Rating: R… Maybe NCish
Prompt: Min7 Pairing with One sided love from HoMin. Stuffed animals, purple spotted love bed, dying at 16 years old and vampire teeth.
Some blood and sex but mostly love. And it’s a really long one shot. Nearly 10,000 words. this is SO alternative universe!
London 1845 ― fog-drenched and damp ― loomed up from the Thames’ riverbanks. Soot darkened the skies, casting a pall over the city, even in the deepest of midday. From Tanners Row, a stench permeated the air, the foul tallow smoking as indentured servants skimmed off chunks of fat from boiling vats. Church bells tolled the hours, the solemn ringing past tea time.
An Anglican acolyte stood in the entrance of St. Bart’s parish, silently watching the students of the hospital’s new medical college slink by. Pale, even by English standards, his Occidental features set him apart from the rosy cheeked young men stomping past him, splashing up great waves of muddy water with their thick soled Wellingtons.
Dew formed a sparkling web on the ends of his black hair, its thick waves falling down around his delicate features. Despite the moisture in the air, his full mouth was dry, chapped from the bite of London’s cold wind. Dressed in traditional layman’s black, he seemed an exotic wraith against the solid stone of the parish walls, crow-sharp eyes noting everything around him.
“They are loud, aren’t they, Mr. Shim?”
Changmin jumped at the sound of the deacon’s melodious voice at his shoulder, startled by the man’s sudden appearance. His heart skipped, stuttering and faulting before settling back into its rhythm, the soft shush shush of its workings undermined by the offbeat of a murmur in his chest. Catching his breath, Min leaned forward, placing his palm on the parish’s arched entrance. The stone dug into his palm, catching on his fine skin. The pain was welcome, a reminder that he could still feel… that he was still alive.
Life for him would be fleeting, a speck of skin and air that would fade away sooner than most. Each small pinprick or gouge on his flesh was a reminder that he continued on.
“I’m sorry, lad,” Deacon Davis murmured, awkwardly patting at Min’s back. “I should have announced myself. I didn’t mean to give you a start.”
“It’s alright, sir,” Min could feel the colour returning to his face, the blood pumping back under his skin. His breaths grew longer as his lungs regained function. Despite the irregular beat of his heart, his body soldiered on, intent on carrying to another day.
He didn’t remember the long voyage that carried him and his mother to England’s shores nor did he have any memory of the illness that took her life and nearly consumed him as well. The elder priests at St. Bartholomew The Great prayed over him as the sickness ravaged his young body, the rattle in his chest growing wetter with each passing day until his body twisted and writhed as he struggled to breathe. The hospital staff had been little help, their time and efforts spent on aiding the locals struck down with the cough, the long marble halls filled with hastily constructed cots and bedding lain straight on the floor as the sick came in droves.
The merchant who transported the Shim family from the East fell victim to the ailment within hours of landing and passed before Changmin’s mother. Afraid for others’ lives, the ports master ordered the merchant’s ship to be pulled to the middle of the harbour and set aflame, its dead placed into its hold and its cargo given up. The ship smoldered, billowing smoke into the ash-filled air until its bare-ribbed corpse sank beneath the waters, leaving nothing behind of the woman who brought Min to London’s chill.
Min struggled to remember the pretty woman who the priests said fought to get her son into care, her broken English barely understandable between her hacking coughs. He had nothing of her, not even a memory or the whisper of her voice in the middle of his dreams. She died within hours of entering the church, and he was left alone in the world, owning nothing more than the name she gave the priests, Min lay feverish for weeks, coughing up black vile liquids as members from the congregation sat with the foreign toddler, all half wondering if it wouldn’t be a blessing for God to take the frail youngster to be with his mother.
The doctor who’d finally come to see him gave Min only a few days to live, at best a week. Fitful, he cried when the deacon anointed his forehead with oil and performed the rites to save Min’s soul. The touch of the man’s warm fingers soothed the toddler and he fell into a deeper sleep, his breathing evening out. His coughing eased and the viscous fluids from his lungs lessened, turning clear then subsiding all together. Ravaged by the illness, his heart beat in flutters, and over the next few months, the parish priests carefully tended the sickly child, knowing that he would never truly cross over the threshold to manhood.
“You should get out of the cold, Mr. Shim,” The deacon said, feeling the brisk air on his face. Winter lay on the wind, promising to freeze the ground solid. “We don’t want to risk you catching your death on the cold.”
“Yes, sir,” Min replied, bowing his head respectfully before turning back into the church proper. He’d grown used to the priests coddling him, watching his every breath as if it would be his last. It was tiring, but he’d grown used to it.
The inner sanctum of the annex was warm, lit by rows of white beeswax candles. It smelled of apples and cinnamon, the fragrance coming from the kitchens as a tart of stored fruit baked, made by one of the housekeepers charged with the priests’ caretaking. The food was plain, sometimes stew for days on end, but the rare treat was worth everything. When he was younger, the cook would sneak him an extra piece of dessert.
Now they snuck him two.
Dinner was a few hours off by the sound of the bells calling out the time in the dank London air. Restless, he took off the long black coat he’d worn to ward off the outside cold, and settled down into the soft comfort of his bed. Sleep claimed him, as it usually did, his body worn from the walk. Each day became a greater struggle as his heart fought to keep its pace. As Min drifted off into the welcoming darkness, he wondered if this was the time when he didn’t wake.
“Do you miss home so much that you’re now hunting down little pieces of it?” Dong-Wook asked, exhaling a plume from his pursed lips. The cheroot’s tip burned cherry red as he drew its smoke into his lungs, letting a trail seep out of his flared nostrils, draconian will o’ wisps scalloping around his handsome face. A bit of ash fell from the cigarillo, floating on the cold air until it lay to rest on Yunho’s topcoat.
The men stood on the walkway overlooking the hospital, seemingly unaffected by the cold in the London air. They were a sharp contrast to the rabble of students bustling in and out of the medical facility’s school and even farther away from the droves of poor huddled around the heating vents near the hospital’s entrance, hoping for a bit of food and care before trudging back through London’s filthy streets. The casual passersby slid a stealthy glance over the tall forms, their trim bodies fitted with the latest fashion but their foreign beauty gave them an exotic air among the English frippery, two lean Siamese cats lounging with open disregard among prides of scrawny moggies.
