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Challenge #01197-C102: The Eternal Soldier

http://jewliesparks.tumblr.com/post/131527892833/wwii-era-vampires -- Gallifreya

He should have been 4F because he was 'allergic to sunlight' on his forms. But he told them that if he coated his exposed skin in zinc oxide, and wore sunglasses, he could deal. They gave him gloves to wear. And the fellows in the 40th Foot called him Warpaint. The enemy came to know him as The Ghost, owing to the fact that most of his sunscreen was white-only.

He could pass for twenty. And there was plenty of blood in war. At night, in the trenches, he could nip off to the lavvy and then fly out to the enemy. Take his fill there and wait for news of a mystery illness that was sweeping the Jerries' trenches.

He only needed to do it once a month, really. But a well-fed vampire didn't need so much sun protection. So he 'mysteriously sickened' the Jerries once a fortnight.

He found Emma - the name she was using back then - in one of the field hospitals. Dragging his best friend in from an ambush. An ambush that he and Carl were the only ones to survive. Him, because regular, mortal weapons could not kill a vampire, and Carl because Tom had been protecting him.

Both of them were covered in blood.

Despite his best efforts to stop it, Carl was in bad shape. Tom had seen his fair share of mortal death and more... but this one. Not this one. He had known Carl since he was a boy. Carl knew what he was and didn't flinch. He didn't get weird or fetishist, either. Friends like that were rare.

Emma took him away and gave his blood type without looking at Carl's dog tags. That was Tom's first clue. She took Tom away from the rushing medical staff and helped him wash, and acquire new fatigues that didn't look like he should be dead seventy times over.

His second clue came with her saying, "How long have you been eighteen?"

"Four hundred years," he said. "And you? How long have you been nineteen?"

She smiled mysteriously. "Don't you know it's rude to ask a lady how old she is?" She put his condition down as 'shell shock', which let him stay with Carl. And she also gently broke it to him that, despite the best that medicine could offer, Carl might not make it through the week.

Tom sat on the bed next to his friend. They had been friends for fifteen years. Fifteen years was a blink for a vampire well over four hundred. But here and now, it was not enough time. Tom clasped Carl's hand while he woke up. "I can help you," Tom whispered. "Let me help you. You can join me. Forever."

Carl shook his head. "...i'm not made for forever," he croaked.

Those were his last words.

*

Time creates distance. Tom married Emma, and took in orphans for forty years before they moved on and reset their ages with new names. Wars came and went. They always did. Soon enough, there were wars that were not worth fighting.

Life continued.

White vampires had to move every ten years. It helped that he and Em were black. They could stay for longer.

But he still came to the memorials. The biggest, clearest war where there were good guys and bad guys. He stood on the sides and saluted the old men as they tried to march past. And every year, there were less old men who had been there and children or grandchildren who marched in their place.

One such veteran pulled up short. Staring up from his wheelchair at Tom's face. "You look a hell of a lot like Tommy Blakelowe..."

"That's my grandfather," Tom lied. "I was named after him."

"Damn, that boy had some strong genes. You're the living spit of him. You should march."

"No. It's not my place." And because, if he took that old uniform out of mothballs, he would look exactly like Tommy Blakelowe. But that Tommy had 'died' some long years ago.

Too many awkward questions were a bad thing for a vampire.

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