"oh fuck. shite."
he takes a careful step backwards, and lets a heavy sigh escape his lips—his swollen, blood stained lips. like cranberry juice, the thick liquid slowly runs down his chin, his pale neck and collarbone, painting the pallid skin a bright scarlet color; the once easy fabric of his shirt now heavily sits on his shoulders, blood soaked to the bone. and at his feet, lays the lifeless body of one late sir mackenzie.
charlie frowns, attempting to wipe his hands on his pants as he takes a few more steps, trying to get away. hideous, he thinks to himself, a cheeky grin dancing on his lips as he leans down and gently swipes a lock of greasy hair from the man's still face.
"bastard." he can still taste the man on his tongue, the dulcet, tingling sensation making him feel lightheaded. he can still feel those warm palms cascading down his spine, whispered sweet nothings ringing in his ears, and the feeling of that proud, robust body going limp in his delicate hold. "moron. had it coming."
it's intoxicating, being their little secret, being something they have to hide, have to lie about. notorious gentlemen, all well respected, admired people—keeping him in the dark, under tables, like a dog. gentle hands resting on the small of his back, welcoming kisses just a little too close to his lips when they introduce him to the crowd, subtle yet evidently full of want, making him lean in closer, talk a tad bit more quietly—mouth sweetly brushing against earlobes, a low whisper, fingers slowly roaming up their arms in the dark.
they don't talk about him, about their relations. they bring—invite—him to their grand parties, let him sit around during their intellectual small talks, toast with him—little to the eye, little to the public.
he knows he's a whore, basically. for his services they pay him with jewels and gold, with physical love and worship, with wine, food and company—only for them to pay with their own lives in return. it's a splendid deal, innit?
he's tired of being lonely. when he falls, he falls hard—but people grow old, get ill and eventually die around him, and he has to stand here and watch, helpless, no say in the matter. life's been much more fun like this; no attachments, no feelings, just the dull nails digging into his hip-bones and the taste of warm blood in his mouth. simple and easy.
he's been doing it for a couple hundred years now, this little game of his—getting into the pants of the rich, playing trick or treat, and after a month or so, cracking them open like a cold one, leaving as much of a mess behind as possible.
well, staging murder, he has yet to master that skill. to think with the mind of a petty criminal—through his humdrum and tedious years of being alive (undead), he's come across many crime novels, gathering knowledge about the perfect delict, yet he still feels like he isn't creative and shifty enough to get the job properly done.
well, staging murder. it means plenty of precious blood going to waste, another pretty silky shirt is ruined, and he has to commit something freakish, something mental so that to convince the townsfolk. vampires are a myth, silly children's tale—he is intended to keep it that way.
charlie frowns again. within the blink of an eye he's in the bathroom, wriggling out of his shirt and washing his pretty face clean with luke warm rich man's water. before retreating from the mansion forever, he allows himself to wander around the enormous salons and rooms, committing the scent of oil paintings and exotic house plants to memory with a satisfied grin on his lips. he takes a pack of expensive cigars from sir mackenzie's study as a farewell gift.
it's chilly outside. he takes his time, gaze flickering left and right, drinking in the lights of the night. quiet chatters and distant laughs fill the air, the sounds of landaus passing by accompanying him—it's calm, everything is so calm and he likes it like that. no one suspects another murder yet.
when he arrives to the church the stars seem to shine brighter; here the darkness is comforting and the cicadas' loud buzzing is music to his ears. home.
he happened on the ruins a couple of decades ago, while he was trying to escape from the torches and ill fated mantras. consecrated ground, he remembers lauri asking, isn't that fatal for our kind? he's always found it kind of ironic, really—them, outcast, monstrous creatures settling down in the lord's holy house.
lauri. he promised to keep her and her child safe a year or two ago—time doesn't really make sense as an immortal being. she is one of them too, but not the baby—she can walk and babble already, not really a newborn anymore—charlie remembers the wailing, her grass green eyes full of dread, desperately searching for something and her small, trembling hands clinging onto the swaddling clothes, onto a life she cannot have but must protect. he took them in, fed them and cared for them—weird little family they are, but he's keen on it. he isn't lonely anymore.
he hated it at first—the thought of hurting people, of killing them. he was terrified, but one learns to live with it, he supposes. gets used to it, used to being alone, cold at night, with no hand to hold, no warmth to cling onto. blood made him nauseous when he was a child. its smell on his mother's apron, its foul crimson shade smeared all over his mother's bony face, its adherent substance under his thin fingers—it's his reality now.