Exotic was fine behind closed doors but in the watery glare of London’s fading sunlight, it became monstrously strange and a dangerous flirtation for the person who for a second, considered speaking to the men.
“Chil, did you hate home so much that you have to run from it?” Yunho rolled his eyes, teasing the other man. His mouth formed a tight smile but his lips moved up just long enough for his blood-brother to see the tip of his fangs. “Or since we are in England, do you prefer Se7en now? I was at the club and someone said you were affecting that as your name.”
The complicated tendrils of their forged brotherhood tested both men, strong willed personalities that butted heads over nearly everything. Their mistress often called them by the order that she took them into the darkness, losing their names in her memory. Her beauty first entranced Dong-Wook, a dancer in the court. Within a few days of filling him with her blood, she spotted a young soldier making the rounds of a township and plucked Yunho from his life and into hers.
Like all fancies, she grew tired of them after several decades, her fondness for the exotic moving to the Southern Continent where she roamed now, delightfully rummaging through the labyrinth cities of Morocco. Left to their own devices, the men drifted through Europe, never more than a few miles from one another. Past resentments of sharing the same woman lingered in both of their minds but they remained nearby, pulled together by their shared heritage and bound blood.
“I don’t mind.” The older vampire shrugged nonchalantly, knowing the casual gesture would irritate the more exacting man. “It is a lucky number here. Several of my… companions call me that. It’s easier on my ears than Dong-Wook. They slaughter my name with every twist of their tongue. But ah, we weren’t talking about me. We were talking about you and the fresh-faced boy you called me to stare at.”
Se7en carefully rested his elbows on the walkway’s stone railing, avoiding the larger of the bird offal on the ledge. With their change came advantages, a keener eyesight and sharper senses one of the many. The now sensitive nerves of their bodies could adapt to many things, piercing through shadows and absorbing ambient light. They were warned to be cautious as their adaptations also bore a price; the sensitive skin was now unable to bear the brunt of full sunlight. London’s dim afternoons made walking during the day possible but the danger still existed, especially when one of their own was caught unaware. They’d both seen the third member of their mistress’ cadre smoke under the wink of an afternoon sun, his hand carelessly falling through a carriage window and into the noon’s fire.
The smell of him cooking haunted them both as did his screams of pain over the next few weeks when the servants laboured to scrape away the dead tissues every hour to force his healing.
“How long have you been hunting him?” Se7en asked his brother, flicking his cheroot with his fingers. He watched the ash fall to the pass below, a grey-white mote on the trodden wet grass.
“I’m not…hunting him,” Yunho said, shaking his head. He leaned his weight on the flats of his palm, staring through the shadows and into the youth’s bedroom. “I want him, Dong-Wook. I want my blood in his veins. I want him with me.”
Se7en froze, eerily still as what Yunho said sunk in. It was… unimaginable. They stood in a foreign land, nearly a century after they’d left their homeland, and what Yunho was proposing seemed… incredulous. If he brought the young man to a life of endless nights, they would have to leave, fleeing their comfortable life in London for another city where it would take them at least a year to reestablish themselves. It would mean more lies, half-truths told to too many faces until everything blurred into one long thread of fiction.
And there would be another name…another face… that they would have to memorize these lies for.
“You’re mad,” Se7en whispered. “Do you know what that means? Don’t you remember how it was for us? How confusing and unsettling?”
“It will be different,” Yunho insisted. “I know…”
“You know?” The other man retorted. “It sounds like you’ve planned this out already. As if you have stories you already are going to have at the tip of your tongue when people ask after a young priest suddenly moving in with you?”
Turning, Se7en flung his cheroot over the railing and pressed in against Yunho’s shoulder, hemming the man in against the railing. The other man’s chin came up, defiant against his blood-brother’s arguments. Eyes narrowed, he squared himself off, readying himself for Se7en’s attack, his fists balling up at his sides.
“Is he there to save your immortal soul, Eight?” Pushing in, Se7en nudged Yunho off balance, the leather of his boots squeaking as he took another step. “Is that what you’re going to tell your housekeeper? That you’ve found yourself needing the comfort of the clergy? Are you going to make him wear his collar when you take him? Is that the perversion that calls to you? The seduction of one of God’s men?”
“He’s not a priest,” Yunho said, pushing at Se7en’s shoulder, shoving the man away. The former dancer turned on his heel, baring his canines with a hiss. Yunho responded with a display of his own, a carefully peeled back lip, refusing to back down from the other man’s aggression.
They stepped away from each other, simmering in the stew of their irritation. Oblivious to the drama escalating a few hundred yards from his tiny parish room, Changmin closed his eyes, staving off the fatigue leeching his strength. Yunho gripped at the railing, digging his fingers into its carved stone and stared at the long-limbed young man stretched out onto the thin bed.
“How long have you been watching him?” Se7en asked, his voice nearly taken by the rush of wind sweeping through the streets. “How long have you been planning this, brother?”
“I noticed him when he was… sixteen or so.” Yunho’s eyes grew distant, remembering the evening he’d spotted the youth walking through the crowd. The Asian kept his head down, either bashful of his lanky height or, more probable, conscious of his foreignness among the English. He’d not seen Yunho falling into step a few feet away nor did he notice the vampire following him nearly to the church’s doorstep.
Intrigued by the mystery of an Asian dressed in the black-crow drapery of an acolyte, Yunho shadowed the young man, learning bits and pieces of his routine. He’d been nearby when a carriage horse reared back, nearly striking the youth in the head. Yunho was startled to see a blue tinge form around the young man’s mouth, his skin drawing in tight as he struggled to catch his breath. With clutched fingers at his chest, he’d fallen, crying out with little gasping mewls and Yunho fought the stream of people to reach the young man’s side.
