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Wait So Long

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                Hasani has been alive quite a long time. Too long, if you ask him, but anybody rarely does. Not having to worry about aging helps, as does being an enormous coward. Hasani has run away from his fair share of fights.

                Hasani is younger, and his hands are covered in blood that’s not his. It’s a deep crimson color that seemingly stains the dark skin of his hand where he keeps applying pressure to a deep wound marking a cold body that used to be so, so, warm.

                It’s not that Hasani despises confrontation, far from it. Hasani taunts and teases and spits venomous insults without so much as batting an eye. He’s been alive a long time; he’s picked up some gorgeously vulgar words. He knows how to cut and how to cut deep.

                Hasani is older now. He’s standing in the living room of an apartment that he’s been staying in for a while. Too long, he would say. Hasani is used to moving from place to place. He goes to parties and clubs and scouts faces and pictures and names and then he moves on. Constantly looking, searching, and hunting. Not how Incubi are supposed to live. But this apartment has had his name on the miniature mailbox for months. There are pictures on the shelves. Pictures on the otherwise bare dresser. Pictures in Hasani’s closet. 

                Hasani hates consequences. He hates paying the piper. When the roof comes caving in and Hasani gets nailed in the head with a metaphorical beam and the only one he can blame is himself. “Your fault.” A fanged mouth sneers. Hasani memorizes the expression and the way the bloody lips form the words before he grinds the stake a little harder, a little farther, until the gurgling stops. Your fault.

                Hasani is younger and he thinks he’s in love. It’s impossible. Implausible. It simply can’t be. Everett gives Hasani a wink before taking a long swig out of a dark brown bottle and Hasani feels some nonexistent thing in his chest tighten. He knows that Everett will die eventually and probably soon, given how many sips he’s taken from how many bottles. The werewolf looks young now but in a blink of Hasani’s darkened eyelid Everett will be old and wilted and Hasani will see the brightness slip out of his delicate, wrinkled, face. Hasani never thought it would happen so suddenly.

                Hasani loves winning. Everybody loves winning. It doesn’t happen often for him, though. He takes his victories with a wary eye and a grain of salt. Hasani particularly enjoys flipping the world two birds and asking, “What else you got?” Because he may run away when things take a turn for the worst, but he’s got an endless supply of stamina. That comes with the incubus territory.

                Hasani is older and he can feel a metal intrusion pierce suddenly into his left side. It burns. It burns Hasani open from the inside out and he might be screaming but he can’t tell through the way that the pain is tearing him apart and a small part of him whispers I’m dying and a large part of him screams finally and the seconds where he falls to his knees feels like years. Black blood steadily drips into the carpet of the living room from the sigil freshly carved into his side and from his mouth and he can taste it. Dying hurts like a bitch, but there’s an underlying current of peace thrumming against Hasani’s mind. Finally. There are pictures on the shelves and Hasani locks eyes with a printed likeness. His own lilac eyes meet soft blue while his vision starts to blur around the edges. Your fault. I would die for you. Finally.

                As cowardly as Hasani is, he works up a reputation for being reliable, trustworthy even. He works to get what he wants- works to get what other people want- and his tendency to avoid danger your fault just means that he has more experience from years upon years upon years upon years too long of turning tail. Other demons don’t pay him too much attention. Some have heard of him. Some ask him questions. Hasani allows himself to be alone with very few of them. Demons aren’t supposed to be pack animals, especially incubi. “Are you saying you don’t like spending time with me?” Harlequin (that isn’t her True Name, but Hasani doesn’t ask) whines, throwing a dart and getting a bull’s-eye. She’s much younger than he is and a different kind of demon entirely, but for some reason she continues to invite him out. “It’s that little vampire you keep prattling on about, isn’t it? Just bone him and get over it already, sheesh.” Hasani doesn’t answer her, just throws a dart. He should have moved on from this city a long time ago. Too long.

