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Feeling Alive

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Kit had always been afraid of the dark but thankfully he had Mark at his side to make him feel safe. Mark was an annoyance to say the least - an adorable annoyance - but Kit was happy to have someone to accompany him home after his late night classes.

That’s how Mark and Kit had met in the first place. Pha had always been the one to walk him back to his dorm but when he suddenly disappeared, Kit dreaded his evening classes as the campus was practically empty at such hours. It creeped him the hell out - not that he was ever going to let anyone know that.

Kit had been walking home one night where it was particularly dark when Mark stepped into his path. He had heard about Mark, Wayu’s best friend, but had never met him in person before. Kit was immediately startled by Mark’s presence but something about Mark made him feel completely at ease. Kit wasn’t the type of person to trust others quickly but Mark seemed to be an exception to that rule.

Mark had introduced himself and insisted on walking Kit home now that Pha was not around to do so. Kit was suspicious of Mark’s intentions but considering how pushy the younger man was, there was not much Kit could to argue the arrangement.

So here they were. They had their nightly routine of Mark waiting outside of Kit’s late night classes and chatting his ear off until he safely delivered Kit to his dorm building. Mark was outrageously flirty, annoying beyond belief and he never stopped talking but Kit would have to be blind not to recognize how attractive Mark was. Plus, an even more embarrassing part of Kit found Mark kind of charming and loved the attention he was getting from Mark. Kit had never experienced someone being so forward about their feelings before and it was kind of addicting.

Kit had started to look forward to Mark picking him up so the one evening when Kit walked out of his class and didn’t find Mark waiting at the picnic table or stairs as well, he noticed just how disappointed he felt. Had he been too mean to Mark? Had Mark suddenly found some other person to aim his affections at? Had he been reading too much into their interactions all this time and Mark was just being a Good Samaritan?

Sighing, Kit adjusted his bag strap on his shoulder and tried to remind himself that Mark had not been in his life for very long. He could go on without Mark. It wasn’t like Kit needed him anyway. There wasn't anything wrong or unsafe about him walking alone on his own.

Kit pulled out a set of earphones and put them in his ears, queuing up a playlist that would hopefully make him feel a bit better. He felt ridiculous for sulking so much. It wasn’t like him. What had Mark done to him? It made Kit feel pathetic.

With music blaring in his ears to accompany him on the journey to his dorm, Kit set off. The moon was high in the night sky and thankfully the stars were quite bright that evening as there was not much street light. Kit tried to ignore how dark it was by focusing on the melody of the music that was blasting in his ears. He hummed along and quickened his pace.

Kit suddenly felt as if he was not alone. The hairs on the back of his neck raised and he looked around to see if his suspicion was correct. He yanked his earbuds out so that he could survey his surroundings more attentively. Kit’s heart began to race as he looked around him and saw that there was no one in sight. Kit was alone but he still had a stark feeling that he was being followed.

“Hello?”

Kit called out to the darkness. There was no response that followed so he chalked it up to his paranoia. He decided that it was best not to continue to listen to music and increased his pace even more. Sweat sprouted on his brow as he continued on his way.

Just as he was passing by an alleyway, someone tapped him on the shoulder. Kit held in a sheik as he whipped around to see who was interrupting his journey home. There was a part of him that hoped it was Mark catching up to him but instead he saw someone who made his heart sink: Padbok.

Earlier that day, Thanu had met up with Kit to borrow some more notes to make sure he was ready to return to class and despite Padbok’s earlier threats to stay away from Thanu, Kit had gone ahead and ignored him.

Despite the fact that Padbok had already attacked him, Kit puffed up his chest and demanded, “What do you want from me?”

A sickly grin spread across Padbok’s mouth. “Someone that looks as cute and innocent as you shouldn’t be wandering around the streets at night like this…. alone.”

The emphasis that Padbok put on the word ‘alone’ sent shivers down Kit’s spine. The taller man looked down at Kit and Kit took a few steps back before responding, “I think you should leave me alone.”

This just made Padbok look even more amused. He began to stalk toward Kit, backing him into the darkened alleyway. Kit wanted desperately to stand up for himself but Padbok had already back him up against the cold brick wall. Kit winced and balled his hands into fists, desperately wishing he had the courage to fight Padbok. The issue was that he didn’t want to make the situation even more dire by riling Padbok even more by trying to fight back.

