Breathe the Dust

By Tini

The fading rumbles of thunder rolled like drumbeats, accompanied by the rain’s percussion against the windowpane. Vincent turned his gaze from the window and down to Tseng, kissing his lover’s shoulder softly. Tseng was cradled across Vincent’s chest, an amusing yet touching sight, considering their comparable size. Their hair was damp with sweat and rain, and Vincent reflected on the events of the evening as he gently cooled into sleep.

What had come over his raven? Tseng was usually so calm, so cool-headed, but tonight his past had taken its toll once and for all.


Tseng was bored. It wasn’t a good feeling, for when the raven was bored, he thought, and when he thought, terrors had a field day with the raven’s conscious mind.

Hatred, pain, life, death, souls lifted nevermore. Nonsense.

The storm raged outside, the wind beating the house walls in protest. Vincent was in his study with a book, reading or writing, Tseng wasn’t sure. So often, the vampiric man claimed he was ‘touching his past’, claiming it freed him in a sense. Freed him?

All the men and women Tseng knew, save his master, hid their pasts, buried them six feet deep in steel coffins, never to be exhumed. Vincent teased his past, prodded the damned thing into life and forced it to breathe the dust.

It angered Tseng, how Vincent almost proudly waved his wretched antiquity in his lover’s face, almost as if gloating. “I can deal with my troubles, wretched student. When will you learn?”

Such words would never leave the lips of the man he loved, but Tseng waited for the announcement of the sick noble truth that rooted so firmly in his mind. Tseng Tsuki-yumi, you are a weak man.

The things he feared, he forgot. He feared his past, that was not even a memory. He feared alcoholism, so he never drank. He feared the loss of his love, so he sacrificed himself to keep Vincent happy.

Tseng Tsuki-yumi, you are a very weak man.

“Tseng? Raven, love, what is the matter?” Vincent’s deep rumbling voice slipped through Tseng’s thoughts. The Wutain man whirled on his lover, his eyes shards of tempest-touched glass.

“What is it, Vincent?”

Vincent was a bit taken aback at the harshness in Tseng’s tone, but went to him and gently toyed with his hair, nonetheless. “I just wanted to know if you wanted to go to bed, my raven,” he murmured in his lover’s ear, attempting to pacify him.

Tseng set his jaw. “No.”

“No?” Vincent achieved his semblance of a pout. “Why no, my raven-winged dove?”

“Master Vincent,” Tseng spat, the other man’s mere presence registering hatred in his veins. “Maybe you were used to your lady, love, whore, Lucrecia, doing as you say, because you say, but I don’t want to be near you right now, you’re going to be made aware of it.”

Vincent blinked crimson eyes and rose. “Something I have done has upset you.”

Tseng paused, turning eyes the shade of silver to his lover and opening his mouth to speak. Failing that, he swallowed hard and let his hand hover on the doorknob. Lightning flickered, then crashed just outside the window. Vincent’s eyes followed the sound, then flicked back to Tseng. “Don’t. Don’t go out in this.”

Tseng left, a cloud of spite forming behind him. The rain stung cold through his shirt, plastering his hair to him. “Tseng!” The word was a summons through rain and thunder. “Raven!”

Tseng turned his face to the ebony sky, the streets empty in the humid Wutai night. “Come on!” he screamed, tempting Fate, begging her to drop her skein for one moment and pay heed to the obsidian-haired man whose desperation now voiced itself. “I dare you, bitches!” He spoke directly to the Fates now. “Am I not worth it? Is it not worth the time, the energy? Come on! Strike me down! I call upon you Ramuh, Zeus, Thor, any of you! One bolt, one strike, one flick of your wrist and I’m no more!” He felt a warm hand and a chilly claw close over his shoulders, and he spun to face them.

“Tseng, stop this foolishness. Please, don’t tempt Fate. She is cruel, my raven.” Vincent’s sanguine eyes were pleading. “I have no knowledge of what anger I have caused, but I desire to cease it right now. Chance, my love, mere chance is what causes this all. Your past, our love, this squall. Chance and nothing more. Much like a lightning strike.”

Tseng swallowed hard, facing his lover. Vincent could see the rain mingling with tears on his tanned cheeks and in his deep-set eyes. “They say you are never struck twice, angel. I do not plan for twice. I plan for a third time.” He directed his argument back to the angry sky. “And a fourth, if that need be to destroy me!” Vincent could hear the catch in his screams, and clamped his hands tighter around Tseng’s arms. The other man suddenly felt very weak, and relaxed, his legs barely supporting him.

Vincent eased Tseng into the house they shared, walking him to their room. Tseng fell onto the bed, shaking with grief. “Vincent…Vincent, I’m sorry, it was all lies, I am a liar, Vincent I love you, Vincent….” He trailed off, his hair falling around his face in wet ropes. Vincent pulled off Tseng’s drenched shoes, then followed with his own.

“Tseng, my raven, my love…” he whispered, gently pushing away the black strands and sitting next to him. “You are not a liar, and you have no need to apologize. You merely got caught up in your thoughts, it happened to me for twenty years. I forgive you, love.” Gently, he pressed his lips to Tseng’s.

Tseng returned the kiss with heat, the aching void in his chest gradually replaced by love. He removed his lips from Vincent’s, kissing his lover’s neck. Tseng’s body, his voice, his touch was that of a man, but his words were those of a child. “Vincent, I really didn’t want to die.”

Vincent gently eased Tseng out of his soaked shirt. “Shh. I know, love. I know.”

*back to present*

Tseng’s eyes opened, and he lifted his head, kissing a corner of Vincent’s lips. “Thank you,” he whispered in the Angel’s ear.

Vincent spoke without opening his eyes. “For what, raven?”

“You saved me tonight.”

Vincent yawned. “Nonsense. You were angry, I merely calmed you. Goodnight, love.”

Tseng watched him doze for a moment, before winding a blanket around his hips and walking to the bedroom window. His eyes were fixed to the very spot he had professed his screaming lamentation to gods with deaf ears.

The ground there was charred to a burnt black.


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