(Phase 24 of the Scarlet Night series.)
Phase Twenty-Four: Parasite
He had been attacked.
He had entered the room, calling for the younger man when he was suddenly slammed back against the door in the isolation room. He tried to fight back, but his wrists were trapped to the door on either side of his shoulders by the younger man. Before he could say anything, or try to fight back even harder, he suddenly felt twin stabs of pain in his neck. He screamed, more out of surprise than of actual pain, although it did hurt.
He felt the younger man, the vampire, begin to feed. As such, the vampire grew still. It was enough for him to regain his wits, to figure out what was happening. He tried to move his wrists, but the vampire’s hold was too strong. How? He wondered, the younger man was never able to overpower him in the past. Finally, he looked past the younger man to the room. He saw the overturned bed and, shifting his feet slightly, felt hard chunks of something at his feet.
What was going on?
“Kyuhyun,” he said sternly.
“Kyuhyun!” He repeated, his tone firmer.
Silence, again. Finally, he did the only thing he could do since he was still having trouble moving his arms. He rapidly moved his head away from the younger man, the sudden disengagement of fangs burning his neck. Before the vampire could react, he replaced his neck with his lips, kissing the younger man. He slanted his lips, pressed his vantage further, deepening the kiss, taking control of the situation. He felt the blood trickling down his neck in twin, scarlet trails, but he concentrated on kissing the other man, subduing him, hopefully breaking the trance that seemed to have fallen upon him.
Zhou Mi felt Kyuhyun’s hands slowly loosen on his wrists, felt the younger man kiss him back. Then, and only then, did he pull back from the kiss, bending his head to catch the other’s gaze, “Kyuhyun? Are you okay, now?”
For answer, Kyuhyun pressed him back against the door, sealing their lips together once more. Kyuhyun’s fingers curled tighter around the literature teacher’s wrists. His body sandwiched the other’s as his lips moved against Zhou Mi’s in an evocative caress. Slowly, slowly his body calmed, his mind slowed down and the fog lifted from his senses. Finally, he pulled back, bit his lip until it bled and then brushed his lips over the bite mark on Zhou Mi’s neck. He licked his lips clean, then slowly followed the trail of blood down Zhou Mi’s neck, over his collar bone, to where it stopped just before the collar of his sweater.
When Zhou Mi felt that he was done, he easily slipped his wrists from Kyuhyun’s hold, raising his hands to cradle the younger man’s head, “What just happened, Kyuhyun?” He finally was able to glance down to his feet, startled to find large pieces of wood there; “What has been happening?”
“The results of my bloodlust,” Kyuhyun answered honestly, stepping back and away from the older man.
Zhou Mi let his hands drop away from Kyuhyun’s face when he noticed that his wrists were tinted red. He raised them to his eyes, “Blood?” Before Kyuhyun could further put distance between them, Zhou Mi grabbed both of Kyuhyun’s wrists, pulling his hands into view; his bandaged hands. Zhou Mi’s eyes roamed over the white bandages, which were wrapped around the upper part of Kyuhyun’s hands. The bandages covered half of his palms, his knuckles and all of his fingers, except his thumbs. The bandages, however, were now stained with bright red spots – new blood.
Loud voices reached them through the isolation room’s thick door. Zhou Mi glanced at Kyuhyun, “We’ll talk later.”
He released Kyuhyun’s hands, turning to the door. He had barely opened it when Kyuhyun said quietly, “I know you’re a Head Hunter.”
Zhou Mi froze for a heartbeat and then nodded without looking back, “We’ll talk later.”
He walked out into the main part of the nurse’s room, Kyuhyun slowly following him. As he approached Heechul’s desk, he caught sight of Kyuri standing behind the desk, yelling at two men. Both were dressed in dark jeans and fitted, leather jackets. The only difference between the two was that one’s jacket was white and the other’s was black.
“By orders of the Korean Council, we need to take a look at the student health files!” The man in the white jacket commanded,
Kyuri narrowed her eyes and retorted in fluent Japanese, “You’re both lucky I’m pregnant, otherwise I’d take you both down!”
“Look, just let us see the computer and look in these folios,” the man in the black jacket offered,
“You think I’m going to trust you two? To hell with that!” Kyuri exclaimed, once more in Japanese.
“Leave my sister alone!” Kyuhyun exclaimed then. He pushed past Zhou Mi to the desk, coming to stand beside his sister, but perpendicular to the desk so he could lean a hip against it. He crossed his arms over his chest, “What the hell are you two doing here? Who are you?”
“We’ve been sent from the Korean Council. Under orders by the Council, we are to protect and investigate all things happening in and around this school’s campus,” the man in the black jacket stated,
“Guys, stand down,” Zhou Mi interrupted, “You can see she’s pregnant, why are you getting her worked up!?”
“Sorry, Sir,” both bowed to him immediately.
Kyuhyun glared at the two older men before glancing at his sister. Slowly, she looked back at him. She murmured quietly, still in Japanese, “I could have handled them on my own.”
Kyuhyun stared at her for a moment. They hadn’t spoken to each other since Kyuri’s mission against the turned vampire in Asakusa. Then, he replied in Japanese, “I know, but you can’t fight like this… I can.”
“Kyuhyun, they’re from the Council… you have to be careful around them,” Kyuri warned, her eyes narrowing at the men.
Zhou Mi turned to face Kyuri and Kyuhyun after admonishing the two men, “I apologize, Kyuri, for any stress these two may have caused. This is Hunter Lee Donghae and Hunter Lee Eunhyuk.”
“Um… Sir, she doesn’t speak Korean,” Eunhyuk stated, tentatively, concerned that the Head Hunter didn’t realize it from their exchange just now,
“I am Korean,” Kyuri said in Korean, her tone dry. Slowly, she sank into Heechul’s chair, “I just chose not to speak to you as such.”
