“my cousin would like to apply for a bank, please,” nicky tells the coordinator, ever so pleasant and polite.
“and your cousin can’t apply by himself?” the woman asks instead of answering, personality just as reptilian and serpentine as the yellow slits of her eyes.
said cousin, swaddled in the absolute softest clothes either he or nicky could find, growled softly from his seat in the corner of the office. his eyes were more gold than yellow, more valuable than sulfur, more guarded than worthless rock.
“he has special circumstances,” nicky explained, forcing his grin to shine even brighter. maybe, if he tried hard enough, he could smile so sun-like it would turn her to ash. “would you please help us sort something out?”
she sighed, a sound like nails on a chalkboard. “I’ll see what we can do, what are his preferences?”
the list they eventually came up with, painstakingly slow due to andrew’s cooperation being mostly by way of disapproving grunts, came out like this: MUST BE MALE, SINGLE, UNDERSTANDING, ATHLETIC, OPEN MINDED, NOT TOO TALL, KNOWS SIGN, PREFERABLY NOT STRAIGHT, PASSABLE AT COOKING, RESPECTFUL OF BOUNDARIES, and GOOD AT MATH.
“damn, ‘drew,” nicky whistled lowly, rereading the paperwork in the shotgun seat of the car. “you know, i think you just built the perfect boy, too bad he’s just a bank.”
andrew shrugged, then signed his response, talking out loud seemingly a waste of energy.
“yes! milkshakes! great idea!” nicky grinned— real this time, not like the pleasantries he was drowning the coordinator in earlier. “hopefully she’ll be able to find us your boy wonder— you have ridiculously high standards, you know that?”
andrew stuck his middle finger up at him.
“thought so,” nicky nodded, then pressed on the gas.
the sun was coming up soon, after all. nicky could not afford to let andrew be found outdoors when the light breached the horizon.
nicky was recently eighteen when he got the call, an automated message with the words: TILDA MINYARD ONCE-DECEASED NINE PM EST, CAUSE OF DEATH; CAR ACCIDENT, MULTIPLE LACERATIONS, BROKEN RIBS, PUNCTURED LUNGS—
nicky hung up.
there was enough death nowadays that the monotone declaration was sickeningly familiar. luther incorporated it into his sermon whenever a parishioner had passed; a world so numb to the marvel of god’s work that hospitals programmed computers to announce the dead.
nicky knew the hospitals gave the family the option to announce it themselves first; it simply happened that no one close to luther and his church had enough family left to call in.
humans were a dying breed, and only the purest of which were allowed into the house of luther’s god. any association with those he deemed as demons would lead to being excommunicated from the church, seeing as Luther had long ago granted himself the powers of the highest of the clergy.
the fact was that nicky was one in a million, and even that was dwindling. over seven billion people in the world, and less than 0.001% of them could die.
luther called them the last of the holy ones, the chosen knights of god, a beacon of hope in a dying world. nicky would rather be a sinner than listen to his propaganda.
at a certain point, people started to be born with a mutated gene. when their hearts stopped, so long as there was blood in their bodies, they continued living.
luther called it a bastardization of god’s greatest creation. nicky paid enough attention in biology to call it natural selection.
evolution had deemed nicky ill-fit to survive and nicky (silently, because only the unspoken in the hemmick house was ever loud enough to be important) agreed. being a product of your environment was supposed to imply that you were raised to function sufficiently in said environment; nicky wasn’t sure how much longer he could live in his natural habitat.
sometimes (silently, because it felt like screaming) nicky entertained the thought that if he stopped breathing, he would be reborn. that his father would look upon his once-dead son and toss him out for his disgrace.
sometimes (silently, because it felt like crying) nicky knew it wouldn’t happen. that if he held himself underwater for too long or swallowed one too many pills or simply threw himself off the bell tower, he would break into a million pieces and no amount of blood transfusions would ever restart his heart.
sometimes (silently, because it felt like confessing) nicky was fine with that.
nicky found sin in holy ground, kissing a boy in a closet underneath god’s roof. his father had let him taste hell afterwards, taking his son’s repentance into his own hands.
hell felt a lot like a belt breaking the skin on his back, felt like a boot to the face, felt like reciting lines from leviticus until his mouth was too bashed in for him to speak.
then luther sent him to a school of redemption, for the preservation of the holy order of the human race. not only was his kind of love a sin against god, it was a sin against humanity. he needed to continue on his lineage, needed to be survived by the human race.
nicky, who paid attention in biology, argued a surrogate. luther had him crucified notwithstanding.
when nicky left, he found himself that much more willing to be human; you only had to die once.
but humans were by nature conniving, survivable creatures created by circumstance. nicky put himself on a plane to europe with carefully crafted lies and feminine bodies pressed close to his own.
luther and maria thought germany was a fitting reward for being cured. nicky would rather not haunt a country with them in it if haunting is what death meant for him, for he was fully prepared to die.
but so would anyone without seeing the sun, and nicky had never before seen erik klose.
luther would burn him inside and out if he knew he was kissing a boy with teeth sharp enough to cut his tongue on, a boy with golden eyes and a knowledge of his own invincibility. if he knew he was letting the boy cut open the paths to his heart and drink from them, if he knew he was finding salvation in one of the damned.
luther was in america and nicky was in stuttgart. what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him, and what he did know couldn’t hurt nicky from across an ocean.
the first “i love you” nicky gave to erik was also a “fuck you” to everyone who ever told him he couldn’t have this, that this was a sin.
then, a car crash. tilda and andrew minyard, fatally wounded.
then, andrew minyard got up like nothing had happened.
then, luther realized that whoever had fathered tilda’s children was not a member of the church like she had claimed.
then, luther wanted them cast out, and nicky took them in instead.
his savior let him go, because that was what you were supposed to do when you loved someone. nicky wanted to keep erik so close he was under his skin, so they ceased to exist without the other, two heartbeats becoming one.
now, he was stuck with two immortal children, both of which starved. they stayed locked up like animals, one by force and one by choice, clawing at the doors and begging for their poisons. it was all nicky could do not to give it to them.
he has special circumstances. the bloodlust wasn’t supposed to hit this hard.
apparently, the supplements didn’t react well with testosterone, not that anyone thought to warn them.
hence wrapping one of the starving beasts in blankets and sweaters to hide his feverish shivering, promising him a treat of his choice for his cooperation.
hungry dogs were never loyal, but minyards were not treasonous by nature.
nicky knew that for all the horror stories luther told, his cousins would never be the monsters in them.
“we’re home!” nicky announced, relief palpable in the wake of his cousin’s ever worsening pallor.
andrew glared at him, a reminder that yes, he did have eyes, and no, he wasn’t far gone enough not to see their two-story suburban home right in front of them.
“do you want help getting out?” nicky offered, which he knew was a mistake right after he said it, because nothing would make a minyard refuse help more than the offer of it.
and so, because the twins were easy enough to read once you had accustomed yourself to their language, andrew pushed himself out the passenger’s side and fell onto the pavement.
“andrew,” nicky whisper-screamed, because it was too early on in their occupation of the house to piss off the neighbors.
the bloodbank needed to hurry up. nicky wasn’t sure andrew could wait much longer.