“Why couldn’t you just listen to me, Kit?” Padbok growled in a low tone.

Just like the first time, Padbok wrapped his hands around Kit’s neck and Kit tried to react. Unfortunately, it seemed like Padbok had come alone this time so Jack did not know to warn Mark about the attack. Where was Mark when Kit needed him the most?

Kit could feel his airway closing as Padbok pressed down harder, coiling his long fingers even tighter around Kit’s neck. Kit started to feel faint and lose consciousness due to the lack of oxygen and felt his knees grow weak. With every last remaining amount of strength, he tried to claw at Padbok’s hands but it did nothing to help his situation.

Just as the darkness started to close in, Kit thought he saw something move across his vision at an inhuman speed. His vision was too blurry to distinguish what it was but a moment later, he felt the tension on his neck release and he fell forward, his wrists hitting the pavement. He was too disoriented to tell what was going on but he heard a groan that must have belonged to Padbok a few feet away from him.

Before Kit could figure out who or what had saved him, he fell unconscious.

++++++++++++

Kit slowly opened his eyes and his throat was extremely dry. He breathed out and it sounded slightly like a wheeze but he felt strong enough to push himself up into a seated position against the headrest of the bed he was sitting in. It took him a moment to realize he was in a room he didn’t recognize.

“You’re awake.”

Kit’s attention snapped to a darkened part of the room. Out of the shadows, Mark emerged, a concerned look on his face. What was odd about the whole thing was how Mark was keeping his distance. He never interacted with Kit without being a close as humanly possible. It confused Kit greatly but maybe he was just being respectful.
“Is this your room?” Kit wondered, running his hands along the sheets that seemed like they had never been slept in before they were so crisply folded, aside from the spot where he now sat.

“Yes.” Mark explained, his voice somewhat shaky. “Sorry. I don’t know your room number or I would have brought you to yours.”

Kit surveyed the room and found that there was little personal possessions around the space. It was all very minimalistic. Kit turned his attention back to Mark and asked, “What happened to Padbok?”

Mark’s brow furrowed deeply. “Don’t worry about that. He got what he deserved.”

“What does that mean?” Kit asked and suddenly brought his hands up to his throat where Padbok had injured him. He suddenly remembered just how emotionless Padbok’s eyes had become when he was choking him and wondered if Mark was right about Padbok.

Kit let his hands fall to his side, “So… you were the one that saved me or did you just find me?”

“Saved you is a bit of a dramatic way to put it.” Mark mused, leaning against a wall. “I’m hardly a hero.”

“Some people would call you one.” Kit muttered shyly, his gaze falling to his palms which he saw were covered in scratches and dried blood.

“Heroes don’t let the ones they care about get hurt.” Mark explained and Kit’s breath hitched at the response.

He had never seen Mark look so serious before. In fact, it was almost chilling. Kit somewhat missed the annoying and lighthearted side of Mark that he was used to.

“You don’t owe me anything, Mark.” Kit answered. “It’s not your job to keep me safe. I can handle it myself.”

“I don’t know if I would call what was happening in that alleyway ‘handling it’.” Mark shared.

For some reason, this pissed Kit off. He blurted out in frustration, “Well, if you had been there after class then no one would have had to ‘handle it’.”

The room became ridiculously silent. Kit wished he had not said anything. The last thing he wanted was to reveal to Mark just how much he cared about him. He didn’t want to embarrass himself like that.

“I’m sorry, Kit.” Mark’s voice sounded broken somehow, the guilt dripping from his every word. “I was…”

“You were what?” Kit spat out, looking up at Mark with an intensity that scared even him. “Flirting with someone else? Walking someone else home?”

Mark’s gaze dropped to the floor and the silence in the room grow even thicker. Kit couldn’t believe how he had let himself be drawn in by a playboy like Mark. All the flirting, the stolen kisses, it all meant nothing. Mark didn't care about Kit. He cared about the chase. The game of it all.

Kit still did not feel well enough to leave but he needed to be alone so he pushed himself off of the bed and made his way to Mark’s bathroom and slammed the door.

“Kit! Don’t!” Mark cried out but Kit ignored the protests.

