Rating: R (character....death?, angst, blood, sex)
Summary: Vampire Ohkura Tadayoshi meets a young man (Yasuda Shota) one evening and both their lives change forever.
Ch1 // Ch2 // Ch3 // Ch4
Hina led Ryo to the meeting area in silence, anger radiating off him in waves that even Ryo could feel. He wondered just what they were going to do with and to him, Yoko’s apprehension making him feel even worse about what was going to happen. They surely weren’t considering...killing him?
Finally Hina turned around and watched Ryo, not saying or doing anything for several long minutes. It gave him time to think about what Subaru had said, but he was stubborn and refused to admit that what his friend had said was right. He didn’t care that he was also at fault – if Ohkura had just been there like he was supposed to...then maybe Uchi would have been alive too. If you could call being a vampire ‘alive’.
“Well?” Ryo asked finally, trying to remain defiant, but not sure it was working in the face of Hina’s anger. “Are you going to yell at me or what?”
Yoko shoved him forward a little, giving him a strange look along the lines of ‘don’t make it worse’ but he ignored the older vampire. He could take care of himself. That opinion abruptly changed when Hina grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close.
“Is that all you have to say for yourself?” Hina said quietly, the anger simmering just below the surface. “You’re a hair’s breadth away from being killed and you think you can be a smart-ass? I thought you were smarter than that, Nishikido...”
Ryo swallowed nervously and tried not to look away. “What do you expect me to do, Murakami? He cost me everything and you think I should just let it go?” he snapped back, stopping when he saw the look in the other man’s eyes.
“I think you’d better rephrase that,” Yoko advised cautiously, aware that at any moment Hina’s temper was going to snap and not wanting to be anywhere in the vicinity when that happened. Especially where it involved Ryo.
“It’s true and you know it,” Ryo retorted, annoyed at Yoko’s interference. Why was he even here, anyway? “If he’d just been there...then I wouldn’t have lost Uchi...”
“You obviously didn’t listen to Subaru, did you?” Hina’s voice was still deadly quiet, never a good sign. “You haven’t been listening to any of us all this time and it’s gone too far. When you attack innocent people...you become a rogue. You know what that means, don’t you?”
He smiled when Ryo paled and swallowed nervously again. “I thought so. Maybe there’s hope for you yet.”
“You just don’t get it, Hina,” Ryo replied desperately. “If he’d only gone with Uchi, then he would have lived. Or at least been like us... Then I wouldn’t have lost him. I loved him, Hina, and I never got the chance to tell him. Do you know what that feels like? How that eats you up inside?”
Hina’s temper, which he’d been holding in by a thread, finally snapped. “You are the one who doesn’t get it. What guarantee do you have that Uchi would have wanted to live like we do? That he shared your feelings? You’re the one to blame, from all accounts. You had the chance to stop him and didn’t. You could have gone with him instead and didn’t. So how you can blame Ohkura for your own failures is beyond me. You’re worse than the woman who killed him because you know better than that!”
Hina’s viciously spoken words were like a slap in the face, causing Ryo to recoil in shock. “You’re the smart one, so how you can be so stupid just makes me so angry, Ryo. You even egged him on. You both told me that, so you can’t even say it’s Ohkura’s word against yours. What is even more unforgivable is the fact that you killed innocents in your stupid plan for revenge. You changed Maruyama without giving him the choice as you know you are supposed to, by our rules. That makes you no better than the woman who killed your Uchi. Who killed Ohkura. Who killed you.”
Yoko looked just as shocked as Ryo did and began to back away, but Hina wasn’t done. “Yoko, you’re part of this mess too. You were responsible for Ryo and you let him down. You were supposed to teach him properly, to make sure that he knew the rules, that he followed them.”
“You were also supposed to make sure that he was in the right mind for this life so he didn’t become rogue like he is now. That means part of the responsibility for this mess lies with you, too,” Hina added, as Yoko’s head bowed in shame. “And the fact that you tried to play us off each other for your own amusement, never mind the fact that you came to me after the fact when you realised what Ryo was up to. It’s inexcusable.”
Ryo’s head shot up and he risked a glare at Yoko, whose eyes were still on the ground, missing the heat in Ryo’s gaze. Hina noticed it and glared back at Ryo angrily. “You have no right to be angry with him; if he hadn’t told me what you were going to do, this would have resulted in an even bigger mess. And I would have had no other choice but to do this...”
