The young body lies buried in the sand, white silk grain encasing the skin, the warm pink sheen of it over twisted, bound, and webbed flesh. Through bone and muscle and twisting veins, the slight roar of blood remains constant, coursing with life—the telltale heart lies nestled amidst it, and the cursed grace watches the tide coming in, watches the snow foam pink the toes.
The cursed grace watches each and every one of the little bubbles sweep in the mellowing sea, blanches at the salt seep into his nostrils sharply, so that it swirls in his head. Cursed grace slits those far-seeing eyes, and approaches.
To be alive. The breathe and move, with awkward little human steps; oh, nothing like the grace of the cursed one, nor the others of its kind. Beautiful and sexless is the cursed one, ice and frost itself. Nothing but the world of death still living. It bends, over the delightful burble of blood at the mouth, at the small puffs of breath; alive.
My, the living corpse whispers at the body, oh my. Its cold breath tickles the pink skin, across the rose-dusted cheeks. Do you still wish for this gift?
A shift; the body responds feebly. Yes.
You will regret it.
Of course not.
A weak smile from the human, shifting the muscles beneath the rosy skin, so that they ripple; another shift, and the throat of his tired body is exposed, the pearly white of it so natural and familiar. I am not afraid. Give me the gift, so that I may be granted your grace.
Foolish martial artist, the dead one sighs, breathing frost against his cheeks again. Try and try for years if you must—your clumsy human ways may still feel the earth throbbing beneath you yet.
I have already tried for years, he retorts, softly; his breath is warm. I tire of the sweat, the burn in my legs; I am but a weakling trapped in a shell of flesh. I'll never be fast as you, never as strong. Never as swift.
But you move.
So do you, and you do it better.
The dead thing pauses—the heat of the sun is irritating its skin, though it is grateful that it has but sunk beyond the horizon, melting into the sea far away. The last orange beams ray into its skin, burning like fire, and the sand scorches at what is not covered. Pulsing from the human are flying molecules of life, as it is one with the pushing tide of water, the soft heart, the earth's core, runs with vessels and vessels of molten fire. It is strange, the immortal muses, that the living can so beautifully imitate it—because it is alive and well.
And what makes you think that? it inquires, unsheathing fangs, so that the milky gleam catches the dying fireball across the boiling waters. They are dyed brown and orange, and ocher. You have danced with the trees, beneath the leaves, arching—I have seen you kick forward, so that your feet, and the tips of your toes, are bullets, even when I can see them perfectly, each and every one of them. I cannot believe that they are but martial arts—it's a dance.
The prone figure shudders when the vampiric being skims the skin of his throat with its fangs, and they pause over one blue vein. Then another. Then they halt, at the last. Quivering with excitement, the mortal reaches a pinked hand at the creature's face, carved from ice. Do it, he whispers. I will be even better when I join you.
It pauses in response, hisses a thin steaming sound. The human stiffens, waiting for the ice of it to travel down in a wintry mix, so that his blood will freeze.
Then it pulls back, sheathing the little white stingers behind its lip. Then. Dance for me.
A groan. You sadist.
Still, he complies, lifting himself to instantly swirl himself into the wind. One moment he bends back, drunk, before catapulting his own torso back, throwing air, and a punch—one that blocks out he dripping sun, as the moon lends its light; he throws his arms, to the white creature's delight, deliciously baked lengths falling in tune to the wind, blurring; and yet, the living dead can see each limb, leaking sticky liquid heat, another punch, another kick, and he falls onto bent legs: another jump, another kick, and it lands on the creature, who gives about as easily as marble.
Supple arms, stretching limbs...the creature soon joins him in the martial dance, beating, beating in a tempo of silence, crazed and windy.
He begins to sweat, hot skin and knifing breath, but still, doesn't stop, flies in the wild match with the white one, as the sky blackens like ink, as the white-cheese moon illuminates their ballroom war. Fiery the air becomes, all flailing limbs and soaring sweat, each one of them from the one pinked by the sun, while the white one remains silent like winter, and twice as disclosing.
I envy you, you and your weak body.
Don't be silly. The martial artist cuts at it, at the long hair that spreads and webs against the stars in the sky.
Don't be silly, the vampire echoes, voice abyssal.
The other grins, excited, as he swallows the razor air, as it cuts at the soft tissue in his throat. With a swift uppercut his fist goes to the other's chest, the other spreading itself into a shield to block the soft blow from above; a yank brings the surprised vampire down, though the second blow affects it not.
In those eyes, reflecting the stars above, there is fury, fury of the movement, and the power of the earth rotating beneath their feet.
Ahh, sighs the vampire, splashing into the water; the human stands there, years of moving flesh shining through him like a halo, dripping fluid salt.
Do you need me to do that? it asks the man now.
No, he says. But you will make it better.
Ahhh, sighs the vampire again, its smothered emotion rising, if only a little—how it craves life, and its wicked movements.
So fight me, now! The man flings his fist at the vampire's face, knowing it will not hurt it.
The undead one is satisfied.
When the sun rises once more, spreading its blades of gold, and the waves of the earth, forever alive, touch the man's bare feet, he looks—panting hard, sheathed in silk—to the side, having fallen out of the darkness. Let's do that again.
And when he gets up and walks away, to return to his students and teach them to dance, the thrill speeds through him again; he licks at the salt garnishing his lips. From his own skin. He finds himself oddly happy when he leaves, loving himself, proud of himself, when he should be mourning the pile of ashes twisting away in the sea.