The Wine of Immortality

A beautiful beast is usually used as no more than a metaphor. However, Sho sees it as sure as fate if the beast refers to Kei.

On his day of coming of age, the present from Kei was a pair of pistols. Even in Mallepa, where the guns were as common as bubble gums in the convenience stores, those were some really nice stuff. However, the first thing Sho got to do with them was to find out every dick who had ever fucked Kei.

One good thing was that people knew when to obey. Even if they knew nothing about the vampire's secret, Kei's wisdom and strength were enough for the mortals to place themselves under a rule of power. Filled with black market traders, gangs, illegal immigrants, financial criminals, prostitutes and orphans, Mallepa was a lawless land, a place giving birth to everything but miracles. Teens who ran for life among the blood and tears in those dark alleys were often envious of Sho, who was so lucky to acquire the protection from a powerful one like Kei. It could almost be a miracle if there was any. While for Sho everything was already destined for the moment Kei, who was sucking the fresh blood from a dead body, asked him why he showed no fear in front of such a monster.

Sho used to stare at every dude brought home by Kei just like a puppy staring at the unfamiliar visitors with curiosity, vigilance, and hostility. Fresh and healthy blood was not included in the daily feed supply, which forced Kei to shift his own attention from appetite to sex, for himself or for Sho, who was still too young. Sometimes he killed his preys if he got too bored with them --  in bed, of course. Sho would find himself strangely happy when the seducing moan suddenly turned into a harsh screech behind the bedroom door. Without panic or fear, Sho had watched Kei getting rid of those corpses. The boy even tried to help Kei deal with the dead bodies, showing not too much disgust, which was not very usual for one at his age. 

Instead of asking about fear just like he did the first time they met, Kei said with a slight smile: "Weird kiddo."

That's exactly what his bedmates used to say about Sho. In their view, the young boy was nothing more than a little pet that Kei found on a whim.

"I didn't. He found me."

And they would always get this answer from Kei, who smiled mysteriously.

Half of Mallepa was built on the land reclaimed from the sea, shaping a fabulously beautiful coastline. Kei went to the seaside almost every night doing nothing but staring at the dark water. He would stay there until the sunrise forced him to leave and hide into the darkness. Sho followed Kei, secretly -- at least he believed so. Seen from a distance, the vampire, who had the bloodcurdling power and ruthless soul, seemed to be no more than a lonely, small shadow. It seemed like he would be taken away by the water if the waves got a bit stronger.

Where did he come? Didn't he have any family? How long had he been living alone like this?

With those confusions, Sho fell asleep tremulously in the cold night wind. After all, he still had some naive heartache in mind even for a lonely stranger. He would always find himself awaken in his bed at home as if everything he felt sad for just happened in the sleepwalking. Kei's body temperature was much lower than ordinary humans, which seemed less possible to bring much warmth to anyone. However, those cold arms still comforted Sho, which even made the boy believe that life would finally bring something good to him. 

Before long, Sho got to know the fact that Kei was almost an undying existence -- not definitely immortal but good enough for making a living in the bloody chaos of Mallepa. Undying does not mean the vampire wouldn't get hurt. In Kei's own words, he still felt the pain. Getting medical help from the hospital could cause more troubles than just waiting for those deadly wounds to heal by themselves at a speed that humans could not even imagine. 
In fact, such ghostly magic brought more fearful silence to Sho, which actually frightened him more than witnessing people getting killed in a wink. The curtains prevented the daylight from doing more harm to the vampire. A vertical tank was the only source of light in that airtight room. The tropical fish swimming inside had been the only living things permitted by Kei in that place -- except for Sho. Kei used to watch those cold creatures for a very long time as if he was fond of those insouciant, beautiful colors or was just admiring the short, emotionless lives they had.

"Hey, Sho...give me a hand."

Sho was already 12, old enough to be treated as an adult in Mallepa. Kids at his age would devote themselves to all kinds of business such as stealing, smuggling, defrauding, fighting and prostitution. 

"Bullets inside the body could cause troubles." 

Handing over the knife and tweezers to Sho, Kei undressed himself and exposed his back to the young man. It was believed by the mortals that all the vampires were deadly attractive, which made the prey to offer their necks willingly. People admire beautiful things, no matter what they would have to pay. Sho could say that Kei was a masterpiece even among all the vampires. He was almost beauty itself. His bloody, fragile beauty left the young human boy astonished since the first sight.

Realizing the fact that he was needed by Kei for the first time, Sho screwed up all his courage:

"Don't leave me."

Kei stared back at the young man he had been living with for years.

"I'm a monster."

He said.

"I know."
"One day I'll kill you, too."
"I know."
"Sho, you are a weird kiddo."
"I am. Just don't leave me."