The youth’s eyes were already rolled back in his head when Yunho stepped onto the walk, his chest rattling with a final breath. Alarmed, he nearly grabbed the young man but a pair of liver-spotted hands were there first. A sour-faced deacon grappled the youth’s shoulders, shaking him violently once… then again. About to protest the rough treatment, the blue-lipped young man gasped, and inhaled sharply, a vicious wet cough racking his body.
“You’ll not die on me, you filthy ding,” The priest spat, straightening up to stand over the young man’s weakened body. “Now get to your feet and head back to the parish. I’ll tend to the Brownings myself.”
“So he’s sick, then?” Se7en asked, nodding when Yunho grunted. “Have you talked to him about this? About becoming one of us?”
“No,” Yunho admitted, staring at his fingernails. “I’ve never spoken to him. It never seemed to be… the right time.”
“You’ve lurked after him for what? Three or four years and you’ve never spoken to him?” Snorting at the ridiculousness of Yunho’s predicament, Se7en wiped at his face. “Think about what you want to do, brother. You’re talking about binding someone to us… to our mistress… to our blood for however long he can stand it. Is this starling so enchanting that you’re willing to risk our lives on him? Because that’s what you’ll be doing, Yunho. You risk us by approaching him and making him one of us. Everything we are depends on secrets. Can you risk this?”
“I want to. There’s something in him that draws me in.” He watched a flock of pigeons round the hospital’s towers, heading back to roost. “I feel something there. And not just because he’s… Korean. I can’t explain it.”
“You’d do better taking in one of the gypsy boys that pick pockets on the square. At least they’d bring in money,” Se7en said under his breath. He frowned as Yunho stepped away from the rail, the other man adjusting his coat. “Where are you going?”
“I’ve a game at the club. I promised one of the members that I’d play cards with him,” Yunho said, shrugging off Se7en’s annoyance. “I’ll talk to you about him later. Maybe if you have time to think about how I feel, you’ll understand.”
Se7en watched his mistress’ get fade into the fog, losing Yunho in the swirling mists. Clipping off the tip of another cigarillo, Se7en struck a match and lit its end, drawing on the fragrant smoke. He took a one last look at the young man who captivated his blood-brother before stepping into the dank vapors himself.
“I’ll have to break you of your obsession, dearest brother,” Se7en said to himself, an idea forming in his mind. “Let’s see how easy it is to seduce your young bird.”
It began as a simple plan. He would follow Yunho’s new pet, searching for weaknesses in the young man’s character. By exposing the frailty of Yunho’s chosen, Se7en would prove to his blood-brother that the youth in question was unworthy of an eternal gift… and more importantly, the men would be safe from betrayal.
A simple plan, Se7en told himself. A masterful plan.
Se7en spent a week stalking the young man’s movements and learning his habits. Bookstores and libraries made up most of the youth’s time, his afternoons mostly taken up by visits to members of the parish’s congregation. An occasional visit to a museum broke the monotony and after a few days, Se7en was about to burst from boredom. Tired of skulking about in the shadows, he moved in, rounding the stacks and came face to face with his prey.
And fell into the young man’s smoky amber eyes.
He’d not stammered since he’d first seen his mistress, her lush red hair a fiery fall over her pale shoulders. The young man brought the same heart-pounding reaction, the stilled blood in his veins surging through his limbs. Gulping, Se7en nearly choked on his own breath, his carefully phrased seduction collapsing into ash on his tongue.
Recovering quickly, he swallowed, refocusing on his mission. The boy was dressed in his typical black shroud, his lean body cloaked under the dark fabric. His overcoat was thin and worn in spots, mended at the hem in too many places for Se7en to count. The sleeves were too short for the young man’s long arms, a good portion of skin showing above his wrist bones. He was luckier with the pants for length but not for fit. The trousers hung slack on his thighs, too loose to be fashionable. It was an endearing look, Se7en thought, much like a young child suddenly finding himself too grown to wear his own clothes and not large enough to carry his father’s.
A carefully placed nudge brought a clutch of portfolios tumbling from the table, its erotic leaflets scattering about the polished wood floor. The young man immediately bent over, murmuring words of apology for knocking over Se7en’s reading materials. The vampire smiled when a red flush worked from the young man’s cheeks and up to the tips of his ears poking out from his mop of black hair. He gulped several times, clutching at the vellum sheets as if unsure if he should hand them to Se7en or fling them back to the floor.
“Oh.” If the blush was sweet, his voice was hot sugar poured on snow. The heat in his face was palatable, searing Se7en’s fingers when the vampire brushed at the flush on the young man’s cheeks. “You… um, I must have hit the edges…when…”
He’d chosen that particular folio on purpose, erotic images of men intertwined in various states of undress and sex. The sketches were skillful, careful attention paid to the men’s faces and their throes of passion. Nothing was left to the imagination, each rendering captured at the point of penetration when both men were at their most aroused.
“It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?” He didn’t take the vellum from the youth’s hands. Instead, Se7en stroked at the back of his trembling hands, mimicking the long strokes a man gave his lover’s sex. “We’re so intrigued with the act of sex but when faced with the most natural and beautiful thing that God gave us, we stumble and hide. Don’t you agree?”
“I…” He never got farther than that, swallowing hard when Se7en’s thumb brushed over his lower lip.
The young man’s mouth was kissable, Se7en decided, and his long neck begged to bitten, regardless if the biter drew blood to suckle on. He nearly died inside when the acolyte’s tongue dabbed out nervously, leaving a spot of moisture on the pad of his thumb. The innocence of the response nearly burned him with its purity and his body responded to the guileless widening of the young man’s brown eyes.
“What’s your name, pet?” Se7en caressed the word on his tongue, a modern day affection weighted down with delicious possibilities.
“Changmin Shim.” His Adam’s apple bobbed as he spoke, his words sliding around the breadth of Se7en’s thumb. He shuffled back half a step, enough of a distance to separate himself from Se7en’s touch but not far enough to be impolite. “Max is the Christian name they gave me but I don’t use it often.”
“Changmin.” Giving the young man a slight bow, Se7en held his hand out in introduction. “I am Dong-Wook Choi but many of my English friends call me Se7en.”
