You talked to him?” Trevor asked.

“Yes, I asked him out after work. Same bar where we’d met. We talked for hours and came to an agreement.”

“You made it sound a lot like business.”

“Let him finish, Trevor.”

Adrian smiled. “It was a bit business-like, yes. And while he didn’t want to be in a relationship at the moment, which was understandable given that he’d just broken up with his girlfriend, he was open to the idea. For now we’re taking things slowly, maybe going to lunch or hanging out after work, getting to know each other, you know, like friends.”

“With or without benefits?” Trevor wiggled his eyebrows as he sipped his cosmo like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. None of his friends had ever doubted his credit as a true fan.

“That’s open to interpretation.”

“So you’re basically dating?” Sypha asked. “Oh my God, you’re dating!”

“I’m not sure about that, Sypha. I mean, the whole concept of relationship is still pretty new to me but I respect his decision so I just go with the flow and see if things work out.”

“See if you’re vibing, huh?”

“Yes. One thing I’m sure is I won’t refer to him as my boyfriend yet and vice versa. At work we’re strictly a supervisor and an intern.”

“How long is his internship?” Sypha asked, taking a small sip from her glass, which she had neglected so far.

“Three months,” Adrian replied. “At the end, all interns will take a company-administered exam to see if they’re qualified to be working here in the future.”

A small crease appeared between her pretty eyebrows. “Will that pose a problem between you and him? I know you’re not one to allow personal relations to meddle with your work but sometimes it’s difficult to separate them.”

“Especially when you’re responsible for evaluating him,” Trevor chimed in.

“Actually I’m not.”

“You’re not?”

“I’m taking supervisor role during his internship but his performance in the test will be judged by a board of senior employees, which I’m not a member of. They will decide whether he’s in or out.”

“Do you think he’ll pass?” Sypha asked.

“It’s too early to tell,” Adrian said, leaning back against his seat. “But I think he’ll do fine. He is hardworking and he possesses excellent oral skills.”

When he was fully clothed. A small smile crept up his lips as Adrian recalled the morning scene at Hector’s apartment.

“Dang, that escalates quickly,” Trevor quipped. He threw his head back and burst into laughter, triggering a fit of giggles from Sypha. The rickety table shook.

Adrian looked at his friends with exasperated fondness as he tried to prevent their drinks from spilling.

“I mean presentation skills. Pull your head out of the gutter,” he chided, punching Trevor’s upper arm.

Still guffawing, Trevor rubbed the punched spot. “I bet oral skills aren’t the only things he’s good at.”

“He’s also good with animals. You remember Princess, Old Carl’s Rottweiler living in the basement of the building?”

“That beast is a hell hound, I told you,” Trevor grumbled. “Your boy tamed her or what?”

“He’s not my boy.”

“Come to think of it, we haven’t learned his name,” Sypha chimed in.

“His name’s Hector. He always comes early to give her treats and spend some time petting her. Princess is just a giant puppy around him.”

“So, he loves dogs,” Sypha said, counting her fingers. “He’s hard-working. He’s hot and he has excellent oral skills.”

“Sypha…” Adrian groaned.

“Seems like a very nice guy. Alright, let’s drink to Hector.”

The other two obliged her and raised their glasses.

“Is it OK if we meet him sometime? I promise we won’t say or anything weird, just getting to know each other and expanding our friend circle.”

“It’s still a bit early for that but I’ll ask him.”

“Do you have any photos of him? I’m just curious about how he looks like.”

Trevor cleared his throat loudly.

“I’m a simple girl with simple pleasures,” Sypha chirped. “And little Treffy remains my biggest pleasure.”

Trevor choked on his drink. Under the bar’s dim light, he looked almost as pink as his cocktail.

“Guys,” Adrian said, stifling his laugh. He reached into his pocket for his phone and scrolled down his album. “I have just one photo, which I had to bribe Hector to get.”

“I’m afraid to ask what you bribed him to get it.”

Adrian gave Trevor a dirty look as he held up his screen to show a photo of Hector hugging Cezar to his chest while early sunlight from a nearby window made his silver hair shimmer.

“Wow,” Sypha exclaimed, “it’s beautiful. He’s beautiful. Is this his real hair color?”

Adrian nodded, feeling pride swelling in his chest. Simple as it looked, the photo hid one little secret that he intended to keep for himself: Hector was wearing his shirt when Adrian snapped the photo with his phone.

“Wait a sec,” Trevor said, squinting his eyes. “I know this guy. He’s a student at my college.”

“What?” Adrian and Sypha asked in unison.

“Dude got a girlfriend who came to the campus and raised a ruckus a week ago. Pretty girl, ugly temper. After that he was made to come to my office to have a long chat. Poor dude was shaken real bad.”

