A short sidestory to Last Summer Before Life, and written for Noihseret's birthday. (I know I should have written Kirun/Daniel fluff, but they didn't cooperate and I didn't have the heart to make them.) In case somebody that hasn't already read LSBL is reading this... Well, it's okay, this happens a lot before the actual story. And when I say a lot I mean a lot – Kirun isn't even born yet!
...Does anybody remember the Japanese vampire assassin Emily mentioned in Chapter 12?
Dancing with a Vampire
Emily sent a kind smile to the cashier and lifted up the bags in which she had her groceries. She was checking the mental list she had made earlier to make sure that she had really bought everything needed. The next two days were holidays and all shops and stores would be closed, so she couldn't just up and go buy anything she had possibly forgotten earlier.
She knew that during the next two days there wouldn't be many customers in her café. Not that there usually is a crowd, she thought with a grimace. Of course she had known when she had decided to start running a café that it wouldn't be easy and there wouldn't be hordes of customers on the first day. Still, every evening, it hurt her equally much to realize that the day was drawing to a close and there had been no customers.
She felt her arms begin to ache when she was forced to stop to wait for the traffic lights to change. She thought for a moment to drop the shopping bags to the ground for awhile, but decided against it. They would just fall over and then she would have to pick all the groceries to the plastic bags again. And with her current luck the lights would have changed again and she would be forced to wait even longer.
After the lights finally changed from red to green, she continued walking back to her café and the little room behind it where she slept and lived. The Café was located in a good area for business; many people used the streets near it and the crime rate was low. Plus the area looked more beautiful than average. And there was some museums and historical buildings nearby, so it attracted also tourists.
Seeing a black-haired man leaning on the door of The Café, Emily tensed a little. It was obvious that the man was waiting for her. If I'm lucky he is a customer, she thought, hands shaking a bit. Something in the man was like a sign with bold letters reading, 'Don't bother me.'
"Hello, do you mind moving a little? Thank you," Emily managed to say despite the foreboding feeling in her gut. To her delight, her voice didn't quiver. The man turned his head to look at her and she realized that he was Asian.
"My apologies, milady", the man said, nodding gracefully and straightening. The man not further blocking the door, she lowered the shopping bags onto the step leading to it and took the key to open it. At the corner of her eye, Emily saw the man bend down and pick her shopping bags up. She turned her head and frowned at him, and was met with dark somber eyes.
"At least let me carry your bags, milady", the man argued drily. Suspecting that she had heard mocking in his voice, Emily gave the man a long look.
"Would you like to come in?" she asked politely and held the door open. The man smiled curtly and stepped in, still carrying the full shopping bags. "Could you put them on the counter, please?"
"Certainly, milady," the man replied and now Emily was sure: there was amusement in that voice, along with a faint accent.
She gestured the man to take a seat and sat herself on a wicker chair at one of the tables. The man sat down across her and put his black hat down on the table.
"Who are you?" she inquired, smiling in a friendly manner, and carefully holding an open, sincerely interested expression she had perfected a long time ago. Be her in her cat form or human form, her owners always seemed to feel a strong urge to tell her about their lives and current problems.
The man cocked his head, and the amusement on his eyes and voice was clear when he asked, "Who or what am I? Which are you asking, milady?"
"Your name was my goal," Emily admitted with a gently chuckle.
The man shook his head, laughing silently, and remarked, "You are one of the last with manners, milady."
"My name," the man spoke again. "Is Kindaiichi Katori, and this," the man continued taking off one of his suede gloves and removing something from his finger to offer it to Emily, "Is what I am."
Emily looked at the silver ring on her palm. It had a small stone on it, a tiny fraction of diamond. She had never held such a ring before, but she knew who wore them. She looked at the man and the question was clear in her eyes. Are you here to kill me?
"Don't be afraid, milady, I'm merely on a vacation," the man answered to the unsaid question. Emily thought that he was probably used to the reaction. "I showed the ring to you, since I don't desire to remain here as your burden if you have something against the assassin guild of Moon."
"No, I do not," Emily said, raising her brows. She wasn't sure who would have something against that assassin quild, since it would also mean having never being allowed to visit the famous bath house they were running.
She had been there once, and it had been a true paradise. If only she could have taken her owner of that time with her... She had pretended to run away and then be found a couple of days later. Her owner had chastised her but she had also been happy that her ocicat was safely back.
"I heard of your café – You are Miss Emily Ann Grey, aren't you? – from a shapeshifter a few days ago. I decided to pay you a visit, milady," the man called Kindaiichi Katori explained. Emily nodded, though a bit surprised that the man had even heard of her café in the first place. It really wasn't a very popular place. Yet, Emily reminded herself firmly.
