Of Different Minds

Discussion in 'ROLEPLAY GRAVEYARD' started by Literary_Dreamer, Dec 28, 2013.

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  1. Elisabeth opened the door to her apartment building and, just as she was stepping inside, Julian pushed in past her. He kept his head down and started immediately for the stairs.

    “Julian? Are you okay?” Elisabeth called after him. “Julian? Hey, Jules! Wait. Hey, Julian!” She ran up the stairs after him and caught up. “Julian, wait up. What’s wrong?” She caught his arm and made him stop.

    “It’s nothing,” he said and tried to pull his arm away.

    “It’s not nothing, Jules,” Elisabeth said. “I’ve never seen you like this. If you need someone to talk to, you know I’m always there for you.”

    “I know,” Julian said, “but it’s really nothing. It doesn’t matter. I’m…fine.”

    Julian pulled free of her and Elisabeth let him go. She watched him go, planning to go over his apartment later and make him tea and make him spill his problems. This had become their habit in the year and a half that they’d been living across the hall from each other.

    Resolving this, Elisabeth climbed the stairs behind Julian to her own apartment. She heard the door to apartment 3B slam before she reached the floor. She stared at the door to 3B for a moment before she turned to her own apartment of 3A.

    She entered her apartment and dropped her keys in her key dish. She then pulled off her coat and tossed it on the sofa. She wasn’t a messy person generally but sometimes she felt a little feisty and she was feeling feisty today—or, more accurately, she was feeling lonely enough that she had to do something outrageous in order to distract herself. Elisabeth wasn’t, however, an outrageous sort of person so the best she could do was make a mess, have a bubble bath, and maybe drink some wine.

    Deciding that a bubble bath sounded like a good idea in order to properly sort and arrange her thoughts before she went to comfort Julian so that she wouldn’t wind up drowning in self-pity and doing more damage than good, Elisabeth went to the bathroom and started the water running in the tub. She then went to get her CD player—she was rather old-fashioned—and placing it on the bathroom counter, turned on her newest CD from one of her favorite bands.

    The setting would have been perfect if her best friend wasn’t across the hall, miserable about something, and her true love wasn’t in Europe, abandoning her in her time of need. After all, wasn’t a vampire sire supposed to look after a newly turned vampire to make sure they didn’t get into trouble? Of course, Elisabeth didn’t know the meaning of the word “trouble”.

    Elisabeth undressed and slipped into the relaxingly warm water. All of the stress that she’d been carrying for days, weeks, felt insignificant for the moment, melting away in the bath. She closed her eyes and thought only of her perfect, golden-hearted vampire lover. Now that he’d made her a vampire, they could be together forever. She couldn’t even really bring herself to regret the things that she would have to give up for this life. She’d barely given them a thought when offered eternity with Aristide.

    Slowly, she drifted to sleep and slipped into a dream where he came home and everything was bliss.

    *****

    For Julian, there was no bliss. He’d finally worked up the courage to talk to his parents about his sexuality. It wasn’t something that came easily to him. He’d struggled for months coming to terms with it himself, months when Elsie had been there for him, supporting every step of the way. He loved her like the sister he’d never had and he’d just blown her off. He felt bad about that but he wouldn’t have done anything differently.

    As important as Elsie was to him, her support didn’t mean much in the face of his parents’ disapproval. He’d been raised in a strict family and he knew that the revelation that he was gay would not go over well but somehow the knowledge that things would go badly did not prepare him for standing before his family as his father called him a “fucking faggot” who “should just die” and “never come home again” because he “never wanted to see that disgusting homo face again” while his mother couldn’t even look at him, let alone refute anything that his father was saying.

    If that wasn’t a bad enough day, he’d stopped by his boyfriend’s house for some comfort to find the two-timing bastard with another man—naked. On top of it, the lowlife hadn’t seen anything wrong with what he was doing. He’d expected that because Julian was a man he’d understand. All men were, according to this jerkass, supposed to have such voracious sexual appetites that they couldn’t be satisfied by only one person and, since Julian didn’t agree, he wasn’t a real man and thus not worth going out with and that was that.

    “You were my whole fucking life!” Julian moaned at the memory. “I loved you!”

    But love was a lie, clearly. So was family. Hell, even friendship was probably a lie. Elsie and all of her goodness, her kindness, it was all an act.

    This was the way the world was. It was miserable and heartless and dark and there was no way Julian wanted to live in a world like that. The world was probably better off without him anyway, one less weakling sentimentalist in the world. One less useless intellectual who would end up penniless on welfare and sucking out society’s soul. His parents would be glad enough to see him gone, that was made all too clear. His boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—didn’t give a flying fuck whether he lived or died. Even Elsie was probably thinking about what a burden he was. She’d be better off without him moping about. Besides, she had that perfect boyfriend whose praises she was always singing. If he weren’t around, Elsie could spend that much more time with her boyfriend.

    The thought percolated in his mind for a while, a little nebulous, not really determined until he got up to use the bathroom and took a curious peek in his medicine cabinet as he washed his hands. A cursory glance found a handful of things that would work. He had pain meds of almost every over-the-counter variety for his chronic headaches—Tylenol, Advil, Excedrin, ibuprofen, and in large quantities because they almost never worked for his headaches so he just left the mostly full bottles in the cabinet. He also had over-the-counter sleep aids for when he was too stressed to sleep. He also had about three bottles of cold medicine.

    Suddenly, and without really thinking about it, he took out every bottle of anything he thought that might possibly be capable of ending his life and started taking all of them by the handful. The only thing he lacked was alcohol which, as he wasn’t twenty-one, he’d not even thought about trying to purchase illegally since Elsie had found out about his occasional drink and had given him the lecture of a lifetime.

    By the time he’d finished, the first of the drugs had started to kick in and he could barely force himself to find his way back to his bed and lie down.

    *****

    Elisabeth woke up in the bath sometime later, wondering if she’d remembered to lock her door. It was something she’d forgotten many a time. In her tiny hometown, it wasn’t a big deal to forget to lock a door but here in the city, well, everyone worried.

    The water was cooling and most of the bubbles had gone so Elisabeth figured she’d been in the bath a little too long. It had done its duty, though; her stress was much less than it had been when she’d entered the bath. Now, she really ought to get dressed and talk to Julian. He’d insisted that it was nothing but he was too obviously upset for it to be nothing. She was going to make him tea and force him to talk.

    There was a sound in her apartment and Elisabeth sat up straight, every muscle in her body tense. Had she really forgotten to lock her door? Was there someone in her apartment? She tried to remind herself that she shouldn’t be afraid, that she was a vampire and more than a match for any burglar who was so unfortunate to have decided that hers was a good apartment to rob. Still, she couldn’t help but feel dreadful fear and she was rooted to the spot, unable to move.

    Slowly, but surely, as if she’d seen it a million times before (and she probably had, in horror movies) the bathroom door creaked open on hinges she’d not previously noted to be so squeaky. There, in the doorway, stood the most frightening man Elisabeth could imagine. He was dressed theatrically, in black, and was clearly of the same race as her: a vampire. There was nothing she could do against a vampire, especially an older vampire.

    “Who are you?” she breathed, frightened.

    “You know who I am, cunt,” the man said.

    “No, no, I don’t,” Elisabeth whimpered. “What do you want?”

    The door swung open a little further and revealed the stake in his right hand.

    This cannot be happening to me! Elisabeth’s mind screamed.

    “No. No! Don’t hurt me,” Elisabeth choked. She wanted to be brave in the face of danger but growing up in the quietest small town that America had to offer was not exactly the background that bred bravery. All she could do was cower in the tub as the man approached with the stake. At the very last second, she managed a scream, a loud scream that carried but was abruptly cut off.

    *****

    In the apartment of 4A, lived a lovely woman whose primary enjoyment in life was snooping on her neighbors. She was sitting in her living room, rather devoid of news for the day, when she heard the scream from the floor beneath her. Finally! Something interesting was happening. She rushed to find her phone and dial 911. It would be quite the story to tell her friends. She explained to the 911 dispatcher that she had heard a violent disturbance from the floor beneath her in apartment 3B, convinced as she was for some unexplainable reason that the apartment directly beneath her was 3B and not, as it logically should have been, 3A.