he misses his mum a lot, even after all these years. he misses her shy laugh—always close mouthed, trying to hide her little tooth gap—and warm palms, misses her soft scholdings and tender gestures, her stories, her cherry pies, the gentle green of her eyes, her calloused touches—everything. at times he would visit the communal graveyard outside their little hometown, bring a bouquet of wildflowers that he would collect on his way, and simply sit there for hours on end, with the deafening silence of the night blanketing him.
i killed him, charlie says one day—he's sitting under the weeping willow cornering the cemetery, fingers playing with the grass underneath his feet, i killed my father, you would have cried and screamed, you would have tried to stop me, but you weren't there, you are not–
it's been centuries ago. he still has dreams—nightmares—about standing in the kitchen and holding a cold knife, about staring into those evil blue eyes and watching life slowly escape the body through the blood, so, so much blood.
he finds lauri awake, reading one of her books in the dim lighting of a dozen candles carefully placed around her. when she hears the soft thuds of charlie's shiners she raises her head, a gleeful smile tugging at her lips.
"there you are!" lauri greets him as she puts her novel down, voice low and gentle—lily must be sleeping already. "feared you got into trouble, honey."
charlie plants a kiss on her temple, chuckling at the words. "me in trouble? 'm a saint, you know," he says and slips out of his coat to reveal his slender chest, all covered in clotted blood. "could never do that."
lauri rolls her eyes, snorting in amusement. she quietly makes space next to herself on their age old settee for charlie to sit down; leaning into each other they rest like that for a while, the quiet night washing over their heads like the sea.
"take a bath," lauri says suddenly, nudging the boy with her elbow, "you stink."
charlie lets out a soft giggle, "in a minute. gotcha something first." he fishes around in the pockets of his trousers, eyes glistening when he finds what he is looking for. "there, a gift." he places a hastily wrapped piece of newspaper in lauri's open palms, flashing an encouraging smile at her. she unseals the package with care, gasping softly when a golden necklace is unveiled. "for your girl, give it to her," charlie says whilst leaning back, a satisfied grin dancing on his lips.
speechless, all lauri can do is swat at him playfully, "you shouldn't have, really. thank you." her face lit up, eyes twinkling happily—charlie loves seeing her like this; peaceful and lively, with the impression that nothing bad could happen to them, ever. "from where you got it?"
"bought it, actually," he replies, that cheeky smirk not leaving his face for a second.
"with money you stole," lauri teases lightly.
charlie gleefully shoves at her, "i work real hard for that, y'know!" and they laugh, lauri hiding her face in his shoulder and charlie wants to stay like this forever—relishing in the feeling of belonging somewhere.
days later charlie is bored already. naturally, he busies himself with chores around the church; he cleans the windows like his mother taught him, rearranges their shelf of (stolen) goodies—just to do something with his hands—burns his blood-soaked blouse and goes for a stride in the nearby orchard.
every so often he visits the ground floor—he is fascinated by the elegantly carved altar and benches, the severed jesus sculpture laying on the ground, his arms wide open, wrists imbrued with blood and tangled in overgrown weeds and grass. one of the apse's windows is broken, letting the sunlight gently slip into the claustrophobically small space and illuminate christ's figure.
he never goes closer, not close enough—here his head pounds and he feels hot and bothered all over the place, but not in the fun kind of way. faith has left this corner of the world long ago, he supposes, but the bad taste in his mouth stays, keeping him awake at night, making him feel watched.
he likes the statue of virgin mary thought—often sits around with her, memorising her brown eyes filled with sorrow, her timeworn pink cheeks and softly pursed lips; her ageless beauty, endless pain. i saw her cry, lauri tells him one day, i saw her cry blood, and she never goes upstairs since then, never talks about it again. it's an understatement.
"'m goin' out!" he catches lauri reading bedtimes stories to her little girl, looking a little bit startled when she sees charlie storming around in his big puffy shirt and matte black pants. "what. wanna look decent," charlie huffs in a laugh, "might meet someone, you never know."
lauri puts the book down in favor of coming up to him and helping with his itsy-bitsy buttons. "take care, honey," she says softly, pecking charlie on the cheek.
he smirks, his gaze gentle, "will do, as always."
the bar is crowded, warm air filled with the smell of body fluids and strong alcohol. charlie winces at first, overwhelmed by the sudden amount of change in sensations as he steps inside, but quickly collects himself and heads straight to the counter. it's familiar, the heat sinking into his skin, shoulders pressing to one another, fingers brushing with the barman's as he reaches for his cup. company arrives sooner than he'd expected—the young lad on his left initiates small talk, hungry blue eyes drinking in more of charlie's presence than of his rum. charlie welcomes the savoring touches and indiscreet whispers, reciprocating just as much.