He turned on the tap and splashed water on his face, hoping that he might be able to catch his breath and recenter himself somewhat. Out of the corner of his eye, Kit spotted a laundry basket where a shirt had been discarded. It was drenched in blood to the point that Kit’s jaw dropped. How had Mark lost so much blood and was still standing?

Kit threw open the door and stalked toward Mark, “What the hell happened in that alleyway, Mark?”

“Kit. Keep your distance. Please.” Mark scrambled backward, terror in his eyes. “I’m serious, Kit. Stop.”

“Why was your shirt covered in that much blood, Mark?” Kit demanded, pointing to the bathroom. “What did you do to Padbok? I’m a medical student. I know that someone doesn’t look that much blood without consequences.”

“I…. just, please, let me explain!” Mark called out and Kit shook his head in disbelief.

Once again, Kit advanced on Mark and Mark tried to get away. They played a game of cat and mouse for a moment before Kit finally was able to corner Mark. Kit put both hands on either side of Mark, blocking his escape. Mark turned his face away, wincing and thrashing as if he was in pain just because of Kit’s proximity.

“Kit.” Mark choked out. “Get. Away. From. Me.”

Kit noticed that the wounds on his palms from the pavement had opened again and blood was trickling down his hand. As a drop hit the floor, Mark’s nostrils flared and his eyes popped open, his pupils wide. There was a wildness about the way that Mark was looking at him that both terrified and fascinated Kit.

A low growl came from Mark and just as Kit was about to back away, Mark took Kit’s bleeding hand in his and turned Kit’s wrist toward his mouth. Mark had kissed them there before Kit sensed this time was different. He could hear his heartbeat thundering in his ears and watched in shocked stillness as Mark opened his mouth to reveal a set of pointed fangs.

Instinctively, Kit yanked his hand from Mark’s grasp and stumbled backward, his mind reeling at what the hell was going on. There had always been something different about Mark but Kit had obviously not realized how different.

As Kit put distance between them, it was as if Mark got a handle on himself again. He shut his eyes and shrunk to the ground in a crouch and covered his mouth with his hands. He looked as if he had betrayed himself and Kit was shocked to find himself sympathetic to Mark’s situation. Mark looked beyond horrified with his actions but Mark had no idea how to comfort someone in this kind of circumstance.

Plus, he couldn’t help but still be incredibly drawn to Mark. Kit sat down to the ground as well and waited quietly, keeping a good distance between them as Mark seemed to regain his composure slowly. The shaking stopped and Mark opened his eyes, looking more guilty than Kit had ever seen a person before.

“I… I didn’t want you to find out like this.” Mark murmured and he looked as if he was about to start crying. Could a creature like Mark even cry? “I… I understand if you never want to see me again.”

Kit didn’t know what to say. There was no script for something like this. He didn’t know how to navigate it properly but there was a question he needed answered immediately: “What happened to Padbok?”

“I… got carried away.” Mark explained. “But don’t worry, I didn’t kill him. I was able to get you both to my car and I dropped him off at the hospital. He’s going to be fine and he won’t remember anything.”

“Won’t remember anything?” Kit repeated in a daze. He was relieved that Mark had not killed anyone though.

“I can erase the memories of my… victims.” Mark shared, his words dripping with embarrassment.

A worried thought shot through Kit’s mind and he blurted, “Have you ever erased my mind?”

Mark looked at Kit with such sadness that it broke Kit’s heart. Mark muttered, “I never want to hurt you, Kit. That’s why I always feed before I see you… but today I got delayed which is why I wasn’t there when you got out of class. When I finally got to campus, you were gone but I followed your scent to that alleyway and when I saw Padbook, I just lost it.”

Kit’s eyes widened at Mark’s honesty. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He murmured, “So… you feed every night before you meet up with me so that you can… be close to me?”

“I know it sounds so weird and perverse.” Mark answered, looking beyond ashamed. “This isn’t something I chose. A few years ago I was attacked and I was given the decision whether to change or die… I was an idiot kid! I should have died but… I’ve tried to make the best of it.”

