I'll have to leave soon--
Why am I holding on?
When he was thirteen, Yifan had his ankle sprained.
It was at an annual family gathering on the main family’s estate, and it was on a very rainy day, and it was a pity that he couldn’t take a walk inside the garden’s high-walled rose maze when it was the only console for him whenever they were needed to be inside the old mansion.
Nobody liked the old mansion, truthfully. It smelled like old men and expensive cigars, and Yifan used to wonder if there were ghost living in each of the room there, acting like they were guests, too. Even his parents grunted and almost comically rolled over in bed yesterday’s morning when he brought in their breakfast along with the golden envelope sneakily slipped underneath his father’s plate of scrambled egg. Yifan snickered when his father yelled at him for not mentioning about the letter as he walked down the stairs, probably already half-crying when he read the first word mentioned.
“We’ll be there for an hour, alright? Just an hour. You got that, son? Don’t go off wandering by yourself like you did last time. Remember what happened last time, son? You went to the wrong room in that West wing and we suddenly discovered the old relics there, and in the end Daddy’s late for work the next morning because he had to drink and listened to the old fuck’s historical lecture about all those artefacts... fuck this necktie!” he remembered his father mumbled deliriously, hands trying to fix the silver grey necktie and his mother finally came to the rescue; scolding him about language in front of their kid and kissed his cheek when she was done just a few seconds later.
Women are super humans; that Yifan could tell.
Anyways, Yifan was thirteen when he sprained his ankle inside the old mansion. His father told him not to wander around, and especially not to the West wing of the building again, but Yifan guessed he was just unable to register the first part of the warning inside his head. So, he went to the East wing instead.
There was a dark red door, carved with the family’s emblem carved onto its surface with golden ink, and it wasn’t locked. Curious little Yifan decided to push the door open, and when he did, the door creaked so loud that he was very sure his whereabouts must’ve been discovered by his parents by now (they didn’t). As he opened it, a strong gush of wind blasted through and Yifan almost lose his balance if he wasn’t so cautious in watching his step.
It wasn’t just a normal room; it was a chamber. There was a long stairs spiralling down the chamber—long, old, red-brick stairs like in the old Camelot stories he read—and Yifan was too far of a kid to ignore the sudden discovery down there. He might be killed in the process, but you know how God is always watching little children so that they won’t fuck anything up before they become those annoying, constantly whining adults? Yifan believed in the deities so much back then he couldn’t even argue about his faith himself (and a couple of years later, the revelation of Santa Claus’ highly questionable existence happened and he was seriously disillusioned by his father in the red coat). There were even more relics there, and Yifan wanted to laugh when he realised that his father was lucky he didn’t go this part of the building during the previous visit, or he might not even be able to go to work the next day, cataloguing the whole collection onto his brain.
Gold and silver cutleries bearing the family’s crest were scattered everywhere on the stairs; Yifan wondered if this was the reason why the main house could host huge dinners and tea parties almost every month. Shiny rocks—diamonds, rubies, opaque—were donning the round wall, as if they were a part of the foundation in order to have the wall built in the first place. But Yifan was getting more excited as he almost reached the floor for the mountains of books; old and new, surrounding the place like it was a different dimension.
“Wow,” he whispered to himself as he mindlessly picked an old book without any picture on its cover, only to realise that it was a first edition of Wilde’s Dorian Grey. Good thing his geek self didn’t decide to freak out and throw the book into the other pile of what could probably be a remaining of book-valanche of an old stack of books.
He was going through a small black book that described about hunting with bare hands in details almost twenty minutes later when hesitated footsteps were heard climbing down the same stairs he came down with. Yifan was immediately reminded of his father’s warning, and he was very sure he would be scolded until his ears bleed if he was found out, so he decided to hide behind a huge pile of meticulously stacked anatomy-themed books, stepping on a few smaller piles on his way. He didn’t realise about the inconsistency of the sizes of the books in the piles, and he was too worried about the intruder, that he forgot to watch his steps, and managed to slip from one of the highest among the small piles. He swore he could hear his bones twisted and cracked, and he was too in pain to muffle his screams. The hesitated footsteps turned faster and determined, might even be slightly worried, and when Yifan finally looked up from howling about his swollen ankle, he finally saw the owner of the footsteps earlier.
There were still a few tens of steps for him to reach Yifan’s place down there, but the man inside the crisp white shirt and black ripped jeans just plunged himself over the railing of the stairs and landed silently in front of the wailing teenager, almost as if he was hovering for a few seconds there before his feet touched the ground. His dark brown hair was long; if only he didn’t have it tied neatly into a ponytail; Yifan thought it would be a few inches past down his narrow shoulders. His skin was as white and flawless as the untouched bed of first snow that fell the night before, except for his cheeks that seemed to always have that reddish tint permanently painted on them, with thin lips and well-threaded brows.