“Hunters, this is Head Hunter Jo Kyuri from the Japanese Council,” Zhou Mi introduced,
Both nodded their tentative greetings to her. Then, slowly, turned their gazes to the younger man dressed in SJA’s uniform. Kyuhyun’s arms dropped from their folded position. His right hand gripped the edge of the desk, tightly. His eyes narrowed back at them, sharing the same animosity as his twin,
“Jo Kyuhyun. Her twin brother,” Kyuhyun said, his voice low, a soft growl.
“Head Hunter Zhou Mi told the Council that you,” Donghae glanced at Kyuri, “Were here to visit your brother.”
“Yes. And why are you two here?” Kyuri countered, her voice flat and cold, her arms coming to cross just above her stomach.
Both Hunter Lee’s glanced at Zhou Mi for further instructions. He sighed and looked at the twins, “The Council has sent several Hunters to SJA to insure my mission is met with success. That no mistakes are made this time and that the vampire cannot slip through any holes.”
“Several? How many?” Kyuri asked nonchalantly, slowly shifting her foot to step on her brother’s, signalling him to appear unaffected, to not react.
“Why so many? A mission usually only requires five Hunters, the Head Hunter included,” Kyuri commented,
Zhou Mi clenched his fists at his sides, “I’m fully aware of that.” He flicked a glance at the Hunters, “Why are you two here anyway? The nurse’s office is no where on the rounds route.”
“We just thought that maybe if we studied the student’s health folders, we’d be able to see if a student was displaying vampiric traits,” Eunhyuk explained,
“You think I haven’t already done that?” Zhou Mi questioned, “I’ve been here since March, student health files were the first thing I investigated.”
“Sorry, Sir,” Eunhyuk said immediately,
“We’ll return to our rounds,” Donghae added.
Zhou Mi said nothing as the Hunters left. He waited until their footsteps faded. Then, he turned to Kyuri and Kyuhyun, “The Council wouldn’t let me return unless I agreed to have a group of Hunters come with me. They ordered eight Hunters to come with me. Unfortunately, not only are they under my orders, but they report directly to the Council as well… If I don’t do this right, the Council will hear of it and try to replace me here,” his eyes flashed at Kyuhyun, “I can’t let that happen.”
Kyuhyun stared at Zhou Mi a moment and then forcibly turned his gaze to his sister, “Are you okay?” At her nod, he asked, “Where’s Heechul? He was here earlier.”
“He had to get something from his room,” Kyuri explained, “He should be back soon.” Her gaze slowly went to Kyuhyun’s hand that had gripped the table. Her eyes swept over the blood-soaked bandages and was momentarily startled to note the wood splintered slightly beneath Kyuhyun’s hold. When she looked back at Kyuhyun’s face, he was looking down at her. She sighed, standing up, “Let me re-bandage your hand…” She glanced at his left hand, “Hands,” she amended.
“I have to go unpack my bags… Will you come up to my room after Kyuri’s done?” Zhou Mi asked simply, staring intently at the younger man when Kyuri walked away to gather her supplies.
Kyuhyun locked gazes with the older man. He wanted to say so many things to him. He wanted to say yes. He wanted to say no. More importantly, he wanted to say thank you. He wanted to thank him for coming back – finally – despite how long it took him. He wanted to thank him for pulling him out of his bloodlust, for ending the rampage. He wanted so much at that moment, but all he did was nod curtly.
With a brooding look, Zhou Mi slowly, hesitantly turned and left. Kyuhyun’s eyes followed him until he was out of sight.
Kyuri returned, sitting on Heechul’s desk chair once more. She placed the supplies on the desk and gestured for Kyuhyun to sit on the desk. She took his left hand first, saving time by cutting off the bandages carefully.
“I guess… that is, I know that apologies are in order,” Kyuri said casually, picking up gauze squares and cleaning Kyuhyun’s bloodied knuckles and fingers with saline water,
“I can’t have you apologize to me, Kyuri, while you’re here cleaning the blood from my hands,” Kyuhyun said quietly, “I think that between us two, I’ve omitted the most.”
“Your knuckles… your fingers and nails…,” Kyuri said quietly as she slowly, carefully, securely bandaged his knuckles and fingers once again, “I have two theories… one, you are fighting again. Or, two, bloodlust.”
“You think you can lock yourself up in that room and I won’t notice?” Kyuri chuckled softly, securing the bandages and picking up Kyuhyun’s closest hand, his right.
Kyuhyun said nothing. A silence fell upon them as Kyuri attended to his right hand, cutting off the bandages, cleaning the blood off and wrapping new bandages on them again. When he stood up and she began collecting the supplies and waste, she stated,
“Try not to use your hands until they heal completely,” Kyuri suggested, “Furthermore, Zhou Mi’s back… that means you’ll feed again, right? So no more habits of self-mutilation, okay?”
“It’s not that simple –”
“It is that simple,” Kyuri interjected. She paused, the supplies in her arms as she looked her brother directly, “Do you love Zhou Mi?” When Kyuhyun said nothing, she simply repeated herself, “It is that simple.”
When Kyuhyun let himself into Zhou Mi’s room, the literature teacher was taking clothes out of a suitcase and placing them neatly into empty drawers. Kyuhyun closed the door and leaned his back against it, his hands clasped between himself and the door. He said nothing, did nothing, merely watched Zhou Mi’s movements.
Without a break in his smooth movements, Zhou Mi said simply, “I’m sorry I never told you that I’m a Head Hunter. You were upset when you learned, I’m sure… Perhaps still mad.” He paused once and then continued transferring his clothes, “You’ve a right to your anger and… should you feel the need to express yourself as such, I won’t stop you or hold it against you.”