Kit felt himself relaxing into wrapping his head around what he was heading. Mark continued on, “I don’t kill people… I take just enough to keep me going, erase their minds and send them on their way. The worse that usually happens is that people have to take some extra iron pills for a while. I’ve tried to keep under the radar, to keep my distance from people but Wayu encouraged me to try to get back to normal… so I applied for university and when I got in, I took all evening classes for obvious reasons… and then I met you.”

“What do you mean?” Kit wondered why this was an important part of the story.

“You changed everything again, Kit.” Mark explained, a smile on his lips. “I met you and everything just clicked. I felt something again, when I hadn’t felt anything but emptiness in so long. I had floated through life ever since my change…. but you…”

It was as if he couldn’t properly form the thought so Kit whispered, “What, Mark?”

Mark looked up and locked eyes with Kit. “You made me want to start living again.”

Without a second thought, Kit crawled toward Mark and threw his arms around him, pulling him in tightly. The swell of emotion that filled Kit because of Mark’s words had blocked his better judgment but he didn’t care anymore. He trusted Mark with his life, even if Mark was likely the most dangerous thing that he had ever encountered. The whole thing was a ridiculous paradox but Kit no longer cared. All he wanted was to be near Mark.

Mark felt stiff at first in Kit’s grasp but he quickly relaxed into the contact. Mark breathed in and nuzzled his nose into Kit’s hair before pressing his lips to Kit’s neck. Kit was momentarily shocked by just how cold Mark’s kiss was but the thought disappeared as Mark continued to trail kisses down along his collar bone, along his arm and down to his favourite spot: Kit’s wrist.

Kit’s breath hitched as Mark kissed his wrist, the most vulnerable spot on the human being aside from the neck. The realization sent thrilling chills down Kit’s spine. Mark dropped another kiss on Kit’s wrist before looking up at Kit through thick lashes, “I love that spot the most because I can feel your heartbeat.”

At that, Kit surged forward and captured Mark’s lips in his own. The whole situation was ridiculously intoxicating and they both seemed to be getting lost in it all. They slowly sunk to the floor, wrapping each other’s arms around each other once again as they continued to kiss.

Kit was about to deepen the kiss once again, when one of Mark’s fangs pierced his lip and Kit pulled away in pain. Kit brought a hand up to his mouth and winced and Mark muttered, “Oh, shit. Sorry.”

Kit couldn’t believe how ridiculous the situation they were in was. He began to laugh and couldn’t help but fall into a complete giggle fit, still in Mark’s arms. “This is… beyond insane.” Kit remarked, shaking his head.

“Welcome to my world.” Mark beamed fondly at Kit and brought one hand up to cradle Kit’s cheek.

“I can’t believe I’m becoming a doctor and my boyfriend is a creature that has to feed on the blood of the living.” Kit shared, an amused smile on his lips. “Seems kind of backward, doesn’t it?”

Mark’s eyes grew wide. “Your boyfriend?”

Kit narrowed his eyes at Mark. “That’s not seriously all you took away from what I just said.”

“I call it selective hearing.” Mark expressed.

“Don’t Vampires have really good hearing?” Kit lifted an eyebrow.

Mark frowned slightly, “I don’t like using the ‘V’ word. I’m not into labels.”

“And yet you liked when I accidentally called you my boyfriend.” Kit answered.

“You can’t take something like that back, Kit.” Mark pouted and Kit couldn’t help but find it adorable.

Kit rolled his eyes. “Fine. We’re boyfriends. Happy?”

“Ecstatic.” Mark responded, dropping another kiss on Kit’s lips. “You know, when you first kissed me, I wondered if you were like me…”

Kit was confused. “Why?”

Mark’s eyes danced with mischief. “Because you bit me.”

“MARK!” Kit cried out and balled his fists up and battered them against Mark’s chest.

“No matter how hard you hit, Kit, you’re not going to restart that heart of mine.” Mark shared, an amused look on his face.

Kit let out a frustrated huff before looking up at Mark, “You have to promise me one thing though.”

“Anything.” Mark didn’t miss a beat.

“Don’t make me walk home alone ever again.” Kit stated, his tone serious.

“I think I can make that commitment.” Mark promised and pulled Kit in close again.

Kit rested his head against Mark’s chest and was somewhat surprised when he couldn’t hear a heartbeat. There was a lot that Kit figured he was going to have to get used to but it was more than worth it….

…For when he was with Mark, Kit had never felt so alive.