AJ had the run of the house, was comfortable and felt great in his own skin no matter how deformed on the one side of his face he was. His past wasn’t haunting him anymore, especially in the castle like home. The mansion that he took care of was secluded enough that he didn’t have to worry about neighbours, but not so bad that he was isolated. The walls and floors had been decorated over the years and it felt less cold, more homey even with the ghosts that roamed the halls. The monsters that came to life within the walls. It had been under centuries of care and love that AJ had to make sure the place was cozy.
He holds secrets in those halls, both centuries and decades old. Ghosts of murders and parties, a couple battles, but he greets them all as friends. Ghouls and monsters alike are drawn to the mansion, nearly a castle. He has a few embodied monsters too. The more prominent are the ones he hosts a party with every year.
One he met while travelling the cult roads in the 60s, a young mummy who has a knack for flirting. Blonde hair that is thick and soft looking despite the fact he’s been preserved. AJ met the scared teen while in Florida, having to sneak into the derelict house that held him. It was the night of awakening for corporeal monsters. He was able to settle in the back of the circle of human demons, performing a ritual to raise the recently deceased. All AJ saw was a teen who had been sacrificed for this purpose, probably one of the cultist’s own teenagers.
AJ had waited for the ritual to end and the dead to awake before he walked towards the middle where the table was, yellowed and dirty bandages wrapped around the terrified awakened who was strapped down. All it took was a whimper for AJ to slaughter the woman who had performed this sickening joke. His face scared the woman into silence before he snapped her neck.
When the crowd fled after finding out he was not entirely human he walked over to the terrified teen and slowly talked to him. “I’m not here to hurt you baby, I’m here to take you away from this place of horror.” He was quick as he unbuckled the hospital straps. He was angry at what these people created in their community. A sacrificial lamb led to the depths only to be drug up by the soul back into his body. “They can’t hurt you anymore, I won’t let them finish what they only began.” He helped the mummy to a sitting position, noticing the bright blue eyes and how aware and scared they were. Alert to being back among the living
It was a few moments before the teen could speak, having to make sure he wasn’t in a bad dream. “I’m back? I- I was dead- how?” He was so confused.
“They brought you back honey, sadistic and twisted people.” AJ finally got the blue eyed man to look at him. “Hello. My name is Alex, or AJ, don’t panic just yet because I think I can answer some of your questions. I have some of my own too.” his scratchy voice was somehow soothing to the blonde. Calming to the newly awakened that had no business being alive.
“You first,” The teen heaved deeply, “I need to think.”
“Okay, how old are you?” AJ said calmly, they had all the time in the world. He sat down next to the trembling teen. He let the blonde hold his gloved hand, the skin under the white had peeled and wrinkled, part of his curse.
“I had just turned 18 when- January- I was 18 in January of 1968.” he managed to get out between the beginnings of panicked breaths.
“It’s October first. Same year.” AJ supplied, feeling the weak squeezes to his hand. “Calm down honey, you’re going to be okay when we get that foggy head cleared up.” AJ’s smile was somewhat marred by his scarred face but it was still warm and bright. “I’m by human definition 20 years old. January as well.” he said softly.
The teen just nodded. They waited a couple moments in silence. “Why did you ask my age and not my name?” he asked.
“To be honest with you I needed to see if they botched the ritual, I’ll explain more when you’re calmer but just know that you’re safe now and nothing can happen to you.” AJ could see the teen close his eyes and take in shuddering breaths. “Now, what is your name?”
“Nickolas, Nick for short.” AJ smiled at the name for the pale and gaunt face. In a matter of hours the dead look will disappear even more and he’ll be back to what he looked like before he was sacrificed. “Carter is the family- is my last name.” his nose scrunched in disgust. “I have no family, not anymore.” AJ’s smile fell, he suspects that it was the family that had killed Nick.
“Do you know where you are Nick?” AJ asked.
“Same shit house I was when I died. Tampa, Florida.” He sighed. His shoulders dropped, mind accepting what had happened so quickly. “They had offered me up as a soul and body to use for this- this thing! If I wasn’t the right age it wouldn’t work. That’s why you asked isn’t it? So that I wouldn’t crumble away or turn into a monster.” Nick took the sympathetic smile as his answer.
“As I said, nothing, not even death himself now, can harm you.” AJ said it so soft that Nick thought he heard wrong at first. The hug he was brought into finally made him realize exactly all that was done to him.
“Fuck- I can’t- I don’t want to be so alone.” his voice cracked, tears still held as the shock to his body and mind would release them later.
