Every inch of his skin is so cold it almost burns. Almost. But it doesn't matter. He is everything you ever wanted. He carries the Goth look without even trying, and you know he's seen more than you could ever dream of. He's suffered, and paid the price for what he's done. He has glimpsed death daily throughout his long, loveless existence and you think, maybe, you can save him from that.
He doesn't tell you this, but you've read enough to just know.
His hair is jet black, so glossy and shiny it makes you jealous. His skin is as it should be, and his bright blue eyes feel like they can see into your very soul.
More than that, he makes you happy.
You've taught him to text and to use the internet. You showed him television and movies and you have introduced him to the world.
He seems grateful.
He grips your hand as you walk down the street, looks out for you and glares sharply at any men who dare look twice at you. For his sake, you have dressed nicely; a tight black skirt ending just above your knees, a low cut smart black top. He said you were beautiful when you appeared at the top of the stairs, and your father glared at him. He didn't approve. Of course he didn't, but he didn't try to stop you.
Your mother, you assumed, had a hand in that.
After all, he treats you better than any boy your age ever would. Even if he is a vampire. He opens doors for you and pulls your chair out and is so very polite, especially around your parents. Your mother likes him. She calls him charming and wonderful and says he is a pure delight.
"Are you looking forward to dinner?"
You smile at his thoughtfulness. "Yes. Are you sure it's okay, though? I mean, you're just going to sit there and watch me eat and…"
He lets go of your hand, and wraps his arm around your shoulder instead. Leaning towards you, his lips brush lightly against your cheek. Cold, but you feel warmer for it.
"I enjoy watching you eat," he says. "It gives me pleasure to see you happy."
Sometimes, looking at him, it's hard to believe he's as old as he is. But when he speaks, it's an entirely different matter.
You round the block, and come into sight of the restaurant. There are tables outside, though it is too cold for anyone to be out there. A dark green canopy covers sits just above the door, and through the windows you can see couples enjoying meals and the company of each other. They all look happy, carefree, as they eat in candlelight.
No boy your age would ever take you somewhere romantic.
But he does. His small and romantic gestures light up your otherwise dull world.
With him, nothing else really matters.
The inside is just as beautiful. The tables are round, with a single candle on each one. You are greeted near the door, by a tall man with a sharp uniform on. He smiles as he takes your names, and leads you towards your table.
"What would you like to drink?" He is still smiling, looking like he couldn't think of a better way to spend his Saturday night than serving you.
"A bottle of your finest wine," your friend – no, boyfriend, you still trip over the word – says. The waiter's smile grows larger, and he dips his head before turning and making his way through the restaurant to the bar set right in the middle of the back wall.
"We didn't even get ID'd," you say, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically. He doesn't seem to mind. He laughs.
"They see nothing more than money."
"Oh." You look down at the menu the waiter gave you, scanning the food on offer. It all sounds delicious, the descriptions making your mouth water. There are no prices next to the items and part of you worries about the price.
He smiles at you, his own menu untouched.
The waiter returns, carrying a tray with a bottle of white wine and two glasses. He places them on the table, and pours a small amount into each glass. The vampire takes a sip, waits a few seconds, and nods. The waiter looks relieved.
"Are you ready to order?" he asks, gently placing the wine between you on the table. You shake your head.
"A few more minutes, please." His voice alone is enough to send shivers down your spine.
You wonder if vampires can have sex.
You are sure, if they can, he will be your first. Maybe tonight. You feel ready, you feel prepared.
Does he have condoms?
How would the subject even be approached?
"Of course, sir. Madam." The waiter dips his head again and moves off, stopping by the tables of other customers and enquiring about their own meals. Your eyes land on an older man, perhaps in his late twenties, with light brown hair and pale skin. He looks up, holds up his blood red wine glass, and nods.
Something about him scares you, and you look quickly away.
"I can't decide."
He opens his menu, his eyes scanning the food on offer, stopping every so often to reread something. "The steak sounds superb."
Superb. Such a little thing, but it makes him sound…older. In a good way. He knows things, he understands. When you went to watch a film together, he did not comment on your tears. Instead, he wiped them away, kissed you, and said he would always be there if you were feeling sad.
"It does, doesn't it? Okay. I'll have the steak."
"You haven't touched your wine, my dear."
Smiling, you reach for the glass and take a sip. It's strong, and burning, but you resist the shudder and urge to pull a face. His smile grows.
The waiter returns and you order. "Excellent choice, madam."
He takes the menus and you glance around again.
Over on the other side, there is a woman sitting with a man. Her hair is thick and curly, blonde, giving her the appearance of a model. She is beautiful. More so than anyone else you have ever seen before. She laughs at something the man says, and her gaze catches you.