“That was the ex-girlfriend, no doubt,” Adrian said as realization dawned on him. At the same time, anger flared in his guts and he finished his drink in one gulp. In a few seconds he’d come up with at least a dozen ways to make her life a lot harder if she ever crossed paths with him.

His inner Ţepeş was emerging and that was no good. Gotta rein it in.

“Oh dear,” Sypha said, sighing. “That’s gonna be pretty awkward for future double-dates.”

End


Adrian is hot and he does have a psychotic streak in him.

[Castlevania] One-Night Stands at Workplace: What If I Slept with My Boss (Alucard x Hector) (2)

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: Teen and up

Pairing(s): Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş x Hector, side Trevor Belmont x Sypha Belnades

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

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

Warnings: crack, OOC

Preview:

Hector downed the remaining content of his almond milk like the act would fill up his guts for a grim confession. Isaac watched his Adam’s apple bobbing with patience. Putting his mug on the table, he sighed. “Literally I screwed someone I shouldn’t have. I just learned of his identity today. Now I’m definitely screwed.”

An inebriated Hector had a one-night stand with a gorgeous man he met at a bar. That man turned out to be his direct supervisor.

II.

Elsewhere in the city, a similar crisis was taking place.

Adrian had just finished level 50 of Candy Crush when Sypha’s text popped on his screen. “we’re here. where r u?” it read. He did a super quick scan of the space and found neither her nor Trevor before typing his reply. “Upper floor, table by the window.”

He hit the ‘send’ button and waited.

Three minutes and fifty-seven seconds later, Adrian saw his friends at the top of the stairs and waved at them, Sypha specifically because he could hear Trevor’s grunts from across the room.

“Sorry Adrian, we’re late,” Sypha said, shrugging off her leather jacket and draping it over the back of her chair. Pink dusted her cheeks and Adrian couldn’t tell whether it was cosmetic, exertion or something else. “We were a bit occupied.”

“It’s alright. I haven’t waited long.”

“We had a fight, just tell him that Sypha,” Trevor said, plopping himself down on his chair. Unlike Sypha, he didn’t take off his jacket, which looked identical to hers, a fact that didn’t escape Adrian’s keen eyes.

“Did it have anything to do with your matching jackets? They look good, by the way.”

“Actually yes. We went out to do some shopping and when we got home, Trevor was thirsty and he grabbed a beer from the fridge. You know what he said? Better than sex.” Sypha air-quoted.

“Brute.”

“Come on, man. You never got a beer so good and so satisfying you just blurted out?”

“Never, sorry, can’t relate,” Adrian replied, shaking his head, his blond curls bouncing off his shoulders. He turned to the freckle-faced waiter who had just arrived at their table. “A chai latte for me, please. Sypha?”

“Same and also a slice of matcha cheesecake.”

“A cappuccino. I forgot His Highness only partakes of wines.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, I also partake of other spirits, brandy, whiskey, tequila, vodka, to name a few.”

“Yeah, you once chugged a whole bottle of vodka at a party for exchange students.”

“I’d very much appreciate it if you deleted that incident from your memory, Sypha. The fight isn’t the only reason for your lateness, is it?”

“Well, the beer remark got us into a quarrel and then things got heated — very heated.”

“I can guess the rest, thank you. Glad you worked out the heat of your argument.”

Trevor’s eyebrows arched comically at his comment. “So what is it, Adrian?” he asked, sipping the complimentary cold water. “It’s Thursday afternoon. You don’t call us out to have coffee on a Thursday afternoon. Has Adrian The Serious decided to let his hair down? Oh look, he already did.”

“I know it’s out of character for me to take the afternoon off and call you guys out here but I’m having a crisis.”

“Oh Adrian, you know you can tell us anything.”

Sypha’s hand reached for Adrian’s and she motioned Trevor to do the same, which he scoffed at but complied anyway.

“I screwed up,” Adrian confessed.

“Given your daily life experiences, you’re gonna have to be more specific.”

“Ha-ha, Trevor. We all know you’ve been binging Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Try something more original.”

“That show is dope, you gotta admit it.”

The waiter brought out their orders and they broke the hand holding simultaneously.

“Actually, it’s worrying rather than amusing,” Sypha said. “You’ve never screwed up anything in your life, except that one time but we can look past that.”

“I’m afraid this time I truly did. At least that time, I was too wasted to fall into anyone’s bed, well, couch, technically.”

“You did fall into my bed, buddy.”

“And kicked you out so you crashed on my couch, Trevor.” Sypha turned to Adrian and resumed the hand holding, her chai latte and cheesecake forgotten. “We know you don’t do one-night stands but it’s pretty normal to blow off some steam every now and then when you’re single. We all have needs.”