Before Ryo could move or even struggle, Hina had him in an arm-lock and bent over him, sinking his fangs into Ryo’s neck and feeding from him, causing him to collapse in the same way as he’d done to Yasu earlier in the evening. Just before risking Ryo’s death, Hina released him and let him fall to the ground, Yoko gaping at him in shock.
“That is a warning to you both,” he said, his voice and eyes normal once again. “You had better take proper care of him and make sure he listens this time. I will have no more of this or you both will die. Is that clear?”
Yoko nodded slowly and didn’t move until Hina had gone, then quickly went to Ryo’s side, picking up the younger vampire effortlessly.
“Come on, Ryo. Let’s get you sorted out so you can apologise, ne. So we can both apologise,” he whispered to the unconscious man as he carried him to Ryo’s apartment and let himself in, depositing him on the bed gently and pulling a blanket over him.
Subaru helped Maru get cleaned up and changed quickly as he explained the situation (or what he understood of the situation) to the newest addition to their group.
“Normally we’re to let the person choose this life but occasionally there are rogues who are so out of control that they don’t. If you have any doubts, don’t worry. Ryo will be punished for what he did to you, you can be assured of that. Hina is nothing if not thorough in that respect. I am just telling you now – if you ever want to change someone, you have to ask them first if they want to be changed. That is one of the very few very important rules we have.”
Maru nodded, absorbing all the information silently. He still had a lot of questions but wasn’t sure Subaru was the one to answer them. He did want to know one thing. “When...how long have you known Yasu?” he asked quietly, quickly changing into a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt and a blazer and checking himself in the mirror to make sure he was presentable.
It still shocked him – his red eyes and lips contrasting with his pale skin made him look like one of those gothic types and he wasn’t sure he liked that idea, however as Subaru had pointed out, he hadn’t been given the choice at the time. Underlying everything was the ever-growing hunger that Subaru noticed, grabbing his hand as soon as he was ready to go.
“Let’s go get you fed first. That’s more important right now. I’ll answer your questions later, alright?” he commented, looking carefully for any signs of police before walking out the still-intact screen door with the young vampire, waiting as Maru closed it behind them. Knowing he’d never be back, Maru didn’t bother to lock it, having pocketed the few items he couldn’t bear to be parted with.
As they walked, Subaru continued with his ‘lesson’. “Anyway, you need to learn how to feed, and soon. Basically, you need to make sure that you’re not caught. That’s the biggest issue – if you’re caught, you’re on your own. We won’t be able to help you. You also have to make sure that when you’re out, you blend in as much as possible. This means sunglasses where possible, if you’re out hunting, or if you really must, contact lenses work wonders too. Just remember that nowadays people can tell the difference between contact lenses and your normal eyes so you have to hide them.”
All this information was news to Maru, but he listened and learned, his mind half on what Subaru was saying, and half on the fact that he was getting hungrier than he ever thought possible. It was getting hard for him to think, and it seemed Subaru knew this as he stopped talking and started showing Maru what he needed to do.
They’d arrived at a seedy area of town with bars and nightclubs seemingly permanent fixtures with drunks and prostitutes lining the streets for metres on either side of the road. Maru’s eyes went wide, his hands clenching at his sides as he resisted the urge to attack, waiting instead for Subaru’s signal. For some reason, which he’d have to think about later, he didn’t even think twice about trusting Subaru. He just did. Maybe it was because of Yasu, but he felt deep down that despite the forbidding appearance, Subaru was trustworthy. Perhaps the most trustworthy of them all, all things considered.
Moments later, Subaru had pointed out some likely prospects – a man and a woman who, as they watched, picked the pockets of an unconscious drunkard lying on the pavement. With a nod, they moved in closely, Subaru’s hand gesturing to show what he wanted Maru to do. Flanking the pair, the two vampires waited until they were near an alley and pounced without warning, dragging them into the side street. Maru fed hungrily as Subaru watched impassively, his own hunger kept in check by the need to make sure Maru remained under control until he was satisfied.
It didn’t take long for Maru to catch on, learning whatever Subaru wanted to teach him with a single-minded determination that made Subaru smile. He could see why Yasu and Maru were friends; they both shared the determination to do whatever it took to get the job done, even if they didn’t like it. Maru did question why he was being taught to hunt ‘bad guys’ rather than regular people, but as Subaru put it, if they could do their part by ridding the world of criminals, even if it meant they were on the wrong side of the law themselves, it would help make him feel better about having to kill in the first place.
