[Castlevania] Hereditas

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Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Netflix’s Castlevania

Rating: T

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

Genre: fanfiction

Characters: Alucard/Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, original character

Summary:

Every hundred Dracula will be resurrected and it’s up to the Belmont clan to stop the Dark Lord’s rampage. This time, the duty to protect humanity falls on the shoulders of Trystan Belmont, first heir to the house of Belmont. However, he will not be alone on this dangerous quest. He will receive some aid.

“I ask of you, are you from the house of Belmont?”

At the velvety voice and the querying tone directing at him, Trystan’s muscles tensed under his leather vest and shirt. A bead of sweat formed at the back of his neck and rolled down his spine under the cool heated scrutiny of golden eyes. In the chambre underground, vastly empty save for an altar and an oversized black coffin at its heart, his heartbeats were thunderous. Trystan wondered, briefly, if the other occupant in this chambre could hear the blood rushing in his veins, if he was listening to it, and whether it was affecting him.

His heart hadn’t been calm since Trystan set foot on the stony stairs leading down this chambre, which was an odd thing because he had a perfectly healthy heart, untroubled by any cardiovascular conditions. He wouldn’t be too vain to deny that he was anxious, and perhaps a little daunted by the notion of venturing down this place, which was, as far as he could remember, carved in the family’s commandments as absolutely forbidden to any member of the Belmont clan unless the ultimate crisis arose.

And the ultimate crisis had arisen.

It was known to every Belmont, male or female, young or senile, active or retired, that every one hundred year, the Lord of Darkness, feared by the common folks and worshipped by his faithful followers as Dracula, would rise to bring apocalypse upon the earth. Every hundred year, it was always the Belmont clan that fought him and postponed the extinction of humanity until the next cycle.

This time, the quest to stop Dracula’s genocidal hand fell on the shoulders of Trystan Belmont, twenty-five years old, first heir of the clan. He had been training relentlessly, all members of the Belmont lineage had, for this day and he had dutifully accepted this perilous duty once his right hand had clenched around the hilt of the fabled Vampire Killer, the consecrated heirloom passed down generation after generation. With its power undiluted by the influx of time and the unwavering faith in the prevailment of goodness every Belmont possessed, Trystan was ready to embark on his journey to Dracula’s castle.

Nevertheless, he would not be alone on this quest; he would receive invaluable aid, as his great-grandfather, and his great-grandfather before him, had. This was another heirloom passed down the Belmont bloodline along with the Vampire Killer.

Trystan’s heart had begun thumping in his breast the moment he stood in front of the heavy stone gate sealing the secret chambre. On the cold smooth surface the Belmont crest was embedded. Despite his heart, Trystan sliced his palm with all the stoicism and calmness of a seasoned chef portioning his choice of meat. He clenched his fist, squeezing the blood into the crest, mumbling an incantation as he did. The ancient words of his ancestors verbally ingrained into each Belmont child blessed with a knack for magic in order to prepare for this day. Magic oozed from his cut along with blood, outlining the crest and making it glow with soft blue light in the dimly lighted underground passage. Magical gears ground together and the stone gate inched open. Trystan carefully stepped inside.

Greeted him was not the starving monster of darkness but the green-tinged light from the everlasting torches lining along the smooth stone walls. Torches that needed neither to be lit nor fed oil, or any kinds of fuel. He had read about them in the family records but to witness them with his own two eyes, he was still awestruck – nothing sort of magical. To the center of the circular chambre he walked, the sound of the metal heels of his boots muffled by the thick burgundy carpet that started at the entrance, then stood complete still, allowing himself a moment to marvel at the magnificent sight before him, architected and built hundred years past. And yet the machinery with metal tanks and pipes attached to the floor looked shiny and new as if the place had been forgotten by time and thus, not ravaged. Still, it wasn’t whole, at least not as whole as Trystan imagined it had been at the time of building. Upon closer inspection, there were muted signs of struggle – the old scratches littered the floor that looked suspiciously like whip marks, the tears at the dark-colored carpet that wasn’t so visible to naked eyes, the chips in the stone walls. They piqued Trystan’s curiosity. What had happened here, down in the bowels of the Belmont ancestral land?

He took bold strides to the short altar and examined the intricate symbol carved on sleek black stone. This wasn’t the Belmont crest yet neither was it something Trystan had seen for the first time. It was described in the family records so that every member should be acquainted with it since early age. It symbolized the trust and alliance his ancestors had forged so that their descendants would receive the aid they needed when the time to battle Dracula came. Still, there was more to the story than just what had been written down in the yellow pages of the records, and it had intrigued Trystan since he was able to read. Every Belmont, he believed, had learned one version of it or another, but none of them, except the ones destined to come down here, was allowed the chance to see for themself if there was any molecules of truth in it. If possible, Trystan would like to find out.

The neat cut on his palm hadn’t closed and Trystan squeezed more fresh blood into the symbol, mumbling the chant once more.

More blood, more magic. This time, what would open? Trystan tried his best but failed to quench the anxiety in his chest, growing like a well-fed beast.

His blood did not glow this time; as a matter of fact, nothing remotely magical happened. Trystan couldn’t help feeling a tad disheartened; perhaps he was expecting something similar to the gate. But his disappointment was short-lived though, for soon enough, he felt a light tremor underneath his feet like the grunts of a grouchy beast being abruptly woken from its long, sweet dream. The marble floor split, the sound of metal gears grinding together reverberating in the circular chambre. In front of Trystan’s wide eyes, a huge ornamented coffin was revealed and slowly pushed to a forty-five degree angle.  Whether it was magic or machinery that did the trick he was unsure. Perhaps a well combination of both. Despite the common belief that science and magic were polar opposites, the Belmont clan held onto the truth that these two were more akin in nature than a scientist or a mage dared to admit, and could be interwoven in more ways than one. This place and all its content were proof of that.

Trystan’s astonishment didn’t end there however, for the lids of the coffin opened and from inside a figure floated out. His breath got caught in his throat at the sight of golden hair cascading down pale naked shoulders and arms. Like ivory and polished gold that revered idols of the Far East were made of. An image flashed through Trystan’s mind and caused his breathing to quicken. Suspended by invisible divine strings above the coffin was a wingless angel, vulnerable yet immortal and ethereal, and standing tall and strong under his feet in awe, a small, humble mortal. The figure’s head hung low and the face was hidden from view, but Trystan knew without prior knowledge that it was a visage worthy of adoration and even worship. His throat constricted.

The figure uncrossed his arms, baring a long, jagged scar marring otherwise immaculate pale chest. He lifted his head, showing his face and proving that Trystan had been right. Slowly his eyes opened, two orbs of liquid gold that matched his hair. With cool gaze he regarded the Belmont heir.

“I ask of you, are you from the house of Belmont?”

Trystan swallowed the lump in his throat and straightened his spine so that he didn’t appear to shrink in front of the figure. “I am Trystan Belmont,” he announced loud and clear, pride for his family lending strength to his voice. “First heir of the house of Belmont and current wielder of the Vampire Killer.”

“Tell me, Trystan of the house of Belmont, why did you come here?”

It was a question Trystan had anticipated. “The Lord of Darkness has risen again and it is my duty to put him to rest. I came here seeking help, as my great-grandfather, and his great-grandfather before, had. Now I ask of you, are you willing to lend me your powers?”

The figure smiled but it wasn’t a cordial smile. Trystan caught a gleam of something pointy from his parted lips.

“Do you know who I am, Trystan of the house of Belmont?”

It was also a query Trystan had expected yet unlike the first one, this he didn’t have the answer ready for. His mind raced through options and after a prolonged moment, he opted for honesty. “No, I do not. My family’s records instructed me to wake you but nothing in the written words of my ancestors sheds light on your identity.”

“So you do not know who I am,” the vampire confirmed, a little unnecessarily. “But you do know what I am, don’t you, Belmont?”

The smile stretched into a grin, showing the pearly white teeth. Or, should Trystan say… fangs. Sharp and ready to pierce any jugulars unfortunate enough to be at their ends. His heart did a jump; his entire being was alert. There was only one kind of creature whose beautiful facade played the mask to a hideous bloodthirsty beast. The sudden realization hit him like a meteor and he couldn’t help the shiver. Why was there a vampire resting in the sanctuary of his ancestral home and more importantly, why there weren’t a single line in the records to indicate this unfathomable truth?

The thought that his ancestors had been in cahoots with a creature of the night nauseated Trystan. He balled his fists to stop himself from reaching the Vampire Killer at his belt. He wouldn’t be rash and strike without first getting some sort of explanation.

Amongst his siblings and cousins, Trystan had always been the most level-headed one. It was precisely due to this trait that he had been chosen to become the wielder of the scared weapon. The Belmont clan chose their heirs according to merits, not order of birth.

“I am known to the world mostly as Alucard,” the vampire elucidated. “However, my true name is Adrian Fahrenheit… Ţepeş. The same ‘Ţepeş’ as—”

“Vlad ‘Dracula’ Ţepeş,” Trystan gritted his teeth, his right hand clenching the hilt of his whip. Magic was surging in his veins, pooling at the tips of his fingers.

“And I am my father’s son.”

With the smallest twitch of his fingers, a long, unsheathed sword flew out of the coffin and was deftly caught by his hand. Telekinesis was one of Dracula’s varied abilities so it came as no surprise that the one who claimed to be his son should possess it. It did make sense though, this vampire being his son; after all, the reason Dracula had unleashed the demon horde upon Wallachia back in his ancestors’ age was because the corrupted priests had accused his human wife of witchery and burned her at the stake. When Trystan first heard of it, at the age of ten, he had almost felt some sympathy for the Dark Lord. It was a heart-wrenching love story, one could rival Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the beauty of its tragedy, if not for the genocidal part.

Now, Trystan was looking at the fruit of that doomed romance.

“You have the Belmont blood under your skin, but let us see if you possess the Belmont gall to put my father to rest as you so boldly claim, Trystan Belmont.”

Trystan had but a millisecond to react before a silver sword carved a hole in his trachea.

The fight ended quicker than he had imagined.

What had he imagined anyway? Trystan couldn’t remember. The clearest imprints in his mind were when the vampire’s rapier missed the side of his neck by a millimeter and now, when Alucard’s lithe body pressed into his own while his back met the floor. Everything else in between was a hurricane of fast-exchanged blows fueled by adrenaline and battle instincts honed through years of diligent training. The vampire’s skin was as cold as the marble tiles under Trystan’s back as his spindly fingers wrapped around the Belmont heir’s throat. Just a flick of his wrist and the Belmont clan was short of an heir and the good people a fighter against Dracula’s dark force. Trystan’s whip wound around Alucard’s sword and both laid discarded a couple feet from their bodies. Somewhere along their battle, they had both lost their finer styles and resorted to fist fight, which climaxed in a deadlock: while Alucard had his hand on Trystan’s throat, an ice stake in the Belmont heir’s had penetrated the vampire’s chest right where his heart resided. Trystan could feel his heartbeats, steady as his strength.

“You surprise me, Trystan of Belmont,” Alucard spoke, arching one fine eyebrow. His perfect visage showed no sign of pain, not even discomfort. “It’s certainly rare to encounter a Belmont with a knack for magic.”

“You’ll be more surprised to find out what it can do to you.”

“You do realize that nothing other than wooden stakes can kill me, don’t you?”

Trystan’s lips curled into a smirk despite the agonizing tightness on his throat. “An ice stake will not kill you, but you’ll wish it could.”

“Still, you will be dead. Are you so eager to die, Belmont?”

“There are other Belmonts who would rather die than allow your father’s rampage.”

Alucard smiled, a genuine smile this time. His grip on the hunter’s neck slackened and disappeared only for his stone-cold palm to press against Trystan’s cheek. Caution and bafflement of the unexpectedly gentle gesture made his eyes wide. The muscles on his hand clutching the ice stake strained to prepare for any sudden movement from the vampire. There was none.

“There’s no need,” said Alucard, straightening his back and standing up. The stab would on his chest closed up on its own like a movie reel in rewinding and his skin was flawless once again. In spite of his half-naked state, from this angle he looked as tall and mighty as an archangel, ready to pass God’s judgment. “You’ll do, Trystan of Belmont.”

Trystan’s eyes narrowed in suspicion as he studied Alucard’s outstretched hand. After several moments, he decided to refuse the vampire’s offer and got to his feet on his own. Retreating his hand, Alucard kept his smile, unoffended. “We’ll need to work through some trust issues if we are to join hands to destroy my father.”

“But Dracula is your father.”

That would make a lot more sense if Alucard were on Dracula’s side against humanity; after all, Dracula’s human wife, who had been murdered by humans, had been his mother.

“Consumed by rage and the thirst of vengeance, my father has been tirelessly trying to eradicate humankind, which is the opposite of what my mother would have wished. So I’ve made a vow to stop him, again and again.”

Trystan stayed silent, allowing Alucard’s reason to sink in.

“So… that was a test.” Trystan’s voice didn’t hide the uncertainty when he opened his mouth, after a few minutes.

“One requested by your own ancestors,” replied Alucard, turning his back to Trystan as he took leisure strides back to the coffin.

“What if I failed?”

Alucard turned around and flashed Trystan a cool smile. It was unsettling to see such a smile on a heavenly face like his. “Ever heard of the lost Belmonts? Better have your blood on my hand than my father’s.”

Trystan had. Those were the Belmont heirs and heiresses who had been chosen to come down this chambre. They had never made it to Dracula’s castle, each and every one of them left at the entrance to the underground architecture, rigid and lifeless and never spoken of again. Nevertheless they had been dubbed ‘the lost Belmonts’ by other members of the clan in hushed voices telling cautionary tales around hunting campfire.

Trystan studied the glass tubes attached to the coffin and wondered what the shining red liquid inside was.

“Are you afraid, Trystan?” asked the vampire, taking a white shirt and a long black coat out from the coffin. He began dressing himself with the languid pace and refined grace of a medieval aristocrat. Trystan’s eyes were glued on the vampire, watching him with a weird fascination.

“Ah, silly me. You have already proven that you are not afraid to die. But valiance alone cannot vanquish my father’s darkness.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Afraid to die?”

The Belmont heir imagined Alucard’s answer would be something along the line of “Would I stand here speaking with you if I were?”; the real answer came out entirely different.

“Do you think someone who doesn’t live should be afraid of death?”

“But you…” Trystan trailed off once he looked into Alucard’s golden eyes. Beautiful as they were, the light in them had perished.

Death exuded from the man in front of Trystan, and that wasn’t because he belonged to the night.

Alucard had fully dressed. Still, he lingered by his oversized coffin as if could not bear to leave it. Something in it was drawing his eyes in. His piercing gaze had lost its edge.

Trystan was reminded of the question whose answer he had intended to find here and raised his voice, “May I ask you one thing?”

“What is it?”

“Is it true…” Trystan was hesitant. “Is it true that the body of our ancestor, the first Belmont to destroy Dracula, Trevor Belmont, is kept here?”

Although Alucard kept his emotionless mask well, Trystan managed to see through it and discover the turmoil underneath. His mouth was slight agape, sharp fangs glinting, but the vampire said nothing for a while. Trystan heard his heart thumping staccato.

Alucard raised his hand in a beckoning gesture. “You can come here and see for yourself.”

Trystan did as he was told and looked into the coffin that seemed too large for just one body. This time, he was unable to stop his shock from manifesting on his expression.

There was another body inside the coffin, impeccably preserved by magic or science so that his skin looked healthy-colored and firm and he appeared to be in a deep, tranquil slumber rather than death. Trystan had never met this person in his twenty-five years of life, but he knew him –  every Belmont should. The greatest Belmont who had defeated Dracula the first time, who had rebuilt the clan from rubbles and smoking ashes, who had left behind a legacy so great none of his descendants could ever hope to surpass.

Never had Trystan thought that Trevor Belmont’s face was that similar to his own; if not for a lean scar which ran from his left temple to his cheek, one might be forgiven for mistaking them as an individual.

“You look like a splitting image of him.”

Alucard’s voice startled him and Trystan took a small step back.

“But your eyes, they are definitely Sypha’s. I suppose your magic is hers as well.”

Sypha Belnades Belmont, a legend of her own, who had not only had a hand in defeating Dracula but also shouldered the family after Trevor’s untimely death.

“Is that the reason why you were holding back? Because I possess certain physical traits of my ancestors and remind you of them?”

“I wasn’t holding back,” the vampire replied calmly. “I was simply starving. It’s been a hundred years since my last meal after all.”

Alucard bent down, his gloveless hand caressed Trevor’s cheek in a manner that could only be described as intimate. Trystan felt his own cheek heat up as though he was the one to be touched. He had the urge to avert his eyes. Still he fought it and continued looking.

“Before his demise, my father put a curse on him,” said Alucard. “It was a sinister and powerful curse, one that could not be lifted no matter what Sypha and I tried. Five years later, before he turned thirty, he succumbed to its effect…”

“You’ve been with him since?”

Like this? In the same coffin.

“Yes, only in my slumber am I allowed to see and speak to him. If it wasn’t for my father’s resurrection every century, I would like to remain sleeping. Now, would you allow me a moment to part with him before we leave for Dracula’s castle?”

Trystan’s conscience screamed at him to look another way but he seemed paralyzed at that moment, unable to stop staring with fascinating appall as Alucard’s lips met Trevor’s. Either he didn’t care or he was too deep in his emotions that Alucard didn’t mind Trystan’s eyes on him. It could be both, he guessed.

When Alucard stood up straight again, Trystan spotted a hint of crimson around the rims of his eyes. “I’ll be back soon.” Trystan heard him murmur. With one last glance the vampire carefully closed the lids and pulled the lever beside the coffin. The metal devices purred and lowered the coffin to the ground, where the gaping mouth in the floor was waiting to swallow it whole. The marble tiles reverted to their original state, effectively sealing off the coffin underneath until another Belmont commanded it open with their blood and magic.

The silver sword spun in the air and landed in the vampire’s hand. Alucard sheathed it and turned to Trystan.

“Let us go, Trystan Belmont, to destroy my father one more time.”

End

I haven’t played any games of this franchise but I’ve learn a couple things from the tidbits I’ve gathered on Tumblr.

Title is Latin, meaning inheritance.

[Fanfic] Why Won’t You Die? (5)

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray, Renfield, original character

Warnings: gore

Summary : It was pretty simple: Dracula’s habitual feeding was seen by a mortal young man (a very handsome one but it was not the matter!), so in order to protect his secrets, naturally the monarch of vampires had to kill him. Then, for some mysterious reason, the same young man showed up at his demonstration ball, alive, well and would very much like to remind the vampire how he had mercilessly ‘broken’ his heart only nights before.

V.   The World Is a Stage

Why wont you die 5b

 

Alexander was on time, Dorian Gray was early and Lady Weatherby was late as most women should be; a woman would be deemed immodest if she showed up early or on time – as if she was too eager to see the gentleman, or in this case, gentlemen. So Alexander found himself in the company of an ever-beaming Dorian Gray who might or might not know he was tempting a vampire with the melody singing in his veins. He probably knew his effect on his blood-drinking companion because tonight, he had once again left a few top buttons of his wine-colored shirt undone, baring his neck and throat to the chilling bites of the night winds. Alexander briefly wondered if anyone had ever criticized his insensible fashion style.

“It was very rude of me to not say a proper farewell to you the night before,” said Dorian some minutes after Alexander had stepped down his coach. “But judging from your condition, it was probably out of the question.”

Alexander studied Dorian’s youthful face and no matter how he tried, he was unable to decipher the hidden meaning behind this seemingly harmless attempt to start a conversation. Dorian’s facial expressions gave nothing but a courteous politeness, all lips curving and eyes shining. It would be much convenient, he thought, if he were to possess the mind-control ability those dreaded penny dreadful novels so loved to bestow his kind. Never trust a starving pen for anything remotely close to the truth.

