Yuichiro is the new boy in class, and by rite of passage Mikaela punches him in the gut.
Not hard enough to knock all the air from his lungs, just enough to surprise him a bit, rile him up. Yuichiro swings messily, an easy dodge leaving his arm open to grab and twist behind his back. Yuichiro pushes backward, but it leaves his stance unsteady. He's on the ground within seconds, and Mikaela pins him down with a smile. When Yuichiro stares, it's in awe and confusion, not hatred.
It would be so easy to bend down and kiss the bruise on his nose.
"The name's Mika. Nice to meet you."
They stick together like glue after that, though it's mostly Mikaela clinging onto Yuichiro. Yuichiro seems to find his presence a bother sometimes, but walking faster doesn't deter his unwanted friend.
Mikaela is a popular kid by nature, smile sweet as honey and just as sticky. He attracts crowds of boys and girls at lunchtime from all grades to play freeze tag and the like. They follow his lead as if his mood was infectious.
Yuichiro is the only one who is wary of him. He doesn't feel the need to satisfy Mikaela with cheap smiles and mostly retorts at his jokes. But when he does crack a small smile, Mikaela tries to keep it up for as long as he can.
Mikaela excels at subjects Yuichiro finds trouble with, and Yuichiro absorbs easily what Mikaela can't. Yuichiro finds they can use this to their advantage. Mikaela just finds it amusing how quickly this softens him up. He could practically see the gears in Yuichiro's head working.
Yuichiro's house is small and cozy. The first thing Mikaela does is fling himself onto Yuichiro's bed. Yuichiro sighs dramatically (of course studying is put on the back burner), but grabs a pillow and whacks him before he can get up. Mikaela grabs the nearest thing without looking.
Mikaela ends up under him for once, Yuichiro raining down blows. Mikaela is laughing too hard to fight back, so Yuichiro rolls off of him.
It's hard for Mikaela to explain the logic behind what he does next. Yuichiro stares questioningly as Mikaela places his palm on his chest. His breathing and heartbeat are quick.
Yu, I'm alive. We're safe.
Mikaela is the only one who remembers.
And maybe that's a good thing. As long as no one else suffers, he's fine with taking the burden alone. Yuichiro would be upset if he found out, even if he didn't understand.
Seeing Yuichiro again didn't upset him at all, because he looked like any healthy and loved eight year old. That was more than enough of what he could ever wish for, and along with that he got to see him again.
He wants to spoil him until they're both sick of it. Until they're both drunk on happiness.
But he will never be sick of Yuichiro's rare smile. He will never be tired of Yuichiro's retorts, his awfully green eyes, his rivalry. He will not be separated from him again.
School goes like this: they laugh, they complain, they argue, they sigh.
And Mikaela is the happiest person in the world.
Mikaela waits for Yuichiro at his front gate. They bump shoulders while they walk to the bus stop.
Yuichiro falls asleep at his desk and Mikaela wakes him up, but only after class is over.
Mikaela's hair gets too long and Yuichiro offers to cut it. It's doesn't look bad at all.
Yuichiro calls Mikaela excitedly to tell him about his mother's remarriage. Mikaela hasn't heard him sound so excited about a family related matter in a long time.
Mikaela falls and sinks into this warm hope, that these small moments never end.
Yuichiro's head is kind of heavy, but Mikaela doesn't dream of telling him to get off. This is the most comfortable he's ever been.
"Heheh," Yuichiro slurs. "Your stomach's making funny sounds."
Mikaela laughs, and Yuichiro's head bounces.
He stares at the ceiling. Staring at Yuichiro is making the back of his neck sore.
"How 'bout this... What do you think of vampires, Yu?"
He can feel Yuichiro's head drowsily face him, imagining the Jump SQ magazine slipping from his fingers.
"I dunno, they're kinda creepy. The ones these days are really perverted."
If only he knew how far back that bit of truth went.
Sighing through his nose slowly, he slips his fingers through Yuichiro's hair, grateful to whatever god out there for this much.
It's not until they're twelve and going through puberty does Mikaela notice how touchy Yuichiro becomes. Yeah, maybe it's his own fault for being so touchy-feely himself. It makes him uncomfortable to think he's making Yuichiro uncomfortable, so he gradually stops touching him altogether.
He doesn't stop hanging out with him, though. He's read enough romance manga to know what works and what doesn't.
"Oi, Mika, are you avoiding me?"
...Well then. Sometimes he's wrong.
"No way! You've been avoiding me."
"No, I haven't!"
"Okay, maybe I have. But that doesn't mean you do it too."
"What the hell? You selfish idiot."
Mikaela pulls Yuichiro's collar backwards hard, and uses the other boy's confusion to pull himself forward. He breaks into a run, ignoring Yuichiro's yelp from behind.
Junior high is weird.
They get separated into different homerooms for the first time, and the loneliness feels a bit familiar, even if it's barely a fraction of what he felt before.
Adding onto that, his popularity with girls somehow skyrockets. They flock around him at break and ask him questions about clubs or sports. For once he's stumped. He's never gone to high school before.
Yuichiro saves him at lunch, dragging him into his own homeroom until the next period.
When he wakes up, he's in the nurse's room and Yuichiro is nodding off. He moves to sit up but he's pushed back down. Both motions make him dizzy, and prying his eyes open again seems like too much work.
"They said you have anemia... You look really pale."
Mikaela winces. He's never going to be able to joke about his paleness again without getting concerned looks.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Yuichiro asks.
He keeps his eyes closed and pretends to act drowsy. One look at Yuichiro would probably advertise his guilt.
"...I never knew."
"Well... Be more careful next time, asshole."