Since that day Kei quit staying on the dark seaside for the whole night and trying to throw himself into the burning sunlight. Even himself was surprised by the actual intention of raising a human orphan. During the hundreds of years after being transformed into Luka's "clan", lives and deaths meant less and less to Kei. When he went by the tomb of a friend from his own human era, he realized that he could recognize none of the people in front of the gravestone because too many generations had gone by that family. He even remembered the curious look of those grandchildren, who wondered what kind of young friend would their eldership have. He finally found out that what made him suffer most was not the endless time but the emotions. The happiness, anger, sadness, every human thing. It was clear to Kei that such a choice was not wise at all. Nither loneliness nor sympathy were convincing motivations for bringing more troubles into this bleak life which had bored a vampire so much already. For centuries he had hated Luka, who gave him this darned immortality. Meanwhile, he could not deny the fact that he had relied on Luka so much. He was raised and abandoned by the same man. If he could give a new life to Sho, maybe there would be a chance to understand Luka. Worth a try.
Maybe Luke did not care about him as much as he thought. Kei could not help thinking of it -- or he would not suicide in the daylight, leaving Kei lingering alone helplessly. 

If by any chance, there was just a little bit of love in there for him, Luka should at least have asked: would you like to go with me?

--Maybe I would care about Sho.

For such an absurd thought, Kei found some comfort and joy in himself.

--At least more than Luka cared about me.

"I will not leave you."

The vampire promised.

Since that time they came to be kind of intimate. Kei was far more stronger than Sho's own blood brother, who was so mediocre or even useless. What Kei had taught Sho enabled the boy to have a place in that promised land of outlaws. Sho could even say that he was living a good life there. Kei played many roles in his life: a guardian, an elder brother, a mentor, and even a lover --  when he had grown up a little. Although Kei meant nothing other than teaching some rules of having fun in his adulthood, he underestimated what Sho really felt about him. Sho had never been importuned for rewards, while he was so unusually persistent on occupying Kei. Not until Kei had found that Sho had already slaughtered quite a few of the bedmates he once had that he realized the two of them had crossed the line that they shouldn't have touched.

"That's enough, Sho. I haven't met him since long ago."

Curling up in the corner, the guy with both his arms and legs broken could barely call for any help. Kei could hardly tell if he had hooked up with him as he could remember very little about this man's face, or that lower part which was bleeding because of numerous bullets from Sho's gun. After all, he was never picky about time and location, which made those booty calls difficult to leave an impression. If there was anything unfortunate, being discovered by Sho might be the only answer. Digging someone out from the huge crowd of an immigrant city was not so impossible as it seemed to be, especially when one's tutor was Kei.

"I don't even remember his name. Sho, just stop here and let's go home, okay?"

In a moment he was almost sure that he persuaded Sho to spare this one.

"It''s you...? How is it possible..."

-- What an idiot. Kei sighed.

And this sorry-ass finally got taken away by another heavy shot.

To be honest, Kei regretted, which was of no use at all. The desire for taking possession of something had been forgotten for a long time. What Kei had never realized was Sho's deep obsession which had been growing since so long ago. Kei knew the kid so much that he did not even try to settle the problem by negotiation. Sho would not stop until he got what he wanted. 

And he wanted Kei.

Kei felt truly sorry for the victims. He felt sorry that they escaped a vampire's desire for blood but finally got killed by a child's jealousy.

Jealousy kills everything. Jealousy existed in Kei's memory. He once had the same emotion when he was still a member of the human beings. He had to ask himself that if Sho never appeared in his life, or he failed to stop himself from killing when that kid appeared, who else would ever make a monster's rusty heart beat again?

The fish in the bedroom had been replaced for countless times. All those too short lives could keep as a memory was inside that narrow body of water. The eternal lives outside the tank were beyond everything they could imagine.

Kei once told Sho that when one had lived for too long, the differences between the limited lives would become more and vaguer. However, Kei had to admit that Sho was different from the fish. He wouldn't feel nothing if Sho died like the creatures in that fish tank.

Taking Sho as a tiny amusement in his damned lonely life, or finally bitting through the young man's neck when he felt boring enough, neither would be indifferent.

"We should separate for some time."

"You promised not to leave me, even if you have to kill me."

"I won't. I will never abandon you."

"Neither will I. You and I, we will be together, forever."

--What does it feel to be immortal?

No one had ever asked about it, even those who knew his secret. Is the answer too obvious to think of or is such a question too far away from a human's world?

Due to some inevitable selfishness, Luka chose the fate for him, since then he had been chased by endless loneliness. If one day, whenever it would be, he had to make the choice for Sho, it would be nothing but fate as well -- something he had submitted to for the whole time. Maybe love would make Sho hate. Who knows.

In this sense, the so-called immortality surely is a curse.

Nevertheless, the vampire had to live on this curse longing for being loved.



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