Kyuhyun laughed bitterly, quietly, “In that little speech alone, you’ve disabled my ability to get angry. After you’ve said such things, displayed such understanding… if I were to still rant and rage at you, what would it say about me? I would be acting petulant, childish… I would be throwing your words back at you.”
Zhou Mi slowly lowered the shirt he had just picked up from his suit case. He finally turned to look at Kyuhyun. Slowly, slowly, he allowed his mask to drop. Lying took conscious thought, but his mask, his ability to school his features, to smile easily or clear his expression, was second nature. He allowed Kyuhyun to see, allowed him to physically see the thoughts and emotions that had been plaguing him for the past month that he’d been away.
The guilt, the worry, the anxiety – it was all there. The sleepless nights, the straining thoughts, the pressure to not fail – it was all there. The protectiveness, the possessiveness and something else a little bit harder to name was all there.
Kyuhyun saw it all. He sighed and said simply, “I was angry. So angry. I wanted to hate you… tried to hate you… but I couldn’t. I’ve realized that my anger, while founded and powerful can be inconsequential… can be brushed aside, simply because it doesn’t matter compared to other things. I’ve realized that regardless of what has happened in the past, regardless of what you are, I need – no, want – you in my life.”
Slowly, slowly, he walked towards Zhou Mi, closing the distance between them, more than just physically. He stopped when there was barely a foot between them, tilting his head upwards, gazing directly into the dark eyes he had dreamt about for a month.
“And I believe I swore to always stay with you,” Kyuhyun stated steadily, softly,
That was all it took for Zhou Mi to drop his shirt to the suitcase, grab Kyuhyun and pull the younger man against him. He held him to him firmly, securely, his head bowing beside the other’s head, his forehead kissing the other’s shoulder. He allowed the relief to slowly sweep through him, to lighten everything in his body, in his mind and, especially, in his heart. He had been scared, anxious and down-right fearful of what to expect when he returned, of what had happened to his relationship with Kyuhyun during his absence. Belatedly, he remembered what he saw when he first encountered Kyuhyun again.
“I’ve missed you,” Kyuhyun admitted simply, the words rolling off his tongue easier than he thought it would be, albeit, his heart was pounding madly in his ribcage.
Zhou Mi stepped back from him, only to carefully hold up Kyuhyun’s newly-bandaged hands, “Kyuhyun… what is this?”
“My hands?” He offered dryly,
Zhou Mi blinked before scowling at the younger man, “You know what I meant. Why were you in the isolation room? It was pure chance that Heechul handed me the key to your room when I walked into the nurse’s office.”
Kyuhyun hesitated, wondering if he should tell him. Zhou Mi had only just returned and, from what he heard of the new Hunters on campus, was stressed as it was. He glanced at Zhou Mi who silently, patiently waited. When he locked gazes with the older man, he realized that Zhou Mi knew what he was doing, that he was debating what to say. Kyuhyun had just mentioned the promises they had made to each other, hadn’t he? So why was he referencing those promises in one breath and considering breaking them in the next?
“While you were gone, my bloodlust returned,” Kyuhyun explained, his voice quieter than before, as if the words themselves gave power to his rage, as if it worried him – scared him – to speak of it; “I wasn’t used to it anymore, so controlling it… well… it’ll take some time to regain the control I had over it again.”
“But Kyuhyun, you went months without feeding before and never did your bloodlust look so…” Zhou Mi raised one of his bandaged hands to his lips, feathering a kiss to his fingertips, “Dangerous.”
Kyuhyun swallowed hard, “I… I know.”
“You should have fed, Kyuhyun. If it was getting this bad, you should have just… just fed from someone,” Zhou Mi stated, the words having their own toll on his heart; “I know you hate the deed to begin with but… but to allow yourself to go through this again and again… and for a month?”
Zhou Mi gently released his hands, only to cup his neck, his thumbs rubbing back and forth along the sides of Kyuhyun’s jaw. He looked directly into the younger man’s eyes, “I should have come back sooner… I should have sent word… I should have… I should have done so many things and yet… Kyuhyun, forgive me.”
“Just kiss me.”
Zhou Mi did just that. He leaned his head towards Kyuhyun’s. He brushed his lips back and forth against the other’s. Once. Twice. When he finally fully pressed his lips against Kyuhyun’s, he kissed him slowly, sweetly. His lips touched, teased and caressed. He ran the tip of his tongue along Kyuhyun’s lower lip, gently nipping it, silently asking for entry. When Kyuhyun obliged, Zhou Mi angled his head, tilted his lips and deepened the kiss.
In that kiss – or series of kisses – Zhou Mi tried to force all he felt. He couldn’t say the words, not yet. It was still so hard for him to even form them, even though they were constantly floating around his mind, infinitely tattooed to his heart. However, whenever he wanted to say it, his ability to speak abandoned him and the words he longed to say, to confess, to proclaim, would build up within him, weighing him down.
Kyuhyun wasn’t sure what was different in Zhou Mi’s kisses. All he knew was that those kisses, what was happening at that moment, was different from all the other times. He felt a warmth that surrounded him like a comforting blanket, securely wrapped around him. He felt a lightness, an easiness, almost as if he were a child again without the problems and complications of being an adult. He felt infinitely happy and he knew it was because of this older man who was kissing him. He knew, without a doubt, his answer to his sister’s earlier question.
However, the feeling of happiness felt wrong. He felt as if he shouldn’t be happy, as if he didn’t deserve the way his body tingled and felt light. He felt as if he deserved to return to the isolation room and lock himself in there forever. He felt as if he deserved to be expelled from SJA and to just disappear. And yet, he couldn’t. He was scared, he felt cowardly, but Zhou Mi’s kiss was making him forget all of that sadness and guilt. Unfortunately, he couldn’t allow himself to forget. No, not this time.
Zhou Mi tasted saltiness in their kiss, felt a warm wetness against his thumbs that were now stroking the lower halves of Kyuhyun’s cheeks. He broke the kiss, pulling back just enough to see the younger man’s face clearly.