    *****

    As soon as Elisabeth was aware of what had happened to her, that she had been killed and that her spirit was now currently sitting on the steps to the second floor of her apartment building, she began to cry. There was no reason not to. Her life was over, literally, right as it was about to bud into something beautiful, and there was no one to see her cry. She’d worked up a good wail when she was interrupted.

    “Elsie, I’m sorry,” said a voice behind her suddenly and she abruptly ceased bawling. “I didn’t mean to be so rude earlier. Don’t cry.”

    “Julian?” she asked, astounded, turning to see that it really was her friend. “How can you see me?”

    Julian stared at her blankly for a long moment. “I thought this was a dream,” he said finally.

    “No,” Elisabeth answered miserably. “This isn’t a dream. But you shouldn’t be able to see me because I’m…I’m…” She burst into tears.

    “Hey, Elsie, don’t cry.” Julian sat down on the step next to Elisabeth and gave her a hug. “Life can’t be all bad. I mean, I just downed a whole cabinet-ful of drugs and yet I still get to have one last conversation with you.”

    Julian’s words cut through the mist of Elisabeth’s misery. “You did what?”

    “Okay, not the best of conversation topics. So, how are things going with your lovey-dovey boyfriend? Gonna get married anytime soon? If you have a baby boy, will you name him after me? I mean, you don’t have to, if you don’t like my name or something but it would be a nice…legacy…” Julian was forced to stop by the intensity of Elisabeth’s stare.

    “Julian, I’m dead.”

    “What?”

    “I’m dead. I was murdered.”

    “No. This is some kind of sick joke. Right? Elsie? Not you. You’re perfect. You deserve a perfect, happy life. Not you.”

    “And what about you?”

    “What about me?”

    “I was murdered. I had no choice in that and, someday, I’ll come to terms with that. But you, you took those pills on your own. What were you thinking?”

    “I wasn’t, I guess.”

    “Well, that not thinking has just cost you your life. Congratulations.”

    “I’m not dead,” Julian protested. “Not yet.”

    “How do you know?” Elisabeth asked desperately.

    “I just know, I guess.”

    “Oh.” All of the hope faded from her face but she didn’t have long to be miserable because the emergency responders were barreling up the stairs and to Julian’s apartment. “It looks like you won’t be dying after all.”

    “I don’t want to live. I don’t deserve to live. I want you to live.”

    “I’m already dead, Julian.”

    “Take my body. I know you can, somehow, I know. If you don’t believe me, at least try. You have to live. You have to have your happily ever after with that boyfriend of yours. Promise me.”

    “I—“

    “Promise me!”

    “All right! All right. I will try. And I will go after my happy ending if it works. …Thank you, Julian. You don’t know how much this means to me.”

    Elisabeth went into the apartment and found Julian’s body and she could feel herself being pulled towards it. She was pulled towards every living body but mostly towards Julian because his grasp on life was so weak. She followed the pull and let herself be sucked in.

    And then everything went black.

    *****

    One Year Later

    *****

    A young man sat before his laptop computer, laughing uncontrollably. He tried to stifle the sound because he didn’t want his mother to hear it but he couldn’t stifle it completely.

    “I found it,” he said. “I can’t believe I found it.”

    Who’s the man? he thought.

    I don’t know, came the answer from another thought voice within his head. Hugh Jackman?

    Come on, Elsie, be serious.

    All right, who’s the man?

    Me!

    Why?

    Because I just found your boyfriend, that’s why. And we’re going there tonight.

    Really? Tonight? Do you have to be that clichéd?

    Do you have to be that cynical?

    I dunno.

    What, nervous?

    Unbearably. What if he doesn’t like me anymore?

    *****

    That night the young man showed up on the doorstep of a vampire count.

    “My name is Elisabeth Moore,” he said. “I have to speak with Aristide Gerhardt Beauregard.”
     
  2. "Count Aristide Gerhardt Beauregard."
    Hearing his name announced, Aristide thought of how good it sounded in Elsie's voice. He had just made her a vampire, promising her an everlasting love. But here he was. Flying to Europe just after the day he gave Elsie the immortality as a token of their eternal love. Aristide twisted his mouth in dissatisfaction. Why was the king in dire need of him now? They weren't seeing each other in centuries.

    Aristide ignored the servant bowing deeply as he walked in the intricately designed wooden door, which was made of mahogany. The heavy door softly opened as two other vampires pulled it open from inside. He was now in the audience chamber, where the king was sitting on the throne entirely made of gold and red cushion. A red carpet was put on the way to the king. There was a vampire in black suit standing beside the king, who, from what Aristide heard, was the King's favorite lover and the butler. However, Aristide did not mind the man - the king had many lovers and they hardly lasted a century. Unlike Aristide's one true love.

    "My Lord."
    Aristide kneeled down in front of the king, bowing his head down deeply. The king's palace was fashioned in 19th century European style. Tapestries covered all the windows of the palace, and everything, including the costume, was old-fashioned. All people, or rather vampires (the king did not allow any human in his palace) were dressed in black suits except the king. The king was wearing comfortable jeans and polo shirt. He looked quite distressed and kept on rapping the chair with his fingers.

    "Count Beauregard! My dear friend. Stand up, stand up. I'm in need of some trustworthy vampire."
    Delighted, the King approached Aristide and raised him up by the King's own hands.
    "Go. Leave us alone."
    The King waved his subordinates away. When there were only the King, Aristide, and the lover of the King, King looked at his lover with a raised brow.
    "My love? This is business. Now, I have prepared some excellent accessories for you."
    "But-"
    "Go. Now."

    At the cold glare, the lover hesitatingly moved out of the room. When the door finally closed with a big thump, Aristide tutted in disapproval.
    "You still haven't found your spouse. When will I ever see the queen of vampire? I wonder if it's possible in my life time."
    Shaking his head, Aristide followed the King to a secret room behind the throne.
    "Understand me, Aristide. I still cannot forget her."
    Walking down the cold stone stairs, they were going deeper into the underground room. Air got colder and damper, but that did not affect two ancient vampires.
    "More like 'forgive' her."
    Although Aristide's wanted to talk about that, which brought serious problems to the King's love life and his disposition toward humans, but seeing his old friend's uncomfortable face, he changed the subject.
    "So why did you call me, Rey?"
    They finally arrived at the base of the stair. They didn't need light since they were vampires, but Aristide, as his usual habit when he was with Elsie, turned on the light.

    They were at the most extravagantly decorated bed chamber. Carpets from exotic countries spread all over the ground, and the silk curtains fell over the king-sized bed. Yes, this was the King's bedroom, the most secure place in the whole world. Thousands of magics and ancient spells protect this place, now added with high security technologies.
    Aristide and the King settled at the white and elegant chairs with the small tea table of the same set. The table was changed from before. Thinking it too feminine for the King's style, the King answered Aristide's questioning expression with a laugh.
    "This is Melan's. My new lover."
    Nodding, Aristide looked straight at Rey, his old friend. He wanted to get this over fast. Elsie was waiting.

    "Aristide. The duke is preparing a revolt."
    Rey had grim expression on his face. The duke must be the one in United States. When Aristide moved to the new continent during 18th century, he saw the duke then. Yes, the duke seemed ambitious enough, and Rey was busy on managing the vampire society, following the fast-paced changes that took place in human society.

    "And I want you to stop him."
    Aristide's face hardened. Stop the duke? Does Rey means to fight for him?
    As his friend, and the count under the king, Aristide would have taken the request willingly. But now was not the best situation. He had Elsie - a lovely but fragile lover. Elsie was not like the lovers of the king. She was the only one, and nobody could replace her. If he loses Elsie, Aristide wouldn't bear it well.
    "…as a friend or as a count?"
    "I'm ordering as a king, but I'm asking you as a friend too, Aristide."
    A bit surprised at Aristide's question, Rey flicked his hand to show Aristide a golden ring - symbol of the vampire king.
    Sighing down, Aristide came off from chair and knelt down again, in front of Rey.
    "Count Aristide Gerhardt Beauregard uphold the order of the King, Rey Rosaria Pengard."
    Bowing his head deeply again, Aristide stood up, wiped the dust from his pants. Rey shook his head as he looked at Aristide.