“You aren’t. Which is why I’m here. I could feel something pulling me here yesterday, knowing that tonight was going to be a night of dark magic. I just didn’t know it was going to be for something so horrible. I may not be exactly what you are now, but I’m not able to be harmed either. Not lethally anyway.” AJ murmured the last part. “When you’re ready we can get out of here. I can take you somewhere safer than here.” AJ paused. “I sound like some sort of murderer. Okay, I’ll have you sit upfront and let you know exactly where we’re going.”
That was how he remembered the night he took Nick home with him. The young blonde scared and without anything other than the bandages he was wrapped in. The colour of his sun kissed skin returned and the fullness of his face and body didn’t take long to make itself known as Nick had groaned and squirmed, feeling his body react to the ritual.
Right then however, as AJ was passing the large newly renovated kitchen, the blonde was asleep in his room, decorated how he had wanted it with a sarcophagus in the corner as a joke. The sleep he was in was deep and the rest of the summer that year, having been wiped out from mid June and the concerts he had gone to with AJ. Places he had been with Kevin. Activities that he and Howie and Brian had poured themselves into.
There was another sleeping in his domain at that moment as well, one that could sleep for years at a time if he wanted. A certain blood sucker that had recently chopped his hair short. AJ had met the Puerto Rican in New Orleans When Spain had owned it. The vampire had a certain air about him that made AJ’s skin crawl when he set eyes on the nightwalker.
Red eyes had been satiated by blood into the deep brown they once were all the time. Curls that were wild when untamed had been tied by ribbon out of his face. Soft lips that looked stained by wine were parted slightly when he caught AJ looking. The doe eyed man looked centuries old already by aura alone, his eyes giving away the confirmation.
Mardis Gras was where they met eyes for the first time, and soon enough the immortals tucked themselves away in a corner of the public house. Ale in mugs and a plateful of carved chicken and veggies between them. “I never thought I’d see the day when I would run into another immortal.” The vampire had smiled, a little sharply that it made AJ wince. A pink tongue poked at his canines, checking their visibility. “My apologies, I’m still drunk on- well.” he left the sentence there.
AJ just nodded, a mask still on half his face, glad he was able to roam so openly and graciously. “So, how did it happen?” AJ asked boldly.
“I had asked for it, nearly begged a colony to take me in because of how angry I was, I don’t quite remember what at but I do remember anger in abundance.” The man sipped at the ale. “Permanently 25 and permanently stained with sin.” AJ just hummed at the vampire’s words. He watched as the brown eyes widened “Oh- I forgot. I’m Howard by the way, might as well give you my real name if I’m not going to be feeding from you.” AJ’s eyebrows rose. “You smell good but I know that immortals like us tend to taste like rot. My colony would never let me forget it with their recounts.”
“Alexander James. You can pick what ever one to use, I’ll answer to both.” AJ had shaken the cold hand and just smiled when the handshake grew into friendship over the passing months in New Orleans.
Howie, as he is now called, rests in his luxurious bed, no longer using a coffin for his extended sleeps. This one was coming up on a couple months, but he would be awake for much longer than what he slept. Besides, he needed everything he had for the month of October.
He had known Howie the longest, practically in each other’s back pockets. Yet someone else lived in the other. A certain character that would switch sides of his personality as he let slide down his throat a neon drink that awakened a party animal inside of him, suppressing the rational and heightening the insane.
Doctor Kevin Richardson, a well travelled surgeon from Kentucky who had boarded a ship to London on the dawn of the civil war brewing. Both he and his cousin who AJ met later during his stay.
It was the good doctor who had patched up the wound in AJ’s side from some human that decided he didn’t need to live anymore. Just because he couldn’t bleed to death did not mean he wanted a gaping stab wound to ooze from his side.
While Kevin was in at such a late hour his mind was elsewhere. The only reason AJ noticed anything odd was because Kevin hadn’t asked about how he was still alive and walking as if nothing had happened.
“Something on your mind Dr. Richardson?” AJ had asked, looking up at the then shaved face. Eyes wild and hair curling around the bottom of his ears.
“Sorry?” The drawl was thicker back then.
“Not once have you asked why I feel no pain. Why the scars on my face have not made you inquire as to how I got them. How I’m so calm under such injury.” AJ pointed out. “Unless you yourself aren’t all that unfamiliar with the creatures that go bump in the night.”
Kevin’s thin lips were in an even thinner line. Deep green met warm brown and Kevin let spill forth the thoughts on his mind. “I am one of those such creatures. Only by certain circumstances that are brewing in my office currently. Of which should be done by now as long as it has not expired yet. If it has this will be the third time this month.”