Cocking his head in confusion, Min asked, “Seven?”
“An affectation,” He replied with a slight smile on his full lips. “A…nickname of sorts from my mother. You might say I’m her seventh son.”
“That’s supposed to be lucky.” He nodded.
“So they tell me,” Se7en agreed. He rubbed at the memory of the youth’s lips on his thumb, spreading the scent of him into his skin. A few steps brought Se7en up against Min’s slender body, capturing the young man against the stacks. Placing his feet on either side of Min’s, hemming him in. “What matter of priest tarries in this section of the bibliothèque? Are you taking notes for a hellfire and brimstone sermon that you’re giving? Are you doing research on what to warn your flock off?”
Shim Changmin… fit. The young man’s thighs curved where Se7en’s dipped, the triangular divot of muscle where the older man’s torso joined his limbs was filled with Min’s succulent hips and legs. A slither of flesh twitched against Se7en’s trouser, elongating to nudge at the fabric. The feel of Min’s arousal, however conflicted, warmed between them, trapped against Se7en’s leg.
Startled, the young man raised his hands as if to ward Se7en off, placing them on the vampire’s firm torso. His palms slid over the older man’s silk jacket, resting on the muscled curve of his chest and pressing the heels of his hands against Se7en’s body. Shifting his feet, Se7en brought himself closer, nesting the youth tight against him. The wood shelves dug into Min’s back and he instinctively arched his back, trying to ease the pressure.
“I’m… um… not a priest,” Changmin whispered. The older man stood nearly eye to eye with him, a rare event in Min’s life. The man was broader across the shoulders and stronger, the picture of health compared to Changmin’s thinner frame.
“Ah, so I see now. I don’t know how I could have missed it.” Se7en plucked at the youth’s black collar, edging his fingers around the space where a white tab would poke through. “So then, tell me something else…why does a pretty young man wear old priest clothes and lingers in the very naughty section of the folios?”
“I’ve always worn…” Cocking his head back, Min stared into Se7en’s dark eyes. “I need to go. I have to help the deacon prepare for evening services.”
The vampire moved in, his lips nearly brushing against Min’s. A tempest of heat flared between them, the proximity of their flesh creating a sear along Min’s protruding lower lip. A fang slid free of Se7en’s smile, glistening in the shadows thrown over their faces. Its tip lightly dimpled Changmin’s lip then raked across the pearled pink skin. Pulling away, Se7en ran his tongue over the canine, suckling Min’s taste from the enamel.
“Of course, little church mouse,” He said, taking his time sliding away from Min’s legs. “I don’t know what came over me. It’s probably because I’ve not seen a fellow countryman for such a long time… excepting for my brother.”
Changmin was forced to duck around Se7en’s arm to get past and he brushed against the man’s stomach, unconsciously allowing his fingers to linger there for a moment. A wave of panic rushed up from his chest, its tightening warning him of an impending attack. Forcing himself to calm down, Changmin slowed his walk, trying to catch his breath before his heart beat raced out of control.
“If I find myself needing to speak with God, pet,” Se7en called out after him before Min could step out of earshot. “Where would I find Him?”
“God is everywhere, sir,” Min replied, a defiant tilt to his chin.
The vampire’s closed-mouth grin was infectious and Changmin found himself smiling in return. “Where would I find you, if I needed to talk to you instead?”
“St. Barts,” He blurted before he could catch himself.
Min reddened, still feeling the burn of the man’s legs against his hips and thighs. The too-intimate touch was a daring pleasure, nothing he’d experienced before came close to the rush from Se7en’s proximity. Too late, he wondered if he’d survive the man’s bare flesh touching his own. Hell’s fires couldn’t burn as hot as the blush on his face when Min stumbled out into the street, breaking into a fast walk to reach St. Barts before the bells began to toll for service.
Changmin searched the congregation that night for Se7en’s face. He tried to convince himself that it wasn’t disappointment he felt when he didn’t see the man sitting among the regulars. For the next few days, he found himself scanning the crowd, once even losing track of the service and falling out of step when the deacon began his final prayers.
On the fourth day following his encounter with the older man, Changmin swept the last of the ashes from the living area’s fireplace and headed outside to dump the refuge into the ashbin. The smell of sweet cherry smoke wafted from the lawn on the side of the annex and a tall, firm shadow detached from the tall hedges trimming the outer circle, heading towards Min.
The faint moonlight coming through the clouds shone on Se7en’s face, throwing his cheekbones into stark sweeps under his dark eyes. He was cast in blues and ebonies, the colour of his skin and clothes leeched from the silver swaths falling through the night sky.
“Hello, church mouse.”
Min’s sex reacted, thickening instantly on hearing Se7en’s voice. Swallowing hard, he stumbled over his words, trying to find something sentient to say amid the tangle of thoughts that bloomed in his mind. The ash bin clattered to the cobblestones, the noise bouncing against the sides of the nearby buildings.
The other man was by his side before Min could speak, a rush of air blowing the young man’s hair back from his face. Capable, long hands gripped Min’s fingers, turning them over to check for injuries. A spill of warm embers smoked on the damp walkway, burning a bright red as the wind picked up, blowing them to life.
“Are you alright?” You didn’t burn yourself did you?” Se7en asked, running his fingertips over the young man’s palms, checking for rising blisters. “I didn’t mean to startle you. vison.”
“I’m fine.” He reluctantly drew his hand back from the older man’s, rubbing at the spots Se7en touched.
“Let me help you clean this up,” Se7en said, taking the ash whisk from the bin. He started to sweep up the pluming embers, carefully angling the walking bin to capture the sparks before they flew.
“You shouldn’t,” Min protested. “You’re… too fine to do this. Your clothes…”
“Are just fabric,” Se7en laughed, working the bin around again. “I’m not so noble that I forget what it means to work, pet. Here. All done.”