“Kyuhyun? Why are you crying?” He asked, alarmed immediately.
Kyuhyun pulled Zhou Mi to him, his arms wrapping around the other’s waist, wrists locked since his fingers were bandaged. He buried his face into the other’s shoulder, holding him tightly, silently asking – perhaps, even begging – for that warmth, that protection that he often felt from the older man. Silently, instinctively, Zhou Mi gave it.
“I… I attacked someone on Monday.”
Zhou Mi waited for the disgust, the hatred to crawl into his mind, his heart. Waited for those reactions, those feelings to worm themselves back into his life, his body, as they usually did in regards to vampires. However, they didn’t come and he was only mildly surprise at the absence. For some time now, his reactions to all things vampire were changing, especially when that vampire was Kyuhyun. So, when Kyuhyun confessed to Zhou Mi, all the latter felt was an instinctive protectiveness. He recalled the eight new Hunters on the grounds and held Kyuhyun even tighter against him, more securely, more surely.
“Here at SJA?” Kyuhyun nodded against his shoulder, “Who… who was it, Kyuhyun?”
Silence engulfed them. Zhou Mi dared not press, nor push. Kyuhyun tried to force the words out, tried to ignore the way his heart seemed to be slashed painfully, the way his entire body seemed to be physically in pain at just the thought – the memory of the attack wasn’t there, perhaps repressed.
One heartbeat passed. Two. Three. Four. Five.
Zhou Mi waited, wondering if Kyuhyun would tell him. Then, he heard it. One word. One name. Whispered – no, even quieter, just barely above an exhalation from the lungs. His body momentarily tensed, seized, and then he relaxed, only to hold Kyuhyun tighter. He closed his eyes, forcing his thoughts to Kyuhyun, forcing his complete attention to the young man in his arms. However, he kept wondering, kept fearing what had happened while he was away. Over and over again, that name repeated in his mind in the same quiet, quivering breath that Kyuhyun delivered it in:
“Give me one good reason why I should let you stay.”
Zhou Mi sat before the Headmaster’s desk, one knee crossed over the other, arms loosely wrapped about his torso. He watched as the Headmaster paced back and forth behind his desk, his chair having been flung backwards when he suddenly stood after Zhou Mi confessed about his true role in the Council. He sat, silently waiting, knowing that if he spoke too soon, he would lose the chance of having the Headmaster on his side.
“You’ve disobeyed my orders time and time again, Zhou Mi,” Eeteuk stated, eyes narrowed, hands clasped behind his back as his paced; “All I want is to send you packing… but you and I both know I can’t do that, certainly not now.”
“If it helps, I’m just as upset about the Council’s role in all of this,” Zhou Mi offered tentatively,
Eeteuk paused in his pacing, throwing a dark glare at the literature teacher, “I hate the fact that the Council is even having a role in my school!” He sighed heavily, pushing his chair to the side as he stood by the floor-to-ceiling window directly behind his desk.
He stared out at the setting sun, the magenta sky, “One of the reasons I allow you to remain here, Zhou Mi, is for that boy… because he needs protection, he needs strength, he needs consistency in his life… Somehow, you provide all these things to him… you make his life easier. When you are around, I see glimpses of the student he used to be… no, even more. His happiness comes easier now.”
“It doesn’t bother you that we are teacher and student?” Zhou Mi asked hesitantly,
“It should, shouldn’t it? But no, you are correct,” Eeteuk replied simply, the previous animosity gone from his tone. “Because some things are more important than such social titles and ranks… some things are more important than what society thinks.” He laughed softly, “Why do you think Kim Taeyeon and Sungmin-sshi are able to meet so frequently? It is because of my blind eye towards them. If I so choose, I could make it impossible for them or for you and Jo-sshi to meet outside of classroom hours.”
“But isn’t that breaking the rules?” Zhou Mi questioned, not because he cared about the rules, but because this side of the Headmaster surprised him and continued to surprise him.
“Like I said before: some things are more important,” Eeteuk shrugged. Slowly, he pushed away from the window, turned and returned to his desk, pulling his leather chair behind him. He sat down, clasped his hands atop the desk and stared directly at Zhou Mi, much calmer than before. “Now, tell me what I am to expect from the Council and these Hunters.”
“There’s eight in total and, technically under my command,” Zhou Mi winced, “But I’m no fool, I know their first loyalty is to the Council. They’ve been instructed to send reports to the Council every week. Failure to do so will result in them being switched with another Hunter.”
“What do you have them doing then?” Eeteuk inquired,
“They will be wearing the same uniforms as the security guards, so as to not arise any suspicions from others. They’ll be patrolling the central wing, as well as patrolling the outside perimeter of the campus walls,” Zhou Mi explained, “I decided since the monitors are more than enough to do rounds in the west wing, besides, few students live here during the week. Also, there’s not a dire need for patrols to be set up in the east wing. Within the campus walls, the security guards have their own rounds so I didn’t want to disrupt them.”
Eeteuk nodded his understanding, “Do you think the Council will spring any more surprises?”
“I honestly don’t know,” Zhou Mi sighed, “but I wouldn’t put it past them, especially since they seemed too pleased with themselves after they finally allowed me to return. I’ve been trying to plan for the past week how to establish the Hunters and still protect Kyuhyun.”
“Hankyung will go far to help you,” Eeteuk suggested, “If he casually mentions that it’s impossible for there to be a vampire within the school, perhaps the Hunters will become lax in their rounds within SJA, concentrating more on the outside. Especially considering all vampiric attacks last year occurred outside of the school’s building.”
Zhou Mi nodded. After a moment, he asked, “The previous literature teacher… you told me he was attacked by a vampire; do you think it’s the same one who attacked Kyuhyun?”