"That's very nice of you. I'm sorry you had to wait," she replied politely. "Was there a special reason for your interest?"
"I just like to know many people. It comes in handy sometimes," Katori stated good-humoredly.
"Then would you mind telling me what you are? You don't seem like a shapeshifter to me, but you clearly aren't a human either. I can't guess what you would be."
The man's smile was almost gentle. Emily looked at him, his long black hair, dark lively eyes, and a mouth with thin chapped lips. Dark blue coat, navy blue slacks, black shoes, and that black hat. The man really seemed to like dark colors and especially blue. Only then Emily noticed the shoulder bag the man was carrying. Even the bag was blue, though it was of so dark hue it looked more like black.
"I'm a vampire," the man informed her. Emily looked at the man carefully. She had never met a vampire before, although she new a bit about them. They lived in clans, were slaves to their clan leaders, always went everywhere in pairs. They were deadly in fight, skillful healers, capable of magic. And loyal only to their clan.
"Why are you here alone? Is your pair somewhere near?" she pried, being careful to sound trustworthy and friendly.
"Like I said I'm on a vacation. I'm also currently working for Lord Moon, so – as I'm not officially part of any clan – I'm not paired up with anybody," Katori explained. "Have you run this café for a long time, Miss Emily?"
"No, just for a few moths. I'm quite new in the business and a bit too clumsy, I fear," Emily told him. The vampire shook his head saying something polite about her charm, skills, and manners.
"Would you like me to order something? I don't wish to waste your time without giving your something in return," Katori asked suddenly.
"I'm sorry, I don't have any blood here," Emily mumbled, lowering her gaze.
"No, don't be! I prefer to drink my blood fresh anyway."
Emily smiled sweetly at Katori. "You don't need to answer, but where are you from? I can tell that you aren't from this continent, but..."
"That's actually trickier question than you know. My body is from Japan which is a country consisting of islands in the farthest edge of east. My mind, soul, whatever you want to call it... the rational mind and spirit inside this body is from Fereil'Adilon, the elven empire of the world of Rudia."
"That's unusual," Emily mentioned, trying not to sound accusing or unbelieving. To say it was unusual was a vast understatement, for all she knew it was impossible. "How did it happen?"
"I was a young elven wizard who thought it was a clever idea to break the wall between these two worlds. The hole in that invisible wall sucked me in and closed itself behind me, leaving me trapped and fatally injured in this world, in a small island that nowadays belongs to Japan. I would have died if I hadn't possessed the first dead body of somebody who died of some disease or other. I cured the body, and I have been using it since then."
"I am not sure whether I should offer my condolences or tell you to go away and never come back," Emily murmured, shaking her head at the story. Sure, it was unbelievable, but what would the vampire gain by telling such lies?
"Please do neither. I have already gotten used to this," the vampire replied quietly and then added with a dry smile, "Though I admit it was first quite... challenging to get used to a completely different culture and language. And people pointing out that I died two days ago."
Emily had intended to say she was sorry to hear that, but instead she found herself laughing. The whole story was impossible, to possess a corpse while still being alive was impossible, to become an assassin and a vampire to boot was impossible. So she just had to ask, "And how did you become a vampire? Or was that body you possessed a vampire's?"
Katori smiled wickedly. "No, it wasn't. I just caught the attention of the wrong lady. And woke up as a vampire. She was a nice master though, even if she got really snarky whenever I beat her in chess."
"You are one of a kind, are you not, Mister Katori?" Emily asked rhetorically, still chuckling.
"Well, I admit my history is unique. And please, Katori is my first name – none of that mister-master-oh-my-lord rubbish."
"If it's all the same to you", Emily nearly giggled. She gulped, feeling quilty for her unusual mirth. Now is definitely a good time to make a fool of myself, she thought cynically.
"It most definitely is, trust me," Katori chuckled. Emily glanced at him and smiled faintly. For a moment she had thought that the vampire had somehow read her thoughts.
The vampire sighed quietly, "My deepest apologies for taking your time like this, Miss Emily."
Emily felt her eyes narrowing, and she held the vampire's lightly surprised gaze steady. She half-stood up to grab the man's chin. "None of that anymore, Katori," she demanded, a smirk ghosting on her lips. "Or else..."
"My ap-- I didn't say anything, I swear," he laughed, although Emily could see an attentive spark in his eyes.
"I have to go put my groceries into the fridge, but would you like to come back tomorrow afternoon? The café will hardly have any customers during a day that's generally used to go to visit one's family." Not that it usually has that many customers...
"It would be my pleasure, Miss Emily," the vampire replied, gently prying Emily's fingers off of his chin and kissing them chastily before standing up and taking his hat.