Min took the walking bin and dumped it, closing the trap when he was done. He gave the sweeper tools a quick wash in the back trough, shaking loose most of the water with a twist of his wrists. Standing there, he was unsure of what to do next. His instincts told him to run but something inside of him begged him to remain. It was…decidedly nice to see someone’s face that resembled his for once. Too often he’d stared in the mirror, wishing his eyes were rounder or didn’t crinkle unevenly when he smiled. There had been times when he was growing up when other children would point to illustrations in books and shout that he was devil spawn because of the slant of his eyes and the tone of his skin.
“So, what else does a serious but naughty young man do in on an early evening?” Se7en leaned against the wall of the annex, studying Min’s expressive face. “Cards? Gambling?”
“I’m not naughty,” Changmin said, his temper rising. Small whispers floated in his mind, traitorous mewlings that suggested with this man, he certainly could explore every aspect of sin. “Or at least, I try to. Besides, it’s a childish word. There are others that are more suitable.”
“Suitable?” He mused, contemplating other choices. “Like what? What would you prefer?”
“I would choose… wicked or wayward. Maybe mischievous, if what I’d done wasn’t too…” Min unthinkingly licked at his lips, wetting their pout with his tongue. “Harmful. I wouldn’t want to harm someone else. That would be wrong.”
“So there’s a difference between sin and harm then?” Se7en traced the path of Min’s tongue with the tip of finger, rolling over the moist trail. “Maybe you can teach me that difference, church mouse?”
“You’re older than I am,” He replied. “If you don’t know the difference by now, how do you expect me to teach you? Maybe the deacon can help you?”
For a moment, Se7en thought the boy was serious but the twinkle in his honeyed brown eyes hid a sharp intellect, a teasing that the vampire didn’t think Yunho’s prey was capable of. He’d seen the flash of temper and the rigid control of a strong-willed man fighting it down; two signs that Shim Changmin was more than pretty underneath his crow-wing rags.
He would have to fall back and re-think, Se7en decided. More so because his tongue itched to follow where his finger had just been. And even more so, his teeth ached to bite into the fulsome pout until the young man moaned and clutched at him. The small of his back needed to feel the wrap of the youth’s long legs, his fingernails digging into Se7en’s bare back until they both bled into one another.
No, definitely time to step back and think things over, he thought.
It would be better to step forward and take what you want, whispered the wicked, naughty demon in his soul. Yunho can always find another playmate. This one…this little church mouse… is something more. He is made of untapped sin that you want to plunge into. Take him. Apologize to your brother later when this one is lying in your bed, undone and sated.
“No, pet. If anyone is going to teach me what true sin is, it will be you.” Se7en said finally, stealing a kiss from Min’s startled mouth. Their tongues met, a little dab of sex exploding in their throats. He savoured the young man, tasting the untouched world of sensuality that lay under the golden skin that pled to be brought to a blush. A sliver of apple and cinnamon mingled with a touch of sin, the offering of a snake to God’s chosen, begging to fall from grace so pleasure could be born.
He pulled away before he surrendered to his basest instincts, leaving Changmin gasping for air. A final brush of his thumb over Min’s mouth and then Se7en turned, disappearing in London’s rising darkness.
Changmin had no one to talk to, none that shared his secrets and confidences. The room he’d slept in for years was barren of anything connected to a home, its walls naked of pictures depicting family or a far off land he’d never remember. Stacks of books kept him company, worlds trapped on the page and ink. He flew off to distant places in the flicker of the evening light, immersing himself in foreign tastes that he could only imagine.
Books gave him a window out of the grey dismal world, shining down colours where none existed. Most of the priests frowned upon the secular trappings of his reading but the deacon staved them off, reminding the men that Changmin was a scholar among them. The Deacon often said; How would the boy know of what is out there in the world if not through the eyes of others? His frail heart won’t allow any travel. Better he spend what time he has walking the lands through the pages. We can allow him that much.
After the final session of Sunday prayers, Changmin returned to his room, fatigue drawing the grey out to the surface of his skin. The carrying of duties wore him down, his breath coming in short pants as he struggled to light the candles that cast a glow down on the altar. He’d nearly passed out before the service ended, the world spinning with a checkered flash of lights and shadows. The priest doing the service shot him a stern look, as if daring him to die before the final blessing and Min straightened himself up, forcing his body to hold on for a few minutes longer.
It had been relief when the deacon excused him from clearing the church and he fled back to his room, holding onto the walls to steady himself until he could lie down. The streetlights were lit, illuminating his room, fractured by the leading of the oddly paned window. A beam of light struck his bed, catching on the gold clasp of a large book.
The leather binding was a fine goatskin, tanned to a rich mahogany and bound expertly with thick thread. A thick runner ribbon lapped out from under the cover, its brocade weave a merry mingle of greens and golds. It was a book that a rich man would own, too fine for the likes of a broken bodied foreigner who scraped for each penny novel he could purchase.
His fingers trembled as he opened the book, daring himself to see what was inside. The roof of his mouth was filled with his dry tongue, a steep nervousness shaking his bones. Touching the gold filigree end caps on the cover’s corners, he carefully opened the tome, wondering how such a treasure found its way into his room.
A folded foolscap whispered out, drawn by the rush of air from the cover opening. The paper rested on his worn quilt, a bright handmade cream flecked with threads of silver. Picking up the note, Changmin unfolded it, feeling the richness of the paper crinkle in his fingers as he read the strong handwriting inked over the page.
“Mink.” Changmin frowned, unsure if he liked the word or if the letter was even for him. Continuing, his frown lightened, the grip on the letter lessening as his worry eased.
“I saw this and thought of you. It was a delight to find because tales from our homeland are rarely documented, much less in English. I wish it were in French so I could read it to you. That language is so pretty to hear in the cup of one’s ear. More importantly, I wish I can one day hear you read it to me in Korean. I shall enjoy teaching you the correct pronunciation of your name. There are certain twists of the tongue that you need to learn. So, you shall teach me what sin is and I shall teach you how to sin. Your servant in wickedness, Se7en”
His weariness was forgotten, buried deep under the need to see the land his mother came from. Carefully picking up the treasure that had been left for him, Changmin nested into the pile of pillows he curled to sleep in and opened the cover, losing himself into a tale of a fox sister and her appetite for liver.