Since he was able to read neither the man’s expressions nor mind, he decided to play along.

“It shames me to think how terrible a host I was. I take some pride in my tolerance but that night I obviously underestimated what I took.”

“You shouldn’t have blamed yourself. Some said wine was the greatest gift of God and I believe whoever said it had to be a wise man. What is the meaning of parties and celebrations if we cannot allow ourselves to abandon our normal restraints and get a little carried away?”

“The wisdom of a drunkard is sometimes the greatest of all… yet not the most trusted,” Alexander said with a thin smile. “However, Mr. Gray, the abandonment of restraints can be rather lethal… leads us astray, as I trust you have already had bountiful knowledge.”

“There is a tribe at the edge of the world I once had the pleasure to meet. The people there have a sort of drink they call ‘Demon Kiss’ – roughly translated. It is made from the rarest, most toxic herbs, yet it’s finest champagne to them and they wouldn’t trade it for all the gold of the world. The first time one drinks, it leaves him in bed one day straight, but in the second, the third there will be an improvement. The pleasure it brings is insurmountable, they claim, but only when he can abandon his restraints.”

“Have you tried?”

“I considered myself a fortunate man. Their witch offered me a deal: I gave her what she wanted and she allowed me a taste of their treasured drink. I dare say no wine made from white hands can stand as its equal. It was everything they said and much more; thus I learned from those people that complete abandonment is the key to pleasure.”

“Such an intriguing story. However, I’d like to think both you and I are not discussing wine, but another liquid, much thicker and more intoxicating.”

Realization dawned on Dorian Gray’s face. His smile got wider, sort of like a child discovering a new toy, and the pink on his cheeks was visible even in the gas light. But it was, of course, only possible when you possessed vampire eyes, and were watching attentively… which happened to be exactly what Alexander was doing.

There seemed to be a magnetic field around Dorian Gray which always gravitated his eyes to him wherever they wandered. Alexander found it both fascinating and disturbing at the same time.

“Is it true that blood is like finest wine to your kind – what is the exact term for it? Popular literature tends to call you ‘vampire’ so I wonder if it is the proper name. Do correct me if I am wrong.”

That was certain a question (or two questions, technically) Alexander did not expect coming from Dorian Gray. One moment he was acting as if they were two normal men entirely ignorant of the supernatural activities occurring in this city and the next he was raising curious questions about the taste of blood and calling Alexander a “vampire”. To analyze his motives was almost an impossible task: Dorian Gray was an open book full of alien characters that he would have to spend the next century studying and still might not be able to grasp their meanings.

“Vampires, bloodsuckers, whatever you feel pleased to use – names do not matter. What does, instead, is the essence, which prompts me to raise a question…”

He managed to catch all of Dorian Gray’s attention with his unvoiced question, as the look on his face was trying to say.

“What should I call you, Dorian Gray? You look a beautiful human but we both know you are much more than just meet the eye.”

“Oh, thank you for your kind words,” said Dorian Gray and there was the blush on his cheeks again. Was he able to feign that, too, Alexander wondered.

“I will be very honest – well, I do not know myself. I am flesh and blood but not human, merely masquerading as one, just as you are, Mr. Grayson. I am not as fortunate as you who knows his essence. To put it short, I have no idea what I am.”

Alexander’s gaze focused on the young man’s eyes. “If that is the case, I wonder if you are truly Dorian Gray, the only grandson of Lord Kelso.”

Dorian Gray closed the distance between them, his perpetual smile snubbed out and his face wore a foreign grim look. It seemed as though he wanted to whisper into Alexander’s ears some terrible dark secrets the sharing of which could equate life and death. Nevertheless, stepping closer was the only thing he did. “Have you already the answer?”

Alexander arched an eyebrow.

“The blood opens a pathway to the soul, does it not? You who have penetrated thousands of souls should know it better than I.”

Human souls,” Alexander corrected.

Dorian Gray chuckled. “Nothing but humans?”

“Nothing but humans.”

And some rodents in desperate times but Alexander did not think it was the point Dorian Gray was aiming for.

“Never your own kind?”

“Try eating the flesh on your arm or leg and you’ll understand.”

Laughter was Dorian Gray’s only reply. After a short while, he said, “Oh, I do believe in certain extreme circumstances people have to eat their own flesh to survive. Have you ever had to, Mr. Grayson?”

Not catching Dorian Gray’s flow, Alexander lightly shook his head.

“Anyway, to answer your earlier query, ‘Dorian Gray’ is a name, the same as ‘Alexander Grayson’, simply a role we have to play in order to exist in this world. ‘The world is a stage,’ is it not?”

“Some play their role for a purpose,” said Alexander, his sharp eyes narrowing.

“Some play for convenience,” replied Dorian Gray. His eyes met the vampire’s.

It was as if Alexander was reliving the moment just before his fangs pierced the jasmine-scented skin of Dorian Gray. The fearless defiance. The subtle challenge. The alluring invitation. The temptation. All were rushing in through the amber irises that seemed to be blazing, almost like molten gold. Alexander thought of his dream creature with the same enchanting countenance, the same mesmerizing eyes. A mere flash of image fueled the subdued thirst in his throat, and it burnt. Dorian Gray’s visage was blurry behind a transparent red veil.

“Are you all right, Mr. Grayson?”

Dorian Gray’s voice sounded distant, echoic. The beatings of a nearby heart were thunders in his ears.

“Good Lord, Mr. Grayson, your mask is slipping,” Dorian Gray chuckled to himself as he unfastened his cufflinks and rolled up his sleeve.

“Help yourself, Mr. Grayson.”

It seemed at that moment it was not Dorian Gray but rather the pulse beneath a layer of silky skin that was speaking to him. A free gift offered, seducing Alexander’s nature. But was it really free after all, or a much greater prize was always lurking beneath?

He seized Dorian Gray’s wrist and bought it to his mouth. Out of the corner of his eyes, Dorian Gray’s eyes lit up and the smile hanging on his lips bordered on smugness. So the bait had been caught…

Alexander tongued the skin that covered the pulse, avidly feeling it pacing up with excitement. Eager to be torn open, releasing the warm red juice. He could imagine its screaming for his fangs like a needy whore. He could imagine himself giving in, biting and suckling until the hungry beast inside was satiated. He could also visualize Dorian Gray soft and pliant in his arms like the pretty woman he had preyed. Nevertheless, he sought to make none of them a reality. His teeth grazed the flesh, enough to feel pain but not yet breaking skin. And then still holding the wrist in his hand, he yanked it far from his mouth.

“Don’t try to tempt me,” Alexander spoke to the younger man in a less-than-human voice, with a less-than-human visage.

“Like you’ve said, Mr. Grayson, I do not even try.”

To Alexander’s surprise, Dorian Gray’s free hand crept to his cheek. A thumb pressed to the point of his fangs, nicking itself. He smeared the budding beads on the vampire’s lips.

Alexander instantly let go of Dorian Gray’s hand and pushed him back with such force that the younger man almost toppled over. He willed his teeth back to their normal shape and tore his eyes away from the creamy white skin with a touch of cherry, which was licked clean by Dorian Gray’s tongue.

“I find your self-control prowess truly admirable, Mr. Grayson.”

Alexander fixed his immaculate coat and tie as an act of composing himself. “It would be a shame to ruin such a pretty shirt, don’t you think Mr. Gray?” said Alexander with a sarcastic tone.

Au contraire, Mr. Grayson. This is precisely why I have chosen this particular color to be the trusted confidant of our clandestine affair,” replied Dorian as he was brushing imaginary dust off his outfit. “So that it would not reveal our true colors. And speaking of garments, I believe you do own me a silk scarf and a shirt.”

Alexander did not have a mirror with him to check, but he believed the word to describe his facial expression at the moment would be ‘dumbfounded’. Once again he was needlessly reminded that reading Dorian Gray’s motives was as futile as trying to catch the tail of the wind. His logical patterns were elusive at best and seemed to be zigzagging on a winded path leading nowhere near his true intentions.

“Pardon me, Mr. Gray, but could you elucidate on your newly shifted subject?”

“Oh.” Dorian Gray feigned a surprised look with his large eyes, which, if Alexander did not know better, might have him fooled. “Mr. Renfield must have forgotten my little message. Considering how busy he is, it is entirely understandable.”

Yes, Renfield must have let it slipped his mind; he made a mental note to ask his right-hand man first thing when he returned. “Would you please enlighten me on that subject as to why I own you some pieces of clothing?”

“And I as well,” spoke a third voice that turned both their heads. The flower of the evening had finally appeared, clad in a flowing dress as red as blood and just as revealing as her previous outfit. She regarded the two men with cool, piercing eyes and her painted lips curved into a satisfied smile. She liked the effect she had on men, the looks on their faces when they laid eyes on her as if she were the only woman worth looking in the world. But she felt the greatest pride in their lusts, in the dark lights in their eyes that promised only the darkest thoughts; anything less would only terribly bore her.

Both Alexander Grayson and Dorian Gray had enough experience to give her what she wanted.

“You sure have very light footsteps, my lady,” said Alexander after kissing her hand. “I could barely hear you coming at all.”

Lady Weatherby lifted her other hand for Dorian Gray to kiss. “Oh, Mr. Grayson, you must be accustomed to women stomping in America. No, a true lady would rather hang herself than to hear a gentleman’s complaints about the heaviness of her feet.”

“Then I would rather bite my tongue than voice my complaints about a lady,” replied Dorian Gray.

“Pardon my overhearing but I think I have heard Mr. Grayson say something about ‘owning some pieces of clothing’. Would you please enlighten me on that subject, too, Mr. Gray?” Her eyes gaze swept over Alexander. “Mr. Grayson appears rather serious about it.”

Dorian Gray broke into a peal of laughter.

“I was hoping my lady has not heard it. I am really embarrassed. You see, we were having a conversation and suddenly I was hit with this desire to tease Mr. Grayson, to test if I could deceive him. You did not take my little spontaneous folly too serious, did you, Mr. Grayson?”

Alexander smirked. “I must say you took great effort in delivering it as truthful as possible. I was truly convinced.”

“You see, I have always this bizarre fixation to coax Mr. Grayson into abandoning his gentlemanly manners and giving into…” Dorian Gray made a dramatic gesture with his hand. “… his more primal side, which I happen to adore.”

Alexander tried not to visibly cringe at the last word. “In doing so you also reveal yours,” he replied.

“Isn’t it what the ladies love about us?”

Lady Weatherby broke into hearty chuckles. “My my, aren’t you gentlemen making quite a fascinatingly queer pair? I cannot speak for all the ladies but personally I find your idea very… enticing.”

Alexander’s eyebrows shot up momentarily. Dorian Gray laughed.

“Such an exquisite lexical choice, my lady. A ‘queer’ pair we are indeed, aren’t we, Mr. Grayson?”

If Jayne Weatherby were not here, swear to Lucifer, Alexander would snap Dorian Gray’s neck in half. To hell with his freaky immortality.

Lady Weatherby bit her coral lips, revealing a hint of her pearly white teeth. She stepped up and linked her arms with Dorian Gray and Alexander’s. “Though I love to prolong this discussion, I do believe it is high time we went. The theatre awaits.”

If there was one thing that Renfield hated more than having to drag a slumbering Grayson out of bed, it would be welcoming him home in a state of mess. It took him almost a decade to realize one of his lifetime hobbies was to dress Grayson up, so he was rightfully frustrated when once again he had to incinerate his boss’s blood-soaked clothes in the fireplace. Just to add salt to the injury, Grayson was a bloodsucker with little to none etiquette when indulging in his unvaried diet. What was the point in accumulating wealth if you could not afford one-time outfit, said one careless vampire, to his assistant’s dismay. Much as he hated Grayson’s careless attitude, there was one thing that grated Renfield’s nerve more than welcoming a blood-soaked Grayson: that was welcoming a blood-soaked Grayson with a thunderous black cloud hovering above his head.

Sometimes, Alexander Grayson’s temperament could be worse than London’s weather.

But there was one silver lining in every cloud after all, and that was Grayson not being drunk as a skunk.

Oops, touché.

Grayson stomped into the living room, with the stench of blood violently pervading the air and Renfield secretly crossed himself while counting.

And yet the man never considered himself a devout Christian.

One, the chair flew out of the window. A loud noise that would surely disturb the neighborhood had Grayson not already paid handsomely for their ‘sympathy’.

Two, flied the small table with the flower vase on it. More nerve-wracking noises.

God bless those poor unfortunate souls. Amen.

Grayson strode to the sofa and for once second Renfield almost believed that he would grab it and fling it out of the door. Good thing his boss, though furious, still possessed rather decent sense. He flopped down on the sofa, grabbed the nearer bottle within arm reach – his usual whiskey – uncapped, did not bother with a glass, and continuously poured the liquid down his throat.

Apparently alcohol had a calming effect on the vampire because half-a-bottle later, Grayson’s breathing was even and the murderous light had been subdued in his eyes.

“That old fool Sir Clive’s,” all of sudden Grayson said. The abrupt abortion of silence nearly made Renfield jump out of his skin.

“You mean the blood?”

“Caught him right in front of his home, ripped his head clean off,” spoke Grayson in a serene tone that was usually achieved after an ample amount of whiskey.

“So that was your ‘give him a piece of my mind’?’

“The old pig did insult me under my own roof. That–” Grayson raised his forefinger, “–alone deserved death sentence.”

“Perhaps we should mount a warning sign over the front door,” said Renfield in a mildly sarcastic tone to which Grayson only snorted.

Were Renfield another man he might suffer the same fate as Sir Clive. Yet as they both knew, the vampire monarch was extremely tolerant with his assistant’s sarcasm. He even fancied such a sharp wit and a bold tongue.

“Spare the likes of him no sympathy, dear Renfield, for once you cross them, they won’t hesitate to strike you down like vipers in a pit.”

“Well, the same could be said about you, sir.”

“And that leaves me perfectly fitted to destroy them.” Alexander said. “I would have put down his insults to senile foolishness if he weren’t a high-ranking member of the Order of the Dragon.”

“Pardon me, sir, but shouldn’t his death alert the others?”

“Ah, that is entirely the point, Renfield. I never plan a peaceful demise for them. In the time they await their death they shall suffer from anxieties, paranoia and fears that their enemy is next to them but cannot be seen.”

“In the time they await their death they can also prepare to fight you, sir. Learn and exploit your weaknesses.”

“I hope they do. It would be a bore if they didn’t.”

“Then why were you infuriating, sir? Weren’t you with Dorian Gray tonight?”

Oops. Renfield did not fail to notice the dark fury that crossed Grayson’s countenance upon the mention of the name. So Dorian Gray was the cause of this beastly mood, eh?

“He said that I owned him some pieces of clothing. Do you happen to have any idea about this, Renfield?”

An awkward silence stretched as Renfield raked his memory of a few brief words exchanged between him and Dorian Gray. “… I believe he did leave you a message regarding that matter, sir. Perhaps he was talking about the, you know, bloodstained… Anyway, did you find out anything about this mysterious man?”

“Did and did not,” Grayson gritted through clenched teeth. “Renfield, have you ever had the misfortune of taking a seat on a crate of explosives?”

Renfield was not sure he was following Grayson’s logic here. “… No, sir.”

“Such,” stressed Grayson, a finger raised in the air for dramatic effect, again, “is exactly how sitting next to Dorian Gray is like.”

It dawned on Alexander that Dorian Gray must have orchestrated tonight’s event. He felt that particular hunch even stronger once they stepped into the so-called ‘avant-garde’ theater house Dorian Gray had suggested. The brown-skinned boy in a decent tux bowed deeply to them upon entering, paying much regard to Dorian Gray, who was without doubt a regular patron. The entrance gave an impression that it was a small, crowded place choked with loud noises and penny-worth tobacco – typical of a common theater house; however, inside it was a much larger space, which was divided into the ‘common’ section below and a circular row of private boxes above to serve the more affluent audience. The boy in tux led them up a winded semi-staircase up into one of those boxes, each of which separated from its neighbors by thick velvet curtains that served double purpose as to muffle the noises from below and maintain privacy. The seats were plush and softly perfumed, not one of the costly eau de perfume but still much preferable than the long-withstanding sweat odor Alexander had expected from a theater in this corner of the city; one of the perks of being a vampire was that his sense of smell was extremely keen – a stink that was unpleasant to a human would be agonizing to him. The scent somehow reminded him of his delicious little prey a few nights before, only a few blocks from here. Her blood was a rare type amongst humans, and made a delectable dinner.

The boy showed them their respective seat, with Dorian Gray’s between Lady Weatherby’s and Alexander’s. This further cemented the vampire’s suspicion that Dorian Gray had had a hand in the arrangements, although his motives remained perplexingly vague.

Sitting close, Alexander could hear the blood in Dorian Gray’s veins. It was a steady current, like the ocean waves gently lapping the vessel’s hull on a peaceful day, a rhythm that was both soothing and arousing to a hungry bloodsucker, though more of the latter than the former. It reminded him the ugly truth that he was indeed a hungry bloodsucker – had not have a taste of blood save a few of Renfield’s drops to cure his sunburn the other day. The thirst was always in him, ever restless, yet he had not felt the crave for it, which was usually what motivated him to lurk around the dark shadows of London in search of a fitting prey that could last him until the next one came. Young women were first choice on his menu, followed by young men; the youth in their veins was the finest nourishment to his strength, though their taste was quite unripe. On the other hand, older people might not provide as much strength for him yet they tasted richer, refined like old wines, especially those of ‘blue blood’. He supposed that should he go on a hunt tonight, that Sir Clive who had arrogantly insulted him might prove to be a worthy meal. Or alternatively he could…

He glanced at Dorian Gray’s bare throat, weighing his chance to get a few sips of that sweet toxic nectar. Dorian Gray did not seem to mind, considering that he had obviously offered himself to Alexander.

Oh, the word choice. Lady Weatherby’s earlier remark resurfaced and Alexander mentally grimaced.

On second thought, there was Dorian Gray’s confession that he was not human and the bizarre dream with the bizarre creature and its puzzling riddle. He wondered if all of these had any connection to the frustrating effect he suffered every time he succumbed to the dark invitation of this non-human’s blood.

“Would you care for a drink, my lady, Mr. Grayson?”

Dorian Gray’s soft-spoken voice kindly reminded him that he was not alone in his study chamber, deep in reverie, but in the company of human, and that keeping his own disguise was a crucial matter.

“Brandy for me,” said Lady Weatherby.

“A whiskey, please.”

“Sebastian,” Dorian called the boy waiting docilely in the corner, “be a dear and bring the lady and gentleman their drinks.”

“And you, sir? Absinthe?”

“Ah, not tonight, dear boy. Tonight I’m not intended for the flaming fairy. A Whiskey also, if you will.”

“The first time I saw you, you were drinking absinthe. Where was it, a few blocks from here?”

Alexander threw in a seemingly casual remark, playing along with Dorian Gray’s lies. Up till now he had had many chances to expose Alexander’s unholy nature, yet he had chosen not to. On one hand Alexander could not deny he was grateful; on the other, it only increased the doubt in Alexander – what was Dorian Gray’s reason in covering up a vampire’s secret? Did he intend to use it later? Still, he possessed only one piece of evidence and that one piece had been ruined before it was put to any use. His accusations, if he intended to make any, were only words, and words were winds, easily bought off with money, which Alexander had plenty. He supposed he and Dorian Gray were on equal footing, with each of them knowing the other’s secret; if Dorian Gray wanted to fool around, he did not see why he should not oblige him.

He allowed himself some exultation to see the pair of amber eyes widened.

“So the two of you met in a common pub? I’m intrigued. Would you care to elaborate on it?”