    "You are surly today."
    Aristide ignored Rey as he walked up the stair. Rey followed Aristide with a roll of his eyes.
    "What's the problem? This is not the first time that I asked a favour. And I'm sending you my aides. This is easier than the usual favours I asked from you."
    Rey stopped shortly.
    "Wait. Is this due to that human girl whom you were hanging out?"
    Rey's voice sharpened and he angrily followed up Aristide.
    "You mustn't be serious, right? Do you know how they will despise you when they find out who you are? You cannot be that foolish when you saw what happened-"
    "I, am, serious, Rey."
    Turning back, Aristide gritted his teeth. He knew his friend's human-phobia very well. So he kept it a secret, but it seemed that Rey has found it out on his own informant.
    "She knows what kind of creature I am and she accepted me as who I am. Anyway, she is no longer human."
    With that Aristide turned away, stomping out of the secret staircase. He didn't really felt good that Elsie was a vampire. He never wished to pull her into this dark, bloody world. Rey remained dumbfounded on the staircase until Aristide went out of the audience room.
    "Well… He must be serious."
    Rey was actually surprised at Aristide today. He never showed emotion this much for the long period of their friendship. Anyway, his friend's love life is out of his mind that now he knows the girl is a vampire. Rey shrugged as he walked toward the chamber of Melan. It was time to coax his sulky lover.


    *****


    [-is out of range-]
    Aristide hung up the phone as he rubbed his temple. Elsie was not picking up his phone. He cursed Rey and the duke and everything that made him separate from Elsie. She must be really mad.

    "Elsie? It's me, Aristide. I know. I'm sorry. But this is an urgency, so I had to visit the king. If you want, I swear that I will never leave you again for a century. No, forever. I will stay at your side forever. So please, pick up the phone."
    This was already 5th voice message. Sitting at the back of the limousine, Aristide watched the usual road leading to the apartment of Elsie. He just arrived to U.S., and he was calling her from the private jet of the King. But she wasn't answering his phone.
    Aristide cursed again at how long the discussion with the king went. After he saw the king at the secret chamber, he had to stay at the palace for further miscellaneous details at executing the duke and his inferiors.

    When Aristide arrived at the apartment of Elsie, something felt wrong. Terribly wrong.
    "…vampire."
    Some other vampire had been to the apartment. He prayed that it was some other commoner, but unfortunately, the vampire's tread stopped at Elsie's door.
    "Elsie? Elsie! Elsie!"
    Aristide banged the door. But there was no response of the sweet voice he longed to hear for days. Aristide broke the door and intruded to the house.

    The smell of blood was filled in the house.

    "Elsie. No, Elsie!"
    Afraid to look at the truth, Aristide staggered. As a powerful and old vampire, fear and desperation was something he had forgotten. He was remembering them now.
    "Answer me, Elsie. Please."
    He slowly walked to the bathroom where the smell of blood was coming. His pace fastened as he grabbed the doorknob and slowly turned it. His hands were shaking like a paralytic. He kept repeating "No." But he knew what happened already. His experience of centuries and all his vampire instincts told him that she was… dead.

    "No."

    The door opened and he saw Elsie.

    "No."

    He stretched his hand to his eternal pair. She is supposed to remain with him forever.

    "This.. is not happening."

    Elsie's white face and blue lips are just because she was in the cold bath for too long time. I should told her that vampires catch cold too.

    "Elsie, my dear. Wake up. I'm here."

    He caressed the girl's face carefully. Blood was stained on his fingers. Oh. She must have been thirsty.

    "Were.. you drinking? Elsie, you got yourself dirty. I.. will teach.. you."

    Aristide's voice shivered. His hands slowly drifted down. To the heart of Elsie.

    "What… is.. this?"

    He found a stake.

    "My love. Why… is this here?"

    Aristide's face crumpled. He hung his head.

    "I… can, not… de,ny.. this. Sweetie."

    When a vampire is staked, at the heart, she is dead. Truly dead.

    "No. No. You cannot leave me."

    'Yes. We will be forever. Forever be together.'

    "Elsie. Elisabeth."

    Aristide's hand traced her face. Her smiling face rapped over the cold, lifeless face.
    He was a vampire. Too old to shed tears.
    So he screamed out his lose, sorrow, grief.

    In the bathroom with a wall written with a bloody warning to the vampire count, Aristide promised his revenge for the death of his half.

    'I will be with you, my love. I will follow you to death, if that is what it takes for me to see you again.'

    "But before that."

    Aristide's eyes shone dangerously.

    "I will avenge your death."
    And mine which follows yours.


    *****


    Aristide toasted his wine glass at the night view of New York City. He was in his bath gown, and was sitting idly at the couch located near the wide window of the suit room.

    "Toast to my angel."

    It was the anniversary of Elsie's death. But he was still breathing on this damned Earth. It no longer sparked any interest when his love was no longer here. The only reason he is living is that the duke proved to be a harder opponent than he thought.
    Of course, and Aristide was planning a much more intricate and sweet scheme to execute the duke. This was not a business anymore. He is not going to kill the duke. He is going to make a hell for him to beg the King to kill him.

    "Um.. Count Beauregard. Someone wants to see you."

    The careful request of his servant was answered by a smashed wine glass at the door.

    "I told you to not let anyone in! Even the King!"

    Irritatingly, Aristide brought out another wine glass by telekinesis. The smeared red wine seemed like the bloodstain he saw that day. It made him feel very bad.

    "But.. he says that he is Elisabeth Moore, sir."

    Aristide's face hardened. He turned on the wide screened television, and channeled to the cctv.
    After that incident, Aristide kept Elsie's corpse at the most secured place he knew - the King's chamber.
    Although Rey was much disgusted at having to keep a corpse at his bedroom, it was rare incident that Aristide pleaded something, and if the duke played on the corpse of Elsie, and sends it to Aristide…. he doubted if he will be able to resist his lover, even though he knows that it will only be a fake.

    He placed various spells around the girl's corpse, so that he will know when something happens to her. The spell wasn't acting, and the cctv…
    Yes, Elsie was still there. Her corpse looked the same in her lifetime. Maybe because of preservation spells and technology he poured at the girl.
    Aristide could feel himself getting depressed, looking at Elsie on the day she died. But he wasn't in the state for too long.

    "Sir?"

    Turning TV off, he snapped his finger. It is time to punish this little brat who disguised as something that only one can exist.

    "Bring me the imposter."

    The door slowly opened and revealed a boy.
    Hah! What a fool. The imposter standing in front of him was a boy. B.O.Y. A male human.

    "If you were trying to fool me, you should have at least brought a female vampire."

    Aristide smirked. But his face soon changed that of a blank one. He grasped the boy's throat.

    "Who sent you? Is it the duke? The king?"

    If sent by duke, he must be some kind of assassin, and if sent by king, he must be a toy for him to play with to forget his love.

    In either way, he had no intent of sending off the boy alive. He pretended to be Elsie. That can only be paid by death. A painful one.
    The look of insanity and grief from losing his love was still hovered in Aristide's eyes. It did not lessen, but had gotten worse.
     
  3. Elisabeth followed the servant to a sitting room where she was instructed to wait. She was so nervous that she could barely walk in a straight line despite Julian’s constantly repeated encouragement. She sat down on a beautiful tapestry sofa, knees pressed tightly together. She rubbed her hands over her knees several times, trying to calm down.

    It’s going to be fine, Elsie.

    “No, it’s not, Jules,” she said aloud once she was alone. “It’s not. I can’t do this. He won’t recognize me. It’s not worth it. I’m not worth it.” She began to whimper but stopped because the sound of her sniveling in a male voice was too odd for her to bear.

    Not worth it? Julian asked. You’re never not worth it. Didn’t I promise that we were going to get your man back? Dammit, we’re doing this. Besides, if he ever loved you at all, he’ll recognize you.

    “But I’m not me anymore. I’m, I’m, I’m a—“

    A man now?