Nothing would ever make it right but it might help ease his conscience, even if just a little bit. Maru couldn’t argue with that logic even if he’d wanted to. Finally Subaru was satisfied with Maru’s progress and took the now-satiated young vampire to Ohkura’s townhouse, where they found a frantic Ohkura sitting by Yasu’s bedside, holding the young blond’s limp hand in his own.
“Why isn’t he waking up, Subaru? He’s so cold...” Ohkura whispered, seemingly unaware of how it looked to the pair who’d just arrived. Subaru’s heart broke for his younger friends, the sad truth that he was going to have to tell Ohkura not making it any easier.
“Ryo...almost drained him completely,” he explained, stopping at the hissed intake of breath as Ohkura realised the same thing and looked up at him, shock in his eyes. “Yasu will just have to fight it, that’s all. He’s young still and that doesn’t help any.”
“He will make it – I know he will. He’s determined and he now has something....someone to live for. Keep that in your heart and believe in him, ok?” Subaru finished, patting Ohkura’s shoulder as he looked down at the barely breathing Yasu. “In the meantime, don’t neglect yourself. You need to feed as well, don’t you?”
“No. I’m not leaving him,” Ohkura insisted stubbornly. “I’m sure he’ll wake up soon, right?” The hope in his voice made Subaru sigh and shake his head a little at the stubborn younger vampire.
“You’re an idiot, Ohkura, and you’re not doing him, or yourself, any favours by ignoring your own needs. He won’t wake up any time soon, I’m afraid. I know it’s different for each vampire, but as he’s newly changed, it’s going to take him that much longer to recover as he hasn’t built up the recovery time that we have yet. He’s also going to be ravenous when he does wake up. Do you want to take the chance of him going rogue on you because you’re hungry yourself and can’t control him?” Subaru said angrily, and then stopped as Maru interrupted.
“Yasu won’t thank you for this, Ohkura-san,” Maru said quietly from the doorway, his own heart breaking at the sight of his friend lying unconscious on the bed. It was because of him, he knew, and he’d never forgive himself or Ryo if anything happened to Yasu. Or Ohkura, for that matter.
“In order to look after him, you need to look after yourself. What will happen to him if you collapse? Or even die? He’d be devastated, and I’m sure your friends would be too. Don’t try to play the hero here; he won’t even know you’re gone. Especially if you go now... The sooner you’re gone, the sooner you’re back, right?”
Words of wisdom from the stranger in their midst surprised Ohkura, but not Subaru. Subaru had learned a lot about Maru during their ‘lessons’. In the end Ohkura gave up and walked out after getting the promise that if anything happened, no matter how slight, they were to find him immediately. After he left, Maru replaced him by the bed and took Yasu’s cold hand in his own, worry etched on his face. “You’re sure he will wake up?” he asked Subaru, his eyes following the older vampire as he paced the room.
“Yes, I’m sure. While it doesn’t happen often, I’ve seen it enough times and we’ve never lost anyone yet. Ryo may be slightly crazy, but I don’t think that even he would dare kill Yasu, no matter how much he hates Ohkura. We’d all kill him without a single thought if he did, and he knows it. Hina and Yoko are the best rogue hunters there are and he’d never be able to hide from them.”
Subaru stopped his pacing and sat in a chair by the window, staring out at whatever was out there for a moment before going on. “As I said to Ohkura, it will take some time, but Yasu will recover and be none the worse for wear apart from the overwhelming hunger. Ohkura will have to be on his toes.”
“Since we have some time, can you answer the question I asked you earlier?” Maru reminded Subaru calmly, the curiosity eating at him. He wanted to know how Subaru knew Yasu, as well as more information on the rules Subaru had mentioned earlier.
“Oh, about Yasu? I’ve known him since...” Subaru pondered a few minutes as Maru looked curiously at him, waiting for him to finish his thought. “Since he was about 8 or 9 years old, I think. He was being teased by some bullies at the time and I kind of...took him under my wing, so to speak.” Subaru chuckled at the memories of a wide-eyed young boy being fascinated instead of repulsed by his red eyes, pale skin and cool demeanour.
Yasu had taken to following him around whenever he showed up, almost like hero-worship, something Subaru hadn’t intended to foster in the young boy but couldn’t quite get him to stop. Soon enough he’d become attracted to him but recognised that Yasu only thought of him as a friend, nothing more. He had asked once when Yasu first became of age if he wanted to become like Subaru, but he’d been turned down, and hadn’t asked since.
