Rating: PG-13 (as of yet)
Disclaimer: I am not associated with SME in any way. I do not own SHINee. This is just for fun.
Summary: Minho is dying. But from the shadows watches a creature that will change his future forever.
WITH TEETH / Chapter V
If Minho thought he’d be travelling in style as a vampire he was wrong. His hopes of them booking an airplane seat are quickly squashed as Key explains it’s too dangerous as a plane has windows and where they’re going it isn’t possible to take an overnight flight.
That’s how he’ll find himself crammed inside a very narrow space, stored in the cargo hold of a plane, destined for the western coast of the United States of America, more specifically Los Angeles.
When Key shows him the box he’ll be lying in for the next thirteen hours Minho has only one thing to say:
“You’ve got to be joking, right?”
He’s staring down into an open, empty coffin – it’s made of aluminium, but it’s still very much an honest to god coffin in the funeral home where Key’s brought them, in the dead of night, like that isn’t creepy enough.
“You actually want us to travel by coffin? What century is this? You want me to wear a cape and speak in a Romanian accent too?”
“Hungarian,” Key corrects. “Dracula was Hungarian.” He shrugs. “It’s either this or a crate, I can assure you this is much more comfortable. We’ll be handled with care and no one will ask questions. Dead people are shipped every day, back and forth across the globe to be buried in the motherland.”
“Have you shipped yourself like this a lot?”
Key offers another shrug. “It’s happened on occasion.”
Minho looks around him. The room they’re in is a cold storage room, like a morgue - there’s metal coffins on low trestle tables all around the room, and all the coffins aren’t empty. “Are we just supposed to lie in these, prostrate for 13 hours?”
“You’re a vampire, you won’t get cramps or bed sores. You’ll manage.”
“What about blood?”
“Why do you think I had you feed before we came here? You won’t consume much since you won’t be doing anything but sleeping.”
“Wait,” Minho says. “You mean we’re leaving tonight?”
Key rolls his eyes. “We’re running, in case you haven’t noticed.”
“You still haven’t told me from what...”
Minho can see Key resists the urge to roll his eyes again. “I told you, it’s my sire.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t tell me why he’s after us.”
“I’ll tell you when we get there, now just get in, okay?” Key gestures impatiently towards the open coffin. The room is doused a weak blue from the fluorescent lights in the ceiling and it makes all light things, like the coffin’s padding, and his sire’s face, shine eerie and bright.
Minho sits down on a closed coffin nearby and folds his arms across his chest. “They won’t be coming to take away these caskets in a few hours yet, I think you should tell me now.”
Key stares at him for a long time with an equally exasperated and angry expression of “Really? Now?”, but Minho doesn’t fold, he thinks he’s earned some answers. And he doesn’t see why Key can’t tell him now as opposed to later.
“Fine,” Key says, closing the lid of the coffin with a snap and leaning back against it.
He doesn’t know where to begin, that’s why he’s been holding off on it. It’s not an easy tale to tell. He’s only ever told it to one person before, and that person is now dead.
“My sire,” he says, “you could say he is a collector, of a sort. He enjoys taking away the most beautiful from life, twisting them and making them suffer. He turns them into vampires because that way they won’t die as easily under torture, and he can keep them locked up with him forever. He keeps a collection of his most prized possessions stored away from the public in a huge vault beneath his mansion – he calls it his ‘museum’. He keeps them in a state of torpor, and only brings them out and feeds them when he wants to have his fun...”
Minho’s mouth has fallen open. “Wow... your sire sounds like a raving lunatic.”
“He is, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that on the surface... If you haven’t seen that vault, and been there in the room when he tortures them, heard their pleas and screams, sometimes for months on end, you would think he was the respectable elder vampire he presents himself to be.”
“So...” Minho says, hesitating because he wants to put it as mildly as he can, “... were you one of these possessions?”
Key seems to hesitate. “Yes... and no…” He looks away, like he can’t look Minho in the eye. Minho has never seen him display unsureness like that before. “For a long time I was... his apprentice.”
Minho sucks in on a surprised gasp, he wishes he didn’t, but it’s already too late, Key can’t have missed hearing it.
“He singled me out and it was the only way I could avoid it happening to me... So I assisted him. For years, I assisted him, until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I ran. I managed to keep away from him from decades, centuries even, and I was beginning to think I was safe, that he had stopped looking for me. But one thing you must know about my sire is once he has you, he never really lets you go, he is patient, and very, very clever. Eventually I couldn’t stand being on my own anymore, so I sired someone. And the moment I did, he knew where I was, where to find me, and he came after me again. But he didn’t want to just capture me this time, but to kill my childe too, because I had dared to get a companion, because I had dared to believe I didn’t have to be alone.”