                Hasani is younger and he and Everett are sitting on a stone wall at dusk. It’s not a full moon, so Everett is safe to be out after dark. Everett’s dark hair is loose over his shoulders and his jacket is thrown over the cold stone beside him, leaving his white undershirt and suspenders exposed. They watch the sunset together with a lantern and lazy conversation between them and Everett drinks and tells Hasani about all the spells you can cast at dusk. Eventually, true to routine, Everett asks why Hasani hasn’t killed him yet, and Hasani asks how Everett’s mother is doing because “You’ve made me fall in love with you, asshole,” gets stuck in his throat.

                Hasani likes to pick his battles. He stands back, thinks it over, calculates whether he would win or lose. However, there are occasionally unpredictable variables. Sometimes things happen out of the blue and throw off his entire plan and he scrambles and panics and plans some more. Hasani doesn’t work the best under pressure. He likes to be sure. Past experiences have told him, you have to be sure.

                Hasani is older and he’s at a party absolutely swarming with vampires. He has a routine for these things, and he follows it to a T. By now, he has the faces from the crumpled, worn photographs memorized. It’s a spot-the-picture game that has gone on for approximately two centuries. Too long. Hasani has just moved into this city because of rumors. Hasani has found better with worse, so he’s here. Surrounded by vampires. It’s not Hasani’s ideal arrangement, but he’s got a mission, a job, a promise. So if throwing himself headfirst into the lion’s den has worked in the past, he’ll keep trying. Hasani thinks he will keep trying until he’s dead. Your fault. Too long. This time, Hasani bumps into a vampire, and the loathsome creature actually apologizes. Hasani’s lilac eyes meet soft blue ones framed by blonde hair and dark skin. Hasani may be here on business, but he’s got time for some fun, too.

                The amount of times Hasani has told himself he would die for someone can be counted on one hand. The number of times Hasani has pledged allegiance to someone can also be counted on one hand. The amount of years Hasani has lived cannot, in fact, be counted on one hand. Hasani’s age could be counted on 424 hands. He tries not to think about it.

                Hasani is younger and the first gunshot is so sudden that it takes him a moment to register it. A moment too long. Another shot rings out and Everett slumps over and falls off of the wall, clutching his chest and screaming. Hasani is bent over him immediately, trying his best to find the entrance wound under Everett’s now blood-covered hands. Hasani barely hears the third shot. Barely feels the burning pain in his right shoulder. His head jerks up in the direction of the noise and he sees a group of men in the dark. They’re yelling. Hasani makes out the words, “die, beast!” and “stupid animal” and “we should take care of the other one, too” and the glint of moonlight off of fangs. Before Hasani knows what he’s doing, he’s next to them, grabbing, ripping, yelling, stabbing, biting, screaming, slashing.

                Hasani is a hopeless wanderer. It might have something to do with what he is, or what he’s done, but he always has a soft itch under his skin telling to move on, move on. Run away. A part of him thinks that he’ll always have the voice murmuring in his ear. It tells him too long and your fault and you have to be sure in a voice that makes Hasani shiver. Sometimes he begs it to stop, and sometimes it’s easier to let it be.

                Hasani is older and he thinks he’s in love. It’s impossible. Implausible. It simply can’t be. He’s sitting with Philippe on Philippe’s bed, and they’re holding hands. Philippe smiles, maybe at the stupid reality TV playing on the television, or maybe at something Hasani said. Hasani realizes how little he’s seen other vampires smile. Beg, sneer, but never smile. Not like Philippe does. Hasani wants to capture that smile forever, so he buys a camera. Hasani prints out pictures of Philippe and makes plans to build a shelf to put them on. Philippe makes Hasani do dumb things, like build a shelf, like whisper “You’ve made me fall in love with you, asshole,” against Philippe’s lips, like write his name in black sharpie on the mailbox to the apartment in Philippe’s city. Hasani calls Philippe too many times, hugs Philippe a little too tightly, tenses too much when he thinks he hears gunshots, squeezes his eyes shut too often when Philippe brushes his fingers over Hasani’s right shoulder. Philippe doesn’t mind. Philippe says not your fault. Philippe says just long enough. Hasani says, not incorrectly, I would die for you.