On a walkway across the lawns, a vampire stood, contemplating the fall of light over a young man’s face. He lit a cheroot, exhaling a plume of smoke into the air before walking away, telling himself it was too soon to place himself where a book now rested.
“I wanted to thank you for the book,” Changmin said first, sitting nervously down in the wing chair. The sweets shop was no place for a church mouse like himself, the nickname sticking in his head. “But it’s too rich. I can’t accept it.”
He’d received a note from Se7en asking to meet at the chocolatier’s, a luscious smelling drawing room that Changmin passed often enough when making rounds for the parish. There were times when he wanted to peek through the door, its heavily glassed pane marbled with gold leaf and boasting the names of the men who worked the confections inside. The ton frequented such places, lofty exclusive shops where he would bring stares not just for his face but his demeanor and clothing.
Se7en looked as if he’d been born to fit such luxurious surroundings, his long legged body draped elegantly in the leather chair, its brass upholstery tacks glinting into a beaming aurora around his head. Changmin blanched at the sight of Se7en’s lean thighs encased in fitted trousers, the dark fabric run through with thin white threads that elongated his height. The dark red of his jacket shone like blood on gold against the tanned leather chair, his white shirt and black ties lush on his tanned skin. The leather of his boots glistened with polish and Min was keenly aware of the blunt dullness of his own serviceable shoes.
But Se7en greeted him as if they were old friends, standing to clasp him around the shoulders and pulling him into a tight hug. They lingered a moment too long for society’s comfort but no one murmured sharp whispers although he did see several women sigh, pressing their hands to their chests when Se7en brushed a light kiss over his cheek before sitting down.
“Nonsense,” Se7en replied, nodding as a servant brought them a steaming pot. He waited until the man finished serving them, pouring out the thick, bittersweet drinking chocolate. Lightly dusting each drink’s surface with confectioner’s sugar, the man withdrew, leaving the men to their exotic afternoon repast. “I got the book for you. It’s yours. I even wrote your name on the bookplate.”
“Aish,” Min hissed, a rough sound that delighted Se7en. “I can’t believe you wrote in a book! That’s just…”
“Sacrilege?” He supplied the word, handing Min a steaming porcelain tea cup. The servant brought out sturdier cups rather than the delicate florals used for the women but the young man’s long fingers easily wrapped around the bowl. “It’s the bookplate. That’s what it’s there for. Drink your chocolate.”
“I shouldn’t have agreed to meet you here,” Changmin said, nearly setting the cup down. “I can’t afford this, Se7en. Will they take it back?”
“I have more than enough money to buy all of England a cup to sip. Don’t let’s worry about the cost,” Se7en said, stopping Min before he poured the chocolate back into the pot. “Drink. Relax. And tell me how you like it.”
The first sip was an aberrant peek into Heaven, angel wings carrying the voice of God in a rain too delicious to describe. The grains were slick on his tongue, a melting cloud of darkness heavy with cream, sugar and cinnamon. It was something unexpected and erotic, a molasses flavoured with unfulfilled sex and wanted kisses.
It tasted like Se7en, Min thought. This is what this man tastes like.
“It’s good,” He murmured softly, his hands shaking as he took another sip, careful of the heat of the liquid on his tongue. It would burn him if he would let it… much like the man who sat in the chair opposite of him.
Let him burn you, His mind echoed his heart’s wish. You won’t live long enough for any other fire to touch you. Stand in this flame now. It was ignited for you. Only for you.
That thought was chased away by Se7en’s laughter at the satisfied smile on Min’s face and he leaned forward, pressing a tray of cakes at Changmin, urging the young man to taste one of everything, two if he liked it. They spent the afternoon talking about the legends of that far off land, and Min tried his tongue around the foreign words Se7en began to teach him.
The first word he learned was mother, something he could whisper in his prayers when he thought of her soul reaching Heaven’s gates and the angels welcoming her in.
The second word Se7en taught him was kiss, which he demonstrated with a skillful slant of his lips and tongue on Min’s mouth.
It was the word Min remembered best and the one he whispered as he fell asleep that night.
The first time they kissed it was under the moonlight of the Queen’s rose gardens, standing amid the winter damasks. In the wind was the faint refrains of an orchestra, the strings playing a waltz that Changmin didn’t know. His musical exposure lay mostly in hymns with the occasional bawdy tune he heard on the docks while taking soup to the poor. To his ears, the refrain sounded as if it sang to his soul, urging him to open his mouth and let Se7en in.
He did and the stars fell around him, the clouds no longer able to hold back their light.
When Se7en bit into Changmin’s skin, he gulped at the sunlight poured from the darkness of a man’s body. Noon and sunrises burst onto his tongue, his throat filling with the essence of a man he wanted deep inside of his soul. There were dreams and worked silver in Changmin’s kiss, delicate but strong embellishments that made Se7en realize his world lacked the prism of Min’s laugh… of his smile and mostly of his musings.
“Se7en,” Changmin gasped, his heart pounding erratically. He knew what the creature was doing… what the man was doing to him. The stories he’d read spoke of darkly sinful men who would drag their victims off, bringing death with each bite of their long teeth. He could have pulled away. Se7en’s hold on him was loose and comfortable.
Instead he held the man closer, wanting…needing to give Se7en the only thing he could give him.
“Just a little bit, pet,” Se7en whispered, biting down on his thumb to open up a cut along the pad. Sliding past Min’s white teeth, he placed himself on the other man’s tongue, letting his night-tainted blood spread to fill Min’s mouth.
Changmin’s thirst and need overwhelmed him and he closed his lips over the man’s offering, drawing Se7en in until he could feel the ridge of a thumbnail on the back of his throat. It scraped along his roof, hitting each ridge and leaving a small slice along the soft of his palate. There, in Min’s mouth, they mingled for the first time… a delicious taste of moonlight and candied violets, the treat lingering on Se7en’s fingers from their afternoon tea. Sugar crystals fought with the sweetness of his own blood, blending into the dark richness of Se7en’s taste.
