I seriously detested being stared at like some art piece in an exhibition. But I could tell Night was enjoying the attention. His arm was draped across my shoulder, pulling me closer than ever to him, as we walked across the cafeteria to our usual table. We seemed to have captured every single pair of eyes. There were envious ones, angry ones and also eyes filled with pure surprise.
We had become the news for the entire day... We were back together again.
Even after we settled down, I was still feeling very uncomfortable. I lowered my head down, and combed my hair frantically with my fingers such that I could cover whatever skin that was exposed to the scrutinising. But the short length of my hair meant that my attempt was futile. The stares became more piercing at my awkward action.
"Chris, are you not feeling well?" Night asked. I really missed the concern in his tone badly. "I could get you a few more days off. You don't have to go back to classes so soon."
"I'm fine," I quickly said. I had already been resting (mostly forced by Night) for five days. Normal people, or even vampires for that matter, didn't need so many days of sick leave to recover. But Night wanted that for me, so Kuya had no choice but to obey. I needed to get out of that room. Even though Night was with me throughout, I was mostly made to sleep and rest. It was getting agonising staying within those concrete walls even though I did enjoy sleeping.
"I can't keep you company later," he said solemnly all of a sudden.
"Why not?" It surprised me a little. I was so used to him being by my side these past few days that it seemed weird for him to leave me alone, even for a second.
"I'm leaving school for a while...," he paused, his frown lines showing, "To meet Dawn."
"Oh." Technically, there shouldn't be anything wrong meeting up with one's sister. But when it came from Night, an unknown fear started to arise.
"We are...going to discuss what might happen now," he explained, reading my expression, "She's quite supportive of keeping you alive. She thinks you provide an interesting read to her."
"So she'll stop being our ally once she's bored of my thoughts?" I laughed, trying to avoid the seriousness of the matter.
"Perhaps. But I don't think she ever will. You are, after all, the most interesting lovely lady I've ever known," he smiled, planting kisses on my hair, "Do you have any plans after school today?"
"I think I'll be studying. There must be tons of homework from the lessons I've missed. Don't worry about me." My voice came out slightly flat. I was dreading the afternoon without him already.
"I'll get Liz to accompany you."
"It's okay. She'll probably be busy. I can cope with myself." Of course I could. I would be alone. What would be difficult about that? No Night, no more Sam or Cynthia, and...no more Arc. My heart jolted painfully at the last one.
"She'll be there with you," he said again, making it an absolute thing, "I'm missing you already."
Our conversation was broken off as soon as the other vampires started to join us. The moment Liz came over and sat with us, Night immediately shot the request at her. But it was more of an order from him anyway. Liz, being the angel that she always was, immediately agreed to it. She seemed to obey more because she was willing rather than because she had to oblige. I was glad it wasn't a bother to her.
We continued to idle in the cafeteria until it was almost time for our first class. As I stood up, I finally noticed the familiar pale complexion and white hair at the other end of the cafeteria. He was seated at his table with a few friends. I was so glad to see him again. After that day, any form of communication that I tried to use to reach him seemed to be avoided. Just because Night was back did not necessarily mean that he was out of my life. He was encompassed as part of it, whether he liked it or not. This was something that I had straightened out spending those pampering days in my room sleeping.
I needed to talk to him, to straighten out everything with him.
"Night...," I hesitated. I knew he wasn't going to like this. "Why don't you go with the others to class first? I'll catch up with you later."
He didn't take long to notice the pale figure that I had caught in my view. Immediately, he gave me a disapproving look.
"I don't see the point in you trying."
"He is still my best friend, whether both of you like it or not," I said, emphasising on the present tense, "I can't just...throw him away because you are back. That would be mean."
"We are vampires. We are seen as mean creatures. Evil, even," he said jokingly. His sense of humour had increased significantly since he got back. He must have been too stressed out back at home.
"Very funny. Just let me go speak to him, all right?"
"I supposed we would get into an argument if I disallowed you?" he sighed. He knew the answer already.
I gave him a meaningful smile and walked towards Arc. From behind, I could feel Night staring. But he wasn't looking at me. His stare was for the person beyond me.
"Hi," I greeted, trying to sound light-hearted, "Can I join you?"
Arc lifted his head from his tray of food and seemed pretty taken aback that I was standing right in front of him. Did he really think that I was going to abandon him? His other friends had more fear than shock. They were slowly backing away from the table, leaving him alone to face the vampire. Even though I wasn't going to hurt them, I still felt offended by their actions. How could they even call themselves friends of Arc, leaving him in the lurch like this?
"What do you want, Chris?" he sulked, discontentment obvious in his tone. His attitude gave me the feeling that he was trying to get rid of me with a few sentences.
"I want to join you. Didn't I just ask that?"
"Go back to your vampire boyfriend. Isn't that what you want?"
"Actually, that's half of what I want. You are the other half."
"I shouldn't matter anymore."
"Of course you matter! Whether Night was here or not," I said, secretly praying that he would always be, "you'll always be my best friend. I want to be here for you just like how you've been there for me."
