A fanfiction written by Ryuko Ishida
Summary: He's a vampire. She's a human child. She has no one in her life, and for some reason, he feels an intense need to be there for her. Benjamin/human!Tia
Author's Note: Uh. Yes. I'm totally into the Twilight side-characters-oriented drabbles these days. And as there are not much background information on this pairing, please forgive me if you think I've made some outrageous assumptions. For the purpose of this drabble, this is set about 70 years after Amun turned Benjamin. (Apparently, ice-cream has been around since 18th century. And they have sorbets invented way before then.) I somehow imagined Tia is turned by Ben. But, who knows?
Disclaimer: 'Twilight' series belong not to me but to the wonderful Stephanie Meyer. I just enjoy playing around with the characters.
Dedicated to Liz, my wonderful comrade in DQ, who gave me the challenge of 'ice-cream' in the first place.
The scorching heat of the night air should have suffocated him, or at least, made his breathing difficult. But the weather was the last thing on Benjamin's mind right now, as he ran fluidly and silently through the village. It was only early evening, and the sun had just set – the sky a shade of bruised violet and vibrant orange – but already, the pavements were void of people. Dust of red, sand particles danced fragilely behind his trail, almost like a fainting spirit, but other than that, the streets were quite empty.
He tried not to listen in to the households that he ran past, but he caught snippets of conversations here and there just the same. The topics weren't anything unusual, nor were they particularly interesting. It wasn't even the subjects of the conversations that were bothering him.
He shut his eyes tightly – not caring if he was going to run into any unwanted obstacles.
It wasn't the first time he ran away. He knew it wasn't very mature of him, escaping from him again and again... Yet, every once in a while, he just had to act like... act like an ass. A tiny smirk tucked at the corner of his lips at this thought: imagine what Amun would say to that description of him. He wouldn't be very amused, that was for sure.
He didn't have a right to complain, he knew that. It was Amun who, for lack of a better word, created him, gave him a second life. Better than life – different, from the essence of what life is. Immortality would be a more fitting word. And the price to sustain that status, ironically, was to take others' life. He didn't think of it that way before the transformation. Benjamin was not, if anything, an ungrateful, selfish person. He would repay Amun's gift every chance he got; mostly, it was in the form of providing defense against enemies who attempted to endanger their small clan of three.
Sometimes, he'd like to think that Amun had changed him out of kindness, out of true comradeship; he believed it to be the case most of the time. After all, the three of them had led comfortable lives among the humans in a village on the outskirts of Baltim (Note 1), a city with an intermediate population size at the northern coast of Egypt. But there were instances when Benjamin was sure that the only reason Amun was willing to create another companion was for his own safety. Though Amun didn't realize how powerful his gift of manipulating elements was at the beginning, Benjamin had a feeling that part, if not most, of the reason for Amun's decision to change him was because of that possible potential.
What Amun didn't seem to understand was the fact that his companion had a very independent mind. Benjamin refused to be under someone else's control, even if that someone happened to be his creator – someone whom he'd like to think of as his family. There were moments when dark doubt overwhelmed logic in his mind, and those were the times when he had thought about running away – for good, and never to return. Then, some days passed, and he would remember how Amun and Kebi had taught him the ways of the vampire – how he would have become a savage and a monster that kill humans for his own satisfaction of thirst instead of the sane, reasonable – almost human – being that he was today.
He had been running for a few days straight, only hunting small animals along the way at the deep hours of night to keep up his physical strength. Slowing down slightly and opening his eyes once more, the vampire recognized the familiar-looking statues that guarded the gates to Alexandria. He sighed softly, hands digging deep into the pockets of his trousers as he tried to control his frustration that somehow, despite of whatever direction he took at the start, he always ended up here.
It was as if his instinct, or some shadow lurking at the back of his unconscious, had lured him back. Well, he might as well go and see how she was doing.
All the time as he slipped past the officers, who were watching the city entrance, he was arguing in his own head, listing out every single reason why it would not be such a good idea to see her again. He would then proceed to shoot them down one by one with the vivid image of her face, her eyes, the memory of her scent, her warmth, her voice...
