I hate visiting Gackt's house.
It's not a bad place, as places go. I mean, it's big, but it's also dark and a little tacky. The lighted fountain just makes me want to laugh every time I see it. Does he really think that's romantic?
The door is open when I get there, so I invite myself in. Gackt always does that-- won't greet you at the door, just leaves it open and then waits for you to wander in and find him. I always feel a little bit like I'm walking into the minotaur's maze, and I find myself wanting to peer around the corners suspiciously as I walk.
"Gackt?" I call out, one hand on the wall so I won't trip. It isn't really that dark, but after the summer brightness from outside, Gackt's place seems as dark as a tomb.
"In here." His voice isn't far away, and I know damn well he heard me the first time. Either he wanted me to find him on my own, or he just likes the sound of his own name.
I slip through the doorway and find him in the living room, leaning against the back of his white leather couch like he was posing that way, waiting for me to come in and see him, his clothes a dramatic black offset to all the white. Typical theatrics, I think with a roll of my eyes, but the truth is that he's really good at it. Only Gackt could look like he's waiting for a photoshoot to begin in his own house, on a day off, and not seem ridiculous.
I stop a few feet away, with the couch between us. "Hi," I say, putting hands in my pockets, feeling awkward. "What's up? You called."
Gackt holds the pose for another two breaths, then turns just his head to look at me. "Hyde," he says, breathing out my name like a prayer. Two years ago his voice would've made me shiver, but I'm used to it now and manage to keep still.
"You called me," I remind him, preparing to settle in for one of those visits. Gackt is in A Mood, and Gackt in A Mood always means I'm in for an even weirder time than usual. Talking to him when he's like this is like pulling teeth-- deep-voiced, seductive teeth, but teeth nonetheless.
"I did," he says, nodding, and finally his pose relaxes, or maybe melts is a better word, just enough to let him move around the couch as he steps over to one of the spare, elegant cabinets against the wall. "I'll pour you a drink."
I make a face. "Gacchan, it's only five in the afternoon, and I'm trying to... cut back...." I trail off as he looks at me, expression tight and blue eyes intense, opening the cabinet despite my objections.
"Whiskey?" he asks, as if I hadn't just spoken. After a beat he adds, "You're going to need it."
I have a bad feeling about this. I wet suddenly dry lips.
"Whiskey," I say. I gauge his expression a little more. "Straight up," I decide, quickly.
What the hell is he getting me into this time?
I hold the glass of whiskey carefully as I sit down on Gackt's couch. He stays standing, which bugs me and relieves me at the same time. On one hand, it now feels like he's lording over me. But on the other, at least he's not sitting next to me, doing his "I don't know the meaning of Haido's personal space" thing.
I take a sip and immediately start coughing. It's cheap-ass whiskey and it burns. This isn't the kind of whiskey you save for guests, it's the kind you save for yourself, for those times when you just want to get as drunk as possible as fast as possible. Skip the happy-go-lucky stage and just get on with the passing out.
"What's wrong, Gacchan?" I have to ask, even though it's obvious he's going to tell me whether I ask or not. Gackt appreciates it when you pretend to prod him into revealing his deep, dark secrets.
He lets out a quick, frustrated sigh, hand going up to smooth through his hair in an unusual nervous gesture. He's shifting on his feet, too, as if he wants to pace, or at least turn away from me, but is fighting the urge.
"Come on," I say, leaning forward. "It can't be that bad--"
"Hyde, I'm a vampire," he says, pinning me with his eyes.
"Um." That's my clever response.
Gackt sighs again, then moves to perch on the edge of the coffeetable.
"Drink your whiskey," he says, "and I'll explain everything."
"Gackt," I say, as if I'm explaining something horribly simple to my son, "you are not a vampire. That was just a movie--"
He gestures angrily. "I know that. I'm not talking about that."
"--and vampires aren't real," I finish. The look on his face is scary-- it's the look he gets when you've just told him he can't possibly do something, and he's determined to prove you wrong. Damn.
"I'm telling you the truth," he says.
I can feel a headache coming on, and I resist the urge to rub the bridge of my nose. "Sure, Gackt. So you're a four hundred year old vampire. Who ages, eats food, and goes out in the sunlight--"
"I never said I was four hundred."