Yifan had never thought a man could also be beautiful before this day.
“Are you alright?” he asked, voice small and almost whispering. He tried to bend down and closing the distance between him and the young teenager, but he seemed so scared to do so. Yifan wondered if he was actually afraid of himself rather than of Yifan.
“I—I can’t move. My ankle is busted, I think,” Yifan told him truthfully, eyes still wet from the cry earlier that had turned into sobs. The man finally crouched, albeit hesitantly, and touched his injured leg, as if examining the injury and estimating something. He then took a look upwards, counting the stairs loudly and finally moved to gather Yifan in his arms.
He looked small, but Yifan was assured of his strength with the way his arms were hooked around his shoulders and waist. Although he didn’t appreciate that he was going to be carried like a princess, Yifan was also assured that he would die of starvation down here if he wanted to feed on his ego.
“Hold on to me. I’m going to take you back upstairs, and then we’re going to get your father, alright?” he said, and Yifan wondered if it was only a guess that he would suggest finding his father in this situation. Perhaps he was just thinking practically; no father would leave his young teenage brat wandering around old place like this without supervision.
Apparently, Yifan’s father did. Hahaha.
He thought that it would be quite an effort for the man to carry him all the way up on his feet, no matter how good his stamina is. He didn’t know that as easily as he jumped down the flights of stairs earlier, this man could also jump all the way up against the gravity and safely reached back at the red door without any difficulty too. He even did it in one breath. Dear God, Yifan felt like he’s going to throw up.
“You just wait here, I’ll get your father,” he said, letting Yifan rested against the wall as soon as they were outside the chamber. His hand felt cold as he palmed Yifan’s cheek, as if he was asking him to be patient until the other help arrived. Yifan nodded, and continued pressing on his injury. The man saw it, and his face turned sorry.
“It’s a shame I can’t do anything about this when you aren’t mine...” he said underneath his breath, slowly resting his other palm on the injury, and Yifan was pretty sure, if it wasn’t for the pain, that the man was wishing that he could take the pain away from him.
“I’ll be fine. I’m a young man, I’ll heal.” He didn’t know why was it that he decided not to show his pain to this man. Maybe it was for the smile that bloomed on his face after that, or the way his lips parted and displayed his pretty teeth with a set of small fangs crowning on both front sides of his upper jaw.
Yifan thought he looked adorable.
The man went and called for his father, and a few minutes later, his father came rushing with a few other adult men; Yifan recognised them as his older cousins. The man didn’t come back with them. Yifan wondered if he already went back to the ballroom where everyone else was gathering. He didn’t have a chance to even know his name.
But his father was scolding him for the carelessness and thanking him for the early leave on their way to the hospital later, and he mentioned about a ‘Junmyeon’ and “do not go near him, ever again!” and Yifan nodded. Yifan never heed any warning, seriously, but he still nodded and smiled as the lampposts from the entrance of the main house disappeared in the rear-view mirror.
“Junmyeon.” He whispered, feeling the ghost touches on his shoulders and waist still lingered on his skin. Cold hands, strong arms, and gentle, gentle voice appeared in his dream that night, as his casted ankle was hung a bit higher and he had to control the toss and turn in his sleep as he lied on the hospital bed.
When Yifan was seventeen, his uniform blazer was badly burnt.
It had been a lovely week, and Yifan had never seen such a beautiful sunrise to start it off and he would love to see a beautiful sunset to end it with that day, as it was the last day of the week and the month. That was why he decided that he didn’t want to let it spoiled by seeing someone being burn into crisps by the sun on the rooftop of his father’s workplace.
“I hope you’re not turning crazy or something, waiting in the open for the sunrise like that, My Liege,” he let out his snarky comment, dusting of his half-burnt blazer that he used to stop Junmyeon’s face from combusting earlier. The sunlight was reaching fast towards where they were standing; behind the small hut that hid the only entrance to the rooftop of the Wu Tower. He was late just for a few seconds; Junmyeon’s soft long hair was already far beyond fixing, so Yifan decided to pull out the scissors he borrowed from his mother’s sewing workshop earlier for the art project today and gave Junmyeon a lightning trim.
Junmyeon’s reflex might be fast, but Yifan was unstoppable when he was pissed. In just a couple of blinks, Junmyeon could feel breeze blowing softly against his exposed nape.