"I'll be waiting for you," Emily promised. The vampire, one hand on the doorhandle, turned to look at her and smiled warmly at her before slipping outside.
Nervous and severely regretting her decision, Emily straightened her plaid skirt. It reached her ankles and was dark, very dark burgundy with thin yellowish stripes that formed the plaid patterns. It looked good on her, many had said, and now more than ever she hoped they had been sincere in their compliments.
She was also wearing a tight short-sleeved shirt, whose color was faded pink that went well with the skirt. She had also brilliant pink high heel sandal shoes that fastened around the ankle with a large pink satin ribbon.
She admitted that she had dressed up, but she hoped it wasn't as obvious as she feared. It would get really awkward if Katori showed up dressed in old jeans and faded T-shirt. Though she had a hunch that everything would look gorgeous on him.
She glanced at the table she had chosen. There were two plates, two forks, two everything necessary on it, and two tall white candles she hadn't lit yet. She had bought a bouquet of flowers to put in the middle of the table after putting a white tablecloth on it. Wondering if she should take the candles away after all, she bit her lip. If he didn't realize that I was asking him out, well, in on a date... I will be so embarassed!
Emily nearly jumped up when she heard a knock on the door. For once she was grateful that there was no window on the door. The vampire couldn't see her just yet so whatever happened she had a few moments more to keep her dignity.
Emily grit her teeth, steeled herself, and slowly opened the sturdy door.
"You look so very beautiful, Miss Emily," the vampire's deep voice said in awe. Emily gulped and swallowed, not being able to form a reply. She didn't want to see what the vampire was wearing.
"Is it okay if I leave my hat and coat on this table here?" the vampire asked. Emily nodded without looking at him. She felt him move to stand behind her and touch her shoulder. "Are you feeling well, Miss Emily?"
"Yes," Emily sighed quietly and turned around asking, "Have I made a fool of myself, Katori?"
The vampire was wearing a dark blue suit with a hyacith purple flower on the buttonhole. Emily sighed in relief. He looked handsome with his long silky hair braided back.
"Fool? Miss Emily, let me assure you that it was I who thought that he wouldn't come out of this evening with anything resembling to dignity," Katori said faintly. "You have no idea how relieved I felt when I saw you."
"Only relieved, mister vampire?" Emily joked, feeling greatly lighthearted now that her worries had been brushed aside.
"I hoped I wasn't that obvious, Miss Emily," Katori chuckled. "You are more pretty than any goddess I have ever heard of."
"And now we shall hope that lightning won't strike us down while we are eating!" Emily exclaimed laughing, and soon the vampire was laughing, too. Katori's laughter sounds very nice, Emily mused to herself with a small smile. She had also noticed that the man had chosen not to wear the silver ring during their dinner.
"Please sit down. What a great host I am – barely letting my guest in!" Emily ordered good-humoredly when she realized that they were still standing near the door. Then her gaze fell on the candles. "Oh gods! Katori, look elsewhere, quickly!" she shrieked, making sure her voice sounded terrified and had a healthy dose of panic in it.
Like she had predicted, the vampire was a gentleman and turned to seemingly adore the carvings on the doorframe. She tiptoed as quietly as it was possible on high heels to the table and lit the candles.
"Miss Emily, is everything well?" came the timid question. Emily glanced at the vampire and smiled gently. She walked behind him and snaked her arms around his waist.
"Yes," she whispered to his back. "Just pretend you didn't notice that the candles weren't lit."
"I was so wholly captivated by your beauty that something as ordinary as candles never even came to my mind," Katori replied, faking an overly gallant tone. Emily nodded, knowing that the vampire would feel it against his back, and then backed away. The vampire followed her lead by turning around himself with a fluid movement.
She liked the way the candle light reflected on the vampire's eyes, she decided. It made them look darker and dimmed the feeling of ancient mind behind those pools of bark brown. She gave the vampire a warm smile, knowing fully well that there weren't many inches between their faces.
"How sweet are looks that ladies bend, on whom their favours fall," Katori murmured, caressing Emily's arm and running his fingers upward it until his hands rested on her shoulder.
"Dare I ask?" Emily inquired softly referring to the vampire's latest line that had sounded more like he was reciting it rather than saying it spontaneously. She felt the smile on her lips widen.
"Tennyson," the vampire replied like it explained everything. "You are stunning, Miss Emily. Absolutely stunning."
"Thank you, Katori. You have eyes that would turn anybody into a blushing mush, and I don't even want to know how many would be ready to kill to have hair like yours," Emily complimented, meaning every word. Leaning closer and whispering, she added, "Even I could be persuaded to get my hands bloody to be allowed to touch it."
"You are flattering me, Miss Emily, surely you are just flattering," the vampire argued politely, although his expression revealed a hint of both surprise and pleasure.
