What We Do ... With This Cold Dead Heart
Vladislav isn't one to worry easily about anything.
He may sometimes worry about not being able to find a victim to quench his everlasting thirst for blood.
Or that one of his orgies might escalate.
Or that their idiot friend Nick might lead another vampire hunter to their home like that one time they lost Petyr.
But usually he's pretty cool with being undead and everything that comes with it. He prefers to enjoy it instead of whining around or going into self-flagellation about things he cannot change anyway. So why not try to have as much fun as possible when eternity is open to you?
But there is something – or more precisely someone – he worries a lot about lately.
His longtime flatmate and best friend hasn't been his usual self for quite a while now. He has totally lost his - sometimes unnerving - cheerful attitude and instead walks around with an expression so sorrowful you could think someone had died.
Well, to be honest, someone has died. Katherine, the reason Viago has moved to Wellington in the first place. The woman he loved so much that he wanted to turn her into a vampire at all costs - to be together with her finally and forever.
Vladislav has always resisted to tell his friend that he thinks this is the most stupid idea ever – because whenever Viago puts something in this pretty head of his it is nearly impossible to keep him from carrying it out as well. He is nothing less than an incorrigible romantic and has also generously ignored the fact that his true love had already reached the proud age of over 90 years. Which is in fact pretty much for a mortal...
And now he's absolutely inconsolable that she died before he could turn her.
He spends most of the time in his room, from which deep sighs are heard from time to time.
He rarely goes out hunting these days and neither Deacon's rude jokes nor their weekly meetings with Stu and the other werewolves coax the faintest smile out of him.
Which is especially alarming to Vladislav - for he doesn't know Viago any other way than with this huge smile that makes him seem so adorably awkward and even a little dumb sometimes.
Though Viago is anything but dumb. In fact he's the only one of them who has received comprehensive education when he was alive. This might be because of his noble background – he's some baron of somewhat; he has told Vladislav when they first met, but Vladislav has long since forgotten about it – but Vladislav is an aristocrat too. On the other hand he's a few centuries older than Viago and in the middle ages there were other traits more important than education and a refined sense for aesthetics...
And Deacon is... well, Deacon. Dealing with him one always gets the feeling of having to deal with some juvenile pleb. They like him anyway.
But whatever - what Vladislav misses the most these nights is in fact Viago's huge dorky grin and his hectic, always so breathless cheerfulness.
Well, they're all breathless, for they don't need to breathe anymore but it illustrates pretty good what he means...
And it has taken Vladislav a while to admit the following to himself: That he misses the old Viago, however annoying this one could be with his pedantry and his flat-meetings in which he decides whose turn it is to do the dishes for the next decade.
That he desperately wants to see him smile again.
And that he, after all the years they live together now, has fallen in love with Viago. Deeply.
But like hell will he admit it (metaphorically speaking; Vladislav isn't dumb enough to mess with hell for its master is quite real and not the nicest person to deal with).
Not because he thinks it's embarrassing or something – when you're as old as Vladislav there isn't much to be embarrassed about anymore.
When you're that old it is absolutely okay to fall in love with another man even though you are known to be the greatest womanizer of New Zealand's vampire society.
And it's also okay that the man you're in love with is your best friend and flatmate.
That's all okay.
What really keeps Vladislav from expressing his feelings (feelings he's actually not allowed to have, for vampires don't have feelings, right?) is that he believes that this love of his just can't be anything other than one-sided. For isn't the distraught behavior Viago is showing since Katherine's death the strongest sign that he's mainly, if not only, interested in women?
It's not for nothing that he creeps around the house with an expression as if he's going to burst into tears any second, right?
Vladislav has seen him cry only once in all these years – and that was when Petyr died. Which was really an extreme situation.
So he'll keep his mouth shut and hope that nobody finds out about how he feels. Which has worked pretty well until now and will hopefully work in the future, too.
So while he is mainly concerned about Viago's low spirits these nights, their friend Deacon is simply annoyed – which is not to be ignored when Vladislav enters the kitchen on this special evening.
Deacon's needles click against each other almost angrily and he wears an expression of absolute lack of understanding as he claims: “I just don't get it. She was over ninety...”