Silence falls across the room and for a while all that can be heard is the light buzzing of the fluorescent lights.
“But how could he know where you were?”
“The bond works like that – if you ever sire, I’ll know when it happens, where it happens. I could stay out of his radar as long as I kept enough of a distance between us, but not with that. As you are tied to me, I’m tied to him. He can read my thoughts when I’m near, and even from afar if I let him. Everything you feel about me, I feel about him. It’s unavoidable.”
Minho swallows. “Does that mean... does that mean you long for him too?”
Key looks up and meets his eyes. “Every single day. I wish I didn’t, but I do, it’s not something I can control, although I try to. I don’t feel complete when he isn’t around, my instincts are constantly telling me to seek him out,, and I hate that I feel that way, that he forces me to feel that way about him.”
“Do you... love him?”
Key lets out a laugh, but it sounds oddly cold and sharp in the empty, cool room. “It isn’t love. I don’t know what it is, obsession maybe, but it isn’t love. I haven’t loved in a long, long time.”
“Did you love your other childe then? The one that died?”
Key doesn’t answer, he straightens from where he’s been leaning against the coffin behind him. “You better get in,” he says.
Minho doesn’t argue, he figures he’s lucky to have gotten so much information as he did just now, the last one was him taking a chance anyway. He hasn’t heard Key talk so much in all the time he’s known him, and of such personal matters. He swings one long leg over the edge of the coffin and climbs in. It’s obviously been manufactured for a more portly person because there’s lots of room, and the coffin is padded and even has a small bump for a pillow. It might not be as uncomfortable as he’s thought.
The coffin turns dark as Key closes the lid above him. It feels a bit morbid lying in a closed casket and he really hopes Key writes the address on the coffin’s tag correctly, because he has no wish to end up buried and having to claw his way out of a grave somewhere.
He closes his eyes, prepared to drift off into that shallow slumber when the lid is suddenly opened again. There’s a rush of cold air on his face and he opens one eye and stares up into the pallid face of his sire.
“All the other ones are taken,” Key says, looking highly uncomfortable. Also something new. It takes a second before it dawns on Minho what this means. It’s long enough for Key to get annoyed.
“Scoot over,” he growls.
When Minho still hesitates he snaps: “Oh, just move – it’s big enough for the two of us.”
So that’s how Minho not only finds himself locked in a coffin, but hugging his sire close for the next thirteen hours.
It’s an uneasy journey in several ways: The coffin was roomy for one but is quite cramped for two. They have to organise their limbs in a special way, like a puzzle, to fit (Minho is reminded of his childhood’s Tetris game) and Minho ends up halfway onto his back, pressed up against one corner with his sire sort of draped across him and his one leg lodged between his.
This is also how Minho finds out desire isn’t quite what it used to be. Normally the lower parts of him would be responding to this sort of closeness, of having a thigh pressing against his mid-section, because his sire is plenty attractive, there’s no denying that, and he seems far less frightening to him now than he did just a few days ago.
But now there’s nothing like that anymore, those parts of him seems as dormant as his non-beating heart.
There is, however another sort of desire, something he thinks is only made worse by him having tasted Key’s blood twice now, and once so recently. He can still feel the lingering taste of it on his tongue, and can still feel the vestiges of the intoxicating rush it gave. And having Key this close, his head pressed against his chest, under his chin, and picking up on the scent of it, even from his hair, is driving him absolutely crazy.
It might be a good thing, he thinks, that the space is so crammed, and movement so impeded or he might feel compelled to bite him. He doesn’t know how exactly Key would react to that, but it would probably not be good.
He’s also aware that no other vampire has made him feel this way yet. It’s something in the sire’s blood he assumes, something to do with the bond, and it stings knowing Key must feel the same about his sire, as much as he seems to loathe him. And the reason that knowledge stings must have something to do with the bond as well, because as attractive as his sire is Minho can see no logical reason to why he would harbour any deeper feelings for him yet.
Key said it himself, talking about his sire: “It isn’t love. I don’t know what it is, obsession maybe, but it isn’t love.” And those words ring in his head as he lies there, battling with the will, the need, to sink his teeth into Key’s lily white skin.
Key is lying perfectly still, not moving a muscle, with his eyes closed, and still Minho somehow knows he isn’t asleep. He wonders if Key might be listening in on his thoughts, and tries to control them, but it proves almost impossible.
They don’t talk a lot. Save for the distant rumblings of the plane engines through the metal wall of the casket and the whooshing of air around the hull of the plane all is silent for the most part of the thirteen hours. Until Minho can’t stand the silence any longer and asks, ten hours into the flight:
“Aren’t you tired of running?”
