Sometimes when he laughs you remember the waves off Kagoshima, pearl fog at your feet, the gentle hush of morning beginning. The tide expanded before you in a flowing sheet, leaving only a stroke of darkness in its ebb, and the music went on forever or maybe just until the end of winter. Your feet pointed north, maybe, toward the silhouette of the town at the top of the mountain there. But what’s important is the swell, the sigh of it. The rolling burble, the peak and valley of sound. That’s what you remember.
Or sometimes you remember a bell in a city you can no longer name, somewhere with a church and many people, many bricks, the din of their voices under a cloudless sky. But the peal of the bell, maybe even the first bell that you heard. It’s loud and almost hurts but within? An unmatched joy. That’s what his laughter is like, sometimes.
And other times he sounds so much like a boy from somewhere, three decades or perhaps an ocean away, but oh, how you loved him. His spirit, undaunted by the sloping borders of his small-minded town, how he let you chase him under the streetlights and into fields embroidered with maidenhair and rusted out car parts. And you laid there under stars you no longer recognized and told him dumb jokes so he would laugh, laugh and kiss you, hold your hand and laugh again.
But you can’t recall his name.
(And you don’t remember what he said afterwards, though at the time the precious gift of those words left you bone-shaken, wordless. It had been a long, long time.)
Time for you is holding water in your hands. Such is the fate of one such as you, to see trees grow from nothing into splendor, to watch people vanish into smoke, dust, a hole in the world where they used to be (until one day it isn't--the hole fills, fades). Photographs of people you have forgotten, their faces creased by years of pockets and albums and wallets. And sometimes you are sad. Sometimes you are so sad you want to sink into the earth and keep on sinking, past all the earth’s magma and bones, to leave this mortal plane to its music so you can drown in the void. Isn’t it cruel? To be so burdened with time you ache from it, hours bleeding from your eyes the way colors fade from damn near everything.
But. He laughs.
And yes. You are the battlefield demon of rage and hot blood, the king who asks but does not compel, except with the arrow of his eyes and the soft glide of his voice. The killer, the shadow, the sword. The murmur and knife, a dark conflagration of desire, the crown you carried. But instead you carry with you five hundred and twenty-two. After four hundred years, you carry so many more. All your dearest, your phantom kindred, veiled, forgotten, but not by you. They march with you inside your footsteps. They live in your throat and sing when you sing—rich melodies of night-people and heartbreak and haloed-lights, the long echoes of unchanged hours. When you dance, they dance along in a shadow frenzy. You eat, and they are sated. You laugh, and their hearts are full. Isn’t that wonderful? To be so burdened with the yoke of their souls, golden and hopeful and very much alive. They love who you love.
You lay hot kisses along the slope of his throat and he giggles and sighs, the opening of a window onto an unfamiliar view. The world of him is tangled and vast, tropical-hued, warm. (You practically breed chaos, Mysta, you tell him. It fills whatever space you’re in like a toxic gas. But he’s laughing because you said ‘breed’ and he’s stupid. You’re so fucking stupid. Scathing and also fond. And he just says, I know.) You hate it. You can’t resist at all. He knows just how to needle you and tease you and make you laugh so hard you can barely breathe, and somehow you match him beat for beat, step for step, dancing to the rhythm like you were made for it. Damn. It’s almost too much fun.
That’s not all of it, of course. You are a creature of blood and heat. You’ve been with humans, and you’ve also been with humans. Ever since you were a kind king, generous with your kisses, your unguarded bed an open and constant invitation. If it pleases milord. You’ve grown preferences and changed them and changed them again. You love the pulse of it, the game, the honey-sweet ache. It’s so very good. And when you touch him he is a live wire, a pure and open flame. He can’t help it. He tells you so himself.
He bends beneath you into a curve of delicate submission, he trembles, he gasps. You wound him. So easy to work him into breathlessness. He even lets you do all your favorite things. The damp warmth of his mouth around you. Good boy, very good. You curl your fist into his hair and press your mouths together while he paws at you and whimpers, fucking whimpers like a little bitch. What else are you supposed to do? Oh my god, he says, words half swallowed. Please. Fuck. I can’t. Cahn’t, because of his accent, and when he hiccups his whole body shudders. He flushes unevenly, in bright red patches down his back and across his cheeks and thighs. Sometimes he drools. Sometimes his nails rake along your shoulders, open your skin into slender strings of blood. Often he’s so loud you have to hold your hand over his mouth for the sake of your dignity and the common decency even you owe human strangers. Stop moaning like a fucking slut. Mysta. Mysta. Do shut the fuck up.
Goddamn, it is fun.
Oh, you can’t resist teaching humans lessons sometimes. You whisper and they kneel, come to kiss your feet–that’s easy. But you like to feel resistance there, a good grown-strength you can feel in your grasp like pulling a blade out of solid wood. When he sneers at you, all London tough-boy like, and bares his teeth–the crack of your hand across his face makes you feel like you’re on fire. Then the soft sweetness of your kisses there long afterwards, swallowing the little gasps he makes, and together you’re smoldering, a new and burning song.
You take him to the beach in Kagoshima, where he drinks his silly cocktail and complains about the sand. Slowly the crowds begin to thin out, and slowly the sharp angles of his shoulders relax. He smiles a bit more when he thinks you aren’t looking. You’re distracted though, by the gold light on the water, the ocean’s hush. The tide expands, then recedes in a gentle hiss of foam. You walk north toward a mountain of apartments and in a single stroke the sea erases your footprints like nothing. Four hundred years and some things never change.
You look out to the horizon instead, and Mysta is wading out into the water. Sunset catches in the dip of his elbows, gilding the pane of flesh under his navel that only just starts to fold into hips. A swift and turning wind is making his shirt wingspan around him. No, it’s not his shirt, it’s your haori, blown down to his elbows by the breeze. He feels your eyes on him and turns to look back. For a moment his eyes glow in the dying light, a shade of blue you’ve never seen.
You understand some things about humans. (Though there are many things you will never understand about humans, like their insatiable greed, the depths of their ignorant cruelty to each other, and their ability to genuinely enjoy food that isn't meat.) Humans are all so different from one another, but you’re starting to think he might be one of the special ones: starlight, and laughter, and skin. One of those frank miracles of being. Your boy, your special boy. The gravity of possibility somehow pulled the two of you together, fed each other your names, put your hands in his hands. The many long and short years have taught you the magic of chance, a matchstick spark, a whispered word. And you don’t have forever, and you never will, and you’ve never wanted to.
But, for a while, you have him.
(While you have him.)