"You did too, I have the video on my iPod if you want me to prove it--"
He makes another angry shut-up gesture. "I know, but that was just... That was only effect. I didn't mean it then. I mean it now." For a second he looks almost embarrassed. "Perhaps I'm only a year and a half old. If you're counting like that."
I swear, I am not going to laugh. I am not going to laugh. "So you're a baby vampire." I can't quite keep the mocking tone out of my voice.
His expression turns sharp, angry. "You think I'm joking."
"I think you're crazy. When's the last time you had a vacation? Maybe it's time to relax a little--"
He's in my face before I can think to move, crawling across the coffeetable to glare right into my eyes.
"You want me to prove it?" he hisses, and I think, oh no.
And then he's gone. Just. Gone. The coffeetable is glaringly, startlingly empty of Gackt. Impossible. Im. Fucking. Possible.
"Believe me now?" Gackt whispers, right in my ear.
"This can't be-- Th-this can't be real... You just. I mean, I blinked. I blinked really slowly and you--"
Gackt is back on the edge of the coffeetable now, looking cool and composed. I hadn't seen him move that time, either. Fuck! Fucking fuck!
"You didn't blink," Gackt says, expression bland. It's his you idiot face.
"But, but how--" I can't seem to stop babbling. "You don't have any fangs!" Right now, this seems like a really important detail to me.
"I do," Gackt says, "when I need to. I'm told that as I grow older they'll become more... permanent."
"Permanent?" My voice goes up on the last syllable, squeaking.
Gackt nods, expression still bored.
"You've got to be kidding me. You've got to be-- Cameras. There's projector cameras hidden here somewhere, right? This is like an episode of Scooby Doo, and you're just--"
Arms close around my shoulders, and all the air leaves me in a startled whoosh. I look up, and of course, there's Gackt.
"Coffeetable," I murmur, weakly. "You were on the c-coffeetable..."
He's standing behind the couch now. I look back at the coffeetable, as if I'd find a stunt double sneaking away there. No luck.
"Fuck," I say. "FUCK."
"Drink your whiskey," says Gackt.
My hands are shaking badly enough that I fear for Gackt's couch. I stare down into the alcohol. The world had made sense twenty minutes ago, hadn't it? I longed for twenty minutes ago. I longed to be off of Gackt's couch and back in my car, but I didn't have the balls to try running for the door.
Well, whiskey it is, then. I lift the glass and down the entire thing in one awful, burning gulp. I cough and wheeze as it sizzles its way down like lighter fluid. "Holy shit," I manage to gasp.
Gackt pats me on the back, reassuringly, but his touch only makes me jump. "Gackt! Could you-- Over there. Go sit over there. Please?"
He looks hurt, but he dutifully moves to perch on the edge of the couch. Twenty minutes ago he'd have been far away enough that I'd have felt reassured. Now, I don't think I'd feel safe if he were standing on the other side of the room.
It takes me a few minutes to regain my composure. Gackt stays politely still, making no sudden movements. Maybe he feels bad for startling me so much. Or maybe he's just doing like cats do, going motionless right before the pounce and the kill.
I make a sound that starts as a laugh and ends more like a sob. "You're a... You really are, aren't you? You're not fucking with me?" I wonder if my voice sounds as plaintive as I think it does.
"I'm not fucking with you," Gackt says, voice smooth and low and quiet. It sounds reassuring. I want it to be reassuring. I laugh again.
"Fuck," I say. "Jesus fuck. When...?"
"A year ago. Year and a half, almost."
I think back to a year and a half ago, sifting through my memories of Gackt. Did he seem different? Should I have noticed? We didn't hang out that much these days, but surely vampirism isn't something you overlook the way you overlook a mediocre haircut or a boring shirt. Shouldn't I have known?
"You couldn't have known," Gackt says, startling me out of my thoughts.
"The hell!" I set the tumbler down harder than I'd intended, and the sharp noise of glass on glass makes me jump. "Are you reading my mind?"