    “Yes! I mean, no. I mean, I’m you now. I’m not me anymore. I’m useless. Aristide… He deserves better than me. I almost don’t want him to recognize me.”

    Why? So you can live out the rest of our life in misery?

    “Don’t I deserve it? It’s my fault I’m dead.”

    Don’t go there. Don’t even start. On the night you died you said that you didn’t deserve it and you didn’t.

    “I also said I’d come to terms with it.”

    You’ll still have to do that. Your relationship with Aristide will be drastically different now that you’re in my body.

    “Oh, Jules, I don’t want to think about that!”

    You’ll have to at some point.

    “Yes, but not right now, not as I’m about to meet him. I’m already nervous enough as it is.”

    Hey, Elsie, it’s gonna be fine. No, don’t hyperventilate. I don’t wanna pass out.

    Just as Elisabeth had her breathing under control, the servant came and said to follow him. Elisabeth immediately froze.

    Come on, Elsie. One foot in front of the other.

    Elisabeth took a deep breath and got up to follow the servant. As she followed the servant, she distracted herself by looking at the extravagant interior decoration. She’d never been here before. It had always been “too dangerous” for a human girl to become so involved with the vampire world. Aristide had always gone to her little apartment, the apartment which had been so dingy when she’d moved in and which she’d tried so very hard to make cute and livable. When she and Julian had finally been released from the mental institution where they’d been committed after Julian’s suicide attempt, they’d gone back to her apartment and found it rented by new people. All of her things were gone. She didn’t even know where she was buried or if she’d been buried at all, maybe she’d been cremated.

    The servant opened the door to the room where Aristide was and Elisabeth was able to see her love for the first time since he’d made her a vampire and run off to Europe. She was so intensely happy to see him again that, for a moment, she did not notice the expression on his face. He looked at her with such hatred, such loathing and derision that her blood ran cold. She’d never seen such an expression on his face, not even before they’d been in love.

    "If you were trying to fool me, you should have at least brought a female vampire."

    Aristide smirked and Elisabeth couldn’t respond. Her mouth moved but she couldn’t make any sound come out. She had to tell him what had happened, who she was, but she couldn’t utter a noise. This his face went blank and it was even worse than the smirk. It was like when they’d first met and he’d believed that he was not a good person, was incapable of any goodness at all. But he’d been wrong and he was wrong now if he believed that again. She had to tell him but she couldn’t because his hand was about her throat.

    I was right, Jules. I can’t do this.

    Elsie… Elsie, no, don’t do this.

    Julian scrambled to keep Elisabeth in control of the body but she relinquished it before he could do anything.

    Great, now I’m in control of the body while a homicidal vampire is trying to kill us! And I’m not the one he supposedly loves so, I CAN’T STOP HIM!

    But Elisabeth wasn’t listening.

    Meanwhile, the vampire was speaking.

    "Who sent you? Is it the duke? The king?"

    Julian took the opportunity to reply, deciding that if he was going to be killed by a vampire, then he might as well do it thoroughly.

    “No one sent us, you lowlife bastard,” he said. “Elsie wanted to see you again, so I worked my ass off trying to find you. You know, she thinks about you all of the goddamn time and you have to go and scare her until she faints. So, go ahead and kill us if you want. Just know that you’re killing Elsie, too, if you do it.”

    His little speech over, Julian held his breath and waited for the vampire to react.
     
  4. Aristide couldn't believe his ears. What? Did he just call him a lowlife bastard?
    Aristide's face twisted into something that looks like a smile, probably from disbelief. He was the most powerful vampire count who was older than any other vampire existing now. Not even the dukes or the King could talk to him like that. Even his foes had cowered infront of him. But this boy, a weak and mortal human boy!

    "I can't believe it."
    Although he had acted all sweet and kind infront of Elsie, he has been infamous for his ruthless and bloody ways to all the vampires. Well, he stopped being so violent after he met Elsie, but she is no longer here.

    "Do you know who I am? Human boy. You don't believe that I can't kill you now, huh?"
    Dropping the human boy, he caressed the boy's face, with sharpened nails. A thin line of blood formed on his face.

    "And you talk as if you are Elsie."
    At the exact sentence Aristide said, his heart thumped like a crazy horse. If he could see his love for a day more, he would give anything, his life, fame, power, soul.
    But he knows he can't.

    "I'm sorry, but she is only one. Nothing can replace her."
    As much as he longed for Elsie, it was an insult, betrayal for him to find a replacement for his love. He had promised her that only she, and nobody else, will be his mate - forever.

    "So just die-"
    As he strongly grasped the boy's throat to kill him, Aristide looked straight into Julian's eyes. Then he saw something.
    The light- that warm thing that only existed in Elsie's eyes.






    "...Elsie?"

    No, it can't be. But, she was a vampire! There are infinite possibilities of abilities for a vampire. She could be alive! No, she is dead. Her body. I have her body. I did everything to save her, but she was a cold corpse when I got to her. She is dead. Her body and soul-. Wait. Soul?

    "Elsie? Is.. Is it you? No. But.. It can't be... Elsie! No, she is not.."
    Power seeped out from his hand. He slowly retreated from the boy.
    Aristide seemed as a dual-personality. He kept on denying and agreeeing on himself.
    His confused eyes and expression focused to Julian.

    "Are.. you Elsie? Elisabeth?"
    His watery voice shaked. One moment he was confused, sad, and expectant. Like a child who lost his mother, he was careful and afraid.

    "I said, are, you, Elsie!!!"
    Then the other moment, he was angry, grabbing the boy's neck, and pushing Julian to the wall with a big thump.

    Aristide couldn't think. He was on the edge.
    If he presume that this is Elsie, his only love, and to know that it is not her afterwards.....
    ...He would die then. He would surely be broken, beyond repair.

    His pupils scruntinized Julian's eyes restlessly, as if to find any trace of Elsie.
     
  5. Julian remained silent as the vampire panicked. He didn’t know what to say or do that would make the vampire calm down and Elsie was still ignoring him. There was a frightful moment when the vampire was squeezing his throat when he really thought that they were going to die but then the vampire released him, only to grab him again and shove him against the wall. He kept repeating the question, “Are you Elsie?”

    “Yes and no,” Julian answered when he finally had a chance to speak again. “I suppose I should just explain what happened because it’s easier than explaining what the situation is right now. I’m not sure I could do it. Anyway, my name, the name of this body and of the mind that is speaking to you right now, is Julian Edwards. I lived across the hall from Elsie before she died. We are good friends. The night that Elsie died, I also had a close brush with death, but I won’t go into details on that. While I was not quite dead, my spirit found her spirit and I learned that she had died. When the paramedics arrived and we realized that I wasn’t going to die after all, I offered my body for her to use because she deserved it more than I did. As you can probably tell, something went a little bit wrong and we ended up sharing the body.”

    Julian paused for a moment, then added, “If you don’t believe me, you can talk to Elsie.”

    Elsie, someone wants to talk to you.

    No response.

    Elsie? Elsie, you in there?

    No response.

    C’mon Elsie! A scary vampire’s gonna eat us if you don’t come out.

    No response.

    “Well, it seems like Elsie doesn’t want to come out and play.” Julian fidgeted nervously. “This might seem like it’s a rouse but do you really want to risk it? Do you really want to risk killing Elsie? She’s got to come out at some point. Why not keep us here for a little while and see if she comes out. If you keep us here a couple weeks and if you don’t get a chance to talk to Elsie, you can kill us. After all, what are a couple weeks to an ancient old vampire like you? And it’s not like a poor weak little human boy like me can hurt you, right? What’s the harm in a little experiment?”
     
  6. At the boy's calm explanation somehow calmed Aristide down. He was ancient vampire, and it took only a short time for him to settle down.

    'Julian? I've heard of him.. Elsie spoke of him a few times. She called him Jules.'

    But while Aristide listened to the boy, his eyes narrowed in suspection. Yes, his explanation with two souls in a body was plausible, but...

    'This is not Elsie.'

    All things he was doing - fidgeting, atmosphere, way of speaking - were different from Elsie's. He remembered evertything his love once was.
    However, he couldn't just kill this Jules boy now. There is the reason that Jules was like a brotherly figure to Elsie, but most of all...