He swallowed and his world opened, the shadows deepening, casting the colours into a bright contrast. Se7en’s flesh filled him, curved over his tongue until the breadth of it wasn’t enough and Changmin’s core ached to feel the touch of his maker in the depths of his heat.
It was over too soon when Se7en pulled back, leaving Min panting for more. His chest pounded with the strength of his heart beats, thrusting blood into each inch of his arteries. Min felt alive for the first time in his memory, each pulse of his blood filling his body. The feeling subsided, leaving him with a throb along his spine. Changmin trembled in Se7en’s arms, cursing his body and its illnesses.
“Damn.” Min curled his fist, smacking with a futile strength at Se7en’s chest. “Damn. Damn.”
“Don’t worry, pet,” Se7en licked away the tears forming at the edges of his chosen get. “It’ll be twice more and you won’t ever have to feel like that ever again.”
“You fucking son of a bitch,” Yunho screamed, his voice cracking as he spat into Se7en’s face. A bruise purpled the other man’s chin, a thin trail of blood leaking from a cut on his lip. “You fucking knew he was mine! You knew! And you did this! For what? To teach me a lesson? To hurt me? Of everything that you’ve ever done to me, brother, this by far the worst.”
Yunho paced across the living room of Se7en’s flat, uncaring of the mud he tracked over a Persian rug. He’d spotted Se7en walking with Changmin from a tea shop and followed the pair, a mute and betrayed shadow choking on his brother’s treachery. He lurked outside of the church for a few minutes before fleeing to his blood-brother’s row-house.
He’d struck as soon as Se7en crossed the threshold, landing a stunning blow across the other’s face. Se7en blocked the second but didn’t see the third, falling back onto the hard wood floor. Looking up at his attacker, all of the angry fled the older vampire’s demeanor. He didn’t have to be told that Yunho knew. The hurt in his brother’s face told him everything…told him Yunho had seen everything.
Now he could only apologize and hope for forgiveness.
“You knew I was in love with him.” Yunho rubbed at his face, trying to erase the image of Se7en kissing the black-draped young man from his mind. Dropping his hands, he stared out of the bank of windows overlooking the city. His tears reflected back at him, shining trails rolling down his cheeks. “You knew that. You knew I loved him.”
“No, brother. You fell in love with a face,” Se7en said, picking himself up from the floor. “I fell in love with his soul.”
Crossing the space between them, Se7en hesitated before clasping Yunho on the shoulder. Turning his brother around, he expected resistance but the younger vampire yielded easily, allowing himself to be pressed gently against the glass.
“His name is Shim Changmin,” Se7en closed his eyes, needing for words to sink into Yunho’s heart. “And when I am with him, brother, I remember what it’s like to dream.”
“I watch him as he takes his first steps into a world that he thought he’d never have. I was there when he took his first sip of chocolate,” Se7en laughed, remembering the first time he’d tasted the delight. “It was as if lust crystallized on his tongue and he was experiencing the lust of gods in his mouth. It changed his face so much, that tiny little sip and I fell in love right then and there.”
“Did you mean to?” Yunho asked tightly. The strain in his voice opened Se7en’s eyes and the other man ached when he saw the glitter of bloodstained tears clinging to Yunho’s lashes. “Did you mean to fall in love with him? Or was it just a game?”
“It was supposed to be a seduction,” Se7en admitted. “A seduction to show you that you didn’t need him and that he would fall for anyone but instead, he seduced me. Tell me, brother, have you ever been seduced by Innocence before?”
Yunho’s lips pressed into a thin line as he controlled his emotions, shoving them back down under the surface of his thoughts. He took a deep breath before answering. “No, I haven’t.”
“It’s like a butterfly has fallen from the sky and wrapped its wings around your whole body,” Se7en whispered, staring past Yunho’s beauty and into the city, unconsciously looking for St. Barts amid the bristle of buildings. “And then it flies off, leaving a glittering powder all over your skin and you rub, hoping that if by some miracle, you can rub it far enough into you, you’ll grow wings yourself and be able to finally… fly.”
“Every second that I spend with him brings another star into the pitch of my night. I cannot wait to see the entire universe spread out in front of us. I long to see the world through him. That’s how I love him, Yunho,” He sighed, resting his forehead against the glass as his brother’s arms lifted to hug him. “Can you say the same?”
“No,” Yunho admitted softly, brushing a kiss over his blood-brother’s temple. “I will leave him to you, then. Just promise me that you’ll make him happy.”
“I vow to make him as happy as he makes me,” Se7en said, feeling his brother’s heat slip away as Yunho let his embrace fall away. He said nothing more, listening instead to the beat of his heart and the rain begin to hit the glass as his blood brother closed the door behind him, leaving Se7en alone with his thoughts.
They lay against one another, fitted into each other’s bodies, much like the first time Se7en approached Changmin in the bibliothèque.
Nude, they explored with slow, languid fingers and mouths, tasting every inch of pleasure each other could offer. Shy at first, Min was reluctant at first then grew bolder as he discovered he had as much control over Se7en’s release as the other had over him. With the promise of moonlight threatening the canopy of clouds banked against the windows, they laughed at ticklish spots and moaned when an unknown spot proved to be erotically charged under the bite of sharp teeth.
They tore at the sheets, each needing more of one another. A purple jacquard throw slithered to the ground, thrown aside as its spotted tassels brushed against Se7en’s bared nipples, scratching at his tender skin. Min’s fingernails replaced the throw’s caress, rolling the other man’s nubs back and forth under their dulled edges.
“Just once more, love,” Se7en promised as he turned Changmin over, sliding his oil-damp fingers into the cleft of his body. “Then we’ll be like this, forever joined.”
The young man arched, rising up partially on his knees and pressing his chest against the soft bedding, spreading himself open for Se7en’s intrusion. It would be their first time joining together and his young lover burned trails of desire through Se7en, each unconscious sensual action bringing them both closer to spilling. He would have to take his time, both in loving and in changing the young man. It would be better for them both if they found pleasure together.