Emily grinned, looking the vampire in the eyes meaningfully. "Oh really? Just mere flattery, is it not? Can this be considered flattery, too?" she asked before touching the vampire's nose with her lips.
"That is something I'm not sure whether to consider a gift or a torture, Miss Emily."
"Shall we try it again so you can make up your mind?" Emily teased, and chuckled when she found Katori's left hand on her hip. She kissed his cheek this time, petting his hair with her hand. "I'll look forward to untying these silky locks after the dinner," she whispered before kissing his earlobe and backing away.
"We are eating here? I will be more than delighted to treat you dinner anywhere you desire," the vampire murmured, refusing to let his hand completely fall from her arm.
"Shush you. Don't you dare doubt my ability at cooking," Emily reprimanded coyly. "My revenge for that will be terrible, mister vampire."
"Even the smallest of frowns on your face is punishment severe enough for me if I know that it's my deeds that have brought the shadow to your lovely face," the vampire announced, taking her hand and kissing her knuckles again.
"Will you then do anything for me, my honorable knight? Even eat food made by my own hands?" Emily joked, delighted in the mixture of good-humored mocking and romantic beauty she had found, practically on her doorstep.
"What can I say, Miss Emily? One thing and I'm looking down on the food you made – and that doesn't do. The other thing and I will upset your sense of humor – and that's not much better a choice. You have fully cornered me, my precious Miss Emily," the vampire talked, spreading his arms in a surrendering gesture.
"Then let's sit down and enjoy the meal, shall we?" Emily suggested, a satisfied smile on her face. The vampire bowed low, a perfect old-fashioned aristocratic bow.
Emily noted with satisfied nod that the food had kept warm. They had a polite quarrel over who would take first, and Emily won the argument by asking innocently if Katori thought she had poisoned the food. After that her guest didn't have other choice than to take the food first.
The next moments were used solely for eating when they both tasted the food and scrutinized the different flavors on their tongues. Seeing the merry gleam in her companion's eyes when he raised his gaze from his plate, Emily shuddered inwardly. She had been right: he nearly drowned her on overly sappy compliments with a lot of comparing to various delicious dishes only known in myths.
"Surely you are exaggerating," Emily laughed, not wincing much when the vampire compared her cooking to poetry turned solid and extremely tasty. She knew he did it on purpose and he knew that she knew.
Taking notice of the nearly full glass in front of the vampire, Emily interrupted him by inquiring, "Is the wine not to your tastes?"
"It tastes awful," the vampire mocked, seemingly serious, although Emily could see the mirth in his eyes. "I was merely waiting for a suitable moment to discreetly pour it into that flower vase."
"My my, underestimating me, are you not? I can still see whether the water is colorless or red!" Emily exclaimed. She felt like clapping her hands at her companion's antics.
"Then I clearly am selfish, for I was hoping to offer you something else to look at."
Emily smirked and put her hand invitingly on the table. "I could look at you forever," she said and barely kept from cheering when the vampire's hand touched hers. "Especially your eyes."
"My eyes are nothing compared to you, Miss Emily," Katori opposed with a shake of his head. "Every single detail in you is the synonym for perfection. Your eyes are like flowers, full of secret plans and yet so inviting. Your lips are like white pearls found in the strands of Eternal Flow's Bay. Your neck is like a branch of a young birch tree, fair and graceful. Your back is li--"
"Please, that's enough!" Emily pleaded with helpless giggle and doing a skillful parody of a knight's maiden. "You are making me blush, you horrible man."
"There is no such a thing as 'enough' if it's about adoring your beauty," Katori winked, squeezing her hand on the table.
Emily looked at him and he looked back at her. They had already finished eating. Neither of them was sure who had first moved their hand, but soon Emily found kisses being trailed across her palm while Katori found his long braid being swiftly unfastened and delicate fingers combing through his hair.
Emily revelled in the silky feeling of the midnight black hair sliding through her fingers and wondered how long Katori had to brush it to make it so shiny, or whether it was naturally so. She took a lock of it in her hand and placed a soft kiss on it. She felt Katori's lips pressing on her wrist again in a sweet answer.
She used her left hand to massage his scalp and was rewarded with a quiet, satisfied sigh that the vampire wasn't able to bite back. She hoped her right hand would be free to help in massaging, but reclaiming it from Katori's lips didn't feel like a enjoyable idea at all.
Continuing massaging and petting but gently guiding his head in the right angle, Emily silently stood up. She knew Katori had noticed, she felt it in the rain of kisses the man was showering her right hand in. She stepped closer and felt the man's hand on her waist, steadying her, when she leaned forward to kiss his temple.
He turned his head and she left a trail of kisses from his temple to his cheek to his parted lips.