    'Hope has deeply rooted in my heart already. If I sprout it out, my heart would surely crumble away.'

    "Well, your offer seems a bit interesting."

    The old vampire straightened his back, moving a step away from Jules. He masked his face in that of an arrogant vampire to hide his nervous and desperate feelings.

    "But you should be aware that in the case you prove to be false.."

    Aristide turned away and walked toward the telephone.

    "Your death would be much more painful than you imagine."

    Aristide did not disguise scary atmosphere, but just spoke of it as a matter-of-fact.
    He picked up the phone and dialed his secretary/servant.

    "Bring the boy out, and wash, dress, do anything that will make him look not drab."

    Although Elsie looked beautiful whatever the cloth she wore, Aristide always had the desire to give her more expensive and good-quality clothes. If this boy proves to be Elsie, he would look something different, much more beautiful, from what he is now, but nothing is proved yet.

    "And since he will stay in my suit, prepare the guest room."

    With that, he hung off his phone.

    "Julian, was it? You are to do anything you would like. You can follow me around, or look at Elsie's stuffs to wake her up; it's at the biggest room by the way, and don't touch it or destroy it. If you do so, the game will end at that place. By your death."

    As the door opened and his secretary came in, he made himself comfortable in his couch. There were so many thing happened today, and he was easy to get tired when it was related to Elsie.

    "Now go."

    Hopes and nervousness tangled in his mind. He couldn't sort them out.
    Aristide closed his eyes, praying that tomorrow will be more clear.
     
  7. Julian relaxed as the vampire visibly calmed. A calm vampire was not a murderous vampire, or so he hoped. After all, it would be a poor end to his promise to give Elsie her happy ending if her lover ended up killing them. Julian didn’t mind the thought of death for himself, not even after all of the counseling and medication, but for Elsie… He didn’t want Elsie’s life to end yet. That was why he had offered her his body in the first place.

    "Well, your offer seems a bit interesting." The vampire looked so perfectly arrogant and so composed after his little fit that Julian couldn’t really bring himself to believe that the immortal was being completely honest.

    Liar, he thought. The thought bounced around in his head, which felt so empty without Elsie bouncing back with some comment or reply.

    "But you should be aware that in the case you prove to be false.." the vampire continued, "Your death would be much more painful than you imagine."

    Julian watched him walk to the telephone with a vague smile.

    “Well, since my case isn’t false, I haven’t got anything to worry about,” he answered impertinently. Somehow he felt quite safe at the moment with Elsie, even in her non-presence, to protect him from the worst of the vampire’s wrath. He knew he shouldn’t, the moment the vampire stopped believing he would die, but he couldn’t help himself.

    Julian listened to the vampire’s instructions.

    “Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dare disturb any of Elsie’s things,” he said with faux innocence. In fact, he didn’t plan to go anywhere near the room with Elsie’s things or follow the vampire around for that matter. Elsie wasn’t going to be provoked into coming out. She’d severed herself from outside communication completely and would only come out when she’d stopped being afraid of Aristide or when she’d forgiven Julian for the plan that made her so frightened of the vampire. Until that time, Julian was fully prepared to take full advantage of every luxury the vampire could furnish him with. If he had to put up with the vampire’s bullshit for Elsie, than he was going to do it in style.

    Julian followed the servant complacently when he arrive and allowed himself to be bathed and dressed. He enjoyed the clothing very much. Julian had always had an eye for fashion, his own and—when he learned that Elsie shopped at thrift stores and Walmart for her fashion—Elsie’s too, but he could only afford so much for himself and could only badger Elsie into buying so much for herself. If he could afford to dress like this every day, he would, but since he couldn’t, he would have to take advantage of it while it lasted.

    Julian was taken to his room, also luxurious, and attended to there until he sent the servant away, saying that he was tired.

    It was three days before Elsie decided to emerge. Julian spent those days taking as much advantage of his position as he could and constantly reminding himself that he wasn’t really in danger because Elsie would emerge any minute now, any minute…

    Julian was more than glad when, on the third night, just before he went to bed he felt Elsie stirring a little bit. It wasn’t much, just a few murmurs, and she was mentally exhausted from thinking so much in her little closed off corner where she went to be away from Julian. Julian had his own corner as well, if he didn’t, if she didn’t, if they didn’t, they would have gone mad long ago from so much forced proximity.

    Julian felt hope that she would be back by the morning so he went to bed to encourage Elsie to get some rest and to hide from her where they were. In the morning, when he felt her back in full force, Julian locked himself up in his corner of their mind. He wasn’t going to take any chances of her abandoning control of the body to him. Today, he would force Elsie to be present and if that vampire missed it, it was his own fault.

    Elisabeth woke that morning and automatically assumed control of the body. She stretched and looked around at the strange room where she’d obviously been sleeping.

    Jules, where are we? she asked.

    No response.

    Jules?

    No response.

    Julian?

    No response.

    Okay, come on. I know I was being childish but you’re being childish now, too. If neither one of us is going to be the adult here, we ought to just go home to your mother.

    Julian’s mother had moved in with them after they’d gotten back from the mental institute, saying that she just couldn’t put up with his father anymore and that she wanted to take care of her baby. Neither Julian nor Elisabeth could put up with her presence for long and they often fought over who would be in control of the body around her and thus forced to deal with her. Julian often lost because she was, after all, his mother. That should have been enough to encourage a response from Julian but he still didn’t reply.

    Elisabeth got up after a few minutes of lingering in bed. Wherever she was, it was a nice bed. Then she got up and looked for some clothes. She found them in the wardrobe and could not help exclaiming in despair when she saw how high class they were.

    What do you think you’re doing, Julian? Do you have any idea how much these clothes must cost? Of course you do, you bought them. Do you know how much that took out of our savings? Of course not, you never bother to check our savings account. I turn around for three seconds and you blow all of our money on fancy clothes and a hotel suite. I just hope you haven’t been sleeping around, because I don’t want to do that.

    Throughout this entire speech, Julian was silent. Elisabeth waited a few moments for him to reply but it was obvious that he wasn’t going to answer any time soon. She gave up, even though she was now irritated with her friend, and took some of the less ostentatious clothes.

    It was unpleasant enough for Elisabeth to wake up in only boxer shorts but she knew Julian’s schedule well enough now to know that he always bathed in the morning. Julian usually took over the toiletries because Elisabeth was a little too uncomfortable with the idea of it to do so herself. Unfortunately, this morning, Jules wasn’t answering her, let alone offering to take over the body to wash.

    Elisabeth supposed that it wasn’t the fact that the body was the wrong gender which made her so uncomfortable with the idea of its nudity. It likely had more to do with the fact that the body belonged to her dear friend made it much more awkward. The fact that he still inhabited the body as well made it unbearable.

    She reluctantly made her way to the attached bathroom, which was gorgeous, and turned on the water in the shower. Unable to put it off any longer, she undressed. She then proceeded to take the most awkward shower the world had ever seen. As soon as she was done bathing, Elisabeth got dressed. She then dried and styled her hair, a little differently from how Julian styled it but she thought it looked better like this.

    Then she realized that she hadn’t shaved. Elisabeth didn’t hate stubble on men but she hated having stubble. Besides, she didn’t think it looked very good on Julian. Unfortunately, she didn’t have much confidence in shaving her face. She was terrified that she would nick herself and because of Julian’s fair skin it would stand out and, for some reason, she found that thought embarrassing.

    “Fine,” she said aloud, “I give up. If you don’t want to help me, I just won’t do it.” She ran her fingers over her chin ruefully, feeling scruffy. She really didn’t like wearing facial hair but, as far as she knew, neither did Julian so maybe this would be incentive for him to come out. So far it wasn’t working but maybe it would take some time.

    Dressed and as put together as she was going to be, Elisabeth left the room to find some food before she packed up their things and trundled Julian back home to his mother. The thought wasn’t particularly pleasant because, if Jules wasn’t going to play nice, she would end up dealing with the woman. Still, it was better than leaving spendthrift Julian on his own.

    As Elisabeth wandered the halls, a growing conviction that she remembered this place formed. The feeling was that she’d been there before and not as Julian’s passenger. She’d been in control of the body.

