Title: Blood Dreams
Author: Series: Ice-Cold Demon's Tale / Koori no Mamano Monogatari
I Disclaim to Shiho Sugiura.
For Jill.

It's a silver trail that he climbs, a ripple of ground that twines around the trees into a peak of the mountain. It's a glacier world that he inhabits; only his footsteps disturb it. Only the icicles are melting in this land, steaming silently on bare, twisted trees. Branches reach out futiley towards a slate sky, bone-fingers outstretched to their fullest. He isn't sure of this trail, this destination. He isn't sure of his name. But a steaming, continuous, drip drip drip of blood onto snow reassures him softly, steadily.

Perhaps somewhere in the back of his mind, the place where he is aware of his name, he knows that he is dreaming. But one hundred years is a long time to wait, and wait alone, in solitude, in hatred, in a barren cave but for the stones and stray bones he can call company.

His dreams are white and crimson, but his lucid times are gray.

And his waking times are growing more far and in-between than he would admit to... Now he is starting to forget names, but he is half asleep, so it does not matter. He sinks into a chill embrace of snow and mountains. As chill as it is, it is more of an embrace than this smothering of ice around his body. Entrapment. Imprisonment. He stopped cursing aloud decades ago, but he doubts he has gotten any wiser. Fuck those priests and his own stupidity. He can still do it in his head. It takes up less energy, anyway.

People come to visit sometimes. Mostly humans, soft and stupid. But sometimes the demons come to pay their respects, too; shuffling in with quick eyetwitchglanceoutsides, or the ones who saunter in so arrogantly with another sort of glint to their eyes. It doesn't matter, really. All of them taste the same in the end, with a sweet-sour panic musk of fear to the meat. Personally, he likes the demons because they hold out longer, struggling like moths under a cat's paws. He likes humans because they're more tender. Demon flesh is stringy. He stays awake for weeks after one of these encounters, and afterwards he sleeps deeply. He likes to wake with the rust of blood still on his face. He licks it off carefully, as a treat. The ice takes care of the rest.

All these encounters - he calls them one night stands - blur into each other. There is only a bright glint - of hope, hopelessness, fear - lurching up out of his chest for that one moment as their hearts run like rabbits, fast and fragile, and their eyes peer out at him, wide and unblinking, but that last tear does not fall. Even with the mass of mucus and saline staining their faces and choking their cries. And that last tear is the one that matters.

Another one is coming.

He knows. He can feel it in his dreams. That one is in his dreams, and he can catch flashes of its coming out the corner of his eye - a flash of color in his wasteland. He wonders if he remembers this when he is awake. But when he is awake, he is usually feeding, and hot copper blood outranks vapor dreams, so he probably doesn't. But he thinks he can smell rasberries sometimes.

"You've come, human."

There is confusion. And amusement, in a dismayed fashion. It happens more or less gradually.

His dreams are frantic. He is aware of light. It is melting his landscape into puddles of color. He is losing his icicles. He breathes cold on them. He pats down the colored spots with snow.

It doesn't work.

Berries sprout in garlands around his neck. Someone tries to feed him some. He is mortified. And pissed.

This is change. He tries to be level. I don't want to change. I just want to get out, away. Stop it.

He tries to be level.

It doesn't stop. I want this to stop.

But the change is still there, readily apparent against the backdrop that is him. Blood. He is white and cool within a warm world.

He wakes up. It is his familiar gray world, but it is also inhabited by him. There are snatches of red and rosy cheeks, and Blood should have eaten him as soon as he walked inside, instead of playing with his new amusement.

Now, he thinks, it's too late.

, he thinks,

He

"Ishuca," he corrects. "I'm Ishuca!"

Ishuca is a sparrow in his dreams, red and gold. He flitters and chirps, and leaves small sparrow-mark steps in his world. He sits on Blood's finger.Ishuca stays there for few days before the chill grips his heart.

Blood feels pain for the first time in ages when Ishuca clenches his hands in his hair, as his body stiffens and arches, as he sinks down, and his heart murmurs an irregular beat within a too quiet space. When all Blood can do is look down in helpless horror and rage. Rage against him, and the words, the curses, stuck in his head for so long - do they come out? Blood doesn't know if he's talking along with Ishuca.

"I came here to die."

Could he have picked a worse place to do it? Could he?

"I didn't want to burden anyone."

Too fucking late, Blood thinks savagely, even as he gazes wide-eyed, wild-eyed, at the dying boy. I should have eaten him, should have, should have, don't die!

And then. And then Blood's world crystallizes. The colors bled out with Ishuca, but they sharpen and cut his body and he's holding him, holding Ishuca. Ice, he wonders, shards of it - has it gotten to Ishuca?

"Don't," he begs. He's reduced to begging. After two hundred years, that's all he has left. "Don't die."

All he has is a broken body in his arms, pale and gray and cold, a shock of red. It's tearing - something is tearing within Blood, ripping him a new one. And he opens his mouth to keen but it's choking him, as well as reshaping his core, and he feels the molten change somewhere inside but he can't let it out.

All he feels is something wet slide down one cheek.

Funny. He thought it would be cold in its perfection. But it's not.

It's warm.