The girl is shy and docile, and the thought that she could only gather enough courage to ask her target's best friend made Mikaela feel sick.
"This is for Yuichiro-kun," she says. Her voice is as soft and fragile as she looks. "Please tell him to meet me after school. I-I'll be waiting for his answer."
He takes the cute envelope and gives her a knowing smile. One finger on his lips, two crossed behind his back.
He sees her again, waiting near the school gate with an anxious look in his direction. If he recalls correctly, 'please come alone' was a line in the letter. Yuichiro, so obviously oblivious, passes her by without even a glance.
It feels satisfying seeing her get ignored. And it feels just as good to go home and watch the pink paper get shredded.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Did you even think about Ayako's feelings?"
The rejected girl's friend practically spits in his face. Disgusted, Mikaela turns away. He doesn't need to be here, listening to some hysterical woman harassing him. Ayako moves to grab the other girl's arm but Mikaela can see her trembling too, in fear or maybe even rage.
Unsurprisingly, girls start to avoid him. Along with having no experience with high school in general, he has no experience, or rather, interest with adolescent girls, so this is fortunately easier to handle.
If Yuichiro heard about what happened, he acted like he didn't. They head home like usual, talk like usual, say their farewells at Yuichiro's gate like usual.
Really, he's fine like this. He doesn't need anyone else.
His locker and his shoes are drenched.
He tries not to laugh but fails. He's been through much, much worse. If this is all the karma he's getting, he'll gladly take it.
"Woah, who did that?"
Yuichiro peers into the locker and pulls out a soggy envelope hidden behind his shoes. He grins and shakes it, water droplets flying in all directions.
"Some girl must've been really nervous," he surmises.
Mikaela's smile falters. On the side facing him is Yuichiro's name with a pink sticker heart. Women are much more cruel than they make themselves out to be.
Grabbing the envelope, he stuffs it down his pants pocket. He can feel water seep into his pants. Yuichiro gives him a questioning look but quickly catches on and wiggles his eyebrows. Mikaela can't hold it in, so he laughs again.
Yuichiro hums and taps his chin.
"Your shoes probably won't dry in time for gym. Wanna skip?"
A while back, he saw Ferid and panicked. His breath shortened, his heart beat so hard against his chest he was afraid he might throw up. It was an experience he never wanted to go through again.
Luckily, he never had to. The man hadn't seen him. They never crossed paths again.
But the fear struck Mikaela's young mind like a grazed bullet. Something could have happened, but it didn't. For once, fate was on his side.
The world in which Mikaela thought he and Yuichiro were safe in- there were still horrible things out there. Vampires didn't exist, but humans with the intention to hurt and destroy still did. Once again, he was born powerless.
But even in this life, he resolved to protect Yuichiro. They would not be separated again.
Yuichiro smiles into the phone camera and brings his face closer to Mikaela's.
"C'mon you downer, at least look at the camera."
"I don't want everyone following your Instagram to know I skipped class with you."
He faces the same direction anyway, looking emotionless despite the peace sign held against his cheek.
Yuichiro huffs as he checks the picture. Then he giggles and nudges the other boy.
"I'm making this my background."
When the girls in his homeroom realize the wet locker incident failed to anger him, they stop ignoring him. The majority who heard the story as a rumor went back to admiring him as quickly as they forgot he was probably a jerk. It was just a misunderstanding, they thought. Nothing to get worked up over.
"I hate studying. I hate entrance exams. Just kill me now."
Yuichiro drops his head onto the table with an audible bump. He groans loud enough that Mikaela can feel the vibrations on his arms.
Even Mikaela's starting to feel his brain numb. He relinquishes hold of his pen and feels the soreness settle.
Yuichiro falls backwards with a softer impact onto the carpet. He tugs at Mikaela's shirt without looking.
"Mika, let's stop for now."
They relax for a moment. Mikaela's hand twitches.
He crawls over to the other boy, grabbing the hand on his shirt and reaches for the other, effectively pinning Yuichiro down. Settling his hips between Yuichiro's legs, he brings their faces closer than comfortable.
"Would you like me to?"
It's clear that Yuichiro is surprised, but not as nervous as he should be. He wiggles in Mikaela's hold.
In his mind he is not spinning out of control.
The sight of Yuichiro's bare neck makes him swallow drily. He wouldn't have dared think of it before, but with his now dull teeth it feels like temptation.
But he's sure he's thinking clearly now. He knows exactly what he's doing.
So he relaxes into Yuichiro's body and places his mouth on the soft skin over his pulse.
"Mika..." Yuichiro whispers, and Mikaela can't tell if he's refusing him. He sounds all too amused.
Mikaela recalls the most savage bites, vampires ripping out the throats of their victims to make the flow of blood quick and heavy. He recalls how similar it is to cattle with its throat cut, the human wheezing in immense pain and hopelessness as their limbs gradually become useless.
He's witnessed firsthand the worst cruelties, but it turns out what really makes him shiver is the taste of Yuichiro's skin. It's an experience similar to staving off the thirst for blood- the desire burns hotly, and once he starts he knows he won't be able to stop.
He tries to name the feeling. Infatuation or obsession, driven by jealousy?
Yuichiro points his chin away. The column of skin is like fresh snow, white and pure. Mikaela wants to trample all over it, bruise and mar the flesh to let everyone know this boy is taken.
Yuichiro has always been with him. Nobody should be allowed to change that. He's been separated from him before, he deserves at least this much.
He presses his tongue against the faint beat of blood rushing, the steady thump-thump urging him. He loosens his hold on Yuichiro's hands and their fingers tangle in a magnetic pull.
At the cue of an almost imperceptible nod, Mikaela's head bends, and he sinks his teeth in.