    Just as Elisabeth was about to place a name on her location, she wandered into a grand room. The room was cluttered with things. Familiar things. Her things. It was impossible, but there it was. There was her CD Player. Her books. Her teddy bear from childhood. Everything was there. Astounded, Elisabeth picked up the bear. There was no way it could be hers. But it was, the same soft fur and faded pink bow.

    Feelings overwhelmed her as she looked at that little old toy. She hugged the bear tightly and started to cry. All of these things, all of these memories that she’d thought were taken from her forever. She’d found them again and there were some things with which she simply couldn’t part. She would take the bear of course, and some old photos, a little bit of sentimental jewelry, and her computer if she could find it. Once she had these things gathered, she’d pack up and go home. She immediately end hunting for the sentimental objects.
     
  8. Aristide came back to suitroom after a night of hunting the duke's faithful servants. During his long lifetime, he had experienced both World Wars and various other violences which have resulted in making him stronger and skillful. So after killing 20 or more vampires, all he got were small red spots on his cuffs and shoes. But even that, he irritatingly smeared on the hankerchief and the carpet. He is going to throw this suit away - although he bought this yesterday costing about an apartment in Manhattan.

    "Cain! Abel! Bring the new suit!"

    No reply came within the suitroom. He just remembered that he sent them out on errands.
    Aristide clucked his tongue in disapproval. They weren't here when he needed them.
    While walking toward his own room, he spotted something.

    "Bags?"

    Bags packed with clothes and things were thrown aside infront of master room. His room was located right beside the master room, becuase he ordered them to do so. He wanted to be close with Elsie's things.

    "So, is he giving up? That was fast."

    Feeling uncomfortable and even a bit angry, his thought wandered to how easily the boy gave up.
    He opened the door up loudly, calling out the boy's name he just remembered.

    "Julian? What are you doing here, giving up-"

    His sentence stopped midway.
    The boy was touching her things. Yes, that was against their rules, but that didn't concern him much.

    "El..sie?"

    The pose he was holding her things, the expression he word, the atmosphere he had, and most importantly, that eyes!

    "Is.. it you? Elsie?"

    He stretched his hand toward her, being so careful, as if to touch a sensitive wild animal.

    "Please. Is it you, Elisabeth?"

    His voice was shaking. The boy who was so alike with a girl - among her things. Elsie's appearance overlapped Julian.
    He knew he was hallucinating, but he was very thankful even if it's just a vain imagination.

    "Elsie..."

    He closed his eyes, and his legs gave away. He knelt down infront of Julian, hand still stretched out.
    He didn't want to mar this miraculous moment. He wanted to treasure this forever. He just... didn't want to break out of this moment and find the boy not Elsie.

    "Just, just stay like that for a second."
    Just, stay Elsie.
     
  9. Elisabeth hadn’t expected to be interrupted, the place had seemed fairly well deserted, and so when she heard the voice behind her, she dropped the book which had been resting in her hands. The book wasn’t on her list of things to take. Those items had already been hastily shoved in the suitcases. She’d only come back to take one last look around at her things before she left when she spotted the book. It had been given to her by her Aunt Lauren who had died the year before she moved to the big city. It was her favorite book with a little inscription on the inside of the cover. She was debating taking it with her when she heard the voice behind her.

    "Julian? What are you doing here, giving up-"

    Elisabeth would have made some sort of apology and tried to get out of there as quickly as possible but the one who spoke was Aristide and she knew only too well that she would not be able to escape him if he did not want her to escape.

    "El..sie?"

    Elisabeth froze. What had he called her? But the last time he saw her he had nearly strangled her for claiming to be Elisabeth and how she’d gotten away, only Julian knew. Now he was calling her Elsie? Impossible!

    "Is.. it you? Elsie?"

    At first, Elisabeth wanted to confirm her identity for him. Yes, yes! It is Elsie. I am your Elsie. But she found herself as unable to speak as she’d been when faced with Aristide’s wrath.

    "Please. Is it you, Elisabeth?"

    Elisabeth tired again to speak. Still, she was incapable of sound. She tried to reach out to take his hand. She could not move. She could do nothing but watch her love struggle with his pain. It broke her heart to watch him suffer.

    "Elsie..."

    Something inside Elisabeth snapped. She’d been under so much stress for the past year, becoming a vampire, dying, sharing a body with Julian, and she’d had no outlet. The whole time, she’d had to pretend to be Julian or hide away, trapped within their shared mind. The events of the past few days were the last straw. Aristide was allowed to attempt to kill her and then fall at her feet in exquisite sorrow and she was supposed to react how? With pure-hearted forgiveness and a stalwart equilibrium of temperament? Under normal circumstances, Elisabeth might have done just that. She might have raised him to his feet and said, “There, there, my love, I forgive you. Let us go on and be happy.” But Elisabeth also had her feisty side, a side that had only really been revealed to Aristide through her indefatigable stubbornness and the occasional aftermath of a tantrum in her apartment. Well, Elisabeth was having a decidedly feisty reaction.

    "Just, just stay like that for a second."

    Elisabeth waited a moment and this time, when she decided to speak, her voice actually came out. Of course, her voice was actually Julian’s voice but, for once, that did not unsettle her.

    “There, you’ve had your second. Now get off your knees, Aristide, it doesn’t suit you.” She bent down and picked up her book, dusting it off as she did so. She then scanned the room again, if she’d missed the book, she might had missed something else important. As she looked around, she kept her chin high and her expression cold, as if she were the vampire noble and Aristide was the foolish little human boy.

    Once Elisabeth had finished making sure there was nothing important being left behind, she addressed Aristide again. “What? Not what you were expecting? It’s the real deal this time. Elisabeth Moore. Not Julian playing ventriloquist. Or do you not recognize me because I’m human and male? They should have at least brought you a female vampire, don’t you think? I’ll be taking my things and leaving now. If you still want to kill me for not living up to your standards, I’m going home. I’m sure you can find it; it’s just across the hall from where I used to live when I was a woman. You’d be doing the world a favor if you kill the old woman who lives there while you’re at it.”

    With that, Elisabeth took her book, picked up her bags, and somehow managed to find her way out of the building. When she reached the sidewalk, she finally collapsed. Every inch of her was trembling. For a moment, she thought she would cry, but she didn’t. She tried to get up but couldn’t because she was trembling too badly so she just sat there. Part of her wished that Aristide would come out after her and beg for forgiveness, but she didn’t really see Aristide as capable of begging. Another part of her wished he would just stay inside and let her go but no matter how much she tried to bolster this part of her, the part that wished he would come after her was still stronger.
     
  10. "What... did I do..?"

    Arisitde grabbed his hands from shaking so violently.
    Yes, it was his Elsie. And what did he do to her? He tried to kill her! He strangled her neck and threatened her.

    "No, no Elsie. It, it wasn't.. I didn't..."

    If it wasn't you, then who tried to kill her, Aristide?

    His inner self asked him. Laughing at his face.
    Aristide stopped as he grabbed the doorknob of the room.

    "Master? I am done with your errand. By the way, I saw the human boy on the way. Should I go and get him?"

    A slight knock on the door woke Aristide up. It is not time for this.

    "No, no. Don't you dare to touch her."

    Mumbling absent-mindedly, Aristide came out of the room and chased down the trace of Elsie. His secretary, Cain was calling him behind, but he ignored it.

    "Elsie, Elsie, no. You shouldn't go.."

    Not realizing that he was talking to himself like a mad man, he went out of the hotel and spotted Elsie. She was crying. Crying on the sidewalk.
    Seeing her tears, his couldn't breathe. It was like something big was stuck in his throat. He just stood there until Elsie was gone. Who was he to talk to her when he coldly threw her out?

    "Master?"

    Cain carefully voiced out. Aristide was out for a long time, and it was getting dark. He had things to do, important and urgent things.
    Instead of ignoring him again, Aristide answered him.

    "....Cain."
    "Yes, master."
    "Prepare to transfer."
    "Yes, ma... Master?"

    Turning back to the hotel, Aristide continued while walking on.