“So what?”, Viago – who's been probably driven out of his self-chosen isolation by hunger only - snaps back. “I'm almost four times as old...” Vladislav can't help but smile. Whenever he's upset, Viagos' heavy accent – German or Austrian, he's not sure- gets even heavier. And that's something Vladislav just finds ridiculously charming.
“And she couldn't wait for you for eighteen months”, Deacon continues, pretending he hasn't heard Viago's objection at all. “Eighteen fucking months, Viago... That's no time, right? Just accept it, that stupid old hag just didn't deserve you. Just be happy that problem solved itself. I mean – what would you have done with an old hag like that anyway?”
Deacon might be putting it a little... crudely, but he's not wrong.
Not at all.
That's what Vladislav thinks at least.
Any woman right in her mind would be happy to be allowed to wait for someone like Viago, especially with an outlook for spending a whole eternity by his side. For, you see, he's not only smart and romantic, he's also terribly lovable and sweet in his effort to make everyone happy. And he's damn pretty, too, with his large dark eyes and fine, expressive features.
That's what Vladislav thinks at least.
So though he is definitely not a woman, he would have waited.
And not just for eighteen fucking months.
“You don't know what you're talking about... For you it's always just about... fucking...”
It rarely happens that Viago speaks such vulgar words and it's definitely not a good sign. Vladislav prepares to intervene – he doesn't want his friends to fly up against the ceiling, hissing at each other like angry cats – when Deacon already grouses back: “So what? Maybe a little bit of fucking would do you well... Really, you just need to get laid – must be completely underfucked after all this time of pointless waiting...”
Viago stares at Deacon for a moment as if he just thinks about stabbing him with one of his needles. Than he stands up, straightens his waistcoat, puts the chair he's been sitting on back to the table – very carefully; as he does everything in a very careful manner – and leaves the room, muttering a very hard to understand “Bite me.”
“Well, that was helpful”, Vladislav says dryly.
“But it's nothing but the truth... He's so tensed it will just tear him apart if it goes on like that any longer... And just because of this stupid old...”
“He loved her.”
“No, Vlad, that's bullshit. We're vampires, we don't love. We're not able to love anymore. Our hearts are as cold as our bodies and just as dead as we are...”
It's not easy for Vladislav to keep a straight face when Deacon says that, for he is pretty sure that his heart isn't that cold and dead at all. And that this not so cold and dead heart is still able to feel something one could call something like love...
“Anyway”, he replies. “You know him. You know what he's like...”
“Oh yeah, I know too well. We all do, right? He's a fucking romantic.” Deacon throws his knitting utensils onto the table and gets up. In contrast to Viago he leaves his chair where he pushed it which is right in the middle of the kitchen. He's always been a lout. “What do you think, was he born this way or were they just all like this in his time?”
“Don't ask me.” Vladsilav shrugs. “I died in the thirteenth century...”
“Well, whatever... I'm hungry. If you get our Dandy-Diva to leave the house meet me at the Boogies. I'll be probably be there playing with my food...”
“Wish you success... I'll see what I can do here.”
Vladislav doubts that he will be successful. Deacons words seem to have hit Viago deeply and he's probably not very keen to join him.
First of all, he thinks as he goes searching for their friend, Viago should have never been turned into a vampire at all. He's just not made for this kind of… life, for which one needs to be quite brutal and ruthless. Sure, he does what it takes not to starve, but he seems to find little joy in in all the hunting, in shedding blood...
Deacon's different. Deacon just jumps onto anybody who doesn't run fast enough and enjoys the fact that, if everything else has been taken from you, at least sex still works out great. Maybe even better than when one was alive.
And Vladislav himself doesn't call a very well equipped and often used torture chamber his own for nothing.
But their sweet, after all these years still so innocent and naïve friend Viago? Vladislav can't imagine him in either of these situations and the images that come to his mind while trying are quite bizarre... but somehow pretty appealing as well...
He finally finds him in the small room on the first floor that he has turned into some sort of pottery. Viago's interests are as eclectic as eccentric, they range from literature and music to art-and-crafts like this. And he tries almost everything. He claims it to be relaxing.