“Yes, my lady,” Alexander replied. “I have an interest in the lives of the common folks, which stems from the time I spent in America, so in my spare time I frequent their places quite often. I myself was rather surprised to find a noble young man such as Mr. Gray share my interest.”

“I’ve always have a fascination in them, much like you Mr. Grayson, though it is because I find their lives exquisitely colorful, a stark contrast to the mundane aristocratic lifestyle that a number of us lead.”

“Even their many a suffering?” Lady Weatherby arched a sharp eyebrow.

“Suffering itself is a beauty.”

“How strange a logic!” exclaimed Lady Weatherby.

“Such can only be said by those who have yet to suffer.”

“So you do not agree with my view, Mr. Grayson? Then you would be so kind to enlighten us?”

“I merely speak from my years of living in The New World. Contrary to common belief, not everything is ‘new’ there. Slavery, for example, is as ancient as mankind. Ask any dark-skinned man if he saw beauty in his sufferings by the hand of his master.”

“Ah, you say ‘if’, Mr. Grayson. The question is, has anyone ever asked him such?”

Dorian Gray locked eyes with him and in a blink Alexander caught the same defiance he had found in those eyes before.

“Gentlemen,” Lady Weatherby called to them once she noticed their tension, “I am afraid suffering, thought-provoking as it is, is not our main subject tonight.”

The boy Sebastian had returned with their respective drinks. Dorian Gray raised his glass. “Indeed, my lady. We have come looking for pleasure, however ephemeral.”

“The world is a stage,” Alexander echoed Dorian Gray’s earlier words, and did not miss the young man’s brief glance at him. He too raised his whiskey, a smile hanging on the corner of his lips.

Lady Weatherby’s eyes moved between the two of them as she took a sip of the burnt gold liquid in her glass.

Alexander’s smile, together with his upbeat mood, did not last long however. They had vanished shortly after the play on the decorated stage began its first act.

The lights were dimmed, the curtains drawn, and the setting of the stage presented to Alexander’s eyes an all-too-familiar sight. It was the scene of a common pub, lamely decorated with numerous risqué pictures of voluptuous women in nothing but their corset, garter belt and lace stockings. Men and women in various fashions filled the space: some were drinking, some shamelessly groping one another and some engaging in a brawl to which nobody cared to put a stop. The indistinguishable chatters on the stage mingled with the noises down the aisles, theatrical smoke with realistic one. The orchestra down the pit was playing some joyous tune. It was merely an everyday scene at any pub in this corner of the street, yet Alexander was struck visibly by it. Had they not just mentioned it only moments ago? He managed well enough to hide the ‘visibly’ part though, with his hands tightly gripping the hardwood arm of his seat. The material groaned as it suffered his supernatural strength but all the sounds easily drowned it out. Beside him, Dorian Gray and Lady Weatherby appeared taken by the scene, paying little attention to him. He preferred them that way.

Still, it was only the beginning.

The orchestra struck a sharp note to attract the audience’s attention to the ‘door’ of the pub being open and from behind the stage stepped out a figure. Loud wolf whistles rose, encouraging even the shyest of men; such was an expected reaction when an actress just made her way to the scene through the back door. Pretty little thing that she was with a foreign pulchritude: honey-colored skin, huge dark eyes and coal-black hair done in an elaborate Parisian fashion – something that required a very deft hand and a generous purse. Although her look went at the opposite end of the Victorian standard spectrum, Alexander found her quite a treat to the eyes, as did the majority of male audience. She would make a very fine woman donning a pretty dress; instead, she waltzed into the pub in a wealthy young man’s clothes, the excessive metal straps on her knee-high leather boots gleaming. Actresses playing men’s roles were quaint yet not non-existence but it did not seem to be what she was doing. She remained a woman still, and reveled in her gender, if her make-up, hairdo and the subtle sway of her hip were any indications, who only had an odd choice of attire many proper ladies would frown deeply upon. Sort of an exotic ‘hybrid’, something between a man and a woman that absorbed the beauties of both. But that alone was not enough to elicit such an excitement from the audience: it was the manner of her dressing that roused the men, sending them into a little frenzy – one-third of the buttons of her white linen shirt were undone, allowing a generous view of her swan neck, her delicately shaped clavicles, and her tantalizing cleavage – wasn’t she blessed to possess a figure many females would kill to have? She appeared unaffected by the lustful gazes and lewd words some of the coarse males were throwing at her, yet the specter of a smile on her full lips gave away a fraction of her otherwise perfect mask – in that particular aspect she so resembled Lady Weatherby, who also took pride in her womanly charms, and a rare breed of women whose company terribly thrilled and made men insecure of their masculinity at the same time. She strode to the furthest table in the corner and settled down to enjoy a glass of the flaming fairy. Green light danced on the silver jewelry adorned her small hands with every gesture.

Something struck Alexander as disturbingly familiar. The way the actress dressed, her silver jewelry, the faintest of smile on her lips, they were all perfect replicas of a certain man he knew. That man who had survived his heart ripping out and was now sitting beside him, courting his hunger with the sweet fragrance of his blood. If someone told him Dorian Gray had had no hand in this, he would not hesitate to tear that fool’s head off his shoulders.

Dorian Gray continued doting on Lady Weatherby, completely oblivious to the dark flame in Alexander’s pale eyes.

The candles were put out and a single pillar of light was focused on the door. Other instruments went mute, allowing only the violin’s shriek to be heard when it was open. On first glance it was a tall, lean man in immaculate dark grey suit that just made his way to the scene. The light followed him as he took off his hat and coat and passed them to the waiter. Below noises rose and once again the vampire monarch had to grip the arm of his chair. Soon as the actor’s hat was off, the actor was revealed to be yet another female dressed in men’s clothes. White as the winter snow was her wavy hair, groomed in the latest men’s style. The curls framed her delicate face, almost as white as her hair and adorned with two amethyst jewels that made her eyes. Hers was a peculiar and rare condition that Alexander had had encountered once or twice during his long life as a vampire. In some places, it was held as an ethereal blessing, a gift from the Almighty while in others, an abomination, a curse that condemned any baby afflicted to a horrid purification ritual that ended in death’s embrace.

Though her visage was new to him, her costume, on the other hand, was well known. Perhaps Renfield even knew better, since it was he that had picked the garments for Alexander, and probably fed them to the flame once they were ruined beyond help.

“I have heard of this bizarre condition but I have never seen it in a person.”

He heard Lady Weatherby talk to Dorian Gray in low voice.

“A uniqueness that only few were blessed with I believe.”

“You sound as if you are envious, Mr. Gray,” she laughed.

“I am.”

“Yes, even a woman such as I am must admit she’s rare gem. Both of them would make fine actresses in gowns, wouldn’t they?”

“Then the peculiarity that formed part of their charm would be lost, don’t you agree, Mr. Grayson?”

He turned to Alexander and winked at him, then promptly returned his attention to the stage, not demanding an answer.

The white girl had settled down at a table near the entrance and was instantly fawned over by the young waiter. Golden-haired, tall and muscular, he charmed the eyes pretty well at first glance. The Adonis in worn white shirt, waistcoat and spotted apron. He appeared to win the white girl’s attention with his easy smiles as they began exchanging meaningful glances while being watched by the dark girl at the opposite corner. She swirled her glass in idle motion, the light radiating from her black eyes rivaling the green liquid. The curves of her lips grew with each minute spent watching the pair.

So, that was how it had begun, Alexander thought with ire. It was not an accident that Dorian Gray had caught him in that alleyway; he had spied on him and followed him – for whatever purpose unclear. The notion fanned his rage, already fueled by the manner with which Dorian Gray had been taunting him, and he struggled with all his self-control forged by centuries of being a ruler to suppress the urge to go on a killing spree.

“Sir, you’re saying that Dorian Gray replicated the event of the night you supposedly ‘killed’ him?” Renfield asked, his black eyes widening with disbelief. “What sort of man in the right mind would go that far to… I can’t fathom his intention.”

“I doubt that whether he is ‘man’ or ‘in the right mind’. Yet he has shown persistent consistency in his effort to aggravate my bloodlust.”

Renfield’s eyes swept over Grayson’s bloody clothes. He could tell Dorian Gray’s attempt had not been unsuccessful.

Alexander, Dorian Gray and Lady Weatherby all had different reactions to the scene on the stage. While Dorian Gray’s expression showed relatively little in change – only his eyes sparkling with a quiet amusement, Lady Weatherby brought her gloved hand to cover her silent, surprised gasp… which might very well be feigned; like Dorian Gray and Alexander, the woman also wore her mask well enough to appear convincing. Contrastingly the vampire monarch regarded the pair on stage with cool eyes. His wrath had gone past the point of exploding, his bloodlust the same; at the moment they were simmering inside, patiently awaiting the right time to be unleashed onto an unfortunate victim. His thought briefly directed to Sir Clive, with his haughty attitude shared among the Order and his insults. In that moment, the old man’s fate was sealed.

The scene changed from the pub to a dark alleyway, where the handsome waiter, apparently seduced by the white-haired girl, allowed his patron to lead him. The dark-haired one, with the curves of her lips evolving to a mischievous smile, followed suit. Some snickers were heard among the audience. Even Lady Weatherby could not fight a few giggles of her own. The next twist of the play had half the crowd gasping while the other half broke into a roar. Under the ghastly light of the lamp the white-haired girl had her handsome companion writhing against the moldy brick wall with a swift, brutal assault of her lips in his own. The accompanying music faded from quick, joyous tune to slow and sensual, and light focused on the couple. Whether she kissed like a bite or she bit like a kiss, there was no way to tell with her predatory viciousness sewing to the seam of her lips as they ran over his mouth, his stubbly chin, the sharp line of his jaw, and then his supple lips once more. She did not kiss the way a gentleman did, if such was her role in this tableau, and much less a woman that she was; she kissed him as though she wanted to devour him whole, as though she was starving for his youthful, succulent flesh. A rivulet of ruby leaked from where they mouths conjoined, rolling along his chin, down his neck and got absorbed into his lapel. He had his arms around her narrow shoulders at first; then his knees went weak and he surrendered himself entirely to her mercy, clinging onto her so that he could maintain the illusion of standing on his own legs, his eyes half-closed. The white-haired girl, despite her physique, supported his weight with ease. Her wandering hands roamed about his form, his back first, and then quickly descending until they rested on his behind. She palmed him through his trousers, eliciting a moan which was quickly swallowed by her. She ground her body flat against him, further cutting off his any chance of escape. Behind a nearby wall the dark-haired girl spied on them.

The audience went temporary mute as if holding their breath when they witnessed the white girl’s hand roughly tipping his head back, exposing his pale throat. Her lips left his, and traveled to their newfound treasure, where her tongue flicked out to caress his Adam’s apple, bobbing frantically with anticipation. She smirked against his sweat-glistened skin before opening her mouth, teasing the audience with a gleam of fangs, and bit down. There were loud gasps down the aisles, mostly female. The young man’s glazed eyes shot open and his body jolted with an abrupt introduction of pain. Sense flooded him and he battled to get rid of her embrace. Her mouth latching on his neck, her amethyst eyes shut; however, she subdued his struggle with little effort, as she had been doing so from the very beginning. Blood from where her lips ravaged his flesh coiled around his throat like necklaces. His limbs’ movements became stagnant, and then ceased altogether, leaving an unresponsive cadaver in her arms. She let go of her victim shortly afterward and stood with her back against the wall, chest heaving heavily as savored the aftertaste of the sanguinary bliss lingering in her mouth. Red drenched her jaw, fastening a freshly picked rose on her breast pocket. A macabre adornment to match her macabre act. Slowly, a smile etched onto her lips; so devious was it that it drew a few sharp intakes of breath from the audience. Some women hid their sight into their companion’s jacket, sobbing, trembling.

It all felt so surreal to Alexander to watch the sequence of actions unfold in front of his eyes. He had never witnessed one of his kind during their feeding – it was a matter of privacy he himself had imposed on his bloody kin and subjects. When in the act, often he was so lost in his ecstasy that the whole world around seemed to fall into a momentary stillness, and the cursed mechanism within his body, fueled with the vigor of new blood, was the only thing that functioned with mad rapidity. Reality was soon reduced to a heightened perception of sounds, scents and motions – to cast aside humanity and experience the world like a pure beast. Hunger, of course, also sensitized his senses but it did so with a pain so great that it rendered everything insignificant save the cries in his veins.

Alexander’s throat constricted, his vision distorted and he was having the strangest hallucination of slipping into somebody else’s skin. It might not be the white girl that had the dark-haired one caged in her arms, it might be him. Similarly, the honey-skinned petit beauty who was staring at her captor with defiant eyes might not be herself either, replaced by Dorian Gray, and the two of them were reenacting their fateful encounter through the two actresses.

A warm hand gently placed on his own pulled Alexander back to his own skin and mind. He stared into the large, pretty eyes of Dorian Gray and his mouth that whispered low to him: “What’s the matter, Mr. Grayson? You seem a little… out of yourself.” His smile, ever amiable, suddenly felt like a thorn pricking Alexander’s flesh. “Nothing,” he replied, sort of grunting.

“What a relief! I was afraid you might miss the upcoming twist.”

Alexander let out an exasperated huff and retracted his hand from Dorian Gray’s when the latter obstinately refused to do so.

Loud cries echoed through the room below him. As Alexander had expected, once the white girl came to a disturbing realization that she was unable to drain this peculiar mortal, she resorted to a more direct extreme means. The prosthetic heart in her blood-soaked hand was still pumping when she ripped it clean from the dark girl’s bosom. Even Alexander, who frequently came into contact with human organs, was amazed at the authenticity of this theatrical trick. It was further proven by the gagging noises and the foul smells of half-digested dinners pervading the air. Not for the weak of stomach, he was amused by the thought of the warning sight upon entrance. Overestimating one’s own ability was a grievous mortal flaw, one he was glad he did not often fall for.

The heart fell on the body on the stage and the white girl, satiated from her double kill, turned on her heels and disappeared from sight. The audience held their breath, waiting for the thick curtain to be drawn. Moments of silence had passed. The curtain stayed still and so did the pair of corpses. Whispers began to rise, louder and louder. “Draw the curtain,” some man yelled, and he was met with agreements. Even Lady Weatherby voiced her curiosity.

“I plead you to be patient, my lady,” said Dorian Gray, putting his hand on her in the shadows, where they probably hoped was out of others’ sight. Watching them somehow proved to be more interesting than a tableau he had already learnt the ending.

Perhaps not the ending.

As soon as a few impatient men and women stood from their seats, the bodies on the stage stirred, drawing their attention. Bizarre was her movement as the dark-haired girl rose, a corpse returning from the dead to deliver one last shock: her kohl-rimmed eyes pierced through the audience while she was holding her heart in her hand. The curtain was drawn and the last glance at the girl showed her heart bumping with fresh blood.

“May I present Miss Divina?”

Dorian Gray had the dark-haired actress by her arm once the play was over, and they gathered in the parlor for a drink. Her coal-black hair was let down in lazy ringlets that fell around her shoulders, laid bare by the magenta dress she was wearing. Around her wrists, her silver bracelet jingled.

“Lady Weatherby, Mr. Grayson, a pleasure to have you here tonight.”

“Charmed,” said Lady Weatherby.

“The pleasure is all mine.” Alexander kissed her hand. “That was quite an extraordinary play. I have to admit I was rather doubtful to receive Mr. Gray’s invitation.”

“Oh, thank you, Mr. Grayson, you are most kind. I was quite sure I would earn the full of Dorian’s wrath should it turn out a flop.”

“Mr. Gray indeed spoke highly of this theater and its plays, and I just saw that he wasn’t exaggerating. I’m mostly impressed by the realistic of the gore.”

“We are fortunate to have an expert in that field, is all.”

“Your accent is rather… exotic. Were you not always here, in London?” asked Lady Weatherby.

“No, my lady, where I came from is far, far away,” said Divina. “As Dorian always says, no matter how many years I live in London, my accent will never go away.”

“I suppose it suits you more than a British accent.”

“As does yours, Mr. Grayson. American isn’t it?”

“As American as God, guns and bourbon, or so they say. Had I had the privilege to meet you a few days earlier, I would have invited you to my demonstration ball. Mr. Gray was very discreet about you. I see he’s the protective kind… or jealous, whichever is entirely justified.”

Divina raised her hand to cover her mouth in a gasp. She turned to Dorian Gray with hurtful, watery eyes. “Did I embarrass you, father? So much that you never mention my name to your friends?”

Both Alexander and Lady Weather could not help raising an eyebrow.

“You see, Miss Divina grew up with me,” Dorian Gray explained, chuckling. “A sweet little sister she is, she never lets down a chance to tease me about our age gap.”

“From what I observe, that gap is not very wide.”

Alexander sniggered at the lady’s comment.

“Appearance can be rather… deceptive, my lady,” Dorian Gray said. “Anyway, it is getting late. I was hoping to introduce Alicia too, where is she?”

“She won’t come out if she hasn’t done cleaning – you know she’s a cleanliness freak. After all she was the one who had blood all over her face while I only got it on my costume.”

“Such an innovative idea to be put on stage. I wonder where you have found the inspiration.”

“Those penny dreadful novels can be a real gold mine, my lady,” Divina replied.

“Perhaps I may try one too. Much as I love to compliment Miss Alicia’s performance, I am afraid it’s high time I returned home.”

“Shall I have the honor to escort you to your manor?” Alexander held out his hand.

“That’s very kind of you, Mr. Grayson, but I have already accepted Mr. Gray’s offer. Shall we depart, Mr. Gray?”

Dorian left Divina to extended his arm for Lady Weatherby. “I hope you won’t find my sweet sister’s company too much of a bore, Mr. Grayson.”

Alexander smirked. “A lovely lady’s company can never be a bore to me. Goodnight my lady, Mr. Gray.”

“The lady Dorian Gray called ‘sister’, is she anything like her brother?”

“So far she appears only a mortal. Charming yes, but nothing more. I left the theater shortly after.”

“And then you caught Sir Clive?”

A look of dubious crossed Renfield’s face. He tried very hard to think otherwise of the blatant truth, and failed: that Sir Clive had met his maker tonight not due to his status in the Order of the Dragon; he had died simply because a certain vampire had been in need of a punching bag.

Blame your luck, old pal.

Thankfully mind reading was not on Grayson’s list of super powers. Renfield was not ready to suffer a decline in salary only because of a thought.

“I can almost imagine Doctor Helsing throwing a tantrum once he pays a visit.”

“To hell with his tantrum,” Grayson grunted. “Actually, Renfield, can I ask you to speak to someone tomorrow?”

“Who, sir?”

“That reporter who wrote down that I was a ‘potential alcoholic’, what’s his name?”

“Jonathan Harker, sir.”

“Yes, I need you to speak to Jonathan Harker on my behalf, that I have an offer for him.”

“Was the play well, sir? Did Divina embarrass you?”

Raziel welcomed him at the door into his mansion, ready to serve.

“You know your little sister, Razz. What could she ever do to go wrong? Though the real gem is Alicia, as always. I wish you could have seen our gentleman vampire’s face when she stepped on the stage.”

“Seems you were having a good time, sir. I am glad to hear that.”

“Anything happened in my absence?”

“You are mostly absent in the evening, sir,” Raziel corrected him. “But indeed there’s one thing: our newly hired servant Jackson has gone missing for a few hours. I’m afraid he has accidentally found…”

The butler gestured to the huge portrait, which they both knew was not a mere picture.

“I’ll check,” said Dorian with a sigh.

Dorian strode past the myriad of mirrors to reach the huge canvass in the oval chamber. He did not fail to notice a few dark spots on the floor, much less a severed arm.

“Curiosity kills a man,” he murmured, undressing the canvass. The hideous creature glared at him with his own eyes, albeit veiny and clouded. A drop of red hung at the corner of wrinkled gray lips.

