Brothers in life, brothers in death

Because every good vampire has a shadow-filled past, and an undead companion, whom they must both hate and love. Life after death is complex.

An Undead Christmas Carol. J R Manawa.

Brothers in life, brothers in death.

“Did you hear me when I suggested that you ought to go after her?” Levi asked again. When Caleb still did not respond, Levi crossed the room to where he stood staring out the window.

Caleb looked down at Levi and grinned ruefully. The two were brothers, in life and in death.

Levi was a good head shorter than him, he’d been only eleven when he was turned. Much too young, though now it was over three hundred years since their merchant father had unwittingly fallen foul of a trade deal with a vampire coven. The coven master had come to claim payment, and the brothers were blessed, or cursed, depending on how you looked at it, to have been desireable then in life, much as they were now in death.

For their beauty, they had been turned.

Both brothers had the family trait of a well-defined jaw which led to a straight chin and a face set with eyes that were narrow, heavily browed, and intense. There the similarities ended, Caleb had been twenty-three the night he died, and though he was of average height, he was slim and his physique well cut. Thanks to his youthful confidence and amber eyes, shadowed with messy locks of warm brown hair, seduction had been a game he’d long enjoyed, and the coven master was no less enthralled by him than any of his female dalliences had been in life.

Levi, so young and angelic with his ash blond hair and distrusting hazel eyes, had been of less interest or use to the coven. Caleb looked back to the view out the window and sighed. So many centuries ago, Caleb had pleaded for his life. Even as his Levi lay dying in his arms he had begged the coven master not to end it. He would have given everything in the world, his last drop of blood, his flesh, everything to save his baby brother.

In hindsight, if he had known then what he knew now, he would have given more, even his very soul he would have sacrificed, in order to allow his brother the peace of death.

Beauty is a both a gift and a curse. A gift that their maker took pity on Caleb’s pleas, and turned both brothers.

A curse, that despite more than three hundred years of existence, Levi was still the child he had been when he was turned, and a child in mind he would forever remain. He gained knowledge and understanding, but his development flat-lined the moment his heart did.

“Have you enjoyed your birthday, brother?” Caleb asked, changing subject.

Levi glared at his brother, his hazel eyes glowing with the quick anger of a predator.

Caleb laughed at him. “You are welcome,” he said, replying to the glare as if it had been a heart-felt thank-you. He chucked Levi’s chin teasingly. “You have no idea how long it took me to find and seduce them all for you.”

Levi’s animal-like glare melted into a frown as Caleb knelt down to embrace him. When he stood back up, the vampire child’s arms were wrapped around his waist in a sudden, rare moment affection. Caleb stroked his fingers through the smooth ash curls that crowned his head, and then rested his arms on Levi’s shoulders.

These moments were few and far between. Caleb knew that Levi was drunk, having taken much more than his fill of blood, the boy vampire would soon be lulled into a heavy sleep, too tired and full to be bothered with any other activities for tonight.

As Caleb waited for sleep to find his brother he stared out the window at the snow dancing down over the rooftops of the city. He could see the lights of the London Eye from here, just peeking up over Whitehall, flashing a deep purple tonight. Across from it he could see the face of Big Ben, to his keen eyes clearly displaying the time, five minutes to twelve. Closer, he could see the glow of the lights and the hum of the traffic coming up through Trafalgar Square and Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus. An hour from now, all of Piccadilly and Leicester Square would fill with clubbers, who would leak through into the narrow roads and claustrophobic venues of Soho and Covent Garden, his favourite hunting grounds.

Caleb loved this time of year, if a vampire can love anything. He smirked, and corrected himself. Caleb was intensely fond of London at this time of year. The night felt endless. The sun went down as early as four, and sometimes it never rose in the morning for the fog and gloom that hung over the city.

Levi would not know half of that beautiful night, however. He was already dozing off, his head lolled against Caleb’s chest. It seemed amusing now, in this tiny moment, that it had taken the brothers three centuries to live in peace.

Where Levi had first clung to Caleb for fear and terror of the monster he had become, he soon began to hate him for it. When the boy vampire reached his twenty-first birthday, eleven years of sunlight and ten in darkness, he turned on his coven and the vampire who had created him. Willing death too for himself and his older brother, he had exposed the coven’s existence to the people of the village they lived in, and the people had in turn exposed the vampires to the burning sunrise.

Where Levi was passionate and quick to anger, Caleb was observant, cold, and slow to boil – long watchful of Levi’s anger and wary of his brother’s fascination with oblivion. He had saved them both, but there the kinship ended, each consumed by their own anger, they went separate ways.

Centuries passed and their paths crossed many times with many terrible consequences. It had only been now, in the last twelve years that the brothers had learned to live in a harmony, of sorts. But it was still tender, Levi had always hated and loved Caleb, and Caleb had always loved and regretted him in return.

A bitterly cold Christmas Eve in New York had set the stage for a chance reunion between the brothers. At the time Caleb had not seen Levi in over a hundred years, but a well-dressed child walking out in the driving snow alone through Central Park on Christmas Eve is of course something to glance twice at, and it only took Caleb half a glance to recognise his brother, a glance that was returned.

So far, they had never looked back. They naturally fought and disagreed over many things, but time was a great healer, and as Caleb hugged the sleeping vampire child against him, he was thankful for it.

He scooped Levi up with both arms and turned carefully, side-stepping around the coffee table and over the outstretched arm of the body Levi had discarded earlier. He sighed, already regretting his extravagant birthday present. There was a long standing rule; never bring food in the house, but tonight for Levi’s three-hundred-and-seventeenth birthday, Caleb had decided in a rash and flippant mood that some rules could be broken.

Because life was boring when lived within the pages of a rule book.


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