He doesn't seem to be very relaxed, though, but rather pissed off and offended because of what Deacon has said. He's not even bothered to roll up his sleeves and the fine white fabric of his shirt is stained with clay up to his elbows.
And the misshapen lump of clay he's treating violently won't get any recognizable shape anytime soon. The sight of it wakes a strange desire in Vladislav to not only be able to turn into any animal but into inanimate objects as well – like a lump of clay, for example.
Viago does not look up when Vladislav sits down by his side and asks carefully: “Do you think you'll feel any better by sitting here and splashing around with loam?”
“It's clay, Vlad”, he replies indignantly. “Loam is for making bricks. And I don't splash around.”
“What do you want? Telling me that Deacon is right and that I should go out and have some fun?”
That's exactly what Vladislav wanted to say, but as mad as Viago seems to be he better chooses his words more wisely.
“Don't you think it would do you good?”, he asks and stares at Viagos slender and agile hands. His own look ungainly and heavy next to them just like he himself always feels ungainly and heavy compared to the other vampire and he involuntarily starts thinking about how it might feel if Viago... No. Stop.
“It might distract you from your sorrows? At least just for the moment...”
“Ah, Vlad...” Finally Viago looks at him with these large, shining and still so vivid eyes and Vladislav is sure if his heart still beat it'd beat faster than usual now. Much faster.
“What's the most silly thing about it is that even I think he's right...”
“But You'd rather bite off your own tongue than admitting it?”
“Yeah. By the way, do you think that's possible? Biting off your own tongue? I mean, it might happen in an accident, but voluntarily? It'd take quite some force to do so, right?”
It's moments like this that Vladislav is quite sure that his dear friend Vago has lost a lot of his marbles over the centuries. But on the other hand that's what makes a great deal of his quirky and very unique charm, so he won't complain.
“I can tell you how to rip out somebody's tongue without shedding too much blood, if you like”, he replies dryly.
“Ah, no... no, thank you, but that's nothing I need to know about...”
“So?” Vladislav cocks his head and gives Viago an inviting look. “You think Deacon isn't completely wrong. Then go wash your hands, change and come out with me. We'll get ourselves some virgins and...”
“Ah, I don't know. I want... I don't know what I want...”
“What about me conjuring a few succubi then? Just a nice little private orgy, hu?”
Viago isn't the type for orgies actually, but there must be a way to cheer him up somehow.
And that's the best Vladislav can come up with for now – at least an orgy always cheers him up. On the other hand the last time he felt lovesick lies so far back in the past that he can't even remember what it felt like.
Besides his proposal isn't that altruistic, to be honest.
If he can't have Viago – which he heavily assumes – he could at least watch him having his way with one of the lascivious and always willing demonesses – which is not the worst idea. And maybe, in the heat of the moment...
“Thank you, Vlad, I really appreciate that you'd trouble yourself to...”
“Oh, it's no trouble at all. I'm quite experienced in conjuring...”
“... but I honestly don't think I... I'm just so fed up with the bitches...”
Never before has Vladislav heard Viago speaking about women any other way than respectfully. That he doesn't now can only mean that he feels really, really bad and that there is absolutely nothing to do about.
So he just shrugs helplessly and gets up to leave Viago to his mourning and to not bother him with his fruitless efforts to cheer him up any longer.
He's already half through the door when he hears Viago ask – quietly and hesitantly -: “Can you conjure the other's as well?”
That comes unexpected and Vladislav almost dislocates his neck as he turns around and stares at his friend in disbelief. Viago hasn't turned towards him, he's still bent over his wheel highly concentrated as it seems, so Vladislav can't see if he really bites his lips in embarrassment for letting himself getting carried away.
“Ah, you know, those... Incubi?”
Is he serious? Incubi are male demons, just as lascivious and wanton as their female counterparts, but, well... male. Vladislav wonders if Viago knows that.
“You know what an Incubus is, don't you?”
“Of course I do...Ah, just forget it. That was a silly idea... I just thought for a moment that I could indeed use a real distraction an what could be more distracting than... No, no, just forget about it...”, he mumbles coyly and Vladislav asks himself in secret if he knows what he's doing to him by uttering a wish like this.
But he surely hasn't got the slightest idea – it's Viago after all and he's not the type for playing frivolous games. He doesn't even play with his victims.