“Yeah, no biggie,” Trevor chimed in. “There’s a first for everything. We should drink to that.” He raised his cappuccino.

“Contrary to popular belief, I’m not that hung up about casual sex. Say, what do people do if they see their one-night stands again?”

“Depends on the sex,” Trevor said, stroking his stubbly chin. “If it was good, smile, say hi and go on. If it was terrible, just go on like perfect strangers. Which was it? Good? Terrible? Mind-blowing?”

Adrian stared intensely into his chai latte as he stirred it. However, the tips of his ears had gone pink. “Decent….” he hesitated. “Good, actually. Not that I have much experience to compare though.”

Sypha threw a wink at Trevor, who snorted.

“I have to say it depends on the morning after, which in turn depends on the sex as Trevor pointed out.”

“I made cheese omelets with the eggs and cheese in the fridge and we ate together.”

“Aww,” Sypha exclaimed. “That is so sweet!”

Adrian winced at the high pitch of her voice; luckily they were the only customers on this floor. “It kind of unsettles me how you say it. Do people not do that?”

Sypha and Trevor both shrugged, prompting Adrian to roll his eyes at them.

“They could, but many just grab their things and leave. That’s why I think it’s sweet.”

“He said he would have cereal but it turned out the cereal had expired. Plus I was hungry too.”

“Wait what? A dude?” Trevor asked incredulously.

“Now that’s a new twist,” Sypha commented, a gleeful note in her tone.

Their unintentional simultaneity was so comical Adrian couldn’t help a few chuckles. “Hello, I’m bisexual, in case you forget.”

Trevor hid his expression behind his cup as he took a sip. “Shocking,” he said, scratching his hair. “You’ve never been with a guy before.”

“Adrian has never been with anyone before.”

“Thanks for pointing out my tear-jerking inexperience in the relationship department.”

Sypha sucked her chai latte through a pink paper straw. “We assumed you were an ace until you came out on your twenty-first birthday.”

“I had to make sure before I came out, hence the incident.”

“Urgh, the Japanese exchange students,” Trevor muttered. “I remember them.”

“Anyway, why did you say you’d screwed up when you just boned a guy?” Sypha asked. “It’s 2020, not the fifteenth century.”

Adrian tugged a blond lock behind his ear when it was in danger of falling into his chai latte, which he had sorely neglected since it was brought out. “I slept with someone I shouldn’t have,” he said, worrying the straw between his teeth.

A forkful of matcha cheesecake froze midway to Sypha’s mouth and Trevor’s brows shot up into his hairline. Silence followed.

“A hooker?” Trevor asked, breaking the awkward silence.

Adrian shot him a dirty look. “No.”

“A perp?”

“No.”

“A druggie?”

“No.”

“A psycho?”

“Have you ever considered changing your profession to novelist?”

“One day, baby, one day. A minor?”

“You need brain bleach.”

“I give up,” Trevor declared, throwing his hands up.

“My turn,” Sypha announced, immediately jumping in the guessing game. “Was he someone from your company? No, no, let’s be more specific. One of the new interns?”

Adrian gaped at her.

“Judging by your reaction, I must be right,” Sypha said cheerily, punching Trevor’s shoulder. “I win so you’re gonna wash the dishes tonight.”

“How did you know?”

“Simple. Knowing our dear Adrian, who’s made up of 95% work, I surmise that when he said he’d slept with someone he shouldn’t have, it had to be someone at work. And since we’ve never detected any unresolved sexual tension when he speaks about his colleges, I further guess it had to be someone new and he did tell us V&J was getting a few interns.”

Adrian and Trevor gave her a round of applause. Sypha smiled and mock-bowed.

“So,” Sypha drawled, playing with her straw, “a new intern, huh? Is he still in college? What does he look like? Is he more of the cute type or the handsome type?”

In front of Sypha’s sparkling curious eyes, Adrian felt the urge to face-palm himself. “You’re missing the point, Sypha. I’m his direct supervisor and I slept with him. It’s highly inappropriate.”

“Yeah,” Trevor agreed. “Also kinda unprofessional.”

“Even Trevor says so.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

Sypha shook her head. “Oh Adrian, one-night stands and romantic flings in workplace are actually more common than you think. There’s a book on this subject, titled One-Night Stands at Workplace: What If I Slept with My Boss.”

“Pretty good book, if you ask me.”

“I’m baffled you even read something other than magazines.”

“I was bored, okay, and that book happened to lie on top of the old magazine pile,” Trevor said defensively.

“Point is, Adrian, it’s not the end of the world that you slept with an intern. It’s not like it happened in the company, oh my God, it didn’t happen right in the company, right?”