All he gets at first is a tired sigh in response. At least that tells him Key is listening, although he doesn’t move. His body emitted some heat during the first few hours, as he had so recently fed, which made him feel slightly more human, and made Minho’s thirst for him even stronger, but the heat has dissipated for every hour and is almost gone now.
“I mean,” Minho continues, “couldn’t we seek him out? Kill him? So you wouldn’t have to run anymore?”
There’s a beat of silence. “No,” Key says then, and the sound creates a rumbling sound in his chest.
“We cannot beat him,” Key cuts him off. “He’s too powerful. Don’t you think I haven’t tried? It’s how Jinki died.”
“Jinki?” Minho asks, confused.
“…yes.” Key’s hand on Minho’s chest moves a bit, the first he’s moved in hours. It seems an involuntary twitch but it’s almost, nearly, like a caress. Then it stops dead. “The one I sired before you.”
“How was he—What was he like?”
“Not like you,” Key says simply and it seems like he’ll leave it at that. Minho is prepared to feel hurt, but then Key adds: “And then also very similar in some ways. He was valiant too, wanted to save me from Xu. It didn’t end well.”
“Xu?” says Minho. He tries to sit up, for a moment forgetting they’re in a coffin and bangs his head against the lid. “Your sire is Chinese?”
“Yes. I was sired in the 1400’s, Korea was occupied by China back then.”
“What was it like? It must have been very different.”
“Not as different as you might think. There were no cars or airplanes, no internet, but people were largely the same. Just as greedy and petty.”
“How old were you when you were sired?”
For a moment he thinks Key’s patience of the questions has run out again, and he’s been indulged enough, but then he says:
“Nineteen. I was nineteen.”
“So…” Minho says, and can’t help but keep from grinning where he’s lying. “Then in a way you’re actually younger than me…”
He can’t believe it when Key, the six hundred year old vampire pinches, actually pinches, him in the side for that. It might be all he manages in the limited space but the gesture feels oddly endearing, even though there are sharp nails involved that nearly pierces through Minho’s skin.
It doesn’t hurt though, instead it sends a thrill up his spine, similar to what he thought was lost, but not quite. He looks down and finds himself looking into Key’s eyes, shining at him through the dark interior of the coffin. He finds himself unable to look away until Key breaks the look, turns his head from him and closes his eyes again.
Minho feels a bit lightheaded and wonders for a while if Key just used his glamour thing on him. Though he isn’t entirely sure it works that way on other vampires. And if Key did, Minho can’t understand why.
They’re silent for the rest of the three hours. Minho almost manages to fall asleep. When they land in L.A. the coffin is taken to another storage to wait until morning, and there they break out. They steal a car at the airport and drive half the night to a cheap motel on the outskirts of the city, the first of many to come in the following weeks.
Key glamours the receptionist, a balding man, and that’s how they get the room for free. Neither of them is thirsty, which is probably to the man’s luck. But Minho isn’t sure he’d like to bite into his greasy neck even if he was close to entering torpor again.
There’s two narrow beds in the room and since it’s close to morning Key tells Minho to get some rest. Minho doesn’t argue although he thinks he’s rested enough on the plane over here. Key doesn’t lie down on the other bed; after he’s closed all the curtains and barricaded the door with a nearby desk - that it’s been bolted to the floor doesn’t seem to bother him as he rips it lose from the floorboards as easy as anything - he remains standing in the middle of the room.
When Minho checks a few hours closer to morning, he’s still standing there, keeping his vigil. And Minho realises then he’s never actually seen his sire sleep. Save from that time in the car, though now he isn’t sure Key was actually sleeping then, he didn’t check too closely - his sire might have only pretended to sleep to get Minho to shut up. After all Minho thinks that’s rather likely now. And he wonders what a vampire that doesn’t dream, can fear from sleep.
But he doesn’t ask, because he knows he won’t get an answer. Not yet.
A/N: Sorry this took a bit long to get up here, I had my reasons. And wow, the titles I give these chapters are so inspired. Not. Oh well, it's the content that matters anyway. This chapter pretty much sprung from the idea of them sharing a coffin and I know some of you are going to be a bit disappointed by what was revealed in that coffin, but it was always planned to be that way. There's still stuff for you to look forward though, so don't give up hope, even if it might not be what you expected. So yes, I think I should have satisfied some of your curiousity with this. And probably also raised some new questions, hehe. Next chapter is planned to be from Key's view, and we'll take a little trip down memory lane. Look forward to that!