The son of a bitch actually smirks at that. "What if I said I was?" Then the smile slips off his face. "Hyde, you've gone pale. Hyde, Hyde, I was only joking, don't faint--"
"I don't faint!" I snap, leaning forward and breathing fast as the dizziness goes by. "For fuck's sake, Gackt, don't tease me now. I can't take it."
He tries really hard to look contrite. "I won't tease you anymore."
I take deep breaths and try to feel relieved. "So you don't read minds?"
"No, Hyde, I don't read minds." Now he sounds like the one explaining something to a small child.
"But you do drink, uh..."
"Blood. Yes." And he looks away from me at that, as if he's embarrassed or ashamed.
I try to imagine Gackt wandering the dark streets of Tokyo, mauling innocent victims for their lifeblood. The mental image is both absurd and scary. Wouldn't someone have caught on to him by now?
"I don't need to... eat that often," he says, and once more I wonder if he was really joking about that mind-reading thing. "If I keep control of myself, I can go weeks without."
I want to ask what happens when he doesn't keep control of himself, but I'm not that stupid.
"Don't worry," says Gackt. "I'm not going to hurt you." But when he says it with those eyes, I'm less than reassured. Normally I just assume he's undressing me in his mind, but now I wonder if he isn't imagining me on a platter with an apple in my mouth.
"Um," I say, "it's getting late, maybe I should get going..."
Gackt does that scary vampire teleportation thing again, because suddenly he's on all fours, leaning over me as if he's going to climb onto my lap. I take in a startled breath and then hold it, too scared to even exhale.
"Don't be afraid," Gackt says, lips just brushing my ear. "Hyde, my Hyde..."
When I finally manage to say something, my words come out in a teenaged boy's squawk. "I'm not your Hyde," I go, "and if you kill me I'm going to be really mad!"
I realize as soon as I say it that it's the dumbest thing in the world anyone could possibly say, ever. Here I am, about to be torn to shreds by Gackt Camui, and--
I finally let out my air in a weak sigh of relief as he draws back. "Hyde, you say the funniest things."
I resist the urge to rub at my mercifully non-bitten neck as I scowl at Gackt. "You promised you'd stop fucking with me," I say, accusingly.
He smiles, apologetically. "I'm trying, but you're just so tempting. Like a piece of chocolate cake to someone on a diet..."
"Dammit," I say, fear and anger finally getting the best of me. "Did you invite me here to kill me? Do you want to bite my neck, Gackt?" If I'm going to die, I think I'd like to know a minute in advance so I have the time to let my life flash before my eyes. My heart is pounding in my ears so loud I wonder if Gackt can hear it.
Gackt looks confused, and when he reaches out to touch me I flinch. He draws his hand back, slowly, like I'm a startled deer and he doesn't want me to run.
"I said I wouldn't hurt you, and I meant it."
"But you just said--"
Gackt snorts. "I can control myself, Hyde, tempting as you are." And I don't like the way his eyes drift down to my neck at that. "Besides, it wouldn't really hurt."
"I'd still be dead!"
His lips start to quirk until he's full-out smirking at me. "You're small, Hyde, but I don't think I could finish you in just one meal."
I open my mouth to say something indignant, but he just keeps smiling as he shakes his head. "No, I mean that seriously. Do you know how much blood there is in the human body? It would take me days to kill someone that way. I don't need that much. Afterward, people are just a little dizzy, that's all."
I stare at him, open-mouthed. Finally I can't take it anymore.
"Gackt, you idiot!" I punch his shoulder as hard as I can.
"Ow! What did I do?" He gives me the innocent Why Me? face.
"You made me think that you were... that you've been going around killing people for the last year," I say. "Would it have been so hard to tell me this in the beginning?"
Now he actually does look contrite. "I didn't even think of it. I thought it was obvious. You haven't been hearing about bizarre bloodless corpses being left around the city, have you?"
"Okay, then." He smooths down the front of his shirt, as if it had gotten wrinkled somehow in the process of coming out to me. "Now, to get back to the matter at hand." And then he plasters on his most beguiling bedroom look, the one that says come get me now, baby. "Really, I promise it wouldn't hurt..."
"I AM GOING HOME NOW."
The idiot has the nerve to look crestfallen. Did he really think I'd fall for that?
It's probably best not to ask.