You see fangs.
You turn back to your boyfriend, concentrating on him.
"Is everything okay?" he asks.
"You look…tense, dear." His smile falters, and he reaches across the table to take your hand. "Are you sure you're not unwell? You do look very pale."
"I'm fine." It's nothing you can explain. Your stomach feels tight and you could swear there are eyes watching you. You force yourself to focus on him. Not on them. You wonder if they know him. Maybe this is just a place they have mentioned, maybe word of mouth has brought them here. They are just enjoying a night out, as you are, you tell yourself. They are treating their friends to a meal, as he is. There is nothing wrong with that.
You talk. He asks about school and at least seems interested in the gossip you learnt. You tell him about various things you have picked up on; who said what to who, who is dating who, who likes who…
Not that he knows any of those people. But the amount you have talked about them, it's almost like he does know them. He acts shocked and laughs in the right places. There is not much else, really, you can talk about. The school is your world, for the time being. The school and him. And he does not like talking about himself.
The waiter brings your steak and you thank him. It is juicy, and delicious. You sprinkle just a small amount of salt and vinegar over the chips, spearing them with your fork. They are amazing. There is no other word to describe them, and you tell him so.
"Good. I am glad you are enjoying it."
There is very little conversation as you eat. You glance around the room once more, and notice that at almost half the tables, either none of the diners are eating, or there are one or two people on the tables without food in front of them.
"Do all vampires get pleasure from watching others eat?" you ask, eventually, after finishing your last mouthful.
His smile reveals his fangs.
Any other time and you would have shivered in delight. Now, the sight makes you want to shudder. The hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
"Can we leave? Please?"
"Why do you ask?" he says. "Where did that question come from, my dear?"
His eyes have never really looked alive, but you always thought you could see some sort of emotion there, some flicker of humanity. But now, it is all gone, if it was ever there in the first place. Was it all fake? Pretend? A game to him?
Your hand is shaking.
"I want to go home." There are tears in your eyes now. A scream rises from the corner of the room, and your head snaps around to stare. A vampire, half over the table, has pulled their companion towards them, mouth stuck firmly on the neck. You can't tell if it is male or female; all you see is the top of their head.
More screams. You can't help but turn, to see the female vampire snap the neck of her male companyion. The waiters and cooks appear suddenly from the kitchen, and everything turns to bedlam.
You can't process what is happening. Not immediately. It all seems to happen slowly, as vampires lunge and leap, landing on the humans like flies.
Blood splatters the walls, floors, ceilings, tables. Candles hiss before spluttering out. Slowly, you turn your head to look at him. He is perfectly still, paying no mind to the carnage happening around you.
"You kid yourselves," he says. His elbows are on the table, his fingers locking together. "You like to pretend we're human, don't you? Like to think we feel just like you do." His words bite at you, as they are meant to. You flinch. His smile grows.
There is only one word you can think of.
"Why, my dear? Why, because we can, of course."
It makes perfect sense. Twisted, logical sense. Why does anyone do the things they do? Mankind explored, because he could. Mankind killed, because he could. Mankind was cruel to his fellows, because he could be.
"You are human." Your voice is shaking, but an odd smile comes to your face. "You are human. You all are. You're just the same as us. You just think you're better. The worst ones always do." You start laughing, because you cannot help it. Because suddenly you are graced with the wisdom beyond your sixteen years, as you remember every flinch your mother made when watching the television, every time she asked your father to turn off the news or switch over from some documentary on the History or Crime channel.
Your mother is a lover of fiction.
So were you, until the fiction became real.
"No, my dear. We are superior."
"No you're not. You're as superior as the playground bully who just happened to be born stronger. Not better. Just stronger."
He comes at you faster than you can register. Before you blink, his body smacks into you and the chair flies back. Your back slams onto the floor, followed by your head. It makes a strange noise, not quite a thud, as it hits, bounces up and hits again. His bite brings pain with it, but the world around you is already dimming. One of the waiters scrambles past your field of vision, his shirt no longer snow white.
The Seven Dwarves.
Cinderella and Belle and Mulan and Jasmine. Childhood friends you will never get to see again.
You are not quite dead when he climbs off you and turns to face the other vampires.
He stretches his neck, head tilting to the right, and you hear it creak. Old bones. Older than any bones have the right to be.
"We've taught them enough," he says, and the vampires stop. It's so sudden. One looks at you.
"She's still alive."
He turns, aims a kick at you. His foot connects with your head, hard enough that it snaps around and breaks your neck.
A/N: As always, I very much appreciate your thoughts. These chapters are very much experimental, trying something I've never really done before, so all feedback is welcomed. Reviews are returned, and please have a look at the poll on my profile page; would love to get some votes on it. Thanks very much.