And he luckily can't know how Vladislav feels for him, can he?
Or not so luckily.
Maybe this is the one and only chance to let him find out and Vladislav would be angry about himself for the rest of his eternal life for not even trying.
Thanks to the supernatural swiftness vampires are capable of it only takes a split second till he's behind Viago's seat, grabs his shoulders carefully and turns him around so the other Vampire has to look at him.
Which he does, with big questioning eyes and he looks so wonderfully innocent that Vladislav can barely restrain himself to not...
One step after the other, right?
“Well... I don't think it's a stupid idea at all”, he murmurs, trying to give his voice an appropriately seductive intonation. He might behave like an idiot-in-love right now, but he doesn't want to make a complete fool of himself. Though he's not sure if anyone could make a fool of himself in front of Viago – because Viago just takes everyone the way he is without asking. That's just what he's like.
“But I have never tried to conjure an Incubus yet”, he lies. Of course he has, simply out of curiosity, and then had to learn the hard way that these demons are too brutal even for him. So it would be anything but a good idea to let one of those monsters have their way with sweet and innocent Viago. If he really needs a distraction from his sorrows it'd be better with someone who likes him and won't turn their sexual encounter into a mess of blood and mutilation. Unless that's what he wants. But it totally flees Vlads imagination that Viago should be into that special kind of fun...
“Okay. Well, then...”
“Maybe we could solve this problem... Without conjuring demons and stuff... and fall back on more available resources?”
“Hu? What do you mean? It's just the two of us around...”
There are two possibilities now – either Viago finds him repulsive enough to not even think of him as a potential playmate or he's just being stupid. Vladislav hopes for the second – of course he has nothing of Viago's delicate beauty but he likes to think of himself as quite handsome and attractive anyway. In his own way. For a vampire at least.
So the only thing that might help is a broad hint, a very broad hint: “Maybe that's enough? It doesn't have to be a demon, does it? Maybe another vampire is good enough for a try? One you already know and maybe even... like?”
It's a little enervating that Viago still looks at him like a sheep in a thunderstorm. And since it takes far too long for Vladislav's liking until the other vampire comes to the conclusion of what he's trying to tell him, he shortens the whole misery in his own, charming way: “Godfuckingdammit, what I'm trying to say is that if you want to fuck a guy I'd be more than happy to help out...”
Finally. Finally Viago seems to get it. His eyes grow even bigger and a small smile creeps over his face, just for a second, then he says in his typically sincere manner: “That's so kind of you, Vlad, but you don't need to... You really don't need to sacrifice yourself for my well-being.”
Vladislav bites back the remark that's trying to escape him – that the only one soon to be sacrificed will be Viago, to all gods of lust and pleasure – because that would sound quite dull, even for him, and he's not known for his witty bonmots in the first place. Instead he just mutters: “I think I'll survive that...”, then he bows down, cups Viago's cheeks and kisses him.
It doesn't feel much different to kissing a woman, which he has wondered before if it would – but somehow it does. It's better. For it does make a difference whether you kiss someone you are in love with or if you just try your dinner-to-be, so to speak.
The first is the case here.
And what makes it even better is that Viago not only participates willingly after a short moment of shock, but that his participation soon evolves into lustful enthusiasm.
They could keep going like that for hours, for none of them has any need to breathe between kisses – the perks of being a vampire.
But after a while Viago pulls himself away and Vladislav let's out a frustrated sound, quite similar to a werewolf's growl. At full moon.
“I don't want to make you dirty”, Viago declares in all his innocence and waves his clay-covered hands. He has really managed to keep them to himself the whole time.
That's so typical of him, always being cautious not to do anything that could make anyone uncomfortable.
Vladislav can't help but laugh and pulls him close, so Viago finally has to put his arms around him if he doesn't want to fall from his seat. “My plan for tonight is to let this become very dirty actually, so I don't think a little loam will matter...”
“Clay, Vlad. Clay”, Viago mutters at his mouth but Vladislav doesn't listen anymore.
He is quite satisfied with himself – distracting Viago from his sorrows seems to have worked perfectly for now. And he hasn't made a fool of himself, not at all.
What will become of this time will tell – after all they have a lot of time to find out.