When Atsushi wakes he is utterly alone, his mouth caked in blood, tears running down his face. That is his sole introduction to his life beyond death, lying in his father’s rice field, half-drowned. He never meets the thing that did it to him, but he meets Issay.
“I know what you are,” Issay says. “I’m like you.”
Atsushi nearly weeps with joy. To know that he is not cursed to be alone.
When he learns to live again, to coexist with the frail human world to which he no longer belongs, Issay comes to visit. He is the only friend that Atsushi knows, and the desperate ache that he feels in Issay’s absence unnerves him.
“Will you grow tired of me?” Atsushi asks, watching the soft glow of a paper lantern, the single light source in the otherwise dark room.
Issay is lying on his stomach on the tatami floor, his long black hair falling all around him like a river of spilt ink. “Never.” he says.
The single candle gutters, its flame leaping and flickering before extinguishing entirely, and the room is plunged into darkness.
That night Issay teaches Atsushi to exchange, offering his wrist for Atsushi to drink. Issay’s blood is sweet and heady as perfume; a flower that blooms on his tongue and dies in his throat. And Atsushi is inexorable in his lust for it.
When it is his turn to give blood, Atsushi extends his wrist obediently, startled as Issay presses a gentle kiss to it and then pulls him close, lips at his throat. “Beautiful Atsushi…” he says, and then his teeth are sinking in and Atsushi is lost.
As time passes Atsushi finds himself capable of strange things.
Once, he wakes and he’s levitating a foot from the floor. Only the ends of his hair touch the ground, and as soon as he becomes aware of it it ceases and he falls.
Another time he dreams that he’s standing on an old wooden bridge above a frozen stream. Snow falls softly all around, his breath creating no cloud of warmth before him, and the moon glows red and ominous in the sky.
Issay is there too, and in the dream he has grown his hair so long it’s past his waist and trails across the ground. Atsushi sees him walking through a field on the other side of the bridge, his eyes glowing in the halflight.
When they meet again Atsushi tells Issay this, and Issay describes the same dream, his long hair pooling in his lap. It’s then that Atsushi learns that there are consequences to sharing blood.
Atsushi wakes and Issay is there, hands dipping beneath the folds of his yukata, the weight of his hair heavy and smothering. Whenever he comes desiring blood Atsushi gives it freely, although this time feels different. It isn’t just the bond of mutual exchange that it has been in the past. Issay is kissing him. Kissing his throat and his collarbones and his face.
“I think I’m falling in love with you,” he breathes.
Atsushi begins to return the kisses, touching cold skin and endless, silken hair.
Issay’s thumbs are on his hips, teeth scraping his wrist.
The teeth sink in and Atsushi lets out a shuddering moan, his hips leaving the floor and his back bowing. All words leave him as he feels the blood being pulled, soul-deep, from within him.
His whines are reaching a fever-pitch when Issay presses his own bleeding wrist against Atsushi’s lips. He clings desperately to it, sucking with such an intense need that it makes Issay groan. As the cool blood rushes into his mouth he feels Issay’s teeth on his throat, and as they pierce his skin he is sucked under by something so stunningly powerful that he nearly faints.
It is pleasure on pleasure. Something that no mortal could endure. And as he loses himself in it a strange thing happens. Atsushi begins to leave his body, thoughts and memories that are not his own flooding his mind. He’s seeing through Issay’s eyes. Seeing his life before this one. His mortal life, and everything in between. And he sees himself as well. Sees himself as Issay sees him. All adoration and beauty and love.
The closed loop is suddenly broken, and they release their holds on one another, gasping and reeling. Atsushi feels tears running down his face.
“You really do love me…” he whispers, and Issay smiles.
Issay and Atsushi meet again and again.
The chasm of time frequently opens between them, but always they come back together. It seems strange, that the whole world isn’t even big enough for two people to get lost in.
“It’s our destiny,” Issay says as Atsushi sucks weakly at his wrist. “I think you could run to the other end of the earth and I would find you.”
Later, when Atsushi is ready to be alone, those words will haunt him, but right now they’re all he wants to hear.