Eeteuk shrugged, “It’s a high possibility, especially when one takes into account where the body was found.”
“Right outside of the east gates for teachers… He was still in his car,” Eeteuk shook his head, “It was pure bad luck that he was chosen by the vampire and not any other teachers.”
Once again, silence slowly fell upon the two. After a moment, after months of wanting to ask him, Zhou Mi decided to try a different tactic to cement Headmaster Park’s position on ‘his side’. “Headmaster, I want to ask you something and… it may be a bit personal, but I am asking because it concerns Kyuhyun’s vampirism.”
Eeteuk blinked at him a moment, wondering if he truly heard correctly. From the beginning there was no love lost between himself and the younger, foreign man. Even when Zhou Mi began to change his opinion of vampires for Kyuhyun’s sake, he still didn’t care to have the Head Hunter – at the time, Council Member to him – on campus. However, now it seemed as if Zhou Mi were asking him for advice. Did the appearance of eight Hunters and a mutual distrust of the Council suddenly make them comrades for the same cause?
Suspicious, sceptical and curious, Eeteuk slowly leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms loosely about his torso and raised a single, questioning brow.
“Your lover… before he was… well, just… before. Were there any times when he couldn’t feed and his bloodlust turned… dangerous?” Zhou Mi asked slowly, carefully, knowing if the nuances in his voice and tone, if his words were wrong, he could effectively break all the beginnings of ties between them.
“I think you better tell me how this concerns Jo-sshi,” Eeteuk stated steadily, firmly,
Zhou Mi inhaled deeply, steadying himself, thinking of how to explain it. “While I was gone, Kyuhyun understandably experienced bloodlust once more. However, it was more… volatile than before. I believe it was because his body had gotten so used to… erm… feeding, that when it stopped, his body went into a withdrawal.”
Eeteuk thought of what the literature teacher told him. Then, slowly, reluctantly, he began to think of the past. He began to think of his time with his own vampire and the events that coloured their life together. Kangin had remained in their home while Eeteuk lived at SJA during the weekdays. However, every Friday he would return to their home.
Eeteuk shook his head, “The longest I was gone from him would be two weeks because of the planning and marking of examinations. But as far as I know, his bloodlust was never intense during those periods.”
“But I was gone for much longer,” Zhou Mi prompted,
“Did Jo-sshi feed during the summer break? That’s two months – double the time you were just absent,” Eeteuk inquired,
Zhou Mi sighed, brows furrowing, “No… he didn’t feed.”
“Do you know how his bloodlust was during that time?” Eeteuk asked,
Once again, Zhou Mi sighed heavily, shaking his head this time, “It wasn’t bad, perhaps not even surpassing how it had been in the past. If it had been bad, I’m sure Taeyeon or Sungmin would have contacted me.” Zhou Mi chewed on his bottom lip, “Why is his bloodlust getting worse?”
“I cannot answer that, although I’m sure this has just been a way for you to say your thoughts aloud and, perhaps, to get some confirmation that your thoughts aren’t completely unfathomable,” Eeteuk replied simply, “However, you have returned and I am assuming that Jo-sshi will continue to feed again?”
“For as long as he’ll allow me to support him,” Zhou Mi answered honestly,
“Then I do not believe his bloodlust will be a cause of worry,” Eeteuk said. He watched as Zhou Mi nodded, slowly rising from his chair and moving to leave. “Zhou Mi, do you believe what I say about his bloodlust?”
“I don’t know. Yes… No… Maybe?” He sighed, “But I cannot afford to not believe it. Because if we’re wrong…”
“Jo-sshi will be fine, so long as he has you,” Eeteuk insisted, his words free of any smugness or romanticism. Simple words, stated facts.
Zhou Mi nodded his silent thanks and then turned and left.
Zhou Mi was walking down the corridor from the Headmaster’s office when he heard familiar voices coming from the nurse’s office. He slowed down, coming to a halt just before the door, keeping himself hidden.
“The bruises are healing nicely,” He heard Kyuri say; “I wouldn’t be surprised for them to be completely gone in a day or two.”
“Thank goodness. Maybe once they’re gone Kyuhyun will talk to me again,” Taeyeon sighed.
Zhou Mi blinked, inching as close to the open doorway as possible without being seen. Taeyeon wasn’t upset with Kyuhyun? But why wasn’t Kyuhyun talking to her then? Immediately, the pieces slid into place in his mind: Kyuhyun felt guilty. Zhou Mi suddenly understood and even justified Kyuhyun’s guilt. However, he also knew that guilt could eat away at a person and had to be acknowledged and then walked away from. If Taeyeon wasn’t angry with Kyuhyun – if she ever was – then it was time Kyuhyun stop being angry at himself.
“He was in here earlier,” Kyuri confessed, her words so quiet that Zhou Mi had to strain his ears just to hear. “He told me about the bloodlust… that’s how you got those bruises, isn’t it?”
“What!? Was he okay? How long did he stay? Where is he now?” Taeyeon’s questions spilt from her lips in rapid succession causing Zhou Mi’s head to spin slightly just to keep up with them.
It seemed the same thing happened to Kyuri because she was silent for a pregnant moment before answering, “He seemed okay when he left. I think he was only there for ten minutes, maybe fifteen. And last time I saw him he was going to Zhou Mi’s room.”
“Zhou Seonsaeng-nim is back?” Taeyeon asked excitedly.
Kyuri didn’t say anything, so Zhou Mi assumed she had nodded her head in an affirmative.
“Um… has Sungmin been around whenever Kyuhyun’s been in the isolation room?” Taeyeon asked hesitantly,
“Not that I know of,” Kyuri answered, “He wasn’t here today… Why?”