“See to it then, I can wait after all.” AJ said with humour, knowing Howie was occupied with feeding his thirst that night. Kevin was through his office door in seconds and AJ was holding the needle attached to his healing body by a literal thread. Glass was clinking and a sickly spicey smell wafted in from the room. “If you consume that now I’m going to guess you will not be you exactly.” AJ called from the medical table.
“Hense why I won’t take a drop to drink. I may not be mortal but I do have some constraint as to when I choose to be somebody- something else entirely. I am a doctor first Alexander, and a good one at that even for a country man.” Kevin came out with a bottle of bright orange liquid, too bright to be brandy or rum and too rich and bold a colour to be anything but toxic to the body. “It has a- kick to it.”
“Tell me good doctor, how old are you really?”
“I’ve been age 27 for 19 years now. Never hit age 28;I realized I had never aged after that February evening.”
“Math is not my strong suit doctor.”
“I’d be 46 this October.” Kevin stood tall, eyes downcast however. “My family is long gone from my thoughts Alexander, it’s just my cousin and myself in London. While he may not be of my type of monster he is no doubt in the same situation of agelessness.” Kevin had moved over to finish stitching up AJ’s side, mind focused now and his hands quicker than previously. His brew now made and safely bottled.
The man however was not in the estate, but out getting groceries with Brian at that moment. The pair having day jobs and deciding a day off was needed. Their rooms were across from each other in the mansion, overlooking the gardens that held spanish moss willows and ivy vines along the railings around the pool.
Brian. Now that man was some beast both in and out of his own monstrosity. And as AJ has joked, in and out of the bedroom.
A docile man who had numerous funny bones, but an agile wolf when the changes came around near fall, the month of witchcraft and lore stimulating the need to change and stay like that for a month until the day of the devil had ended.
Bright blue eyes had hit AJ the moment he saw Brian in London. A strong jaw that made Howie himself lose his romantic edge and fall into a puddle of titillation and endless smiles. The cousin of Doctor Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell was a steelworker at the docks of London, having joined his cousin on the crusade to find themselves and get away from the civil war.
They were dining at Kevin and Brian’s house on the outskirts of London, Brian having agreed to meet the other two. Howie was also being introduced for the first time to the other pair.
It was said at the same time, no anger, one a question the other a statement. Shock was clear on their faces though.
It was when they sat down in the still warm september air on the back deck that Brian opened up.
“It’s in my bloodline, Kevin’s family never got the obscurity, mine did. I was the only one to survive the purge in Lexington.” His accent was just as strong as Kevin’s, the similarity was faint but it was in the eye shape and the subtle but similar jaws that AJ could see the family ties. “I was still too young to have shown that I was a carrier of the- the wolf.” Brian’s nose scrunched. “It hit however when I turned 23, no idea why it was then but- I felt so alone and ran to Kevin’s and his wife’s to help me.”
“When is your birthday?” AJ had an idea as to why Kevin took the first drink in February of all months to do deeds like that. He stared at Kevin when he asked the question, seeing the guilt on his face but also the pride of being there for his cousin.
Brian’s hesitation sealed it. “February 20th, same night Kevin caved in to his concoction. He didn’t want me to be alone when everyone else had passed.” A sad smile came to the blonde’s face. “The pair of us against the world now.”
“The four of us. We aren’t letting two more immortals leave our presence. We aren’t going to let you two go it alone in this ever changing world.”
AJ remembers the night they decided to leave London for the United States. They had already caused too many eyes to turn their way by never aging, but the intimacy was becoming more noticeable in a group of four then it had been for each pair. It was back to New Orleans for them all to live a little while, the damned and the peculiar not really causing suspicion in the already devilish city. Their sexual acts were never heard or seen but the intimacy had to be hidden a little better than in London.
The turn of the century into the 1900s had pushed them to Florida, having a need for sun and sand and somewhere to swim and have open land to be themselves. They had the funds from centuries and decades to buy and build big, adding onto a haunted mansion that made the four at home. It was at this home they made for themselves that their sexual appetites flourished and their needs for stability were grounded deep with roots that would be impossible to tear up.
Howie was the first to discover the cousins were not just cousins but lovers and partners, having burst into their London home unannounced with tickets to the play that evening, only to walk into the study he knew Kevin lived in and saw Brian over Kevin on the couch, half dressed and nipping the column of Kevin’s neck.
He wasn’t too surprised by the pair, having known they were fairly close, with this explaining away a few things he had questioned to himself.
Yet at the mansion deemed the Back Street Estate, they were open with it, often inviting the others’ eyes to view their moments and watch as they came undone at each other’s hands.