    "Buy apartment 3A where Elsie used to live."
    "Master! But you said, you hated to see that apartment again, because she died-"

    Aristide stopped and turned at Cain.

    "Do I have to speak twice?"

    At his cold glance, Cain tensed up, and bowed down his head.

    "...as you wish, Master."
    "I don't care whether the room is occupied or not. I want it done by tomorrow."

    Even at his seemingly impossible request, Cain nodded. The man in front of him was the vampire Count, one who is even more famous than dukes. Cain, who worked for Aristide for centuries, remembered the old, ruthless vampire, who did not hesitate to kill - whether it was his ally or foe.
    Aristide carried on walking, and Cain followed him, wiping his forehead.

    "And make it look just like before. When Elsie lived."
    "Yes, Master."

    Touching the elevator button, Aristide stopped, and looke up. The elevator was slow. He frowned.

    "I will live there. So prepare my things as well."
    "....yes, Master. Should I call the guards?"

    At this sentence, Cain was surprised, but he manged to answer.

    "Of course. But don't make them too noticeable."
    "By meaning of unnoticeable, you mean.."

    Getting in, Aristide turned at Cain inside the elevator. A sure sign of reject for him to get in.

    "Just dress them like pipe workers or something. Do I have to tell you everything? Now go and work. I want it get done as soon as possible."

    Cain stared blankly at Aristide's face as the doors closed. What? Dress the presitgious vampire royal guards as pipe workers? It was suicidal.

    "Oh, and most importantly,"

    Ticking his fingers to stop the motion of the elevator, and its door which was closed halfway, and actually everything around him, he leaned toward Cain. Cain wasn't stopped, so he was able to look at Aristide's face.

    "PROTECT the boy. I don't care about his body, really. But what's inside him is very precious. Way more important than your life."

    At the eyes of the ancient vampire, Cain gulped.

    "If he gets hurt, or something happens to him, remember-"

    Cain's pupils was caught in Aristide's. He felt like a mouse in front of a snake.

    "-it won't just end with your life. Protect him at all cost."
    "....is that even more important than catching the duke?"

    Cain got the words out of his mouth hardly. The time flew, and people and things, including the elevator door, began to move.
    Aristide's eyes, a bit enlarge at surprise of the question, soon curved at a slight smile. Then elevator door closed.

    "Of course."

    Aristide's voice rang in Cain's ears. He leaned on the wall. He was shaking too much.
    Catching the duke, although it is important due to the King's order, for Aristide, it meant even more, because he killed his mate.

    "If it's even more important..."
    It must be related to the girl, Elisabeth Moore.

    At the same time, Aristide was getting out of the elevator. He was calling Abel, the brother of Cain, and his another servant.

    "Continue to chase the duke, but be more wary on his actions now."
    [Sir? Wary?]
    "Be more informatic. Don't let any secret escape me."
    [Sir? Sir-]

    Wondering why his servants were being foolish enough to ask on the missions delivered today, Aristide hung up as he lay in his couch. The speaker's controller flew and turned on the speaker on itself.

    "Elsie. Elsie."

    If she wasn't going to forgive him, he was going to beg. Beg beside her until she forgives him.

    But what if she is afraid of you? She may even hate you! Thinking you are unforgivable!

    "...No. She won't. Elsie will not do that."

    But you couldn't approach her when she was crying, because you were afraid that she may tell you to go away? That she may call you a monster!

    Ignoring the voice inside him, he increased the volume of the music. The music was Elsie and his favorite when they were dancing with each other.
    Soon, the room was filled with music, and the voice inside hims was no more.
     
  11. Julian took pity on Elisabeth when he realized that she would not be calming down any time soon and offered to take control of the body. Elisabeth gratefully accepted. It took a moment for Julian to orient himself but, when he did, he noticed the suitcases.

    “What the hell?” he muttered. “Where did those come from?” But there was only one place they could have come from. “Elsie, you’re amazing, you know? For me, touch anything and you’re dead. For you, you can steal stuff and they don’t even say, ‘Bad, Elsie.’ And you pretend to be such a good girl, too.”

    Of course, Julian wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. All of those beautiful clothes, to keep. It would have cost him more than he liked to think about to purchase the clothes himself and now he got to keep them, not a cent poorer.

    “You know, Elsie, I’m sorry that your boyfriend dumped you and all but today’s turning out to be a pretty good day for me.”

    The good day wouldn’t last, however. About halfway back to the apartment, Julian remembered that his mother would be there. Not only that but he’d been out for days on end without telling her where he’d be going. He briefly considered calling one of his friends and staying there but he knew that he’d have to go home at some point and it would only get worse the longer he stayed out. Therefore, with heavy spirits that not even the prospect of new clothes could lift, he made his way directly home.

    He was greeted by his mother’s shrill voice. “Where have you been?”

    “Hello, Mother.”

    “Out whoring around, no doubt. Do you enjoy such filthy and immoral acts?”

    Julian would have liked to answer that he actually did but getting her angrier was not really his goal. He therefore took the stance of remaining quiet until it looked like her rant was running out. She went on for a good hour or so but finally she began to wrap up, explaining how it was such promiscuity that had led to his suicide attempt and hadn’t he promised that he would remain abstinent from now on until he was married? Julian didn’t remember making such a promise, especially since he didn’t imagine himself getting married in this lifetime but he chose not to say anything about that when his mother stopped tol catch her breath.

    “My dear friend, Elsie, needed my help,” he explained instead. Since he’d not even told his shrink about Elsie’s death, it was safe for him to mention her. “I didn’t know that it would take this long and while I was there I was so engrossed in her problem that I forgot to call.”

    Julian’s mother contemplated this for a moment before saying, “Is this Elsie a…girl?”

    “Yes.”

    “Is she pretty?”

    “I suppose so?”

    “Then why can’t you date her?”

    Julian should have expected this, but he didn’t. He was so dumbfounded that Elisabeth, who had recovered some from her encounter with Aristide, had to step in and answer for him, “I’ll consider it.”

    This seemed to satisfy Julian’s mother and Elisabeth took that moment to escape to the safety of their room.

    I’ll consider it! What were you thinking, Elsie? Julian fairly screamed at her when they were alone.

    Calm down, Jules. I said it, not you. You don’t have to consider anything. There, I’ve considered it. Now it’s over and done with. I’ve got a lot on my mind, now, would you kindly take over the body so that I can just think? Go organize your new clothes or something.

    Julian took Elisabeth’s advice and was so happily engrossed in reordering his closet that he barely heard his mother saying that she was going out for groceries and he didn’t hear his two best friends besides Elisabeth come in after finding the door unlocked.

    “Hey, JJ, where ya been? We haven’t seen ya around lately,” said Tyler, a scrawny young man with bleached hair and earrings. He plopped down on Julian’s desk chair backwards and watched with a certain enjoyment as Julian started violently and dropped everything in his hands.

    “Tyler,” Chris softly reprimanded from the doorway. Chris was a young man of few words which made making friends much harder for him than for the chatty and easy going Tyler but he was far more earnest and loyal than Tyler and Julian trusted Chris more as a friend. Tyler and Chris were dating, had been for some years now and Julian hoped that it would stay that way, even if he was a little jealous of their stable relationship.

    “Hey, guys. Did my mom let you in?” Julian knew that his mother was suspicious of any males that he associated with and so he was a little surprise that Chris and Tyler had gotten past her until Tyler answered in the negative. It was then that Julian remembered her saying something about going out.

    Tyler willingly explained how they’d knocked but no one had answered and then, Tyler had tried the door and found it open so he just went in and Chris had been forced to follow. Julian noticed that Chris looked a little embarrassed at Tyler’s determination but Julian was truly glad to see his friends so he forgave them.

    “So,” Tyler said after a little while, “do you know who’s moving in next door?”

    “I didn’t know there was anybody moving in.”

    “Well, either that or your neighbors are replacing everything in their house at once.”

    The guys, mostly Tyler and Julian, chatted for a short time longer before deciding to play video games in the living room.

    Julian’s mother returned while they were playing video games and walked in just in time to see Tyler plant a big kiss on Chris’s lips, saying, “You really are my good luck charm!” She was too shocked to do anything other than drop the groceries and leave to bemoan her problems to her friend Sue who lived not far away.