The initial thrust was short, just enough to stretch Min around him. They both stopped, gasping and mewling as they fought not to pick up the primal rhythm that rose to the surface of their minds, their bodies twitching to fill the space between them. Pushing in deeper, Se7en gave Changmin time to adjust to the intrusion, feeling the young man gasp and twist under him. Clasping his fingers over Min’s hand, he started to rock into the curve of his lover’s heat, letting his desire ride them both until Min caught fire with want.
Changmin’s hips rose to meet Se7en’s thrust, his mouth open and begging, murmuring in a forgotten language that his tongue seemed to speak while his mind fled under the night sky. The push of Se7en into him both broke him apart and healed him, his heart faltering its beat, drawing his breath in sharp as the pain in his chest spread until his ribs screamed with ache.
“Now, baby,” Se7en urged his lover, placing his wrist under Min’s open mouth. “After me. You will need to drink as deep as you can. Take as much as you can into yourself. Feel me inside of you. Feel all of me inside of you.”
Baring his fangs, Se7en dipped his head and closed over the pulsing line of Min’s neck. Sinking in, he thrust again, burying himself as far into his lover as he could. Gasping, Min’s body responded and the drops of Se7en’s blood already in his veins blossomed, forcing his teeth to elongate. They grew, ripping and shoving apart his gums, tightening the space between his teeth and moving slightly forward. Drawn by the scent of Se7en’s skin a few inches in front of him, Changmin reached and bit, taking his first sip of sin and Se7en’s blood.
They spiraled under the night, the moon throwing its silver down on their bodies from its perch in the sky. Min’s hand spread over the window, running through the heat-induced dew their sex cast on the glass. Se7en’s fingers closed over his, intertwining as the vampire took Changmin over the edge of their spill, their thrusts growing harder and deeper.
With Se7en’s blood filling his mouth, Min swallowed once and then filled himself again, wanting to become everything he could for the man who brought his heart to a thundering beat. The world’s shadows deepened around him and colours began to emerge from the black as his body changed, driving the light from Min’s blood. Gasping, he cried out, his seed erupting from his sex and soaking into the sheets as Se7en’s release filled his core, reaching into the parts of his body becoming alive under his lover’s blood.
Together they lay, breathing hard and letting their love bathe over them as the night took Changmin into her burnt velvet embrace and Se7en smiled, feeling his soul sing as its mate joined him.
The train clacked over its thick steel wheels, following the long stretch of rails towards Scotland. Se7en had rented a lodge there, urged by Min’s desire to see long-haired Highland cattle and hear the keen of bagpipes in the air.
Enamoured by the countryside, Changmin leaned forward until his forehead pressed up against the window of their sleeping car. Fluffy sheep dotted the hills, white puffy clouds darting about green rolling curves. A cairn jutted up over the horizon, the kings’ grave a solemn sentry watching them past in silent dignity. Min pointed in delight at a spread of pheasants taking flight as the train approached, their long golden tails trailing behind them, flashing in the sunlight.
“I would have taken you to Paris and shown you the life there,” Se7en muttered under his breath after the fifth bouncing of sheep bounded across the countryside to Min’s robust laughter. “But no, you want to go to peat-bogged, heather fluffy hills instead.”
“It’ll be wonderful,” Changmin grinned, tucking away the furry cloth fox-doll Se7en had made for him in London. “I’ve always wanted to see the castle where Lady Macbeth scrubbed the blood from her hands and mourned the loss of her sanity. And haggis! I want to try haggis!”
“I give you chocolate and pomegranates and you want organ meat and turnips stuffed in a cow’s stomach,”
Se7en chuckled, listening to his young lover’s agreeing murmur. Clearing his throat, he drew out the waxed envelope he’d received from Yunho. He’d forwarded their plans to the other man’s home as requested but a part of him ached anew at the thought of being apart from his sometimes-friend, always-brother. Opening the letter he’d tucked into his jacket, he re-read Yunho’s words.
“My beloved annoying older brother,” Yunho’s words started. I can see now what you mean about love. I spent the evening thinking on your words and discovered… a hole inside of my soul… a hole that your little church mouse would never be able to fill.
And yes, I said your. Don’t gloat. I am conceding that he is yours. I saw the stars in your eyes when you spoke of him… the ones his kisses caught aflame in you and I was jealous. I want someone to look at me that way. I want someone to look that way for me.”
Se7en stopped, his attention drawn up to stare at the geese filling the sky, hoping he made an appropriate response. Changmin’s light slap on his thigh told him otherwise but the young man nodded when he spotted Yunho’s letter, motioning for his lover to continue reading.
”Leave word for me at my townhouse when you and your church mouse settle,” Yunho wrote. I’ll leave the house open so we’ll have someplace in London to come to. I hope you and Changmin know that you are always welcome there for it’s your home as well.
“I leave you to find the half of my own soul. I need my own stars, Choi Dong-Wook. I need to have the night filled with moonbeams and silver for me as well. I know that. Thank you for showing me that. So off I go, in search of my own love. I am envious of you finding it first. But perhaps I will find it better? I can only hope. Love to you and your beloved… Forever your brother in both blood and heart, Jung Yunho.”
“You’ll miss him,” Changmin whispered, touching his lover’s arm. “I wish he’d come with us.”
“He couldn’t,” Se7en said with regret, folding the letter and tucking it away. “Yunho needs to find what he’s missing. He’ll come back. Huit always does.”
“Heh, eight.” He laughed, wrinkling his nose at Se7en’s chagrined smile. “So that’s why you’re Se7en. Does that make me Nine?”
“No, pet,” Se7en said, his voice pitched low as his desire for his lover grew. “You are One… my only One. There will be no one besides or after you. Just you, Minku. Only you.”
The curtains of their compartment door fluttered close with a twitch of Se7en’s fingers on the sash, shutting off the view to the outer walkway. Tumbling his lover back, Se7en moved the fox-doll aside, placing it carefully on the other long upholstered seat where it rested against the book of Korean fairy tales Changmin brought to read. It lay there, jet bead eyes glittering as Se7en began his eternity with his love, showing Min each drop of starlight he brought to life in Se7en’s heart.