Benjamin had met her – Tia, a young civilian of the large city at the tender age of sixteen – about a year ago when he had been doing a little traveling and sight-seeing of the cities nearby. Amun and Kebi tended to stick to themselves, as they hated loud crowds, so they let their young charge explore the large city to gratify his own amusement. He remembered it was late evening – as vampires couldn't really be seen during the daylight without exposing their identity, especially with the country's constant sunny weather – when he first saw her; she was sitting on the dusty floor on the sidewalk, where shops had closed for the day, and was munching on what he supposed to be her dinner – a piece of dry, brown loaf.
"That doesn't look very appetizing," he commented lightly. 'Even for a human,' he added to himself, as he plopped down easily beside her with a few inches of space separating them. If she felt any contempt towards the stranger who had just suddenly appeared and tried to make small talks, she hid it well.
"Beggars can't be choosers," she replied wryly, tearing a piece of her bread and put it in her mouth. It seemed even drier than the last bite. She swallowed loudly.
"Why aren't you at home? It's very dangerous for a lady like yourself to be alone out at night," Benjamin tried again, seeing as how the young woman was silent after that short reply. He wasn't sure why, but something about this girl just seemed to... call to him. It wasn't her blood – he would've sense it right away, and wouldn't still be sticking around if that was the case. It wasn't anything that he had felt before. He was curious – about this sensation, and about this girl.
"Home?" she chuckled darkly, her hands stilled on her lap. "I'd like to return to it if I have one." She then turned to him for the first time, and the darkest brown – almost to the shade of black – eyes stared back at his own topaz ones. "And don't you worry about me, stranger," she stressed the last word to make her sentiment less ambiguous. "I can take care of myself well enough. I've been by myself for the last four years." At this point, Benjamin was too stunned by the fierce fire in her human eyes to make an immediate response.
"My name's Benjamin," he held out his hand, with a bright smile lighting up his boyish face. She had turned her attention back to her bread, and he was starting to think that maybe he had been too forward. He took back his outstretched hand in hesitation.
"I beg your pardon?"
"My name's Tia," she told him steadily, no tremor detectible in her voice. That night, Benjamin learned a few things about his new friend, and not all of them were pleasant. Tia told him – somewhat begrudgingly on her part, since Benjamin insisted on asking – that the reason she ended up on the street was because her mother had passed away four years ago due to sickness. Since then, she had been taking up temporary jobs here and there, trying to earn enough to at least feed herself.
A strong urge to protect her – no, it was more than that, to be there for her – began to bloom in him, unknowingly at first. Benjamin knew what Tia wanted was not pity – she didn't need that. She could survive fine on her own. She didn't want protection either; the young vampire could see that, though seemingly frail at first look, Tia was anything but.
After that first encounter, he had visited her at the intervals of a few weeks. Both youngsters noticed that although they were practically the opposites of each other – she was quiet in demeanor, only saying things when she deemed necessary, while he was always so lively, saying anything that came to his mind without first considering the consequences, much like a child – they became close friends. Tia had learned enough about her new companion – how he constantly ran away from his 'father' – that she would comfort him by just being an intent listener.
Even without Amun's warning, Benjamin comprehended that if this friendship were to keep continuing, things would bound to get complicated, and Tia would get suspicious. He didn't want to think of the future, not when he had finally found someone whom he could truly express himself to without hiding. Except that he was a vampire.
He wasn't sure how to phrase this truth, apart from the simplest, yet possibly the most outrageous – in human's perspective, anyway – explanation. He wasn't even sure if he should tell her. Would it scare her away, or would she call up a mob to stake him? Perhaps, he dared to hope, Tia would accept him for what he was? It was difficult to imagine, but the thought was comforting. Too bad it wasn't a reality. At least, not yet.
A sigh escaped from his parted lips once more. It was no use to have this debate at this point in time. He spotted the girl sitting at her usual location – the same place when they had first met each other. The familiar figure sitting on the ground, her dark tresses flowing ever so softly in the slight breeze, caressing her bare arms and olive-toned cheeks, ignited a nameless fire inside him. And Benjamin was sure, if he had a working heart right now, it would be beating rather sharply.