“I met him at the bar, and at that time I had no idea this young man was going to work directly under me.”

“Tell us, Adrian!” Sypha squealed. “We want deets!”

Trevor jerked his thumb at his excited girlfriend. “She wants, not me.”

Defeated, Adrian smiled at them; he was going to tell them anyway. That was the whole purpose of calling them out to have coffee on a Thursday afternoon. “I had a fight with the old man and entered a random bar on my way back home. Had a few shots of vodka when a man just came to me and straight up told me I was gorgeous with my honey-colored hair and eyes and feathery lashes.”

“Smooth,” Trevor commented drily.

“I was about to tell him to go fuck himself but I looked up and saw him and all my deliberately rude words fled me.”

“Ooh, hot guy detected.”

Adrian laughed. “He was… good-looking, yes. Maybe it was the influence of alcohol but what actually got me were his eyes. They were of the same color as the Italian sea we visited several years ago, before my mother passed away.”

“Oh Adrian,” Sypha said, squeezing his hand. Trevor’s expression shifted to that of solemnity.

“Anyway, since I didn’t chase him away, he sat down next to me and started pouring his heart out,” Adrian said, attempting to shift the mood. “Apparently he had just fished his ass — his words — out of a two-year abusive relationship right before he came here. I believed him because he had a fresh-looking bruise under his left eye.”

“That’s harsh,” Sypha said.

“I offered to buy him a drink. We talked — can’t remember what. We finished a bottle of vodka. We reeled out of the bar hand in hand and ended up on his couch. Two days later, he showed up at the company as a new intern. I was shaken but I acted like this was the first time I’d seen him.”

“How did he react?” Sypha asked, finishing her chai latte with a slurp.

Adrian’s sigh did not escape his best friends’ attention. “He took the hint,” he replied, “though I could feel his eyes on me the whole day… and the next.”

“He seemed quite taken with you. Have you talked to him about what happened?”

“No. So far we’ve been strictly professional, only conversing about work and nothing else. It’s been pretty awkward.”

Especially with the ways his treacherous eyes kept glancing at the intern’s exposed collarbone when he loosened his tie during breaks, but this teensy bit was not something Adrian intended to share with Sypha and Trevor.

“Well, you should talk to him and clear things up between you two. What do you think, Trevor?”

“Yeah, it’s better that he has no misunderstanding about it being something other than a one-timed thing.” Trevor’s face broke into a smirk. “Unless you don’t want it to be a one-timed thing.”

Adrian stared at him, a dumbfounded look plastered all over his face. Did he want it to be just a one-timed thing? His sense of propriety, which had more than once earned him the nickname Mr. Stuck-Up, dictated that he let it go; after all it was a ‘no-string-attached’ situation, why would he want any strings? The rest of him, however, had a different idea, because nearly everything the intern did, wearing a pencil behind his ear, biting his lower lip when concentrating or tapping his lean finger on the table to some rhythm in his head while waiting for the copy machine, seemed to call back the night they had had. Maintaining a calm, professional facade in front of him was getting harder by the day.

Sypha’s gaze softened and in that moment Adrian knew she had seen through him. “You rarely cook after Lisa passed away but you cooked for this guy and you just knew him for like, a few hours.”

“We were both hungry and hungover and tired.” His reason was weak and Adrian knew it. So did Sypha and Trevor.

“Bet you were,” Trevor snorted, earning him a light elbow from Sypha.

“All right, I admit I felt a sort of connection with him and I don’t want it to go to waste,” Adrian said, unconsciously avoiding his friends’ eyes by focusing on the tiny vortex created by constant stirring his neglected drink. “I’ll talk to him. The worst I can get is rejection, right?”

“Yeah, there’s a first to everything,” Trevor said, grinning and punching his arm.

“Call it a woman’s sixth sense but I have a hunch it will turn out fine. I mean, he ate Adrian’s omelet; who could say no after that?”

“He did seem to like it a lot.”

“See? In case things fly, can we meet the guy?”

Trevor’s expression immediately soured. “Your boyfriend’s right here,” he reminded her.

“What? I’m curious. “Good-looking” she air-quoted, “in Adrian’s standards means worthy of magazine covers. You can’t begrudge a girl her simple pleasures.”

Adrian laughed out loud. “I’ll ask him if it works out.”

Maybe not in the too-near future. If things did go well between them as he secretly hoped, Adrian would like to take things slowly. If not, well, at least he came out turmoil-free and it’d be easier to maintain an impartial and professional supervisor-intern relationship. Adrian could be many things but he was definitely not one to pine.

Breathing a sigh a relief, he finished his chai latte. Its taste wasn’t so bad when the weight had been lifted off his heart.

TBC