“Bury the hair; Dad will be pissed if he found out about what you’re trying to do just now.”
Yifan then threw the hair into Junmyeon’s way, picked up his bag and walked towards the door that lead to the elevators, ready to leave when Junmyeon; still flabbergasted and somehow irritated that his plan on ceasing his existence had failed spoke out his real intention.
“Your grandfather is dying, Yifan. I’m eliminating the only reason why he can’t let go: me. He’s done everything he could as a Vassal since he’s a young man, when I am not even near to the Liege your family deserves. I can’t let him suffer anymore.” He told him with his eyes looking away, and Yifan knew he was lying.
“You’re one selfish creature, aren’t you, Junmyeon?” that was the first time Yifan spoke to him without honorifics, and Junmyeon almost gnarled. Yifan then threw his bag back onto the ground near Junmyeon’s feet, and took a few steps closer towards him. Junmyeon didn’t know why, but ever since they first met four years ago, this teenager’s existence scared and excited him at the same time.
Like a playful scratch by a lovely kitten, only he wasn’t so sure who’s scratching who anymore.
“Do you even read the agreement of our ancestors until the end, My Liege? Because you seem pretty reckless in making your own rules here,” Yifan asked him, the sides of his lips frowned and his stare turned sharp, slicing the immortal soul residing inside Junmyeon. The small man turned his head away, but Yifan pulled him by the chin and forced their eyes to connect.
“Our Vassalage contract is not bound by natural death. Our lives are not yours, but your life is ours. When you’re bound to the appointed Vassal of a generation, My Liege, you’re required to feed on him and on him only, and as a trade, you must protect his bloodline; just as he must to yours.” Yifan’s voice turned into a whisper, and Junmyeon’s undead heart almost beat.
“Why are you telling me things that I’ve memorised for more than two hundred years, Yifan?”
“Because clearly, you haven’t read enough. My Liege, what you were about to do just now was an attempt at breaching the contract between our family, an attempt to cancel all the peace treaties we’ve tried to keep for thousands of years. If you’ve forgotten, Junmyeon, before we were your protectors, we were your hunters. And I had just stopped you from murdering my grandfather. The Liege must not obliterate his bound Vassal, or the contract of peace between the two families is void forever, remember? First rule of the agreement. You were about to give my family a return ticket to the land of barbarian—destroying every vampire ever existed.” Yifan explained, hand finally letting go of Junmyeon’s face, and Junmyeon’s facial expression came in degrees; realisation, shock, shame and finally, resentfulness.
“I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. I wasn’t thinking, I wasn’t. Forgive me; it’s just... I don’t want...” you to be my Vassal this early; Yifan had guessed, and he had guessed correctly. Because potential Vassal was able to choose to refuse the position, his father had done so, and he had tried his best to not let Yifan knew about the existence of the treaty, or even Junmyeon’s. But Yifan had thought of this as a fate instead of something planned from thousands of years ago; no one could stop him from meeting Junmyeon, and no one could take them apart once they’ve became a whole.
They were a single entity that had long been separated into two souls, and Yifan was sure that long before this life, Junmyeon had been waiting for him to come and stitch them back together—like two different edges of a puzzle were being slotted and completed.
“You’re still a kid, Junmyeon-ah.” Yifan said after Junmyeon had calmed down, and the small man slapped his back as hard as he could that Yifan found it bruising when he was home that night.
“I’m still older than you by a hundred years old and some. Use honorifics.” Junmyeon reminded him, and Yifan had to keep himself from being burned by the blinding smile he let out in relief.
Long before they met in that chamber where all of Junmyeon’s collections of relicts were being kept, Yifan believed that he had been in love with Junmyeon in every birth and death he went through.
When Yifan was eighteen, however, he had his heart broken.
The night before his grandfather died, the old man called him to his bed and gave him an old, hand-written letter.
“Junmyeon sent it to me when I had to serve in the army for a year. That sweet little man. But it was the only letter I had gotten from him, and I want you to know about it.”
“Why?” he asked, and his grandfather shook his head. His eyes went teary and he didn’t seem to be there anymore; he might be the young naïve soldier with a big secret on his back, so happy to receive a letter from a dear friend back home.
His grandfather had never called Junmyeon his Liege. He also never called him a vampire, like Yifan himself did a few times since he knew Junmyeon. He treated him like the human he looked, and for that Yifan thought, was the reason why Junmyeon seemed to be so at ease around him.
That never made Yifan happy, though.
His grandfather didn’t reply him, so Yifan opened the letter himself, and read its content aloud. The creases on the edges and the yellowish, brown paper were proofs that it had been read a thousand times, kept preciously inside his grandfather’s pockets and carried as a lucky charm; as if his life depended on it.