Dorian touched his own lips and found the same red on his fingers. He withdrawn a handkerchief and hastily wiped away the blood on his mouth as well as the creature’s, huffing with exasperation upon hearing laughter in his ears. “I left a quaint souvenir for you,” it cooed. “Tastes good, doesn’t it?”

The sudden assault of the taste of raw flesh in his mouth almost made him gag.

“But not as good as your bloodsucker.”

He tried his best to ignore the voice and covered the canvass. He all but fled out of the hidden passage once done, the poor victim’s remains dangling from his hand.

“Found poor Jackson,” he told Raziel, casually tossing the dead limb on the dining table and flopping down on the nearest chair.

Raziel’s dark gaze lingered on the ragged bone peaking from the chewed muscles as if finding the whole thing a piece of art to be examined. “Perhaps, sir, the idea of a secret room is that it should be locked.”

Dorian poured himself a glass of champagne, and took a sip. He moved the fine liquid in his mouth, trying to wash away the nauseous aftertaste. “It isn’t locked for a reason, Razz.”

He reached for the limb with his free hand, fingering the gray skin. “If I don’t feed him once in a while, he’ll feed on me.”

Then he flung it into the fireplace.

Cont

Note: Dorian Gray’s painting in this fic has little resemblance to the one just revealed in Penny Dreadful 2×08: Memento Mori; it is entirely my idea.

[Fanfic] Why Won’t You Die? (4)

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray, Renfield, original character

Warnings: gore

Summary : It was pretty simple: Dracula’s habitual feeding was seen by a mortal young man (a very handsome one but it was not the matter!), so in order to protect his secrets, naturally the monarch of vampires had to kill him. Then, for some mysterious reason, the same young man showed up at his demonstration ball, alive, well and would very much like to remind the vampire how he had mercilessly ‘broken’ his heart only nights before.

IV.   No Fear of the Sun

 

Why wont you die 4

“I really hate this,” muttered Renfield the fifteenth time as he was making his way up the spiraling staircase to Alexander Grayson’s chamber. Of all the unconventional (and more often than not plain crazy) tasks his contract with the vampire lord included, this was the task that he hated with the strongest fervor. Let us hear Renfield explain. So during the party Grayson had scheduled an interview with a reporter by the name Jonathan Harker at 4 o’ clock in the afternoon and it was Renfield’s duty as his assistant that he had to make sure his boss would not miss the appointment. A simple-sounding task that assistants around the world had to do, how difficult could it be? Well, the problem was it was already 3 in the afternoon and Alexander Grayson had not descended the stairs yet. Judging by his condition last night, he would be unlikely to crawl out of his bed unless Renfield came up to drag him out. Seriously, dragging an average-strength drunken human out of bed was terrible enough – you might end up with a few angry punches in the guts. Dragging a super strong drunken vampire out of his bed was a matter of life and death – you might end up with a few angry punches through the guts. Adieu, guts, good to know you, and life too. And now not only did Renfield have to drag a severely drunken vampire out of bed, he also had to get him prepared for an interview, which included washing, grooming (as if that mustache would trim itself!) and properly clothing. Talk about an assistant’s duties. Since that ‘severely drunken vampire’ paid him very well and happened to have saved his life a few times, Renfield guessed he just had to grit his teeth and bore through it.

To be fair, this was not a task Renfield had to carry out very often. As said, Alexander Grayson was only human in appearance and though his usual consumption of heavy alcohol was ten times a beyond-despair alcoholic’s, the chance of him getting drunk was once in a blue moon (that time in New Orleans again). Yet that ‘blue moon’ had already paid a visit twice in the same week, which was both bizarre and extremely annoying. He remembered that Dorian Gray young man and his taunting boyish smile as he had carried an almost passed out Grayson to Renfield. If what Grayson had told him was truth and not some bloodlust-induced hallucination, then this young man was much more than a mere simple-minded pretty face. He might prove to be a serious threat even. Renfield reminded himself to go through the data of this ‘Dorian Gray’ once more to make certain he was not in any way related to the Order of the Dragon. But first thing first…

Panic shot through Renfield like a bullet when he was one step into the chamber and found Grayson sprawling on the floor with his face down – somehow in the night the unyielding and brave caterpillar had managed to break free from his fabric cocoon… Renfield quickly took off his jacket and covered Grayson’s head and rushed to the window. He breathed a lengthy sigh of relief to find the curtains thick enough to prevent any sunlight from entering. He checked again, and thanked God, or The Devil, or whatever above or below that his boss had not been burnt to charcoal yet. Gave him a fright really.

Now to a more challenging part…

“Sir,” he called, “it’s almost time to your interview with Harker.”

Grayson had no response.

He spoke a little louder, with a gentle probe on Grayson’s shoulders.

Grayson stubbornly remained a dead log.

For The Devil’s sake, Renfield hated it; still, the situation left him no choice but to get on with Grayson’s preparation, with Grayson’s being conscious or not, and hoped that the hassles he made would rouse his boss from his slumber. Right now if someone told him a kiss would wake Grayson up, Renfield would not shy from trying it. Fortunately (for Grayson and Renfield himself) our man was never a fan of silly fairy tales.

Alexander was floating in a body of water, which reminded him of a once-upon-a-time memory of a small, lovely spring behind his castle, where he and Ilona usually bathed together in a full moon. He had named it after her while his beautiful wife, laughing gleefully, splashed the silvery water into his face in hope of encouraging (destroying?) his sporadic poetic mood. It did not take long for him to join her little children game and it took even less for them to join each other, submerged in and blessed by the Moon Goddess’s grace.

But this water was not the liquid silver of the Ilona spring; this water was thick and red, a spring from a slender neck he remembered having ripped open. He could not see much through the water and he also realized he was unable to move his limbs. They were there, intact, yet he had no control over them, as though he was inside another body instead of his own, and this body contained him but denied him of any usage. He tried to do something, anything, like willing his incisors to lengthen. No avail.

He had not feel mortal for centuries. He had forgotten how helpless a mortal could be. This was a harsh reminder.

All of sudden he saw a face, gradually coming closer. He recognized it, as he remembered seeing it only hours before, especially its amber-colored eyes and its Cupid’s bow of lips. But he did not recall seeing its pointed teeth, even longer and more animalistic than his own. Nor did he remember a curving red horn protruding from the middle of its forehead. Its amber eyes turned golden and the pupils slit like a cat’s; its tongue flicking against the corner of its mouth was a snake’s.

The creature swarm its way towards him, and embraced his limp body in its scaly arms. Its claws, sharp like razor knives, raked his skin and dug into his flesh. He could not even groan. The torture and humiliation at the hands of the Knights of the Dragon Order revived vividly through this creature’s claws. Currents were rising around him while the water had been perfectly still before; the liquid simmered with increasing heat. Like a witch’s boiling cauldron, he thought, and he whatever miserable ingredient caught in it. The red liquid penetrated his body through his open wounds, running along his veins. Was this how it should feel to be burnt from the inside out? Lips faintly brushed against his own before a grotesque hand clamped over his mouth and lower jaw, tipping his head back and exposing his throat. He was too familiar with this gesture to not realize its purpose. He tried to move his dead limbs in a desperate attempt to break free. “Shush.” A sound was whispered into his ear and the snake tongue licked his Adam’s apple, before the water rushed hotly into his throat. He knew his throat had been ripped open, that he should be chocked with agony, but he was not. Oddly enough, he felt the claws, the tongue, even the phantom of the creature’s breath on his neck; he only did not feel the teeth.

Was he dead already?

He saw light shyly piercing through the thick water and the creature began to swim towards it, taking him in its arms. His instincts flared and once again he fought it, with his dead limbs now vigorously brought back to life. He did not understand, perhaps it was the thick, red water flowing in him. He felt its strength, its energy pumping in his every fiber and he could use it like a well whetted sword in his skillful hand. He grabbed the creature by its shoulders, trying to wrestle free of its grip. Yet even with his new power he was no match for it – his confidence renewed, only to be crushed again as it kept pulling him closer and closer to the source of light he suspected to be the sun. Death, his inevitable fate he could fathom but not the creature’s intention. Why filling him with life and then burning him to crisp?

He closed his eyes and waited to feel the flame once he was out of the water. He saw red behind his eyelids and felt the heat. It was always comfortable in a few seconds first, the sun’s warmth on his skin, before the flame reduced him to blackened flesh and finally ash. His lips tasted salt and the memory of training with his fellow warriors under the scorching summer sun embraced his mind. Back then he could run all day without fearing that he would burst into a living torch. Back then the sun was a friend, annoying at times, but never a deadly enemy.

The creature’s claws shook him out of his reverie, and into new realization: he had not burnt yet! The warmth was on him, comfortable still. He dared to open his eyes and saw the sun glaring behind the creature’s head like a sort of halo. “No fear of the sun,” spoke a deep voice to him, foreign and sinister, a voice he had never heard before. The creature’s lips had not opened once. The face of Dorian Gray broke into an unfamiliar smile when the claws unhooked him. Gravity pulled him down to the water beneath while the creature’s body, naked but covered in vermillion scales from its neck down to the tip of its tail, remained floating.

As he was falling, he failed to question how the creature possessed the body of a giant snake instead of human legs.

He sank into the red water and emerged to the face of his assistant, Renfield.

“Sir, are you all right?” asked Renfield in a worried tone.

Alexander’s wide eyes swept around the room, taking time for the familiarity to sink in his muddled head. This was his bathroom all right, and he was in a bath tub full of lukewarm water scented with lavender oil instead of a body of blood water. Beside him was Renfield, soaked from head to toe.

“Are you all right?” Renfield asked again, wiping the water from his face. His worry increased by the seconds with Grayson’s uncharacteristic silence. His boss had been unconsciously making whimpering sounds and struggling for the last minutes, splashing water all over Renfield. He had jolted up, eyes bloodshot and wide, and the dazed look on his face as though he could not remember his own name was not the least assuring.

“Sir?”

“… I’m fine,” he spoke at last, with voice hoarse and low like a murmur. Renfield had to strain his ears to pick up his words. “I… had a very peculiar dream.”

Having a bad dream, got it. It explained all the groaning and thrashing about. Who said bloodsuckers were not plagued by nightmares?

“You are feeling all right, sir?”

“Headache,” Alexander mumbled, clutching his head with his hands. “The same at before.”

Renfield frowned. “Should I reschedule the interview with Harker?”

“There’s no need. I’m almost sober.” He rubbed his eyes. “What time is it?”

Renfield checked with his pocket watch, which miraculously survived the previous onslaught of water. “Forty-five minutes until he comes, sir.”

Alexander reclined in the bath, laying his head on the marble edge. A few dark strands clung wetly on his smooth forehead. “There’s still some time, right? I’d like to stay in the water for a while.” He exhaled a breath. “Leave me, Renfield, and thank you for what you have done.”

“As you wish, sir.”

Then Alexander was alone in the bathroom. The water was warm, not scathing and thick like his dream. Despite so, when he cupped a handful of water to his face, he briefly imagined it as blood.

It was five to four and Jonathan Harker was sitting in Alexander Grayson’s office. He had showed up at Carfax Manor a little earlier than scheduled – such was his habit as a reporter: to take a little time to examine his interviewee’s place. Many might not notice but Jonathan knew from experience that a person’s office could reveal about its owner’s personality, lifestyle and habits as much as an interview. Grayson’s office was as anyone’s expectation of a rising American industrialist’s should be: filled with objects that exuded luxury – nothing cost less than Jonathan’s monthly income. Nevertheless he had to admit Grayson did have good taste. There was not a sense of ‘nouve rich’ he had overheard people whisper at the ball; everything was elegant and well complimented his office. A nostalgic air of the Middle Ages confined in Victorian walls if he were to express his impression. Jonathan took notice of a bronze statue on the mahogany bookshelf. It was a sculpture of a warrior on a majestic horse holding a long javelin in his hand with a man’s head impaled at its end. Beautiful and detailed as it was, it depicted savage brutality disguised in the name of glory. Jonathan shrugged and jotted down ‘aggressive’ on the page dedicated to Alexander Grayson. He also noticed the amber liquid in the crystal bottle among the glasses. Were they for Grayson’s guests or himself?

At four o’ clock sharp Jonathan heard the door open and Grayson’s assistant came in, announcing the American’s presence. Grayson stepped in, immaculate in light gray suit and matching tie. But Jonathan did not fail to pick up the moisture in his hair, suggesting that he had just gotten out of bath, the faint pink on his cheeks and the red rimming his pale blue eyes. Well, it was not surprising to see him in this state, considering last night had been his debut party and it was impossible for Grayson as the host not to get at least a little intoxicated. He managed enough steadiness and grace in his strides though, Jonathan gave him that.

Grayson’s handshake was cool, firm and brief as if he was afraid the afternoon sunlight peaking through the curtain window would burn his skin. Perhaps that was the way they shook hand in America, what with Americans and their odd customs. Grayson gestured to the chair Jonathan had originally sat sitting while waiting and he himself opted for the opposite chair, which was placed in the shadows. The man seemed to harbor a dislike to sunlight, which might explain the pallor of his face.

He would look fine with a little sun in his skin, thought Jonathan, noiselessly tapping the tip of his pen on the page. He hoped Grayson would not suffer from any ailment due to the lack of sunlight. The effects of such ailment could be quite devastating or so he had heard.

“Do you care for some whiskey, Mr. Harker?” Grayson reached to the low table and poured himself a glass.

“Thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Grayson, but I’d rather stay sober when the sun’s still out.”

“Some tea, then,” said Grayson after a sip. He rang the silver bell beside the crystal bottle, which summoned a freckle-faced young maid. “Miss Elsa’s apple crumbs are worth dying for.”

“Tea would be fine. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.”

“Neither do I. My trusted friend and assistant, Renfield, on the other hand…”

By the time the maid had brought in a small trolley with a pot of steaming tea and some mini-sandwiches, Grayson had already refilled his glass. Jonathan pretended he did not see Grayson smiling at him behind his glass when the reporter’s empty stomach gave a traitorous cry upon the sight of these pretty sandwiches.

“Help yourself, Mr. Harker. I trust you have skipped your lunch due to your hectic schedule.”

Twin blushes made their ways to Jonathan’s cheeks as he reached for the tea and sandwiches.

After one and a half hour of tea, delicious sandwiches, an empty bottle of whiskey and talk about industrialism, evolution, Darwin, emancipation and London weather as compared to America’s (New Orleans’ precisely), Jonathan Harker left Carfax Manor with a couple of first-class tickets to an opera. Grayson, despite his look and the whiskey he had consumed during the interview (which Jonathan did not doubt could send an average man to bed for a day straight), had been quite sober. Therefore, in his notebook, Jonathan had jotted down a long list of adjectives to describe the American industrialist: ‘visionary’, ‘delusional’, ‘egomaniac’, ‘hammy’ (he did not even know what that word was supposed to mean – blame it on the sandwiches), to name a few. And at the end of the list, ‘potential alcoholic’.

Talk about Americans and their bourbon.

But…

As Jonathan fingered the tickets in his hands, he was thinking about a lovely evening with Mina. He considered crossing out the last description.

Alexander sat cross-legged on the floor among various photographs of his guests from last night. He had stripped down to his white linen shirt, waistcoat and trousers. It was torture to wear a full suit in this weather.

“I’ve given Harker the tickets, sir, as you instructed. Pardon me for asking but are you not going to the opera tomorrow night?”

“I have another engagement and you loathe opera so those tickets would be a waste if not given to someone. And Harker was writing in his notebook that I am a ‘potential alcoholic’.” Alexander air-quoted.

Renfield arched an eyebrow comically.

“I read his hand’s movements,” explained Alexander.

“Ah, so they were to grease his palm.”

“Yes, they were.”

Alexander shuffled through the photographs and picked out a handful. Placing them side by side, he turned to Renfield. “The Order of the Dragon, how to describe them?”

Renfield trod carefully to an armchair next to Alexander and sat down, eager for a history lesson.

“Murder, torture, rape, wholesale slaughter – that has been the stock-in-trade of them for over five hundred years. Back in my past, they asserted their will more directly via the cross and the sword. Slaughtering entire villages, branding men and women heretics, burning them on the stakes while they were screaming for a God…”

The image of Ilona in the flame flashed before his eyes. “… who never came.”

“Those atrocious acts are hard to cover in this era,” said Renfield.

“That doesn’t deter the scum from committing them – what happened to Van Helsing’s family is a macabre echo of the past. Though today they have carried out their dirty work via private clubs and boardrooms. Business, politics, and oil have a much bigger impact than simple slaughtering. And the last will be their undoing. They think oil is the future and by controlling it, they have the future in their palms. But…” He raised his forefinger. “… Our wireless, clean and inexpensive energy will drain them off their blood.”

“Yes, I did pay attention to their faces during the demonstration, sir. One of them, this man I believe, was not particularly pleased.”

“He gave me a piece of his mind actually. And I too may give him a piece of my mind, you know, to return the favor.” He held up the picture of a stocky middle-aged man and separated it from the rest. “I might have done so if not for…” he mumbled.

A ray of sunlight penetrated the crack in the curtain and Alexander, as if held under a compelling spell, reached out with his hand. Blisters began to surface before a small flame burst out. Renfield rushed to his side and pulled his hand back to the shadows. The pain began to register and Alexander hissed.

“What on earth are you doing, sir?” Renfield bit his fingers and allowed drops of blood to fall on Alexander’s lips.

Alexander studied the healing of the burn on his hand with curious eyes. “No fear of the sun,” he whispered.

“Sir, what did you just say?”

“I had a strange idea that if I reached out, I would not be burnt.”

“What gave you such an idea?”

“What do you think if I tell you it was a creature in my dream? Half-man, half-snake and with the face of this?”

He reached for the black-and-white photograph of Dorian Gray.

“I think we may have a serious problem, sir. Do you remember last night’s events? It was this Dorian Gray that carried you back to me.”

Alexander let out a sigh. “I drank him to make certain that he wasn’t a ghost. It felt exactly the same as three nights ago. I was quite sure that the blood I took from him was enough to fill two grown men and yet…”

“And yet he was fine, albeit looking only a little pale. Sir, about your instructions to investigate this man…”

“What did you find?”

“Plenty, sir. This Dorian Gray isn’t a man of discretion. Quite the opposite, actually. He is the only grandson of Lord Kelso, a late aristocrat, and thus the sole heir to the massive fortune of the lonely old man. He is quite a talk amongst the upper class, probably thanks to his looks and wealth. A typical young aristocrat like many of his peers as first look. But there are some rumors about him: his notorious hedonistic lifestyle for one and his age, another.”

“His age?”

“They say he came to London at the age of seventeen to inherit his grandfather’s massive fortune. A decade has passed since then.”

Alexander’s eyes squinted – a sign of him being in contemplation – at the picture of Dorian Gray. He asked, after a while, a seemingly irrelevant question. “How old do I look, Renfield?”

“Late twenties, perhaps thirty, sir,” answered Renfield incredulously.

“How old does Dorian Gray look?”

Renfield’s black eyes lit up. “Twenty give or take. Are you suggesting that he is like you, sir?”

Alexander shook his head. “Not like me. That I can be sure – no vampires survive having his heart ripped out. Dorian Gray is something else, something entirely different from what I know. And that is what I would like to find out.”

He stood up with the picture of Dorian Gray and placed it neatly on his desk. “Can you guess who I am to meet tomorrow night, Renfield?”

Dorian Gray’s eyes shot open. He was in his chamber, lying on his four-poster king-sized bed. The sky outside his window had turned a light purple. Someone from his childhood once told him that the sky was a giant pretty egg. He wished that was true. More romantic and less real. He was always fond of things that were unreal.

“Must you be a prick and bugger my pleasure?” said Dorian Gray in annoyance. “It barely got to the fun part.”