"Hey," he slumped against the rough wall and gracefully slid down beside her. The gentle warmth emitted from her body was welcoming as he attempted to control the urge to move closer. "What've you got there?" He took note of the wooden bowl with some sort of thick, creamy substance with half-visible clumps floating on top in one of her hands and a spoon in another.
"I was just thinking about you," Tia said with the tiniest smile tinted on her lips. "I think you would've liked this," she nodded her head towards the creamy soup in the bowl, and then frowned slightly, "when it was still cold and solid, at any rate."
"What is it?" Benjamin really held no interest at the foreign, foul (to his vampire sense of smell, at least) smelling material in her hands. All he could take in was how her eyes sparkled in a tender light, seemingly able to communicate the cheerfulness in silence, and how her soprano voice sang in the way she spoke.
"Benjamin?" It appeared that Tia had been calling his name a few times without getting a response back.
"What's wrong?" She placed the bowl and spoon in between them and turned to look at him. A lock of her midnight-black hair fell in her eyes at the motion. Lithely, as if he had been doing this for the longest time, Benjamin tucked the disheveled piece of hair behind her ear. The unnaturally cold tips of his fingers left a contrastingly hot trail where his skin had touched hers. She tried to ignore the sly shudder running down her spine.
"Nothing," he shrugged nonchalantly. Of course, Tia didn't believe him, nor did she want to pressure him.
"So what brings you back to the great city of Alexandria?" she tried to light up the atmosphere instead, and it almost worked.
"I missed you," it came out before Benjamin realized what he had just said. Tia didn't say anything in return for a long time.
When he couldn't stand the fragile silence any more, he started again, "so what is this nasty-looking soup you were talking about?" She shook her head, but couldn't contain the small smile creeping slowly on her face.
"The nice owner of the diner down the street gave me the left-over. He said it's called 'iced-cream'," Tia explained, picking up the utensils again. "It's supposed to be a dessert served cold, but I had it in my hands for awhile, and the weather didn't really help, so..."
"Here," he took the bowl from her hands. Without thinking much – maybe it was because of the long, non-stop journey, or maybe it was because he was distracted at the moment, even more distracted than usual, that was – he put his right hand over the bowl, eyes straining in concentration as he worked the surrounding air that enveloped the cream and bowl, lowering the temperature bit by bit. When he was satisfied with his work, he handed the bowl back to the speechless girl. She could only hold the now cold bowl, and poked the hardened substance inside with the spoon.
"How...?" He shook his head, smiling a little but the expression didn't really quite reach his strange, gold-tinted eyes. Instead, a kind of ancient grief seemed to paint his irises a darker shade of butterscotch. Benjamin then motioned her to take a bite.
She dug the spoon into the white solid and scooped out a small amount before putting it in her mouth. The bizarre cold combined with the creamy texture of sweetness was an interesting concoction.
"Would you like to try some?" She handed him the spoon.
"I think I will." Benjamin ignored the utensil, and slowly – carefully – he leaned towards her. Unwillingly, he hesitated, their breathes mingling for a few awfully long seconds, and after making sure Tia wasn't offended by his gesture, he inclined fully and placed a chaste kiss on her lips.
He could smell the subtle scent of vanilla lingering even after the kiss, and he would remember it for as long as he lived – that haunting, wonderful fragrance.
"Tia," he took both of her hands after placing the dessert back on the ground. His eyes were a molten hue of gold when she finally found the courage to answer to his serious tone. "There is something I need to tell you."
More Author's Notes: Wow. That took me a few hours to finish (it's really a miracle – I can barely finish ANYTHING these days). It's 1:30 in the morning and my eyes are starting to get very weird. I didn't expect it to be so serious at the beginning with Ben, but alas, things don't always turn out as we have planned. I still quite like it though, and I hope you do, too.
Note 1: (Yes, I did do a little research on my Egypt geography)
Baltim – a moderate sized city (as compared to Cairo and Alexandria, at least) on the northern shore of Egypt, which, according to Wikipedia, does snow a bit. So the clan would have some cloudy weather to cover their tracks.