“I’m scared that what happened to me will come between Kyuhyun and Sungmin,” Taeyeon explained, “Even though I’ve forgiven Kyuhyun – I don’t think he’s aware during his bloodlust – I don’t know if Sungmin has… they’ve been friends for so long I don’t want it all to end because of this.” Zhou Mi heard the soft exhalation of a sigh, “Sungmin doesn’t say anything, but I know he gets upset every time I tell him I’ve tried to talk to Kyuhyun.”
“Yes, well, I’m close to hunting down my brother and strangling him,” Kyuri said honestly. After a moment, she too sighed, “For him to attack you… that’s not him, even I know that. If he’s losing control to the point where he’s attacking you - you! Of all people! – then… I don’t know what to do.”
“What do you mean?”
“As a Head Hunter it’s my duty to protect the public from vampires,” Kyuri explain, her voice tight, “I never reported Kyuhyun… or attacked him because he wasn’t attacking anyone… because he’s my brother.” Three heartbeats passed before she continued, “But if he’s attacking people… I… I never thought I’d have to protect the public from my own brother.”
“But he’s taking measures to stop himself!” Taeyeon defended immediately.
Zhou Mi heard some movement and chanced a look into the room. Kyuri was half-sitting on the front of Heechul’s desk, her hips leaning back against the edge. Taeyeon, who was probably sitting on the chair before because it was now pushed back and the angle askew, was standing beside her, her hands holding her cousin’s.
“If Seonsaeng-nim is back, then that means Kyuhyun will feed again. That means he won’t have his bloodlust anymore,” Taeyeon insisted, “There’s no need to start worrying about going against him.”
“She’s right, Kyuri,” Zhou Mi stated, stepping into the doorway. Shoving his hands into his pockets and leaning a shoulder against the doorframe, he looked at them seriously, “I won’t let Kyuhyun attack anyone… if anyone must go against him… it’ll be me.”
“It’s better for me to do it than his twin sister,” Zhou mi smiled sadly. His gaze shifted to Taeyeon, “You want to speak to Kyuhyun?”
“Yes, but he refuses to even see me,” Taeyeon sighed as she unrolled the collar of her white turtleneck she wore beneath her uniform, effectively covering her neck and their telltale bruises.
“Well, I left him in my room. I’m sure he’s still there if you want to try?” Zhou Mi offered. He allowed a grin to tug at his lips, “I could even lock you two in there until you resolve your issues.”
“So cliché,” Kyuri muttered,
“If it works, I don’t care how cliché it is,” Taeyeon insisted, “But let’s try without locking us in first.”
Zhou Mi nodded and Taeyeon followed him away. Once they reached the forth floor of the east wing, they turned to go down the hallway when Zhou Mi heard his name being called. Well, more like his title.
Zhou Mi blinked at the Hunter who came running up to him. A young female Hunter stared at Taeyeon noticeably before slowly shifting her gaze to Zhou Mi. The Head Hunter raised a single brow in silent question.
“I just wanted to say that the fourth floor of the central wing is all clear,” she said proudly.
Zhou Mi blinked again. Then, slowly, replied, “As it should be… you know you don’t have to give me reports every time you do a round. That’d be too tedious, only if something seems odd.”
Zhou Mi moved to leave with Taeyeon when the Hunter stopped him, “Sir!”
Repressing an exasperated sigh, he turned back, Taeyeon tentatively turning with him; “Yes?”
“It’s… it’s very empty here,” the Hunter stated,
“Yes, most – if not all – of the students and staff go home during the weekend. During the week only a few students and staff live at the school,” Zhou Mi explained, “Now, if you excuse me, we have somewhere to go.”
“W-What’s down this hallway? It’s not on our rounds list.” The Hunter blurted out.
“Because this area doesn’t need to have rounds. This floor is for teachers’ and teaching assistants’ rooms,” Zhou Mi stated. Before the Hunter could say more, he instructed, his voice firm and brooking no arguments, “You have more rounds to do. Go back to work.” Then, he gestured for Taeyeon to precede him down the hall.
When they were out of ear-shot, Taeyeon glanced over her shoulder only to see the Hunter was still watching them; “She likes you.”
“I know,” Zhou Mi muttered in an irritated voice, “When I became a Head Hunter and one of my first teams had her in it she’s had this infatuation for me.”
“She probably thinks something unsavoury is happening between us,” Taeyeon stated lightly,
“Nothing better be happening between you two,” Sungmin approached them from the other end of the hall, seemingly coming from his own room, “And yet here you both are… walking down this hallway.”
“I’m going to my room,” Zhou Mi shrugged,
“And I’m going to try to talk to Kyuhyun… who happens to be in his room,” Taeyeon explained,
“You only said to stay away while his bloodlust is a liability. With Seonsaeng-nim back, it no longer is,” Taeyeon argued immediately, hands going to her hips in a defiant manner,
“You didn’t even stay away this past week,” Sungmin countered,
“Well, you can’t change the past,” Taeyeon said matter-of-factly.
Sungmin tried to say more, but Taeyeon simply walked past him and continued down the hall, turning to her right at the end down the smaller corridor where Zhou Mi’s room was. Sungmin turned to look at the literature teacher who was looking back at him already.
“I don’t… I don’t blame Kyuhyun for what happened,” Sungmin said suddenly, “But I do blame him for not taking precautions before it got this bad. Taeyeon is… Taeyeon. No matter how dangerous the situation, if she’s worried about her cousin, she’ll go head-first into it and damn all the consequences even to herself. She wasn’t even angry at Kyuhyun after it happened – not for a moment. Instead, she was just scared for his sake. I was scared, too… for both of them.”
“And you?” Zhou Mi prompted lightly,
“What about me?”