He ran his tongue slowly on his lower lip, reminiscing his short-lived pleasant dream before it got rudely interrupted and he himself was flung into another of his restless, mundane ones.

“It’s quite refreshing when you use less formal vocabulary,” a deep voice said, the speaker unseen. “The pleasure of denial, my sweet child. Leaves him puzzling, curious. The art of baiting.”

Dorian gazed at the ceiling, uninterested.

“Want to make a bet with me?”

It was apparently Dorian was paying more attention to the tiny laborious spider on the wall than the voice.

“That he will be drawn to you even if you just sit in your room?”

“Sounds interesting.”

“It is.” The voice barely hid its excitement.

“But I don’t like sitting in my room,” said Dorian, sitting up. Naked, he left the massive bed and made for the door. “And I like your ugly voice less so please kindly shut up.”

Loud music thumping his eardrums, Dorian made his way through the throng of audience to reach the backstage. He was one foot inside when a boy halted him.

“Sir, this place isn’t for the patrons. Please return to your seat,” said a young voice thick with African accent. The face was brown but not uncomely, especially when it was trying so hard to sport a stern look.

Dorian smiled at the boy and purred. “You must be new I assume? What’s your name, lovely thing?”

His smile was even wider as the boy stammered for a proper response. He was quite sure under the dark skin there was a shade of blooming rose.

“Yes, he is new so don’t jest him,” spoke a deep female voice from behind. Keeping his smile, Dorian saw past the boy to spot a tall figure fast approaching. Her hair was as white as silver and cut short in a man’s fashion and her choice of attire would catch anyone with eyes. She was wearing a man’s white shirt, unbuttoned and showing a deadly cleavage, a pair of tight black trousers and knee-high sleek black boots that glorified the graceful lines of her long legs. On her rogue lips, a stark contrast to her pallid skin and striking purple eyes, was lolling a cigarette.

“Long time no see, Alicia,” greeted Dorian.

“Dorian Gray,” she replied in a cool voice. Blowing a circle of smoke, she turned to the boy, patting him on his shoulder. “Sebastian, go fetch Divina. Tell her her ‘sweet daddy’ is paying a visit.”

The boy Sebastian rolled his eyes but did not question his superior. He went back inside.

“Now who is going to take my hat and coat?”

Alicia’s reply was a hard slap on his bottom, causing him to jolt. “Coat hangers over there.” She pointed to the corner with a manicured finger. Hanging his hat and coat, Dorian could only smile and shake his head as he followed her steps into a spacious, furnished chamber at the end of the hall. A four-poster queen size bed covered in magenta satin stood in the middle of the space. On the vanity to the left corner there was a motley array of small trinkets, vials and boxes. The air smelled a mixture of various perfumes; as a result, no scent particularly stood out.

“I’ll leave you and your ‘daughter’ to each other. A warning: Divina’s in very bad mood. You know how she loathes losing your attention.”

“I’m prepared, thank you for your kind consideration.” Dorian made himself comfortable on the huge bed.

With the same grace she had entered, Alicia walked out. Her light footsteps were barely out of Dorian’s hearing range when loud ones rushed in. The door was swung open and hit the wall with a bone-shaking noise.

“Good evening, Divina dear,” said Dorian to a young woman, perhaps in her early twenties.

Divina’s look might not fit in with the Victorian standards that celebrated fair hair and pale skin; however, with tanned complexion and coal-black hair that fell in lazy ringlets around her shoulders she possessed an exotic undeniable charm that immediately attracted the men who were bored with the demure beauties all around them. She was not tall as Alicia but what she seemed to lack in height she compensated in the luscious curves of her breasts and hips, which she certainly knew how to accentuate with a black laced corset. No blouse. Her fashion, like Alicia’s, was to be desired rather than approved, and her temper was neither. She had obsidian eyes that were a tad too large for her small face, making her more of a girl than the fully grown woman she was, and they burnt on Dorian the moment she stomped in.

Mute as a shadow, Divina stalked to him, raised her hand and… slapped him. With her small, gloveless hand she made Dorian blush furiously on one cheek.

“What the fuck have you been doing in the past months?”

“Language, Divina dear,” he chided, not harshly. “You’ve been around too much with those coarse sailors.”

“Don’t try lecturing me, professor. Just because you’re twice my age me doesn’t mean you’re my father,” Divina hissed. “Nor are you my master, whose every beck and call I have to be constantly be at.”

“My apologies,” he said, taking her into his arms and sought to sooth her rage in the way they both knew he did best: he kissed her on the lips, a long, lingering caress that took a passionate, wild turn. Red smeared their lips with the force of their kiss. She missed the chance to bite his tongue when he instinctively withdrew from her.

“I have been preoccupied recently. Is this enough to atone for my negligence?”

She licked her lips in the same manner as a cat’s. “Hardly.”

“Oh well, I guess so.”

He procured a choker from his pocket and clasped it around her swan neck. The drops of sapphire were blue tears on her partly covered breasts. “A quaint souvenir from my travel. I hope you like it.”

“Oh you don’t ‘hope’, Dorian Gray,” she said through chuckles. “You only know.”

“I don’t always know, dear. That is why I have to voice my concern about the little performance I had Razz brought to you on such short notice.”

“It’s a bribe.” Divina fingered the little sapphires. They sure looked like tears, angels’ tears.

“Such as it is.”

“Not to worry, daddy o’. Carrying it on as always. Actually we’ve been a bit short on ideas these days so yours was most welcome. I just wonder…”

She spun on her heels to face him, her taffeta dress swirling around her like a black rose in bloom. “What kind of people to have inspired your lazy ass to do something like this?”

“You will see them tomorrow night, and I may introduce you to them, if you do well, of course, and mind your language.” He touched the tip of her nose with a finger.

“Your high-birth friends, all right.  You will introduce me as what?”

“An intimate friend, a dearest sister.”

Divina pouted with her full lips. “Dull. Spare me the ‘sweet sister’ role.”

She locked her arms around his neck and pressed her body to his. “Why not tell them I am your ‘bastard daughter’ you conceived in a one-night passion? A cliché tragedy between a wealthy man and a country girl that produced an illegitimate child. The man left, the poor girl ended up a street whore and her daughter followed her mother’s step soon afterwards. Poor thing. And there’s more. Never did the child know that one day she would end up on her own father’s bed. Shock them, right?”

Dorian grimaced, shaking his head. “I see why you never do Shakespeare. You would murder him on the very first night.”

“Shakespeare bores me. You, on the other hand…”

She captured his lips with her own and maneuvered him to the bed with the grace of a tigress. Dorian allowed her to straddle him. “You little nymphomaniac,” he said.

“… that you made. Don’t forget to add it to my introduction tomorrow.” She said, and set about to divest him of his many-layered clothes. “Don’t tell me you came to my jolly little theatre not expecting a jolly little ride.”

“I don’t mind, true, but I’m afraid Alicia will not be very pleased.”

Divina’s nimble fingers halted. She groaned, bringing a hand to her forehead. “Oh right, she’s been quite touchy-feely these days.”

“The stoic Alicia?”

“Don’t let her face fool you; she’s quite the opposite. Best not to upset her.”

She quickly climbed off him. “You wait here while I get her.”

Looking at her hurried figure, Dorian could not help a smile. He would wait.

Cont

A little note: Alicia, Divina and Sebastian are my original characters. Alicia is an albino.

I took some details from The Picture of Dorian Gray and the 2009 adaptation for Dorian’s part.

[Fanfic] Why Won’t You Die? (3)

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray, Renfield, original character

Warnings: gore

Summary : It was pretty simple: Dracula’s habitual feeding was seen by a mortal young man (a very handsome one but it was not the matter!), so in order to protect his secrets, naturally the monarch of vampires had to kill him. Then, for some mysterious reason, the same young man showed up at his demonstration ball, alive, well and would very much like to remind the vampire how he had mercilessly ‘broken’ his heart only nights before.

III.    Blood Is the Life (or Not?!)

Why wont you die 3

 

“Perfection, sir,” said Renfield, taking a step back to get an overall view of his handiwork. The tux brilliantly complimented his lithe form, the black cravat adorned with a single pearl was most elegant (Renfield’s choice), his mustache and goatee well-groomed and there was not a single strand of hair out of place. Such an epitome of perfection was Alexander Grayson that Renfield actually felt hot tears rimming his black eyes. He half-heartedly wanted to say his boss looked dazzling but then he vividly remembered Grayson held a persistent grudge against any vocabulary related to light and shining; thus he opted for another word that was less likely to touch his boss’s sore spot.

Grayson was probably having the same idea (that was, he looked good, if not perfect) for a fang-y grin was spreading across his fine features. Renfield winced, and gestured to the corner of his mouth. For all their years together, he still had not quite gotten used to seeing Grayson’s pointed teeth. No, he was not squeamish about their shape or usage, nor was he afraid of them – he had seen worse from his boss. The truth, which Renfield never mustered enough courage to reveal to Grayson, was that when Grayson had that toothy grin of his he looked positively like the Cheshire Cat (he still had no idea why such vocabulary came forth in his mind; it just did), which, of course, dealt great damage to the sophisticated and authoritative image he strived to impress people. The inconvenient truth that sometimes his fangs grew without his conscious control did not help one bit.

“Photographed upon entry?” Alexander asked.

“As arranged. Sir, from this day onward, you are an American industrialist.”

“As American as God, guns, and bourbon. Is my accent all right?”

“Flawless, sir,” said Renfield with a smile and his thumb up.

“Thank you, Renfield. You should go get change too.”

Renfield replied with a silent nod before exiting Grayson’s chamber, leaving the man to the company of his reflection. He took a glance at his pocket watch. It was an hour and a half till the opening of the ball and there was still plenty of time to change. Unlike Grayson’s, Renfield’s outfit and hair required much less attention – it was Alexander Grayson the new entrepreneur that people would have their eyes on tonight, not his assistant. Renfield could do well with little attention; having people staring at him unfortunately reminded him of his earlier years back in the New World. He thought that he should do a double-check on the technical team. Better be careful than sorry.

From a spot above the stairs Alexander watched his honored guests in silence. Some had arrived quite early and formed little groups of acquaintances. His enhanced hearing picked up parts of their conversations. Mostly small talks about this lord or that lady, what the new exotic club at the West End offered, and the likes. Sometimes his pseudonym was tossed in, followed by some scornful remarks about the stereotypical American entrepreneur who possessed some ‘new’ money but had zero knowledge of the old aristocratic way. Laughter rose after such comments, grating Alexander’s nerves; nevertheless, there was not much useful information worthy of the former monarch’s lowering himself and trying to mingle in. Gossips seemed an essential sport of the upper class at present as it had been some hundred years ago – something never got too old. They interested him little as they had done before (though his wife Ilona, unfortunately, had been quite engaged in them). His eyes scanned the vast ball room with concealed boredom; he supposed if he were human he would feel the unstoppable urge to yawn. Then the door opened and entered a young man that instantly caught Alexander’s eyes. The most remarkable aspect of him aside from his face was his costume, which brought a touch of color into the monotony of the men’s formal dress suit with its peculiarities: the few top buttons of his white shirt were left undone, leaving his neck and throat exposed as he was not wearing any tie, cravat, or scarf; under his black jacket he was having a blazing fuchsia and black striped waist coat that one might find more common at a carnival than a formal event – on him, however, it gained a certain charm that exceeded its association. The bracelets on his wrists jingled lightly as he took long strides in, announcing his presence. First, it was only one lady or two who turned their heads upon hearing the soft ringing sound, summoned by the silvery beckon, but soon, most of the ladies and even some of the gentlemen were staring at the newcomer with eyes wide and mouth slightly agape.

Alexander was no exception; in fact it was he who stared the hardest at the young man as if trying to record every small detail into his memory: the dark chestnut hair framing his delicate face, the amber-colored eyes that were just a little too big for a grown man, giving him a faux child-like innocence, the Cupid’s bow lips that was curving in a polite smile when the ladies, maiden and wedded, batted their eyes at him, perhaps hoping for a secret and passionate rendezvous. The golden light of the ball room complimented his complexion far better than the dusted street lamp – it was as though his skin was radiating a soft glow. Alexander’s eyes bore into the man’s neck. Underneath the layer of silky skin was the prominent blue vein that was full of the toxically sweet nectar having poisoned him only nights ago. His sight was magnetized to it and his other senses were reduced to just the beating of the young man’s heart mingled with the clanging of his jewelry and the strong scent of intoxicating youth flowing in his arteries. Tantalizing. To think Alexander was able to pick out one particular scent amongst the sea of perfumes. His throat burnt with thirst, and so did his eyes. Through a red transparent veil he watched the young man blend in effortlessly with the aristocrats, joining their small talks and laughing with them like an intimate friend. His amber eyes twinkled, his manners charming and suave.

How Alexander wished to launch at him like the predator he was and drank him dry for all the mortals to witness.

He did not realize the shapes of his fingers were imprinted on the oaken rail, and he might break it in half were it not for a strong, black hand literally shaking him out of his bloodlust trance and a familiar voice waking his senses.

“Sir, get a hold of yourself!”

The red veil was lifted off, the sound and scent subdued and his world swiveled and molded back into the one he knew and lived in, whose focus was a pair of earnest black eyes. He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Sir, you looked as if you were about to jump down and dine on our guests. What’s the matter?”

“I was about to do just that, Renfield,” answered Alexander. His throat still felt as if he had swallowed a ball of flame. “I think I need some whiskey.”

Renfield furrowed his eyebrows. “I don’t think it’s a wise idea to start drinking before the party begins, sir.” His eyes swept around cautiously and he asked in low voice, “What’s wrong, sir? I thought you’d fed already.”

“I haven’t, but the cause of my thirst is not natural. Do you see the young man down there?”

“There are a lot of young men down there, sir,” Renfield said matter-of-factly. “Which one am I supposed to see?”

Alexander scoffed slightly. How could Renfield miss such a conspicuous individual as that one? “The brown-haired one with a carnival waist coat and silver bracelets.”

Renfield scanned the room. “Nowhere, sir.”

With an exasperated huff Alexander looked down on the expanding crowd of fancy clothes and did not find the young man whose presence had nearly sent him into a bloodlust. Beside him Renfield grimaced at the sight of his boss’s eyes going alarmingly red and his fangs protruding at the corners of his lips. “Please follow me inside, sir,” he said hurriedly, grabbing Alexander’s arm and leading him away from the ball room and into his office.

“I understand that you may be feeling a little… nervous at your debut but it is imperative that you calm yourself down.” He half-pushed his boss down a large chair. “If you were human I would suggest a breathing exercise to…”

“I. am. not. nervous,” Alexander cut him. Each syllable was stressed like a hammer hitting a stubborn nail.

Renfield sighed and reached into his breast pocket, from which he took out a hand mirror. He held it up in front of his boss’s face. “Your eyes are red and your incisors are elongating. I dare say your current appearance is not appropriate to greet your guests.”

Alexander stared at his reflection for half a minute before bringing his hands to his face, massaging the muscles. Thankfully when he put his hands down, his eyes had returned to their pale blue and his teeth had shrunk back to acceptable length. Renfield nodded in approval.

“Really Renfield, I am not nervous. I am panicked.”

Renfield’s mouth was frozen in a perfect ‘o’. What did he just hear? Alexander Grayson was panicked? Vlad Tepes The Impaler who had gone to hell and back to carve fear into the heart of men was panicked?! Was Apocalypse approaching and Renfield was not even aware?!

“What could cause you to panic?” He managed speech at last. “Did someone of the Order of the Dragon…”

“That young man in the ball room… I remember seeing him before…”

Renfield blinked questioningly at him.

“… in a deserted alleyway two nights ago,” he sighed. “And I happened to drink his blood and gouged out his heart.”

As he spoke, his memory revived the scent of flesh blood and the feeling of a beating heart between his fingers.

Renfield gaped at him, wide-eyed and utterly speechless. Then he blinked. Once. Twice. Three times. “Sir,” he spoke with a certain level of hesitation, “are you saying you have seen a ghost? Right in the middle of the ball room? Among the company of hundreds mortals and one immortal?”

No need for such specification, Renfield.

“He… certainly did not look like a ghost…” But Alexander had never seen a specter himself so he was not in the position to judge whether a ghost should look like a ghost. Who had dictated that ghosts should look ghastly and be covered in blood and not wear a flamboyant waistcoat, silver jewelry and have shining brown hair and ruddy cheeks? “… He certainly did not look like a man who had his neck torn and his heart ripped,” he corrected. “Certainly did not look dead.”

“Then the man with such descriptions has vanished from sight?”

“…”

A lengthened, awkward silence.

“May I speak freely, sir?” Renfield asked meekly.

“Yes.”

“It is much more assuring to hear that you are nervous than you have seen a dead person who may or may not exist.”

“I know what I saw, Renfield,” Alexander retorted.

Renfield quirked an eyebrow. “Do you truly know what you see when you are in unscheduled bloodlust? Remember that one time in New Orleans…”

Alexander held up a pale hand, successfully preventing Renfield’s narrative, which to him was only a train wreck of mortification. That incident in New Orleans might haunt him for the rest of his undead life, which was not a very favorable prospect.

Renfield looked at the watch. “I wish we could discuss this matter some more but it’s almost time, sir. Better not to let them wait.”

“I need a shot of whiskey.”

Was that a whining tone in his voice or was it Renfield’s imagination?

“Just one sip, sir,” Renfield sighed, defeated.

Alexander nodded.

Renfield magically conjured a flask from his pocket and handed it to his employer, who took it, uncapped and unhesitatingly poured the liquid into his mouth. He returned the flask, patted Renfield’s shoulders and headed for the door.

When Renfield checked, his once full flask of whiskey was empty. One sip indeed. He marked down Alexander’s drinking habit on his mental note as something he should have a word with his boss later. Alcoholism was good to none, men and immortals alike.

It occurred to Alexander that he was not the least nervous. He persuaded them with his confidence and eloquence; he dominated them with his authoritative air. He had been royalty once: to exert his charisma and conquer a crowd was the least he could do to not sully his former name and bloodline, aside from having them impaled but that was out of the question. When looking upon their shared expression of awe, he could not help a little smirk: they were won, those who had laughed and gossiped about him earlier. Even the high-ranking members of the Order of the Dragon present were swayed. Though they hid their concern beneath artfully constructed disdain, he knew they understood that he was not a stereotypical American, that he might pose a real threat to their shadow empire.

And he also knew that he had not been hallucinated by his bloodlust either, for only a few moments after Alexander had begun his speech on the new, clean source of energy his entrepreneur company sought to introduce to the Great Britain, he caught sight of soft brown hair and amber eyes amongst the gathering crowd. His hair looked somewhat tousled as compared to his immaculate look before and there was a new blush on his smooth cheeks that added to his unnerving beauty. Did Alexander just think that the young man was beautiful? He did, and worse, he was distracted by it just enough for the audience to start questioning his silence before dear Renfield tapped him on the shoulders to remind him that he should resume his explanation. Oh right, back to the less distracting visages.

Perhaps in another universe Alexander Grayson would spot the lovely face of Mina Murray among the honored guests attending his party, and recognize her as the reincarnation of his deceased beloved wife Ilona. Then he would engage in a dangerous and sensual chasing game with her, which, much to a certain reporter’s dismay, ended with a Mina Murray in his bed and a very jealous and possibly murderous Jonathan Harker vowing to bring him back to his iron tomb. However, in this timeline and universe, while Mina Murray had sneaked to a corner to share a champagne with her best friend Lucy, Alexander’s eyes were entirely on the mysterious young man whom he was sure he had killed but now had shown up in his manor. On the bare skin of his neck that radiated a tantalizing scent, on the mischief light in his amber eyes and the contours of his lips that shifted when he smiled. The boy sure liked to smile as if he thought his smiles were his weapon as tears a woman’s. It might not be far from truth: Alexander could count the number of ladies hopelessly smitten and looked as though they could lay their life in front of him, and some males, too, though they were more surreptitious. He had never understood so well how the curves of one’s lips could “rewrite history” until now.