"And that stupid vampire?"
"Night," I corrected, "would never interfere with my social life."
"Because you wouldn't have one with him around," he mumbled sourly, darting his eyes across the direction that I came from. I didn't even need to think to know who he was staring at.
"I heard that. Look, you are you. And Night is Night. There is never a conflict, nor should there even be one."
"I don't like him. And I can tell he hates me. He is the conflict."
"Arc Walker!" I groaned, "This is about me and you, not him. So could you stop adding him in? Don't you want to be my friend anymore? Or do you hate me now?"
"Of course I want. I would never hate you!" he whined, his childish personality resurfacing again. I was finally getting through to the dragon that I knew. "It just pisses me off to see him get off so easily for making you cry all the time."
"It's not his fault. Besides, he's trying to make it up to me."
"Trying isn't good enough if you ask me."
"That's for me to decide," I said, "I just want things to go back to where they were. There is no need for you to alienate yourself from me just because he's back. I'm willing to come over to your side rather than follow the rest of the vampires because I still treat you as my best buddy."
He paused a while, considering whether that word should still be applied between us. I could think of a few reasons for his hesitation. Firstly and most obviously, Night would be an obstacle to him. Night didn't want me to have anything to do with him, not even as a friend. He was very resistant that Arc should even be part of my life.
And secondly, he was trying to break through that word when he kissed me. I hoped my emphasis had shown the kind of relationship that only we could share. The type of close relationship that he wanted was only for Night.
"That's all we'll ever be, isn't it?" Finally, we were on the same page.
"Yeah," I admitted.
"Guess I don't really have a choice then, do I?" he let out a stifled laugh. I thought he was trying to hide his disappointment and pain, but I could still see it on his face. I knew this wasn't the ending that he wanted. I didn't want him to feel sad, but I had to make my stand clear. If not, the pain inflicted on him would only increase in the future.
"So...are we still friends?"
He heaved a big sigh, clearing his expression of any form of pain.
"The best, of course," he finally said, breaking into the usual radiance for me.
I reflected back his grin on my face. He stood up, stretching those tired muscles of his that didn't seem to be stiff due to him sitting down. He seemed relief that we were back to normal, and so was I. I hooked my fingers around his again, just like old times, and led him to class...
So school life was back to normal. Just that normal had taken on a new definition. It had a vampire kind of definition now.
-End of Velvet Shadows-
Author's Final Note: Re-edited. I hope you like the way things turned out. I don't believe in loving two people at the same time. Friendship is different from love.
This is the end of VS! Thank you all so much for supporting the story and liking it! I'm so happy right now I could just jump off my seat *jumps around like an idiot*. Allow me to get some final thoughts regarding VS off my chest...
Credits to the numerous amounts of vampire movies, novels, anime and manga that I had seen.
And who will I be if not for the music that I listen to? I will bow down to Mizuki Nana for her inspirational lyrics in all her songs, especially 'Dancing in the velvet moon' (where did you think the word 'velvet' in VS comes from?). Also thanks to Slam Dunk anime for Chapter 15(basketball scene) and BoA's 'Eternity' for Chapter 17(break-up scene).
Night is my favourite character(duh...), so I want to talk a little about him.
Night's character is designed to be cold and scary, overbearing at times and commanding. He doesn't just want things his way, he gets them to be his way. He is also a very long-sighted person, and he tries to work out the consequences before even carrying out the action. I guess that's where his overworrying and pessimistic area comes from. Another characteristic of him is that he doesn't speak much, and he hides his emotions very well. My original intent for Night is that I want him to be the most desired person whom everyone in school is envious over. It really brings out a contrast when he starts to take interest in Chris who is so ordinary. And the interest he has in Chris is due to her behaviour being something that he had never encountered before. It's sort of like an 'opposites attract' scenario between them.
Anyway, when I created Night's character, I wanted to give it a name that is uncommon, alluring and sophisticated enough. And then I came across the word 'knight'. Who doesn't want a knight in shining amour? Then I took away the 'k' to get 'night', which is dark and mysterious and alluring. And so, Night is born...
I thought I should share how the title 'Velvet Shadows' comes about. Besides the fact that 'velvet' came from the song as mentioned above, it also signifies softness, something that Chris found in Night. When you associate something with shadows, the first things that comes to mind is normally scary, dark, hidden or anything close to that? Night is basically the 'shadow' since he's so cold and scary at first. But then his soft side started to unveil because of Chris and therefore we have a story :)
If you didn't know, there is a sequel called Clandestine Serenade. The Chris/Night relationship becomes more comfortable in the sequel and you can see more acceptance between them. If you've enjoyed VS, why not carry on with the sequel?
Another related work is Cross My Heart, which is a re-telling of VS from Night's POV. It's a better explanation of what Night sees in Chris and how he comes to terms with his true self rather than being the scary vampire that everyone wants him to be.
Finally, thanks for all the support! I really loved every single review(good or bad) that I had received. Go on to Clandestine Serenade for more Chris/Night. Cheers :)