    Supper time arrived and it didn’t look like Julian’s mother would be arriving any time soon so Tyler invited himself and Chris over for supper because Julian had recently and suddenly become a superb cook.

    “You know what?” Tyler asked as Julian was gently prodding Elisabeth and asking if she would be willing to make supper. “We should invite your new neighbor over. After all, they probably don’t have anything in the house to eat. It would be a nice neighborly thing to do.”

    Without waiting for the other two to weigh in on the topic, Tyler jumped up and ran across the hall to ask the new neighbor to dinner.

    “You’d better set another place,” Chris told Julian in resignation. “Ty won’t leave them alone until they agree to come over to dinner.”

    Meanwhile, Tyler knocked on the neighbor’s door vigorously until they answered. “Hi!” he said. “I’m from across the hall. Actually, I don’t live there but my friend Julian does. He’s a real nice guy. Anyway, we were wondering if you’d like to have supper with us. We know what it’s like moving and all, and making supper or trying to find some place to go out is a lot of trouble that you probably don’t want right now, right? Besides, Julian’s an awesome cook. When I say awesome, I mean he’s got mad skills. You’ve got to come. Okay?”
     
  12. Cain opened the door to find a human boy. Deep growl came within his throat.
    It has been only an hour since Aristide ordered to move in. As a proud vampire, Cain kidnapped the couple who were living in this apartment. They would probably be in the stomache of vampire guards working over there.

    "Where to put this?"

    In a grumbling voice, a guard disguised as a worker asked Cain. The worker's eyes were not that of an inferior asking order of superior, but that of an angry predator looking at a weak prey, which was so easy to kill, but cannot, because of the biggest predator named Aristide behind the small prey. Simply, the guards were fucking mad at Cain - because what Aristide ordered.

    "In the bedroom, please."

    Answering breifly, Cain turned back to the boy. This boy had some holes on his ears and bleached hair. He looked like a junk food to a vampire.

    "Well, I'm sorry. The house is such a mess. I've no time for it."

    Frankly, Cain wanted to make more holes at the body of this boy. He was tired from faking the house property document and ordering/persuading the vampire guards to disguise and work. Aristide's cranky attitude was another factor to his enormous stress. He didn't need another human boy in his already tired vampire life.

    As Cain's stress rose at steady phase at the boy's unending persuasion, and somehow, Cain wanted to give up everything and just kill this brat, he spotted a boy - Julian.

    'That must be... the boy master was talking about.'

    This could actually turn out to be a chance. To send his cranky master away with his lover, and earn more time in organizing the house. His master was asking the house to be perfectly same with the time Elisabeth lived in a day. Impossible, especailly with grudging workers who wants to kill the superior.

    "On the second thought, I think it would be a good idea."

    Cain put on a courteous smile.

    "But sadly, I'm too busy. But a friend of mine would be available."

    Begging forgiveness to his master for calling him a friend secretly, Cain texted an urgent message to his master who must be in the limousine near this apartment. His aristocratic master did not want to breathe in dusty air.
    Such a different attitude from his normal face with the human lover. Cain still couldn't believe that Aristide actually sitted on the ground of the park, ate street food, and went to the tomato festival with his lover. If Cain asks Aristide to sit on the bench of a park, the Count would kill Cain after asking what made him crazy, or suicidal.

    "So why don't you take my friend along? He is just nearby."

    Cain wanted to end this conversation already. The guards were looking at him like the time when they were looking at the duke against the king. They must be thinking that he is unfairly loitering.

    [Send them to my car. Right now.]

    Just a second after Cain sent the message, Aristide's reply came through telepathy.

    "You can find him after the corner-"

    [No, no. I'll just go there.]

    "-but, I think he will come soon. Why don't you come in for a while?"
    Damn you master. Say that sooner.

    Ignoring the glares of the guards, Cain opened the door wide. The guards would be suppressed once the master comes.

    "Come in. I'm inviting you- and your friends there."
     
  13. Julian watched from the doorway, Chris at his side, as Tyler went to knock on the new neighbor’s door. Something felt a bit off to Julian. He’d never been particularly close with the people who had moved in after Elsie died but he still thought that he’d have known if they were going to move out. There had been absolutely no sign whatsoever that the people across the hall were on their way to a new home.

    When the door opened across the hall, Julian’s worries were confirmed. He couldn’t be completely sure, of course, but he thought he recognized the vampire from his days living under Aristide’s roof. A chill ran through Julian’s bones. His old neighbors were probably dead. Tyler and Chris would likely be dead soon, too and possibly himself if Aristide didn’t have a very close leash on his vampire underlings. His stomach did a flip-flop. He was really starting to dislike vampires.

    Julian really wanted to yell at his friend to get out of there but what was the point? If he alerted the vampire to the fact that he knew it was a vampire, he might strike faster and what chance did any of them have of escaping a vampire? From all he knew about vampires, which was mostly from fiction, they were far too powerful for a human to have any hope at escaping them. All he could do was stand there with his stomach in knots as his friend chatted easily with the vampire.

    “Oh,” Tyler pouted when the vampire said he was too busy. “That’s really too bad.” He didn’t show much enthusiasm about the friend idea until he heard the masculine pronoun and started cooking up ideas for hooking Julian up with this friend. The idea that the friend was probably straight didn’t enter into Tyler’s shallow thoughts. “We’d love to have your friend over. Jules always cooks too much anyway. Isn’t that right, JJ?” Tyler looked over his shoulder and winked at Julian. Julian could only smile stiffly and nod. He didn’t want that vampire’s friend anywhere near his house let alone at his table but he couldn’t very easily say no to a vampire.

    Julian learned very quickly that it was much easier than he thought to say no to a vampire when the vampire invited them in. “Oh, no,” he called across the hall. “We can’t. I’ve still got to cook the dinner and Tyler really should keep Chris company. Besides, if you’re really so very busy you wouldn’t want us in your way. Just send your friend across the hall when he gets here. It’ll be faster for all of us, don’t you think?”

    It was a brilliant plan in Julian’s mind. If he recalled correctly from most vampire fiction, a vampire couldn’t come into somebody’s home unless they were invited. Well then, if he didn’t like the look of this vampire’s friend, he would simply refuse to invite him in. The vampire might be mad but there wasn’t anything he could do to Julian if he couldn’t cross the threshold. He’d just have to make sure Tyler and Chris didn’t go outside.

    Tyler protested because he wanted to see what the new neighbor was doing with the place and if the handsome man might be interested in Julian because he really thought that Julian needed a new boy now that he was out of both the hospitals they’d kept him in, the normal one and the mental institute. He gave in when Chris agreed with Julian. Tyler simply couldn’t say no to his boyfriend. He apologized to the neighbor and ran back across the hall.

    While Chris and Tyler went back to the living room to play video games, Julian went to the kitchen.

    Hey, Elsie, he thought, would you be willing to make dinner for us…and a vampire? Do you know what vampires eat? Do they eat?

    A vampire? Elisabeth replied with some shock. Why’s a vampire coming to dinner?

    It’s a long story but…Tyler invited him.

    I don’t know for sure but from everything I managed to glean from Aristide, he wasn’t very open about vampire stuff, but it’s not a good thing that a vampire’s coming.

    I know, but what was I supposed to say? “No, I don’t want a blood sucking monster coming to dinner?” As if Tyler would have believed me. Besides, that vampire across the hall probably would have mauled us all if I’d said no.

    There’s a vampire across the hall?

    Yes. I didn’t know the people across the hall were moving out but there’s this new guy and I’m pretty sure I saw him at Aristide’s mansion place.

    At Aristide’s? Aristide probably sent him then.

    What? To spy on us or something? That’s just sick. He needs a better hobby. He broke up with you anyway.

    Actually, I think I broke up with him.

    It’s still sick. Make something with extra garlic.

    Elisabeth’s only response was to laugh as she took over control of the body and the kitchen. Before long, beautiful scents were leaving the kitchen which had both Chris and Tyler coming to the kitchen to ask when the food would be ready every five minutes.
     
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