When all the candles were blown off for the demonstration to begin, their gazes locked for a millisecond, and Alexander felt as if he had accidentally touched the generator that was the source of the ‘miracle light’ with which he was about to astonish his guests. Eyes like these would be the death of him one day, the monarch of vampires was reminded of the crucial moment he had decided to sink his teeth into the young man’s veins. The bulb in each guest’s hand flared with light and surprised gasps filled the ball room but it seemed to Alexander at that moment there was no light brighter than the twin amber orbs and there was no sound louder than the quick intake of air from those carved rose lips.

“Can you see him now?” he whispered to Renfield once the demonstration was over and the ball room erupted in delightful applaud. The flute of champagne in his hand tilted to a particular direction. “The brown-haired one with the peculiar way of dressing?”

“The pretty one who has his throat bare, sir? Is he the one…”

“Yes. I want every information possible about him. Who he is. Where he lives. Why he is here…”

“… and possibly what he is, sir?” Alexander did not miss the similar interest in the man’s irises.

“Possibly what he is. I want to know everything.”

“As you wish, sir.”

Alexander Grayson barely listened to what the lady was speaking – his mind was busy searching for the color of fuchsia and black which had again disappeared from his sight. This lady had approached him, a voluptuous blonde woman in a teal dress that unabashedly showed half of her breasts, inviting the lustful gazes of many a man as she cut through the crowd like a well-honed blade. She congratulated him, of course, and went on talking something about an upcoming opera. He was not sure since his polite attention was only feigned. She reminded him too much of a lady in his court who had openly tried to seduce him even in the presence of his lawfully wedded wife, and for that Alexander found her womanly endowments tasteless at best. Her title and possible wealth, on the other hand…

“Oh, here you are. I have been searching for you. I want to congratulate you in person but it seems you are in company,” said a soft male voice which instantly alerted Alexander and the lady. Both looked to the right and met a pair of amber eyes. “The demonstration was very illuminating indeed.”

Alexander tensed for a millisecond, and he could hear the blood rushing in his veins in respond to the young man’s perfume. It was rose he was wearing tonight, a tad too womanly for Alexander’s normal preference. And there was the sweet scent of his blood lurking beneath. His instincts were provoked and it took all his will to restrain his own body from acting to its urges. His fists clenched and shook behind his back.

The young man glanced at Alexander’s arms briefly and did not hold his hand out for a handshake. “And what a ravishing company you are having Mr. Grayson. I find myself immensely envious.”

He was having his boyish smile as he held the lady’s hand and placed a light kiss on the gloved skin. “My name is Dorian Gray. A great pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lady…”

“Jayne Weatherby. The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Gray. You seem to be acquainted with our charming host before tonight.”

“I have had the pleasure to meet Mr. Grayson a couple of times. A ‘strained’ friendship is what I believe to be our case, am I right, Mr. Grayson?”

He winked at Alexander, whose body began to tense at each word. Were they to have vampiric senses, they could hear his knuckles cracking. “If you want to put it that way,” he said.

“Actually, Mr. Grayson and I had a date two evenings ago. Sadly he did not show up.” Feigning a pained expression, Dorian Gray put a hand above his chest. “Left me with a broken heart.”

Lady Weatherby was quick to console him by giving Alexander a chastising look. “Perhaps Mr. Grayson has not known but here in Britain we cherish our promises once made.”

Now Alexander could hear his fangs protruding and piercing his gums. His hands ached to wrap around Dorian Gray’s slender neck. And it was a real ache, not just an expression.

“I did understand that Mr. Grayson might have had a more important and urgent business than a casual tête-à-tête with me. I was hoping to have a few words with him after the demonstration. Did I interrupt your conversation? That was terribly rude of me.”

“No, you did not,” said Lady Weatherby. Her piercing, kohl-rimmed eyes glanced sharply between a tense-looking Alexander and an amiably handsome Dorian Gray. “I was hoping to invite Mr. Grayson to an opera three days from now but it seems opera is not really his cup of tea. He was rather… uninterested.”

“I beg to differ, my lady,” said Alexander. “But indeed I did not have many opportunities back in America – in New Orleans the theaters have actors imported from France but they are all pale imitations. The fastest way to kill off one’s passion. My years of traveling did not offer much chance either. Upon coming to London I have been thrilled with chances to indulge in my affection for arts.”

The lady’s coral lips curved in a smile. “All art lovers, aren’t we? I find it assuring that I am not the only one interested in opera here. Mr. Gray, would you care to join us on this occasion?”

Dorian Gray smiled. “Although I have been a devout lover of opera, I must say the current plays are becoming rather tedious and repetitive. Shakespeare, certainly, everyone loves Shakespeare, but watching Juliet embrace her beloved Romeo in her arms or Othello murder Desdemona out of blind jealousy the hundredth time hardly produces the same thrill and passion as the first. Still, none dare a change to these acclaimed classics: none would make Iago the hero or Romeo the bastard. It is tragic, but the novelty has already worn off long ago.”

Lady Weatherby shook her head in disbelief and clasped her hands. “My God, Mr. Gray, you could put all the directors and actors to tears with your words. I would not be surprised if you declared one day to become a theatrical critic. You are not already one, are you?”

Dorian Gray laughed with her. “A dreadful notion, my lady. As my late grandfather – God bless his soul – once said, ‘Those of talents write, and those envy only criticize.’ It was perhaps the only thing I could remember from him. A terrible grandson I am.”

“Wise words from a wise man. Alas, I did intend to invite you gentlemen to join me on Macbeth.”

“May I suggest an alternative, my lady, Mr. Grayson? I have fortunately discovered a theater at the East End, where the plays are all new and written differently from the classics. ‘Avant garde’ as they say.”

“Is that where a poor common girl was found grisly murdered only two days ago? My God!”

Lady Weatherby put a hand on her ample bosom and gasped quietly but like Dorian Gray, her fright was only acted. The gleam in her eyes betrayed her. Blood and violence seemed to turn her on, Alexander could catch it in her scent.

“There is no joy without risk, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Grayson?”

His eyes directed at Alexander, a subtle challenge.

“If Lady Weatherby is pleased, who am I to decline such an offer?”

He too managed a small smile without allowing his incisors to be visible.

“I do hope Mr. Grayson will keep his promise this time,” said Lady Weatherby, winking at Alexander. Then she turned to Gray and graced him with a wide smile.

After having seen Lady Weatherby to her coach, Alexander strode to the garden, and was unsurprised to see Dorian Gray had not left yet. The young man beamed when he saw Alexander.

“Would you care for a walk, Mr. Gray?” said the vampire through gritted teeth. He was quite certain Dorian Gray, with his observant eyes, would not miss his palpable fury. “I’d like to have a few private words with you.”

“But of course, Mr. Grayson.”

Only a fool would accept such a shady invitation. Dorian Gray was not a fool, not in the least, which made his motives even vaguer to Alexander.

He had Dorian Gray up against the stone wall once they were remotely out of other guests’ eyes. His fingers closed around the young man’s neck like he had visualized earlier. His skin was warm and smooth under Alexander’s cool fingertips. One of his hands rested on Alexander’s forearm, gently drawing small circles on the fabric. To his surprise, Dorian Gray started giggling as though being pressed by another man (perhaps not man) to the hard stone wall was very amusing to him.

“Do you have any idea who I am, what I am?” His voice was a growl surging from the depth of his throat, more beast than human. He tightened his grip. Dorian Gray’s feet barely touched the ground. “Do you fancy your skin peeled off like a grape?”

It was difficult to be hung off the ground and laugh at the same time, but Dorian Gray still managed a smile. “Do you fancy a skinless corpse in your garden and the Scotland Yard questioning you day and night? I think I have a good idea of what you are, Mr. Alexander Grayson, as we were rather… intimate two nights ago.”

His fingers wrapped around the vampire’s wrist but he made no attempt to try lessening the pressure on his neck. “The question is, Mr. Grayson, do you have any idea who I am, what I am?”

The echo of his question further fanned the rage in Alexander.

“What are you playing, Dorian Gray?”

Their faces were close, and Dorian Gray’s perfume was stronger than ever. So was the scent of his blood.

“The same as you are,” whispered Gray, barely loud enough for him to hear. “Human.”

The last stressed word pulled the trigger and Alexander could not careless about a dry corpse or even ten in his garden. He could tear the body into pieces and discarded them over London if he had to. To hell with the Scotland Yard; all he wanted was blood – Dorian Gray’s peculiar blood that had him passed out for a day. He dipped his head in the nape of Dorian Gray’s neck and bit.

Dorian Gray’s blood was the same as he remembered, hot, thick and sickeningly sweet. It flowed into his bloodstream and quickly dissolved his rational thoughts, leaving his nature to surface and rule the rest of him. He knew Dorian Gray’s blood was sugared toxic, and he could not help sucking in that toxic until the last drop.

But there was no last drop. As before, the flow did not cease no matter how much he had taken – an endless river that soon had Alexander drowned. His consciousness was slipping fast, Dorian Gray’s moans became distant, and darkness put a veil over his eyes.

Before long, it was Dorian Gray who had to wrap an arm around the vampire’s shoulders, keeping him from falling to the ground.

“Now, now, where’s your table etiquette, Mr. Grayson?”

His tongue flicked against the corner of Alexander’s lips, cleaning away a few stray beads. His ministration elicited no response from the vampire.

Renfield looked at the two figures in front of him with badly concealed horror. His boss, Grayson, appeared unconscious and was supported by a brown-haired, amber-eyed young man who looked much paler than he remembered. On his shirt were a few dark stains, to Renfield’s dismay.

The young man smiled at him amiably. “You must be his assistant, Mr. Renfield I assume? Mr. Grayson has drunk quite a lot of champagne and the alcohol doesn’t seem to agree with his tolerance.”

Renfield was dumbfounded. What did the young man just say? His boss, Mr. Grayson, who could gulp down an entire barrel of whiskey would have gotten drunk on champagne? That would be the worst lie ever. He scrutinized the young man from head to toe with growing suspicion.

Not minding the odd way Renfield was looking at him, he gently transferred Grayson’s weight to Renfield’s awaiting arms. “It is quite late already. Please excuse me.”

“May I ask, who are you?” Renfield called after the young man, who had turned to leave.

“My name is Dorian Gray. Should Mr. Grayson ask, please tell him he still owes me a burgundy silk scarf and…” He glanced at the stains on his white shirt. “… a shirt. Goodnight, Mr. Renfield.”

His lean figure disappeared behind the iron gate.

Sighing, Renfield carefully walked his drunken boss inside the manor. Grayson smelled of rose, which was not his perfume tonight. He suspected it was from the mysterious young man. Dorian Gray. Renfield made himself remember the name.

When they passed the fountain, he barely managed to halt Grayson’s half-hearted attempt to reconcile with the water. He considered himself lucky that Grayson’s suit was unsullied. Grayson looked very handsome in it; it would be a real shame if he had to throw it into the fireplace.

And, he hoped against hope that Grayson would get sober enough for the scheduled interview tomorrow afternoon.

Dorian found Raziel waiting for him at the gate.

“You seem in a jolly mood, sir. Was it a good party?”

“It was great,” said Gray, taking off his coat and sitting down so Raziel could help him with his shoes and socks. “An illuminating experience. It would be great if we had that wireless light bulbs around our house.”

“As long as it makes you pleased, sir.”

“More than pleased, Razz, I am absolutely thrilled.”

“When was the last time I saw your buttons all done up?” Raziel arched a dark eyebrow at his master. “Is the air particularly chilling tonight?”

Grinning, Dorian unbuttoned his shirt with leisure hands, revealing two nasty bite marks. The blood had dried and caked around the wounds.

“I doubt that these stains could be washed away. A shame,” said the butler in a remorseful tone.

“He owes me a scarf and a shirt. Next time we meet, I’ll be sure to remind him.”

“The same one?”

Dorian nodded.

“Good thing he didn’t rip you apart like last time.”

“I consider it an improvement.” Dorian shrugged. “He only had me against the wall and bit me.”

“You met him on the street?”

“At the party.”

“A vampire attending a scientific demonstration ball? Now that’s innovative.”

“Even better, he was the host.”

Raziel stared silently at his young master for a good minute before his thin lips slowly curved into a smile, which was mirrored on Dorian’s face. “Congratulations, sir, there’s finally something that could pique your interest.”

Dorian could not agree more.

Cont

Could Dorian’s licking Alexander’s lips qualify as their first kiss?

[Fanfic] Like It Rough

Final2

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC, modern AU, breaking the fourth wall

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray

Warnings: brief reference to BDSM, blood play, knife play…

Summary: Dorian gets obsessed with a song Alexander really hates.

Dorian has been obsessed with a song recently.

It is not a problem because Dorian Gray is almost always obsessed with one thing or another. Such is the downfall of having three most desired by humans for granted: beauty, wealth and immortality. He needn’t strive for goals and as a result, he gets bored with his eternal life quite often. Sort of a chronic disease it is. Search always for new sensations, such is his motto: new things enchant him, thrill him for a while, until the novelty wears off and he quickly discards them to pursue others. The circle repeats; nothing lasts too long.

It is not a problem to Alexander Grayson either, the other immortal who shares the huge, modern mansion with Dorian Gray. Unlike Dorian, Alexander always has a goal to attain. To conquer Asian market, for one. To write his name in Forbes’ list, another. Sometimes, to have his own TV series where Dracula the vampire is the handsome and seductive hero surrounded by beauties while Jonathan Harker is the jealous villain, with none other than Alexander Grayson starring as the lead, of course. No more of the aged, ghastly pale Dracula with plastic fangs who dressed in ridiculous costume the media has so loved to portray: this is the Dracula of the new century, who possesses impeccable fashion style and the mind of a visionary and successful entrepreneur. The shame it was inexplicably cancelled after the first season, thus giving Alexander another challenge to conquer: to resurrect the series so that he can have more fun playing ‘Alexander Grayson’. To Dorian, it is just Alexander making things difficult for himself really: the easiest way is to buy off the channel and the production crew and have as many seasons as he could possibly want. Alexander sniggers. See the core of Dorian’s perpetual boredom now?

Back to the point. It does not matter to Alexander what damned song Dorian is obsessed with; what matters here is the former Romanian monarch just happens to hate that song as strongly as he loathed the Order of Dragon and all its associates. He feels as though he would murder the artist in broad daylight if he met him, or her or whatever. The vocal does not indicate the singer’s sex – another reason to hate it.

Actually this is not the first time Dorian has been obsessed with something Alexander hates. A few years ago it was Marilyn Manson that captivated him and Dorian listened to ‘her’ screaming (quite literally) day and nights, jarring Alexander’s patience and emotional well-being tremendously. The ugliest woman with the most hideous voice Alexander has had the unpleasure to know, thought the vampire, until Dorian corrected him, “That is a man. Marilyn Manson is the stage name.”

Oh well, the ugliest man with the most hideous voice Alexander has had the unpleasure to know. He could never fathom why a man would choose to be called by a woman’s name. Back in his old days, it was a crime to confuse the ruler like that. That Marilyn Manson should feel lucky that he was not born under Vlad Tepes’s reign.

Yet back then Dorian did not play it twenty-four-seven like today. Attention: ‘listened’, not ‘played’. There is a major difference between them. Back then Dorian only listened to those hellish songs on his iPod (even in time of bed, to Alexander’s annoyance), but now he has taken his obsession to a whole new level: he has bought a complete surround sound system so he can “wallow in its sensuality” (his words) whenever he wants, and that is just about every second he spends at home, which is just about every second Alexander spends at home. He feels invaded, and this enemy is far worse than the Turks. At least the Turks were afraid of him and his execution method. This is not.

It will eventually pass, Alexander assures himself. Dorian never really sticks to one thing for too long. One week at most, then he will grow tired of it like he did everything else (except Alexander and his bites), and he will get rid of it himself. Alexander just has to be patient and waits. Be patient. And wait.

One day.

Two days.

Three days.

… A week.

That damn song is still on, proud and loud, whenever Dorian is in the mansion. He has it on when they are having dinner and when he is taking a bath. He even has it on while he is watching Alexander’s TV series, playing as the background music in every scene while the original sound is muted. “You know, darling, this series of yours doesn’t have very provocative music,” says Dorian one evening. This is one of the night when he is in the mood to stay in and having a marathon of whatever TV series available while lounging on the enormous sofa like a huge, lazy cat in silk sleeping robe. “Perhaps you may consider this song as the main theme of the second season. With Dracula having both Mina and Lucy by his side, why not sexing it up a little? Pepper it with some rough sex and nudity. Perhaps an orgy. That Showtime’s series on Sunday does a good job showing it. That’s why they can keep their show going.”

While yours flopped, the implication is very clear.

Generally he adores Dorian but sometimes he just cannot help the urge to strangle him (did it once and unfortunately Dorian loved it). This is one of these times.

Other times are when Dorian has the song playing while they are making love, or fucking, depending on their mood.

“We can get a little crazy just for fun, just for fun…”

As if their sex which always involves blood is not crazy enough. Their bed sheet and pillow cases are a deep crimson while neither of them like the color is for a reason. There was that one time when they just moved into this mansion and had not have it properly furnitured: their newly hired maid freaked out when she came to gather the bed sheet to laundry only to discovered it stained with blotches of dry blood. Alexander had to hypnotize her to forget the whole incident before she called 911. Took some effort though. From then on color has always been their top priority when choosing things for their house. Even their floor carpet is a rare shade of red because Dorian sometimes likes it on the floor instead of the bed or sofa or the kitchen counter.

“Wanna wrestle with me baby

Here’s a sneak, little peek

You can dominate the game ‘cause I’m tough

I don’t play around that often

But when I do, I’m a freak

So you’d better believe

I like it rough…”

Oh, Alexander never doubts Dorian is a freak, a beautiful freak, who likes to fill their house with portraits of dead people he has collected from Devil-know-where. He himself is a freak too, at least when Dorian unleashes that part of him. And Dorian plays around more often than it is considered healthy. One time he bought home an exquisite knife set of various shapes and sizes, and coaxed Alexander into a sadistic/masochistic game that should never be played unless you were immortal and could heal yourself. He ended up spending half the night experimenting each and every knife on Dorian’s silky skin (did not regret it) and the other half licking the intoxicating blood from the runes he had successfully carved on his lover. The bed sheet was beyond help and had to be burnt away after that bloody night.

So, after a week of making love on that song, Alexander decides that he has had enough. One night he arrives home and walks straight into the living room. Standing in front of the stereo system, he contemplates it and then nonchalant puts a few lances through the thing (don’t ask where he got the lances). He smiles, feeling utterly satisfied as if impaling his enemies back in the old glorious days. He knows it is futile because Dorian will just buy a whole new system tomorrow but he does it anyway. One peaceful night is better than none.

Unfortunate for Alexander, he soon learns that the freaking song can still torture him even without the stereo system. It sounds only a tad lower though, as it is coming from Dorian’s Vaio.

Shit! Alexander facepalmed himself. How could he forget the laptop?

To top it, Dorian is singing along and he really cannot impale his lover to make him shut up.

Oh, can he?

“Push up into my body

Sink your teeth into my flesh…”

He pushes Dorian flat on the carpeted floor right in the first chorus. Hastily ripping his tie from his neck, he uses it to bind Dorian’s hands behind his back. Dorian’s pulses sing with excitement beneath his fingertips when he tears their designer’s clothes to shreds.