“For all your honesty – which I do appreciate – you still seem to be holding something back, if you don’t mind me saying,” Zhou Mi shrugged,
“I hate that this all happened and… and I hate that matters have gotten so bad between the three of us,” Sungmin admitted swiftly; “Kyuhyun’s my oldest friend and… and I haven’t spoken to him since before the attack on Taeyeon. Even in class he refuses to meet my eyes.” He glanced down the hall where Taeyeon had disappeared to, “I want Taeyeon to make peace with Kyuhyun because I know how much he’s probably hating himself right now… at the same time, however, I want to protect her from him… from what he’s capable of.”
“I will do everything in my power to ensure he doesn’t attack anyone again, Sungmin-sshi… that he won’t need to attack anyone,” Zhou Mi promised sincerely, seriously, “I’m not leaving anymore… I won’t leave him. He won’t ever have to feel his bloodlust again.”
Hesitantly, Sungmin returned his gaze back to the other man, “I hope you’re right.”
From that point on, Zhou Mi got accustomed to seeing his Hunters walking down the hallways, in the stairwells, on campus. He got accustomed to scanning the crowds to spot them, to take note of their position. He got accustomed to wearing his mask outside of his bedroom, the one with the relaxed expression and easy smile. What he didn’t get accustomed to was taking more care to sneak around to meet Kyuhyun.
He was heading towards the nurse’s office one late-November evening when he heard a familiar voice calling out to him again. Sighing, he turned to find the Hunter who was half in love with him running towards him.
“I just… it’s just…” When he said nothing, merely raised an eyebrow, she clenched her fists at her sides, narrowed her eyes and steeled her back, “Why her, Sir? She’s… what? Seventeen? She can’t be what you want in a woman – she’s just a girl!”
“Last time I checked, you’re eighteen,” Zhou Mi countered, his voice flat and even,
“But I’ve seen more of the world. I’ve more experience because of my work with the Council,” she defended, “She just… I refuse to believe that she’s the one who’s caught your eye and I have been unable to for these past two years!”
Zhou Mi stared at her a moment. What should he say? It wasn’t like this was the first time he was confessed to, but before it wasn’t from someone he’d have to work with afterwards. He cynically thought that if she left, another Hunter would simply replace her. At first, his instinct was to explain that nothing was happening between Taeyeon, who the Hunter was presumably referring to. However, he then realized that if he removed Taeyeon as an obstacle between them, the Hunter might grow more… enthusiastic in her pursuit of him.
“Look even if – IF – I was remotely interested – which I am not – there are policies concerning relationships between Hunters,” Zhou Mi stated,
“I’ve never heard of those,” she said tentatively,
“Well, they’re there,” Zhou Mi lied firmly, “Now if you’ll excuse me –”
“You can’t choose her!” The Hunter declared.
Zhou Mi sighed, “Why not?”
“Because you don’t know what you’re missing! You don’t know what you could have!” She exclaimed, lunging at him, grabbing his arms with surprisingly firm grips,
Zhou Mi blinked down at her – she was at least a foot shorter than himself – and took a step back, only to have her take a step forward, “Let go of me now and I won’t have to send you back to the Council.”
“No. You need to know what I can give you. You need to know why she isn’t enough for you!”
Before Zhou Mi could even react, her hands moved to his head, pulling his lips down to hers. Her lips had barely begun to move against his when someone cleared their throat. She immediately jumped back as Zhou Mi slowly straightened, completely unmoved by the kiss. Kyuhyun barely glanced at either of them as he walked by, silently disappearing into the nurse’s office.
Zhou Mi, who had watched Kyuhyun walk away, looked back at the Hunter, “Leave now. Should you ever try to pull that stunt again I will send you back to the Council immediately.”
“You can’t say that. You can’t say you didn’t feel anything –”
“I can say that, I just did. And I can say I didn’t feel anything because I didn’t,” Zhou Mi said. He sighed heavily, he should have told her a long time ago when he realized what her fawning meant, but it wasn’t as if he proclaimed his orientation to every person he met; “I’m gay,” he said simply.
“You’re just saying that to push me away,” she accused,
“Think what you will, but I have to go talk to my boyfriend,” Zhou Mi turned to leave, heading to the nurse’s office,
“The nurse? The nurse!? He’s your boyfriend!?” She exclaimed angrily.
Zhou Mi wanted to correct her, but thought better of it. The less the Hunters knew about Kyuhyun, the better. He had taken three steps into the nurse’s office when he spotted Heechul sitting at his desk, eyes wide. He had heard the last accusation by the Hunter.
Zhou Mi sighed, “I’ll explain later. Kyuhyun?”
“Isolation room,” Heechul replied as he stood from the desk and walked over to the door leading to the hallway, “I’ll lock this door to doubly-ensure no one finds you.”
Zhou Mi nodded his thanks as he continued to the isolation room. He entered, closing the door firmly behind him. Immediately he was slammed back against the door. He calmly stared at Kyuhyun whose hands were planted on either side of his head on the door, his body caged within the younger man’s limbs.
“You’re mine,” Kyuhyun growled, “Some easy girl may come along and offer you everything, but don’t you ever forget that you. Are. Mine. We made promises to each other to always be together, to share everything with one another and I’ve held to that, but I refuse to share you with anyone else. If you kiss another person again I will kill them, do you understand Mi? I will kill them.”
Zhou Mi’s simple, straight-forward answer had Kyuhyun blinking, pulling back. He was expecting some kind of confrontation, pathetic excuses and flimsy defences. Instead, he got an immediate understanding – simple and whole. He narrowed his eyes sceptically at the older man,
“I said that I know,” Zhou Mi repeated, “I know that I’m yours. I know we made promises to each other and that you won’t – ever – share me. I know that if I ever turned to someone else that there would be hell to pay. I know all that, Kyuhyun.”
He raised one hand to hold the nape of Kyuhyun’s neck. His eyes narrowed, his gaze hardened, “But as I know all of that, I want you to know some things too. As sure as I am yours, you are mine also. I’m selfish enough to not share you with anyone. Heck, half the time I want to lock you in my room so no one else can see you, so that no one else could catch your eye.”