It wasn’t even a long letter; just a three-sentenced paragraph.
Please, return to me safe and sound. Please, ease my unbeating heart with your proofs of well-being. Do know that I am waiting for your return, and I am wishing to the Gods that I don’t believe for you; just you.
Yifan wanted to throw the letter away. He really did. Maybe it would be best for him to never know about it in the first place.
“Don’t...” his grandfather said instead, shattering his clouds of emotion and he wiped his tears, pushing the worn out letter back into the old man’s wrinkled and wired hands. He couldn’t do anything towards their memories together, no matter if it was kept in any form. It had happened, and he couldn’t interfere, and that what frustrated him the most.
“Don’t make the same mistake as I did, Yifan. Don’t. You’d think that he is yours now, but he isn’t. He’s not anyone’s, and so are you.
Love him, cherish him, do what you need to have him by your side; but never try to make him yours, so that he’d never try to make you his. We’re not made to live forever, and Junmyeon...” the old man started to cough violently, and the doctors came rushing in, stopping their conversation permanently. But Yifan knew what he was going to say; he always knew.
We’re not made to live forever, and Junmyeon... he’s not made to exist just with us.
The morning after the funeral, Yifan went down to Junmyeon’s underground apartment, and found him tossing dozens of letters and some of his late grandfather’s favourite snacks into the fireplace.
“He had stopped eating them a few years ago when he had that first cardiac arrest. And these are the letters I wrote to him when we were young and stupid. When time wasn’t a reason to be separated; just a distance dream adults were talking about. I hope they would reach him safely on the other side.” he said with a smile, even when Yifan asked him nothing.
A few minutes later, as he watched the fire eating out the flammable materials he fed them, Yifan caught him wiping his eyes with the sleeves of his cardigan. He stood up from his seat and for the first time since they met, he put his arms, now bigger than Junmyeon’s, around the latter’s waist from the back, and buried his nose into the pale nape. Everything about Junmyeon was cold, except Junmyeon himself, and Yifan loved the contradiction of them all.
“I think he’s already opening the second letter by now, eating that salty rice cracker and smoking his favourite cigar. He might be laughing at your cheesy words, too.” Yifan’s words muffled against his neck, and Junmyeon laughed because it was ticklish.
“I’m sorry that you’re going to be stuck with me until you’re an old man like him,” Junmyeon said, ruffling his hair and playing with his earlobe. Yifan let him.
“It’s alright. If I’m going to get love letters like he did, I think I might as well try to live until the hundredth myself. Who knows? I might defeat Buddha.” He tightened his arms around Junmyeon, and he could hear his laughter died.
“I’m too old for that now. And it’s ridiculous to write you letters when you’re always by my side, isn’t it?” Junmyeon replied, turning around and took Yifan by surprise when he pulled him into a hug, tighter and longer.
“It’s ridiculous to write you letters, when you’re not even far from me. So let me have you. Let me just... have you. No matter how short it would be, no matter how long.” He whispered with a wet breath against Yifan’s chest, and Yifan knew he had to spend the night coaxing a two-hundred year old man who had just lost his beloved to sleep.
Yifan wasn’t planning on keeping Junmyeon by himself forever, but dear God, how he wish he could.
In his thirties, Yifan tries to make sure that his health is top notch.
He avoids cholesterol whenever he can, he has his own trainer at the gym, he doesn’t smoke and he makes sure that he is always hydrated, or else whenever Junmyeon is feeding on him, he’ll be scolded for Junmyeon can always taste when he is too tired or is not well fed.
And then Junmyeon would refuse to eat until Yifan has had a good rest, and that would require him to sleep, most of the time.
“I’m here to spend times with you, not letting you watch me sleep, Junmyeon.”
“And I’m not going to let you ruin the only hours of the day that I get to spend with you looking like a zombie.” Junmyeon would reply, already pushing him into the bed and covers him up with the blanket like a cocoon.
“...Make it four hours. Wake me up in four hours. I just need four hours of rest, and then you can have me, alright?” Yifan would remind him, tired eyes getting heavier and in the end, Junmyeon would only hear his calm breathing with a small touch on his pulse.
“Four hours. Got it. I’ll have you in four hours, and the next hours, and the next days, and the next years to come.” He would reply, and Yifan would smile lazily as he pulls Junmyeon to lay by his side.
“And then when it’s my time to go, I’ll find you in the next life, too, alright?”
Even though it’ll take them some time, it’s just a wish. Just a simple wish would never hurt.