AJ had found himself drawn like a moth to a light when he looked upon Kevin holding his cousin by the grand fireplace in the sitting room, cooing softly at the man snuggled in his arms, fast asleep and needing the rest.
Kevin had looked up when he felt eyes on him and Brian, seeing AJ leaning against the door frame and smiling softly. “Nightmares of that night.” Kevin had said softly in his drawling timber, inviting AJ in with his tone. “They bite at him sometimes. They aren’t as bad anymore.” Kevin explained, looking back at the tired man in his arms, flush against his body and cradled against his chest.
AJ sat in the love seat and just looked on, seeing how in love Kevin was. Having seen that look directed at him and Howie as well. It shot heat and affection through AJ’s veins. “You love us all don’t you?” AJ had asked, tilting his head to the side, mask gone and face bared to his friend. His partner.
“Yes, I have a big enough place in my heart to hold you three.” Kevin’s statement rang true, only changing once when Nick had come home with AJ.
“I stand corrected Alex, I have room in my heart for four.” he said as he helped the phantom bring the blonde inside and up to an empty room close to AJ’s.
It was a solid week before AJ and Brian were allowed to help unwrap and wash Nick of the chemicals and must and death. The blonde was beautiful under everything. But trauma would keep him at an arm’s length until the 90s, having finally accepted that he won’t age, he won’t pass, nor will his friends. They were forever stuck in time, but they were together in it.
October was when Nick had finally stood up at the breakfast table, all of them awake and aware of their yearly cycle on the fifth in 1993, an itch had to be scratched and Nick looked at them. “I’m okay now. I’m far enough away from the after, and from the ritual that I’m okay and that I’m going to be okay for a while until I get better. I just wanted to let you all know that I think I’m ready to join now.” He had said with a smile that showed his teeth.
Brian was the first to stand pull Nick down from beside him, leaning up a little to kiss the walking dead on such pink and soft lips. Feeling the life teeming under warm skin. “I’m glad you took your time Nicky.” he said softly, letting his best friend stand back up and smile.
AJ grinned as he walked the hallway to where Nick would be sleeping, memories having flooded his mind as he took his walk around his estate. Around Their estate. Howie was already down stairs in the common room, ready to catch up on everything he slept through in the past couple months.
Nick was surprisingly awake, staring at the ceiling and waiting for his body to come back from the mummified state it had slipped into while he slept in a stasis. Skin having to repair over dried bones, blood having to be remade to return the colour and suppleness of his body. Coming back from such a sleep was at least a couple hours long, his body having to relearn a lot and repair even more. He would be hungry and thirsty once everything had come back together, when his body was ready to work again.
Until then AJ had just entered Nick’s room and came over to the blanket wrapped mummy, kissing his sunken in cheek and nosing along a bare skull of his forehead. “Come down when you’re ready baby, the Kentucky boys are out and about this morning. Your up a couple days earlier than we expected but it’s nice to have you up with us to plan this year’s party.” AJ hummed and saw the smile in those vibrant blue eyes, the ones that never went away in that gorgeous face. “See you soon.”
AJ just gave one more light kiss to the repaired bridge of Nick’s nose, leaving him be for the time and heading back down stairs. Howie would have a mug of blood from the freezer, heated up and warm on his tongue. Saiting the need for now.
He didn’t expect his lover to be needy for affection and intimacy right away. But AJ had missed him, even though it was a long time for a human, it was barely a blink of an eye to an immortal.
Especially one like AJ who had lived so long he forgot his actual birthday. He just knew he would always be 20. But have the experience of many lives with him. He was a phantom by necromancy, heart stopped and started for a purpose that had been fulfilled long ago, never stopped again however. He was old, older than Howie by a few hundred years, having haunted castle after castle, attaching himself to people and objects to travel. He finally bound his soul to a piece of metal he would always wear. A ring on his right hand with a ruby as red as his blood set into it’s firm confines.
Burnt and cut on one side of his face to mar his purpose of seduction and murder. Left to haunt the walls of wherever he was needed, then wherever he chose. Now he could walk wherever he wanted.
Howie had kissed his ring, had kissed his soul so many times that AJ could feel it consume his entire body. And when the coolness of Howie’s red lips pressed against the ruby that morning he could feel a warmth that wasn’t physical spread through him.
“October- what a great month to celebrate the awakening of us all. Happy anniversary sweetheart.” Howie whispered, tugging AJ down to the couch bathed in sunlight through the tinted window.
AJ hummed, “Happy anniversary to you too. We can wish the others one as well when we see them next. For now, I think your body demands a sacrifice of my body.” AJ teased, finally letting himself stay in the present. All hallows eve approaching them once again for their actual anniversary day. And AJ couldn’t wait.