His hold on Kyuhyun’s nape tightened protectively, possessively, “If you so much as look at another person – male or female, I would go after them, Kyuhyun. Then I would take you and make love to you. I would kiss you so much that just the thought of me has your lips throbbing. I would caress you, touch you until you wept, until you begged, until every time your sense of touch is evoked, all you can think about is my hands on you.”
He pulled Kyuhyun’s head to his own, kissing him hard, rough, plunging his tongue into the younger man’s mouth almost immediately. He tasted him, caressed him, enticed him to fall into the heat that was spreading. He lured Kyuhyun into the kiss, forced all of the younger man’s defences down and showed him that, in this arena, there could be no others but just them two.
He forcibly broke the kiss, smug when he heard the younger man breathless, “I didn’t kiss her, she kissed me and you showed up before I could push her away.” His thumb stroked a maddening caress at the base of his skull, “You’re the only one I want, Kyuhyun; the only one I ever will want.”
“You must think I’m crazy,” Kyuhyun muttered,
“Not at all, did you not hear my tirade? Kyuhyun, I’m just glad to know that what you feel for me is as intense as at least a fraction of what I feel for you,” Zhou Mi smiled at him,
Kyuhyun raised an eyebrow, “Just a fraction?”
Zhou Mi’s smile didn’t falter, but the glint in his eyes hardened, “All I just said is only a fraction of what I feel.”
Kyuhyun felt a delicious shiver travel down his spine at the thought of Zhou Mi’s possessiveness. With someone else, he thought it would be a negative point. But from Zhou Mi, from someone who could combat his vampiric strength, who seemed capable of taming him during his hunger-induced rages, who made him possessive as well – his possessiveness made him feel protected, treasured, perhaps even l –
Kyuhyun suddenly felt his incisors begin to lengthen of their own accord. His heart was beating fast, frantically as his blood roared so loudly he could hear the capillaries in his ears. His eyes darkened, grew almost feral as they locked with Zhou Mi’s.
Knowing the look immediately, Zhou Mi tilted his head to the side to grant easier access. He didn’t stop Kyuhyun or slow him down. He wanted to watch, to observe what was going to happen. He knew the look in Kyuhyun’s eye, it happened every time the vampire was hungry but was too hesitant to ask. But it happened so suddenly and, from the way Kyuhyun immediately plunged his fangs into his neck, so intensely. It had never been like that before. Before, the bloodlust would slowly ebb at Kyuhyun, slowly building until either Zhou Mi guessed at it or Kyuhyun asked.
Zhou Mi waited, simply holding Kyuhyun as he fed. As usual, he could feel Kyuhyun feed, could feel the blood leave his body, could feel the strength seeping from him. However, it happened fast – too fast for Zhou Mi to realize it. By the time he did, he was too weak to fight against Kyuhyun’s strength. His head lolled back against the door, his eye lids fluttering closed as he tried to find the strength to form words. His strength left him too fast, Kyuhyun fed too hungrily, too greedily as if he had no control, was insatiable.
It wasn’t until Zhou Mi slumped against the door that Kyuhyun realized what he had done. He stopped, sealed the bite immediately and stared at him, “Mi… I… I don’t know what… I’m so sorry. I should have – I should have, but I didn’t even think – couldn’t think…”
Zhou Mi, supporting himself against the door, weakly wrapped his arms around Kyuhyun, holding the younger man to him. One hand weakly rose and ran through Kyuhyun’s dark locks, stroking them absent-mindedly, “It’s okay, Kyuhyun… It’s okay.”
Then, something he thought would never happen, happened. Kyuhyun cried in his arms.
Wednesday Night; middle of the fourth week of November 20XX
A few nights later, Zhou Mi felt restless. His Hunters were dedicated to their jobs – too dedicated. They were efficient – too efficient. At the end of every day, they would all gather simply to report that nothing out of the ordinary happened. Also, he knew that every few days, a few of his Hunters would send reports of their ‘nothings’ to the Council.
Aside from the Council, he was growing more and more worried about Kyuhyun. It was getting harder to meet because of the Hunters, even if Heechul allowed them to escape into the nurse’s office so the vampire could feed. Even more worrying was that Kyuhyun needed to feed more often before. In the past, he had been able to feed just once or twice a day. Lately, however, it had grown to the point where if Kyuhyun couldn’t feed at least five times a day (which was only possibly on the weekend) then Kyuhyun would practically bleed him dry.
Zhou Mi pulled his curtains open, shoving his hands into his pockets. He leaned his shoulder against the windowsill and gazed up at the night sky. The late-autumn night was cool, crisp and the black velvet sky was clear, the stars sparkling like diamonds. The moon was full, bright, illuminating the grounds with a silver clarity.
He was about to turn back to his room when movement down on the grounds caught his eye. He turned back to the window, focusing his eyes on the figure that moved across the grounds. They walked steadily, surely, as if they knew they wouldn’t come across any of the security guards. It was almost as if they had done so before. He watched the figure head to the eastern gates and disappear into the darkness beyond them.
He was four storeys in the air and x-number of metres away and yet, he knew who it was. He didn’t have any facts and he didn’t even see the person clearly and yet, he knew who it was. His heart clenched painfully as his hands gripped the windowsill tightly, willing for the person to return. He waited and watched.
An hour later, a shadow slipped onto the grounds through the eastern gates. This time as the figure headed towards the school, he caught glimpses of his face by the light of the moon. His heart dropped. He waited long enough to ensure that the figure was, indeed, returning to the school. Then, he violently shut the curtains and turned his back on the window, on what he saw.
“Where did you go to, Kyuhyun?” He asked the darkness in his room. He recalled how purposefully the younger man had journeyed, how long he had been gone for; “Who did you go to?”
(Phase 25: At the Stroke of Midnight)