Once he thrusts into Dorian and bites into his thigh artery at the same time (no small thanks to his vampiric reflex), Dorian also stops singing. What come out of his Cupid’s bow lips are lengthy moans that sound a whole lot better than that trashy music. His fingers tangle in Alexander’s black hair, his long legs lock around Alexander’s waist, their heels digging into the small of Alexander’s back. Dorian rarely speaks during sex and this is his usual way of saying “faster”, “harder” and “don’t stop”. Alexander obliges him.

His thrusts unconsciously follow the rhythm of the song in the background.

“Give it till I beg, give me some more

Make me bleed, I like it rough

Like it rough, rough, rough…”

The aftermath of their lovemaking always looks positively similar to a homicide crime scene, with some broken furniture and spots of blood everywhere. Dorian lies naked on the floor, his face down and his limbs stretched. Alexander’s body, equally naked, molds into his. He is lapping at the few last drops on Dorian’s back. The song is still playing in the background, replayed the n time in the night.

“Make me bleed, I like it rough

Like it rough, rough, rough…”

Dorian has found his voice again. His singing is weak, breathless and blasphemously mixed with giggles.

“You are aware that this song provokes me, aren’t you?”

“Of course,” says Dorian confidently, “that’s why I’ve had it on for the last week. The result is quite… extraordinary.”

He tucks playfully at his binding and considers not allowing the bruise underneath to heal.

“You’re one sick bastard.”

It is not known whether because of Alexander’s words or his tongue tickling his sensitive skin that Dorian bursts into laughter.

“Next time you want to play rough, just say so,” Alexander sighs.

“But it’s much more fun seeing you angry, frustrated. Adds up the passion. Besides, I rather love that artwork you made in the living room. Vlad The Impaler indeed.”

“Throw it away tomorrow.”

“Make me.”

Dorian abruptly rolls on his side and before Alexander can protest further, there is slight snoring coming from him.

That is also Dorian’s usual way of saying “no more discussion”.

The following night Alexander comes home after a heated meeting with his board of directors only to find most of their furniture impaled in the same way as the unfortunate and short-lived stereo system and a beaming Dorian in the living room. “Got the lances from a props storage room. They sold them away after the movie’s utter failure. What do you think?” he asked in an innocent tone as if entirely oblivious to the dark, thunderous cloud hovering above Alexander’s head.

Plus, the damned song is playing loudly in the living room.

“Make me bleed, I like it rough

Like it rough, rough, rough…”

What does Alexander think? Alexander thinks murder.

End

Honestly I don’t know why I wrote this.

No offence to Marilyn Manson and Simon Curtis’s Flesh. I actually like the song a lot and sort play it whenever I have a chance, much to my brother’s annoyance. It fits Dorian and Dracula’s twisty romance.

Think of this story as a distant future to Why Won’t You Die?

[Fanfic] Why Won’t You Die? (2)

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray, Renfield, original character

Warnings: gore

Summary : It was pretty simple: Dracula’s habitual feeding was seen by a mortal young man (a very handsome one but it was not the matter!), so in order to protect his secrets, naturally the monarch of vampires had to kill him. Then, for some mysterious reason, the same young man showed up at his demonstration ball, alive, well and would very much like to remind the vampire how he had mercilessly ‘broken’ his heart only nights before.

II. Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray had not expected it to be an extraordinary night.

His day started at sunset: he woke up from restless dream, bathed, dressed up, put on some eau de perfume – in the mood for jasmine – and ventured out London streets in another same old boring night. Dining at a random restaurant – French, Italian, India… did not matter – flirting with a random good-looking lady which might result in a quick fuck in the restroom or against the wall – again, did not matter – and forgetting her face entirely after the climax was reached. Same old boring routine. When the clock struck 9, he directed the chauffeur to a pub in a darker corner of the city. Ordering his usual drink, he sat back and studied the other patrons, the majority of whom dressed in much less fancy clothes than his, and ordered less expensive drink than the absinthe in his hand – not quite on par with his own at home but good enough to pass. Somehow watching them gulp down bottle after bottle of cheap swill, get drunk and squabble with one another, more often than not leading to a fight and blood being spilt, lent him a small joy that would be sufficient enough to keep him from banging his head against the wall in boredom. It would not leave any lasting damage on him anyway. He guessed it was the reason he still held some interest in this frowsty place, whose furniture was tasteless, decorations vulgar and the damp air reeked of cheap perfume, booze and occasionally a drunkard’s vomit while the alcohol tasted a little better than piss. Not that he had tasted piss though.

He was yawning the thirteenth time in this evening when out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a gentleman enter through the narrow door. Like him, the gentleman was dressed in fancy clothes: dark grey suit that was meticulously tailored to his form, a matching top hat and fingerless black gloves. He sported a neat moustache and goatee that added an air of masculinity and authority to his handsome sharp features. Too sharp that he appeared intimidating and cold rather than affectionate and lovely. He meant to be feared and in fear others found his charms undeniable, intoxicating; there was no other way around. His complexion was also a little too pale for Dorian’s taste, with tiny veins visible underneath marmoreal skin, but otherwise went perfectly with his raven coifed hair. Such stark contrast was rare, the world today dominated by golden hair and rosy cheeks. Something of a novelty. The man’s eyes were a pale blue and they scrutinized the place before opting for a table half a pub away from Dorian’s. Good. Dorian did not like getting caught in the middle of spying. The pretty waitress greeted him with a much warmer smile than she did other customers (except Dorian, of course) and attended to him with equal eagerness. A Whiskey, Dorian overheard the waitress mumble as she passed his table. A faint smile graced his lips as he watched the gentleman with newly kindled interest behind his glass of flaming green absinthe.

That might prove to be an extraordinary night after all, thought Dorian. The gentleman was discreetly touching the waitress’s forearm and winking at her, causing a rose to bloom on her cheeks despite all the powder she had put on. One who mastered the art of wooing. A man of his status and wealth, judging by his garments and the overly handsome tip he gave the waitress, could (and probably should) be at a luxurious fine dining place and have any woman he wanted, all prettier and of higher birth than a common girl at a common pub. What on Earth prompted him to set his foot in here? But again, the very same thing could be said about Dorian too, yet he still frequented this as a regular patron. He smiled to himself. It was silly of him to raise the question. From his own experience, he knew it was not uncommon for a powerful and affluent man to visit pubs and mingle with the common folks. Seeking a thrill to spice up his mundane aristocratic life: the nobles with their fancy clothes and fancy words bored him to death, and only at places like this could he abandon all his restraints of formalities and indulge in the carnal pleasures his class all scorned yet secretly dreamed of and rarely had the gall to practice.

He was surprised at himself, for even after he had gone through an analysis of the gentleman’s motives, he still had not lost the odd fascination with him. He wagered it was because of the man’s handsomeness. Beauty of all genders and shapes always hooked him and with a face like that, the man could have the personality of a broken chair and still had Dorian enchanted. He had already pondered the gentleman’s favored role in bed: would he be the one to conquer or would he prefer to be dominated, played with and thoroughly used instead? Would he fancy the fairer sex only or would he fight for both sides? Dorian sat back, savoring the building heat in his stomach as he undressed his target with his eyes. As if sensing the intensity of his gaze, the gentleman looked at Dorian’s corner. Smiling at him, Dorian raised his glass of absinthe in a silent toast. His gesture went unreturned.

He paid for his drink and sprang up to follow them as the waitress and the gentleman left the door. He inexplicably knew where they would head without even asking: a vile place to match the vile act they were about to commit.

Dorian’s ears picked soft groans as he crept closer, his footsteps soundless as a shadow cat’s in spite of the puddles left after the early evening rain. That his peeping habit could get him done one day or another, he remembered Raziel’s reprimand and smiled a small, sheepish smile as he peered out of the shadow at the couple intertwining their bodies in human’s most primitive dance. His heart beat a tattoo against his ribcage.

… He certainly did not expect to bear witness to a crime. A rather unusual crime it was, with the man bringing his mouth to his partner’s neck, puncturing the flesh with his incisors (strange!) and beginning to suck from the wounds. A thin string of red winded around the woman’s neck like an exotic necklace. She was enraptured at first, letting out audible moans while clinging herself onto the man’s lean form. Again, from his experience, he knew there were a number of men and women, nobles and common folks alike, who found this rather bestial treatment enjoyable, pleasurable even. There was no pleasure without pain; hence knife play, biting, scratching and all other bloody acts were not excluded from the arts of bed. The woman apparently enjoyed her partner biting her and feeding on her blood (was he?), until the man turned violent and started causing her unpleasant pain. She began clawing and kicking at him and her protest might have uncaged something in the gentleman (perhaps not so gentle anymore), something ugly and terrible, for the next thing Dorian witnessed with wide eyes was the man tearing off his victim’s neck, with nothing but his bare teeth, now elongated, sharpened and gleaming under the gas lamp. Like animal fangs, Dorian dared think. His eyes shining with unusual light, two will-o-the-wisp flames one sometimes caught in a graveyard, and they sent a chill down Dorian’s spine. The breath clotted in his throat and he did not doubt the virgin’s blush was coloring his cheeks. He was watching the scene with such attention that he forgot to blink. Or to breathe. Thrilled. The man had been admirably handsome in the pub, but at the moment he was absolutely breathtaking, with fresh blood smearing his lips and a dazed, wild look in his dilated shining irises as he stood leaning against the wall, chest heaving heavily with the afterglow of his kill. So ravishing was the bloodsucker that Dorian almost felt love. Love. He could not believe his mind had just uttered the word. Love was so mundane a concept and he had mostly left it to dusk away in a corner of his mind. No, love was an illusion, this was not; this was real. Perhaps not love then, but something that gave a similar first impression but was actually miles apart, a feeling much more intense and urgent, like wildfire in a parched forest. He had been fascinated with this man, no – this creature, in the pub; now he yearned for him with a need greater than anything he had ever wanted.

He certainly did not see it coming – a moment before the man had been lost in his own tempest of pleasure and in a blink of an eye, he was face-to-face with Dorian, his smooth fingers – too smooth to be normal – wrapping dangerously around Dorian’s neck. Perhaps were he another man, he would be utterly horrified and his fear would permeate through every orifice of his body. But he was not afraid really, surprised and caught off guard, yes but fearful, no. Instead, he was too eager to see what this creature intended to do with the sole witness of his gruesome murder. He stared back at those icy blue eyes with defiance, perhaps a challenge. He had not been so terribly excited for a long, long time that he felt as if he could go on his knees and weep.

A wet, warm tongue flicking against the skin of his neck, that was the first sensation, followed by the pricking of two needles into his flesh. Dorian grimaced slightly because of the tiny pain of penetration. The man had bitten him, that much he had expected; what was the use of those sharp teeth if not biting? Did he want to drain him too, as Dorian was pretty sure he had done the pretty girl earlier? Blessed, he thought, that he would encounter a creature in the flesh from those penny dreadful novels he sometimes purchased and read in idle afternoons when he did not have the crave of sleep. In those books these creatures – what were they called, ah, vampires – were always described as hideous-looking, having foul breath and dressing in filthy rags. Not once had they been described as gorgeous gentlemen in tailored suits drinking whiskey in pubs, charming waitresses and smelling of eau de perfume. Musk, he noticed, a bold, lascivious choice – the man was definitely armed to prey. How terribly inaccurate and dreadful human imagination could be. This was too amusing that Dorian would have thrown his head back and laughed out loud had the vampire not already begun sucking his blood. Then he simply stopped thinking. It hit him hard and unexpectedly: he was drifting in the rocking bosom of the quiet, gentle sea than all of sudden waves from the bottom deep surged forward and swallowed him up as if a titanic sea monster’s jaw. Lost he was, and ravaged in the whirlpool of pain and pleasure perfectly mingled. His knees became dough and the rest of him would have fallen to the ground had he not subconsciously clung onto the vampire’s body. If he were able to reason at the moment, he would willingly and gladly nail his soul on the devil’s altar once again so that this exquisite pleasure would become his from this night and all the nights to come.

Something interrupted his ongoing track to climax. Dorian would not describe it as ‘pain’ but a discomfort, a tightness in the chest from which he felt his heart struggling to get free. He looked down at his chest and saw a wrist disappear where his heart was. He stared at the vampire’s extraordinary face, accentuated by the demonic glow in his eyes. So maddeningly beautiful words simply could not do it justice. He wanted to kiss him, tasting his own blood on the vampire’s lips, provided his hand was not in the way. Troublesome, he frowned and vaguely began to get a grip of what had just been done to him. He glanced at the blood-soaked wrist in his chest and strangely enough, he found no pain whatsoever.

He felt the smooth fingers on the texture of his heart, felt the pressure they briefly applied on unyielding muscles. Unwilling to give in, wasn’t it? An odd ripping sound. Then he saw the crimson fingers closing around a blood-dripping fleshy lump. It was still beating in the vampire’s hand, he thought with some fascination before the emptiness in his breast conjured up the darkness on his eyelids.

Could he die this time, he wondered, before he closed his eyes and simply lost all his senses.

… Perhaps not.

He awoke with a revolting stench in his nose and a damp stickiness on his skin. Slowly he sat up and fragments of images were resurrected in his head. The crowded pub. The handsome gentleman and the pretty waitress. This filthy deserted alleyway. Bloodsucking. The unforgettable ecstasy (the clearest memory of all!). His heart. He looked down at the gaping hole in his chest from which he could see the wall behind and grimaced. On the ground his heart lied not so far away, among white little bits he suspected to be his ribs, stained with blood and mud. He did a double wince as he scooped his heart in his hand, examined it for a little while – had never seen and touched a real human heart before – before putting it in his pocket. Never mind the ribs; they were hopeless anyway. As he was done, he tipped his head back and broke into roaring laughter. Tonight he had crossed a new limit and broke a new personal record: not even gouging out his heart could kill him. He considered trying decapitation next time but decided against it: to put himself to the guillotine was a troublesome procedure which his lazy self would probably drop out before reaching halfway.

He found his burgundy silk scarf at his feet and frowned deeply. It was stained with blood and the filth that littered the ground and the smell was disgusting when he wrapped it tightly around the mess of skin and flesh on his neck. He glanced at the young girl’s corpse, killed by the same method, and let out a sigh, feeling the air wheezing through his open wound. It was a miracle that his larynx and windpipe had suffered only a few insignificant damages by the vampire’s bite; still, his voice would be affected; he hoped it was not so unpleasant on the ears like those veterans with throat damage he had met. Should he ever meet that vampire again (if he were lucky) he had to demand compensation. His throat could heal but this scarf had been one of Dorian’s favorites and now he could not wait to feed it to the flame.

The chauffeur regarded him with bleary eyes when he opened the door for Dorian. He was grateful that the darkness and the crude man’s sleepiness was enough to conceal the fact that he was having traces of blood on his face and a see-through hole in his chest, barely concealed by his coat. As for his rather untidy state, he was pleased that the man was trained and paid well enough to not raise a question.

Well, it had been an extraordinary night beyond his expectation, with only a little mishap that resulting in his having to pick up his heart from the ground and riding home with a fatal wound. Nevertheless, it had been most exquisite.

“Shall I prepare a bath for you, sir?”

Dear old Raziel, with his carefully groomed goatee and his immaculate butler suit, opened the door for him. Dorian did not miss the older man’s sloe eyes scrutinizing him from head to toe, mentally taking note of his stained face, his ruined clothes, his dirtied scarf and especially the conspicuous hole. Observant was a butler’s virtue, and Raziel had spent years perfecting it to the point he could even point out exactly how many strands of Dorian’s hair were out of place as compared to when he had left the manor.

“A bath would be terribly in need,” said Dorian as he allowed his butler to help him with his boots and coat – thanks God his voice was not too terrible. “But right now I do require your deft hands. Come to my chamber with me.”

“Anything you wish, sir.”

“Had a rough night, sir?” the stoic butler asked, gently wiping the bloodstains on Dorian’s face  and exposed neck with a silk cloth dipped in warm water. Bending his head, he studied the wound on his throat. “Huhm, dare I say your partner sure has very strong teeth.”

Dorian laughed, feeling the sound vibrating in his chest. “Yes, yes he does. And ‘rough’ is rather an understatement. Can you imagine what I encountered tonight, Razz?”

“Pardon my ignorance, sir.”

When he was done cleaning, Raziel began unbuttoned Dorian’s shirt, sliding it off his form. He stared at the hole for a good minute, examining the skin around with a doctor’s curiosity. If it were not for utmost respect for his young master, he would be very tempted to try putting his hand through the hole.

“Now now, don’t be shy, Razz,” Dorian cooed. “You can poke it if you like. I don’t mind.”

And he did, briefly, before he withdrew his hand. “A hand, about my size. Was it?”

Dorian nodded. “Your eyes are keen as usual. It was a vampire’s that did.”

Raziel took the cloth and wiped away the blood caked around the hole. “A vampire in London? How extraordinary.” There was little surprise in his flat tone. Well, for a butler whose master could survive having his heart outside his body, there were few things that were able to truly astonish him. “How was our Mr. Vampire like? Ghastly pale, dressed in filthy rags and having foul breath I suppose?”

Dorian laughed. “Dear Razz, no, we were both fooled by those penny dreadful novels. Lack of sunlight, yes but other things, no. How to describe him? Well, you can imagine a gentleman in tailored suit, who sported a top hat and a silver walking cane, who walked into pubs and charmed pretty little waitresses effortlessly with his generous tip and neat handsome look.”

“That certainly wasn’t something I expect from a creature of the night: a vampire who drinks alcohol?”

The blood was persistent and Raziel had to wash the cloth a few times before he could wash it clean. The water in the basin had turned a roseate shade.

“Whiskey,” replied Dorian. “And apparently that is not the only fluid on his menu. He took the waitress to a dark alleyway and drank her there. I watched them – please do not lecture me how that habit of mine is inappropriate, I know it is.” He held up a forefinger before continuing, “He spotted me, drank me and…” He shrugged. “… you can guess the rest.”

“Actually, no, sir. Drank you, that is a sensible thing to do to a witness. Not to waste valuable nourishment, of course. I just cannot fathom his reason for… this wanton display of sadism; it was uncalled for. Did he do the same to his first victim?”

“He drank her every drop and that was it,” Dorian answered, shaking his head lightly. “Perhaps he realized he could not kill me by draining me and had to opt for an… extreme method.”

“And how is your blood at the moment, sir?”

“Refilling, I suppose. I don’t feel very much like a dry corpse like I did an hour ago.”

“That’s very assuring, sir. Here you are.”

With much care, Raziel took the heart, now cleaned of the dirt, from the platter. “You have my heart on a silver platter?” asked Dorian. The butler could not help a small smile. “Yes, I do, sir.” Gingerly he held the heart in his hand and put it in Dorian’s chest. Holding his young master’s hand, he guided it to the hole and pressed it down. “Keep your hand like this, sir, until your wound heals.”

“Thank you Razz. You’ve been extremely helpful.”

“Your bath is prepared, sir. I took the liberty to scent it with your usual, lavender. I hope you don’t mind.”

“It would be lovely, thank you.”

The fastidious butler bowed deeply and turned to the door. “One more thing, sir, you’ve got an invitation.”

“To?”

“A scientific demonstration ball, it seems, sir,” answered Raziel. “From an American entrepreneur by the name Alexander Grayson.”

“A scientific demonstration by a man I’ve never heard before? Doesn’t seem like my usual cup of tea.”

“Shall I decline, sir?”

Dorian let out a small laugh. “You know me better, Razz. I never say ‘no’. What is the harm in attending one ball or two?”

“Understood, sir. I shall make the preparation.”

The butler said and disappeared behind the door.

With his right hand pressed against his chest, Dorian stood up, half-naked, and walked to his enormous bookshelf. He found the silver cobra figurine erected on the fourth shelf and twisted it clock-wise. The heavy bookshelf gave off a low rumble and revolved, slowly revealing a secret passage. With his other hand, he grabbed the silver candlestick Raziel had left and descended the dark, low stair. Behind his back, the bookshelf reverted to its normal position.