he stays like that for a while—back to the counter, glass in one hand and tracing patterns on the man's arm with the other. his gaze lingers on the people, lets his senses get overflown by the soft taps of fingers, ticking of clocks and loud conversations. he's just about to turn back to the fella on his left when he notices—the man in the corner staring right at him.
it catches charlie off guard, but he elects not to pay mind to it—surely, he thrives on attention, and it's safe to say that the look he's given does things to him—but he can feel the man's eyes bore into his scalp after he moves away, as well as he can feel heat rise in his abdomen while this tingling sense of discomfort settles in his bones.
everytime charlie looks his way, he's greeted by the man's fierce brown eyes, relentlessly keeping their gaze locked—it becomes something intimate, something personal by the minute. he carefully examines the stranger; his messy copper red hair, the stray locks giving character to his freckled, expressionless face, his elegantly curved nose and sharp cheekbones, and the white line of a scar that instantly draws charlie's attention.
he's intrigued, he wants to know more.
the rest of the night is filled with tension—they keep their eyes on each other, even when charlie has his company nuzzling against the crook of his neck, littering his pale skin with sloppy wet kisses, the drunken murmurs in his ear making charlie feel woozy, but he never looks away.
he softly gasps when he sees the stranger slowly stand up and start making his way out, giving him one last look that sends a shiver down charlie's spine.
"in a minute," he breathes, running his hand over the boy's shoulder, "i'll be back in a minute."
it's a game now, their kitten-mice catch, and he isn't going to give up until he wins.
charlie shuffles through the crowd, trying not to make a fuss as he passes by the men, elbows nudging in a hurry. he gingerly wanders around the building, only to find himself pressed to the wall of the alley with a knife against his neck mere seconds later.
"wh–h–ouch!" he huffs, genuine surprise but not much more written all over his face. "manners, sir."
up close the man seems even prettier, charlie notes to himself, barely suppressing a smile. he uses the little beat of silence between the two of them to study the man's face a bit more; in the streets' dim lighting he looks otherworldly, sharp edges toned down, only his bright brown eyes in focus. lips parted and brows furrowed—he has the impression of an angry child whose favourite toy has been taken away as punishment.
bringing the blade dangerously close to charlie's adam's apple—it must be silver—the guy leans down to be at levels with him. "you're one of them." his breath ghosts over charlie's cheeks, it tickles.
"excuse me?" oh on god, he is a hunter.
"no use in denying it." the man practically spits the words.
charlie raises an eyebrow, "'m not denying anything," he says, and gifts the hunter with an ear to ear grin, showcasing his funky little fangs.
every time he swallows the knife's pointy end brushes against his neck, eliciting waves of shock and pain—the heat under his skin is unbearable, it's no fun anymore but he cannot help but stay in place.
"are we puttin' up a show?" charlie lazily reaches for the rosary hanging between them, toying around with it as he searches the man's face, "y' coulda easily end me, i mean."
"and you could easily run away."
"yet look at us," charlie snorts, letting go of the tiny crucifix. the odor of burnt flesh lingers in the air—it's suffocating; his back involuntarily arches into the man's presence.
the guy lets his facade fall, he looks baffled and strangely curious, but only for a moment before he slams his free fist to the wall above charlie's head.
"what do you know about the mayfair murders?" it sounds more like an order than a question. rising fear makes charlie's stomach do a flip-flop—he really is small and the tall bastard sure does look intimidating—but despite it all, that one line takes him by surprise. murders, they refer to his silly game as connected murders, indicating boldly that it's by the hand of one single man—maybe he isn't as smart as he wants himself to be.
"i–ah–i ain't know nothing," he says, voice suddenly high and shaky. does he intend to sound like that? only god knows.
the man makes a displeased sound in response. "don't play innocent with me now," he tilts charlie's chin with the knife, "you damned creature. rumors say it's your kind's work."
"'m telling ya! not all of us are bloodthirsty beasts, sir." charlie does his best to lean more into the wall and away from the silver. he is gaining his confidence back slowly, but it's for the better to stay put, small and pristine.
the man doesn't seem to buy it, but he takes a step backwards, lowering his weapon; charlie can finally breathe.
"just gonna let go of me then like that?"
"really like pushing your luck, don't ya." charlie giggles at that, sightly moving closer to the other. he takes in those dark brown eyes, commits the way those soft looking lips move to memory. "don't think you've seen the last of me, bloody bastard."
"i'd sure hope not, sir." is it a threat or a promise? he'll decide later.