It saddened him that he’d been changed anyway; it must have been a hard choice for him to make and he’d have to ask Ohkura about the circumstances some time – Hina hadn’t exactly explained much in telling him that Ohkura and Yasu were now together. The hint that he expected Subaru to leave Yasu to Ohkura hadn’t been missed but he wondered why Hina had seen the need, until he’d come across them in Maru’s apartment. Then he understood what Hina had tried to tell him.
It was obvious to anyone with eyes (and that had included Ryo, given the reaction Ryo had had to Yasu) that there was a strong bond between Ohkura and the young blond that went both ways. Subaru was jealous but knew he’d have to get over it; there was no way he’d come between his friends’ happiness when they had so little to be happy about. Knowing Yasu as he did, he was under no illusions about his home life – the beatings and taunting he’d endured and not just from the local kids. He was glad that Yasu finally had someone who cared about him for himself and not what he could do or be for them.
Maru listened in sympathetic silence as Subaru talked, understanding a lot more than the older vampire knew. He had known Yasu since they were both teenagers going to the same school and they’d helped each other out of sticky situations before, but nothing like this. He didn’t blame Yasu for what had happened; the young man clearly had been through a traumatic time himself and it made Maru’s heart ache for his friend.
“I know what you mean. Yasu...always looked for affection in the wrong places, but I think that was because he was so starved of it at home. His sister was nice enough, but was always out at work, leaving him with her husband. It made him a target...as I’m sure you already know,” Maru replied when it seemed Subaru had finished talking. Subaru nodded and sighed.
“Anyway, about the rules…there is a lot more you need to know but the basic gist of it is this: There’s no need to worry about anything other than a stake to the heart or another vampire feeding from you until you die. Oh, except for fire. You can be burned to death but it’s a bit...awkward. They have to pretty much incapacitate you first, and that’s the hardest part. You most likely won’t ever face that type of situation but it’s always best to be prepared, ne?” he said, Maru nodding to his words.
“It makes sense to me, though it’s nothing like the stories tell you,” Maru sighed, turning his attention back to Yasu as Subaru shrugged. Since it seemed like Subaru didn’t want to go into any further detail, he’d leave it for now.
“Ohkura-san...he loves Yasu, doesn’t he?” Maru mused after a small period of silence between himself and Subaru, smoothing an unruly lock of hair back from Yasu’s face gently and smiling, albeit a little sadly. “I wonder if he realises yet...”
“He doesn’t. Realise that he’s in love with Yasu, that is. If he did, there’d be no getting him out of here at all,” Subaru sighed, and then chuckled. “But I can bet you he’ll be shocked when he does figure it out. I wonder what Yasu will do...”
Maru’s smile widened. “Yasu will be fine, as he always is. He’s a bit innocent that way, but I think that’s why everyone loves him so much. Or hates him. With Yasu, there’s not really any middle ground – you either love him or you hate him. It’s kind of sad, really. He’s such a loving and kind person that draws like-minded people to him...”
Realising what he’d just said, Maru laughed quietly. “I guess that includes us too, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, grinning at Subaru’s startled reaction. Somehow it amused him that for all his years, Subaru hadn’t realised this himself yet.
The amusement was cut short as Ohkura reappeared, his mouth smeared with blood and annoyance in his eyes. “That little shit. He’s gone and gotten us into more trouble,” he said angrily, nodding his gratitude to Maru and taking his place beside Yasu, his attention focused on his young lover again, his anger forgotten. Maru and Subaru glanced at each other in surprised confusion.
“What’s he done now? I thought Hina was taking care of him?” Subaru asked, going to stand by the window again, watching the cars go by. The dim noise reached their ears of sirens blaring in the distance, then everything became clear.
“I see. I’ll have to go talk to Hina and see what we can do about this. I’ll talk to you later,” he said after the fifth police vehicle wailed past the window, heading in the general direction of Maru’s apartment relative to where they were now. A little slow on the uptake, Subaru thought with wry amusement, but still. Now that the police were involved so quickly, they had to be even more careful.
After Subaru left, Maru felt at loose ends, watching Ohkura whose attention was fixed on Yasu’s still form on the bed. It seemed so unlike Yasu; normally he was so bursting with energy he could barely contain himself. “Ohkura-san? Can I ask you something?” Maru asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
“Just Ohkura. No –san. Ohkura....Tadayoshi.” Ohkura replied, finally looking up at Maru, realising he hadn’t really introduced himself yet. “What did you want to ask?”