Dorian glanced at the various reflections of himself along the hall of mirror. To him, each reflection presented a distinguished face, a distinguished expression which was similar to one another in the way they were all watching him and judging him with every step he made closer to his destination. What have you done this time, Dorian? Have you reached another level of decadence yet? Can’t wait to see the results? He almost heard them whisper and snigger among themselves. Having no hand to cover his ears, Dorian paid them no mind and kept walking. He reached the end at last – an oval room where a huge canvas stood alone, entirely covered by deep scarlet velvet. When he uncovered it, he saw particles of dust fluttering in the dim candlelight. A pair of amber-colored eyes stared straight his own. Unnerved, even frightened, every time was the same. He forced himself to stare back because that was what needed to heal himself: if he did not, he might just go back and find a needle and thread to sew himself up. Maybe not. Raziel always had better hands than his so he would be less likely to make a mess. But it would not happen because this was still within Dorian’s endurance scope. “Hideous creature,” muttered Dorian as he studied every line on the withered face, every blister, every scar on wrinkled gray skin. He felt his heart start beating again, slowly and unsteadily at first, but gradually acquired its natural rhythm as each second passed. Even without a mirror, he could tell the torn muscles on his chest closed up as if being rapidly mended by an invisible hand. He fingered the skin and found it smooth, seamless, perfect.

He draped the velvet cover over the portrait and turned to leave. His ears picked up a sigh and a whisper went straight to his head like a needle. “Won’t you stay a little longer with me, dearest child?”

He ignored the petty voice and spun on his heel.

Cont

[Fanfic] Why Won’t You Die? (1)

Disclaimer : Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandoms : Dracula (2013), Penny Dreadful (2014)

Rating : M

Pairing : Dracula/Alexander Grayson x Dorian Gray

Genres : fanfiction, crossover, humor, probably a little OOC

Characters : Dracula/Alexander Grayson, Dorian Gray, Renfield, original character

Warnings: gore

Summary : It was pretty simple: Dracula’s habitual feeding was seen by a mortal young man (a very handsome one but it was not the matter!), so in order to protect his secrets, naturally the monarch of vampires had to kill him. Then, for some mysterious reason, the same young man showed up at his demonstration ball, alive, well and would very much like to remind the vampire how he had mercilessly ‘broken’ his heart only nights before.

I. Alexander Grayson

Renfield could not help a troubled frown when he saw his employer, Mr. Alexander Grayson, with his face wet and his hair a dripping mess, stagger (yes, stagger) into Carfax Manor and flop down rather ungracefully on one of the sofas in the living room. As soon as he laid his back down, he immediately closed his eyes, not even bothering to change into proper nightwear or taking off his shoes and socks. Judging by the way he had carried himself into the room and the telltale blush on his usually pale cheeks, Renfield was quite certain that his employer was fairly positively drunk as a skunk (which happened to be Grayson’s most hated animal in the world – just never remind him of that little accident back in America if you still value your veins). He would come to such conclusion provided he did not know any better; except he did, and he did know his boss was only human in appearance. Alexander Grayson was, to most humans’ dismay, a bloodsucker, and bloodsuckers, by and large, did not get drunk.

Or did they?

Neither did they snore, Renfield mentally sighed. For all the years he had been in his boss’s service, he had not once heard Grayson snore; his sleeps, though brief and sporadic, were quiet as death. Once upon a time he had mistaken Grayson’s death sleep to be real death and put his new boss, not without excessive amount of man-tear, into a coffin. He was already half-done with the funeral’s preparations when a furious Alexander Grayson leapt from the coffin and scared the shit out of him. Never put me in a coffin again, his boss had roared and until today, the words still echoed in the former law student’s mind.

As he scooped up his boss’s smaller body, Renfield got a better inspection of Grayson’s clothes, and grimaced. He had chosen an elegant dark grey suit for the night (why such fancy clothes for a hunt Renfield could never fathom) and now the outfit was ruined beyond help. His coat and white shirt were stained with maroon-colored blotches he did not doubt to be somebody’s, or a few somebodies’, blood. He could not help wondering if Grayson’s crapulence had anything to do with the ruin of his clothes. His boss was a rather messy eater – their years of living together had proven – but just not this messy; as matter of fact, he was secretly quite vain – please do not tell him that Renfield had accidentally caught him combing his hair and fixing his tie to perfection in front of the bathroom mirror for an amount of time other men would deem inappropriate. Had his victims put up a lot of fight or had Grayson decided to let himself go for a night? Anyway, he considered giving Grayson a change of clothes and disposed the coat and shirt, lest the maid was scared to an untimely death. Either two articles of clothes or a maid had to go, and Renfield would rather the former. He found Ella’s apple crumb cakes quite agreeable to his taste buds. Never mind the sugar though.

Once he had helped Grayson dry his hair, wash his face and change into comfortable nightclothes, he gently placed his boss, who remained quite dead as a log throughout the whole time, on his bed and thoroughly wrapped him in all the thick blankets available. Before leaving Grayson to his bloody sweet dream, he checked the window curtains again to make sure no sunlight was allowed in the chamber. He was very fond of his boss and undoubtedly, a healthy, alive and generous Alexander Grayson who paid well was far better than a crisply barbecued one, courtesy of the glorious sun.

Passing the fireplace, Renfield threw Grayson’s soiled clothes into the flame and retired to his own room. He was much eager to hear his boss’s story of this… curious condition the next morning.

Alexander Grayson woke up with an excruciating pain vibrating in his skull that he had not experienced for so many decades that he mostly forgot how horrendous a migraine could be. One thing that he learnt today was migraines forgave none, men or bloodsuckers alike.

In addition, his throat was scorched and he felt a thirst painfully. No, not the searing thirst that demanded hot blood, this was the kind of nagging thirst that yearned for a shot of iced whiskey. He licked his parched lips. Maybe several shots. Speaking of whiskey, he did vaguely remember having an exquisite taste of alcohol last night, just not from the usual glass and bottle. It was strong, too strong – perhaps the strongest he had ever had the privilege to taste in years – that it had made his head reel and his mind muddled. But, was it truly alcohol that he had filled his mouth with? Hell, his memory of the whole event and how he had successfully dragged his body home in such inebriated condition (and by successfully he meant without having either lost his way or attracted unwanted attention) was very much similar to the damnable smog that blanketed over London.

Aside from headache and thirst, he had a slight suffocation too, courtesy of the mountain of blankets undoubtedly dear Renfield had wrapped him in. He very much appreciated the man’s consideration and thoughtfulness, but perhaps Renfield had forgotten that it was in the middle of summer and if oxygen deprivation could not kill a bloodsucker, the unbearable heat surely could. Had the man really had to wrap him so tightly that he could barely move his limbs?

By the time Alexander had been able to dug himself out of his fabric cocoon (without calling for help or destroying his bed, thank you) and descended the stairs, his trusted right-hand man was sitting comfortably on a sofa and treating himself to the afternoon tea and apple crumb cake he so favored. In just his bed robe and slippers, he slipped noiselessly into the opposite seat, which was strategically placed in the shadows. He instantly grabbed the bottle of whiskey and poured himself a glass.

A perk of being a vampire was that he could drain the entire bottle if he wished to without having to worry about the alcohol’s effect on his empty stomach.

“Good afternoon, sir,” Renfield greeted, putting down his newspaper.

He nodded in acknowledgement and drained the glass in one gulp. The cool burning liquid sort of soothed his sorely dry throat.

“I’m afraid you have missed the appointment with Doctor Helsing. He came to check this morning.”

Alexander snorted, “If he’s made any progress in creating the serum then I’m interested in calling him back…”

“He hasn’t, it appears, sir.”

“… then never mind him. He probably just wanted to stick his needle in me for his own pleasure,” he muttered under his breath.

Having finished his first glass Alexander reached out for another, apparently missing the odd look written all over Renfield’s face. Someone just did not realize how much innuendo he had managed to throw in one single statement.

Oh well, never mind.

“How are you feeling, sir?”

“My head hurts terribly and my throat feels dreadfully parched. Not to mention lethargy is spreading through every marrow of my bones.”

“You sound a lot like you’re suffering from a hangover, sir,” Renfield remarked, taking a sip of his steaming tea. “Suppose bloodsuckers could get drunk.”

“I had only a small glass of whiskey last night for pretence’s sake. Though I admit it does feel like a hangover, which I haven’t had for two hundred years.”

“What did you drink last night, sir, aside from the whiskey, to make you stagger back home like a stone-drunk man?”

Alexander stroked his chin and his handsome sharp face sported a pensive look. Renfield took the time to savor a bite of the apple crumb cake on his plate. Heavenly, the taste, and he sighed with satisfaction.

“Human blood,” Alexander spoke at last. Or so he thought.

Only now did his mind begin to collect the scattered bits of last night’s events.

For a man of his look and wealth, finding a quality prey was easy enough. A common pub was his favorite hunting ground: there were simply too many mortals in and out every minute that hardly anyone would notice when one or two went missing. A discrete touch on the forearm, a knowing wink and generous tip for just a small glass of whiskey were enough a bait. Hardly any real effort was spent before he had the pretty waitress, soft and pliant, in his arms and pressed against the wall in some filthy, deserted alleyway. Her breath came in short pants and she shivered with what he took to be pleasure when his ungloved, cool fingertip gently traced the blue veins in her neck, feeling her excited pulses. Exactly the kind of foreplay she had expected from a noble-looking gentleman. She sighed lengthily, tickling his cheek with her warm, human breath before he sank his fangs into her flesh. He drank greedily not only to quench his unholy thirst but also to satisfy his unyielding lust to kill, to destroy a life at its apex of youth. Her soft body tensed instantly in reaction to sudden assault of pain and her pleasure-induced shiver transformed to tremor as she was prompted to come to her senses. She clawed and kicked at him, but her resistance only further provoked his thirst for conquest and domination and thus, his fangs tore apart her swan’s neck. Crimson colored her neck, her head fell back, her eyes rolled in her head, and her fight ceased almost immediately as if a cigarette stubbed in the ash tray. He sucked in the last few drops and let go off her, allowing her lifeless body to drop unceremoniously on the damp, dirty ground. Just like that, another life ended. He did not bother to look at his handiwork, having little to no respect for the essence he had stolen for himself. He leaned against the wall, his chest heaving heavily like an athlete who had just finished a marathon. His senses flared with the young woman’s vitality; sounds and scents swam in, giving him an illusion that he was spread in every nook and cranny of this damnable city, hearing and smelling everything at the same time. It was pleasure and torment going hand in hand, for though he was basked in ecstasy, he was exposed to all the hellish noises and disgusting odors London could offer in abundance. The sting of smog was unbearable, the churning of machines in factories torturous and the revolting stench from the open trench only a few feet from where he stood almost made him throw up blood. In an ideal world he would have his prey in a nice, clean place, scented with fresh flowers and perfume, and open for all the mortals to witness instead of lurking in a trash-filled alleyway and having a quickie every time the thirst hit him.

The swoon subsided at last and he was too pleased to leave this place and returned to his nice, cozy lair. Something caught his senses and he stopped in his track, smelling, listening. His eyes went bright as a cat’s when he caught the scent of jasmine in the wind and the drums of a living heart. Close, so close. He felt anger boiling in him at the thought of a mortal catching him in his most open moment. He spun on his heels, cutting the distance between him and the voyeur in mere flash. His vice-like fingers closed around a slender neck.

A pair of amber-colored eyes stared at him, surprised but undaunted. A young mortal. A boy merely out of adolescence. The scent was coming from him so strong that Alexander could feel his every fiber react to it. Like a wordless invitation. To what? To indulgence. Decadence. Seduction. What? Seduce him, could this boy? His mind, perhaps not but his body was definitely leaning towards the blue veins beneath tender skin, pulsating with life and youth, life and youth that he would soon rob, leaving but a dry corpse soiled by the shit and piss under his boots.

The boy kept staring at him with that defiance shining brightly in his eyes. Fearless and mildly amused. Intrigued. Thrilled. Eager. What else could he decipher from that seemingly simple look? Smugness. Challenge. Temptation. The Cupid’s bow of lips parted and curved ever slightly. What are you waiting for? The stranger who has me in your hands.

Alexander did not like the boy’s look one bit. No one had ever looked at him in that way. The peasants held their heads low and their eyes lower, not daring to look past his knees; the enemies glared at him, cursing him to go burn in the Seven Hells as he impaled them, and the Order of the Dragon’s knights looked at him with contempt and a fear carefully subdued and hidden far beneath a haughty facade, he who was an abomination crafted by their devious hands. But never had a person challenged him and enticed him at the same time with only a look. And his body, despite his will, was answering the silent beckon in those beautiful amber irises. Eyes like these would be the death of him some day. How ugly a déjà vu. A warning. He bared his pointed incisors and watched the boy’s eyes widen. Not if he killed the boy right here, right now. He bit down hard, and filled his mouth with the boy’s blood.

His own eyes widened after the first taste. It was bizarre, unlike any he had drunk before, and he had drunk countless mortals. Were he not taking it right from the veins, he would seriously doubt this warm and thick liquid was even blood. It had none of the salt and copper taste like the mortals’ he had fed; it was sweet – the nauseous sweetness of overripe grapes that started turning to wine. Too sweet that his tongue and throat burnt. The flavor of decadence, if decadence could be tasted. His mind protested against taking any other drop into his system. Noxious, it screamed, but his body refused to obey and directed his teeth to sink deeper into the soft flesh, drawing more of the poisonous nectar. The voice of his reason was feeble and thus held no match against his overwhelming instinct. He knew even before the match began that his rationality never had a chance against his lust, especially when such exquisite blood was fueling it so.

The body in his arms was pliable even when the pain his fangs induced began to trample pleasure. He heard a moan floating somewhere in his muddled mind and felt the weight in his embrace sank, and then an arm draping on his hard shoulders. As amorous as a pair of lovers, he briefly thought, provided that one of them was not trying to drain the other’s life. The scent of jasmine grew sharper, almost unbearable, as did the thumping of the boy’s heart. Like its master, it showed no fear and its unusually steady rhythm panicked him. His instinct told him something was not right – this boy was not right – and he had better finish him off before… before what he did not know yet. He drank deeper in long, harsh gulps that would soon make the heart succumb to the silence of death, his teeth ripping off chunks of flesh. A moan again, loud enough for him to not think it a mere imagination. But that was all he got: the blood did not cease flowing and the heart did not falter; it was as though he was drinking from a river, with its endless waves and ripples caused by winds. He felt sick with all the sweet blood he had taken, his head swirling and drowning in a whirlpool of fading pleasure and fast-building anxiety.

In one swift movement Alexander’s arm impaled the boy, bursting out of his body through his back. His victim stared at him with huge eyes; they were shining, the dim, tainted light from the lamppost failing to dull the amber-colored flame that seemed to sear through his soul. His hand in the young mortal’s chest moved, finding the heart and fondling it. The Cupid’s bow of lips bled; a string of ruby beads damped his shirt cuff. He could feel its warmth on the surface of his skin. The heart in his palm throbbed.

Alexander withdrew his arm from the chest, taking the heart in his hand, and bathed himself in a splash of blood. Normally he would avoid such a barbaric and completely superfluous ritual – it could draw unwanted attention from the mortals with his blood-soaked clothes, but with this particular mortal, he felt the need to do so, perhaps as a guarantee since he had been driven to panic with his ceaseless blood flow. Without his support, the young mortal sank to the ground and collapsed. He licked a few drops from the heart before discarding it on the lifeless body. At last its deafening thumps had vanished.

It took all his mental strength to not drop down next to the body and closed his eyes until eternity. His head retained just enough rationality to dictate his body to his manor’s directions but his mind was not sober enough to get rid of his bloody garment lest some nocturnal souls spotted him and grew suspicious. In that wretched trance-like state he walked back home…

The next thing he knew was the suffocating heat of the blanket cocoon and a head-splitting migraine…

“So, you fed, you were seen, you drank the man’s blood…”

“… gouged out his heart,” Alexander added, massaging his temples with his fingers.

“… and returned with a massive inebriation.”

Despite all the rich and illustrious descriptions Alexander had given, this was Renfield’s brief summary.

“Basically, yes.”

“What about your wet face and hair?” Renfield arched an eyebrow quizzically, which was mirrored in Alexander’s expression. “When you came in through the door, your face and hair were dripping with water,” he explained.

“I… must have had dipped my head in the fountain at the front. I can’t remember why.”

With great sympathy, Renfield just nodded his head and decided to push the matter of Grayson’s embarrassing state aside and focused on more practical matters. There were a lot of things a besotted man could do which he would be mortified when sober, didn’t Renfield know it?

“This young man’s blood intoxicated you. Has this ever happened before?”

Alexander shook his head. His glass was empty so he reached out for the whiskey bottle. “Never before have I encountered such a bizarre taste. It didn’t taste like animal blood either.”

“You’ve had animal blood? You can digest it?”

“Rodents and bats in time of desperation, but it aggravates my strength. Imagine eating nothing but stale bread for a week.”

“Should we call and inform Doctor Van Helsing?”

Alexander’s eyebrows knitted. He was silent and immobile for a while, his newly refilled glass in his hand seemingly forgotten. “No,” he said in grim tone, “as a matter of fact, I would like to keep this a clandestine business from him.”

His employer had little trust for the doctor, Renfield understood, for he did share the same doubt and distrust toward Van Helsing. Based on mutual vengeance, their alliance was shaky at best.

“As you wish, sir.”

His hand reached for the newspaper on the tea table and unfolded it to a particular page. “By the way, sir, you did say you fed on two: a young woman and a young man…”

Alexander nodded.

“Then it’s quite strange, because today’s newspaper reported only one death.” He showed the page to his employer, who immediately looked at the article. A deep crease began etching between his dark eyebrows. Were he human, Renfield would advocate against this habit of his employer since this seemingly harmless crease came easily but was difficult to be persuaded away and he would regret it by the time he had reach forty.

“He dressed fancifully and wore perfume, which suggested a man of wealth and status,” Alexander said. “A gruesome murder of such a man would cause a ruckus, unless…”

“The Order of the Dragon,” Renfield finished for him.

“The Order of the Dragon,” he echoed. A dark look crossed his face. “Probably a brother’s son. I imagine they would try to cover his death, especially when there are signs it involved supernatural force.”

“And your next move, sir?”

“We wait, Renfield. The death should alert them, and prompt them to action. Thus we wait. In the mean time…”

Alexander suddenly reclined on the sofa, one hand clutching his head and, Renfield dared a thought, making a crow’s nest of his usually coifed raven hair. “Can something be done about this monstrous migraine? It’s driving me insane.”

A neat hole was punched through the sofa, courtesy of Alexander’s fist and inhuman strength. Renfield blinked a few times, feeling both amused and sympathetic for his boss. That was one reason why he never allowed himself to get horribly drunk. Grayson was not the least exaggerating; this could indeed drive a man insane, or an immortal, and anyone unfortunate enough to be around him. “I suggest a hot bath may soothe it, sir,” said Renfield, “and a prairie oyster.”

A puzzled look spread across Alexander’s face.

“A common treatment for hangover, sir. You can have human foods and drinks so I assume it may work.” He pointed to the flask of whiskey that was almost empty. “And no more drinking of that.”

Alexander responded with a half-groan, half-growl before he sluggishly tore himself from the sofa and ascended the stairs. “Tell Ella to bring me the…”. His hands hovered in the air.

“The prairie oyster, sir.”

“Whatever it is, bring it to my room.”

Looking at his boss, Renfield decided that he should try to find some morphine should the hot bath and the drink proved to be useless, provided that morphine worked for bloodsuckers.

But first, he had to make a call to the furniture shop.

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