“Ah, I see. I...was wondering how you know Yasu? I haven’t...hadn’t seen him since....”
The unspoken time frame was there, hanging uncomfortably between them as Ohkura realised that Maru didn’t know anything about what had happened to Yasu at all but was trying to ask as tactfully as he knew how. “I met him just a day or so ago...just before...” Ohkura replied softly, his eyes returning to Yasu again briefly before he looked at Maru again with a sad look in his eyes. “Just before his brother-in-law murdered him.”
Maru flinched at the wording, his eyes closing in pain before opening them again as he looked for somewhere to sit down, to take it all in. Hearing it laid out in so many words was hard for him to hear, but he had asked. “What happened?” he asked as he finally decided to take Subaru’s abandoned spot by the window, choosing to look outside as Subaru had done to avoid the pair by the bed.
“He caught me feeding...and caught my attention...” Ohkura’s words trailed off momentarily before he picked himself up and went on. “After telling me what had happened to his sister, he fainted on me, so I looked after him for a bit, then sent him home but...”
“His sister?” Maru interrupted a puzzled look on his face. The police hadn’t mentioned anything about Yasu’s sister, or anything else other than Yasu when they’d been to see him, so he didn’t know what had happened and was even more confused. “What about his sister? Wasn’t she at work...?”
“No. His brother-in-law...murdered her as well and Yasu witnessed part of it. I found out later that they’d found her body in the river, mutilated and dismembered. When Yasu found out, he went...”
“Crazy. Yeah, I can imagine that. They were really close; she practically raised him since they lost their parents when he was very young. Anyway, go on...” Maru said quietly, noting the expression on Ohkura’s face at the information.
Ohkura sighed. “I sent him home but followed because something just didn’t feel right to me, and...I don’t know if it was the right thing to do. I caught his brother-in-law attacking Yasu and in the confusion after I arrived, he stabbed him... It was my fault that he died. If I hadn’t come in then...”
“Enough already. Everyone seems intent on blaming you for everything, even when it’s not your fault. You said yourself he was attacking Yasu and most likely would have succeeded anyway, right? So it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference, as far as I’m concerned. The blame lies squarely with Yukio,” Maru snapped, annoyed at the self-blame. Did these people not think?
“So it was you who killed....him, then? Yukio, I mean...” he asked when he knew he’d made his point, Ohkura nodding silently. “Good. That man was trouble from the word go. I’m surprised Sakura-chan married him really...” Maru sighed, massaging his forehead. So much to take in all at once and it was giving him a headache.
“Sakura and Yukio?” Ohkura asked, the names unfamiliar to him. “Those are the names of his sister and her husband?” At Maru’s nod, he sighed again, and then yawned. So much he still didn’t know about Yasu and Yasu about him. They would have to get to know each other better.
Noticing Ohkura’s yawn, Maru yawned as well and then grinned sheepishly. “How long has it been since you last slept?” he asked Ohkura after yet another yawn, chuckling softly. Ohkura looked at him in surprise then smiled thoughtfully.
“I’m not sure actually. I think it’s been...” Ohkura thought a little bit then looked startled. “It’s been at least a couple of days. Since before I met Yasu...” That idea shocked him a little – while vampires had better than average stamina and could go for days without sleep (though not without feeding), he’d been through a lot and found himself bone-tired.
“You should sleep,” Maru advised gently, getting up from his seat by the window. “Where should I...?”
Ohkura nodded. “I will stay with Yasu so you’re welcome to use my room. It’s across the hall from this one,” he said, yet another soft glance at Yasu, his gaze turning sad. “Just don’t...touch anything, ok?”
Nodding his understanding, Maru left, closing the door gently behind him as Ohkura quickly undressed and slipped into the bed beside Yasu, his arms going around the unconscious young man. It didn’t take long for the weary vampire to fall asleep, his eyes closing almost immediately and his breathing evening out.
Maru did likewise, following Ohkura’s request not to touch anything; though a few things on the man’s desk made him curious, he left them alone and sat on the bed, removing his blood-stained clothes and getting under the covers. Finding himself asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow, his last waking thoughts were full of concern for his friend.
So totally glad I'm not Ryo right about now. And yay for Maru. He's deep, yo. *grins* =)