THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
I watched the world float
To the dark side of the moon
After all, I knew it had to be
Something to do with
I really don't mind what happens now and then
As long as you'll be my friend at the end
Three Doors Down
"She's powerful, ruthless when she sees fit, but she's kind as well. She'd make a good lupa."
"You don't say?" I responded conversationally.
He looked at me sharply, empty eyes narrowing. "Are you mocking me?"
"Who, me?" I asked. I blinked, trying to look innocent and angelic. Failing miserably, I might add. There are some things
that I am simply not adept at. Waltzing around with a figurative halo over my head is one. Comforting unstable werewolves
"I'm serious, Jean-Claude," he snapped at me.
I allowed a sigh to slip past my lips as I slumped in my black leather swivel chair, folding my hands over my belly and
staring at my guest. "I know you're serious, mon ami, and I'm very sorry if I have offended you."
"Somehow I seriously doubt that," he said flatly, eyes as bland as his voice.
I wasn't fazed; Richard is so standoffish with me that I've gotten used to it. "What I would do to dispel your doubts,
mon ami," I said sincerely, "but I do not know what you wish for me to say when you come to me night after night, telling
me of these endless lupa candidates, saying each of them will be the ideal queen when we both know that you will not choose
any of them. How do you wish for me to respond to such things?"
He folded his bare arms across his chest. "I don't want any long-winded speeches, Jean-Claude. I just want you to tell
me what you think of each of these candidates. Wolves are your animals to call, after all. Besides, you *are* Master of the
City, aren't you?"
"Of course," I replied with a smile. "You're interested in my leadership capabilities, but do you really want to become
a leader after my image? I don't think you could handle being me."
He wrinkled his nose as if he had just smelled something distasteful in the air. "I don't want to be you. I don't think
"You wound me, mon ami," I said good-naturedly. "I love being me."
Sometimes, I added silently. Other times I can't stand myself.
Richard leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees and lowering his head so that his thick brown hair
cascaded down to hide the majority of his face. All I could see was the curve of his nose and his long eyelashes. "My pack
in not entirely healthy, Jean-Claude," he said, voice quiet. "Anita has already killed Jacob, but we're still unstable. She
is too busy being Nimir-Ra to be our lupa, and it's hurting the structure of the pack." He took a deep breath and let it out
slowly. "I'm the only leader they have, and I'm failing miserably."
He fell silent, and I didn't say anything. To tell you the honest truth, I was at a loss for words. What was I supposed
to tell him? That he was ill-suited to be Ulfric in his current state? He had already heard it a dozen times before; he didn't
need to hear it again from me.
I tugged on the lace spilling out of my sleeves, the material nearly as white as my hands. Music from the main area of
Guilty Pleasures floated through the walls of my office, trying to soothe the silence that had fallen like a chilling blanket
of snow. How many nights had it been so far? How many times had he come down to my office, telling me about each new lupa
candidate, asking my opinion of her when we both knew he was silently asking for something else? Like a dog that comes wanting
to be petted when you're well aware that the dog will take your hand off if you tried.
But I couldn't be entirely apathetic on the matter. I cared about Richard, I truly did. And that's why I never broached
the subject of why he *really* kept coming to me. I knew if he admitted to himself that maybe, just maybe, he was looking
for comfort, I would never see him again.
And for some reason, I didn't want that. I couldn't stand the thought of losing him even though he was already supposed
to be lost to us. By rejecting ma petite, he had forsaken our entire triumvirate. At least, that was the way it was supposed
to be. Maybe he was clinging to me because he still wanted to see her, though a strip club probably would not have been the
best place to begin searching for a delightfully modest woman such as ma petite.
Richard was in denial of his real motives for coming to visit me. He wanted advice but frowned on my amoral opinions. He
wanted comfort but probably would hurt me if I even tried so much as to touch his shoulder. So that left me with basically
nothing to work with. Oh, bother. The only thing worse than monsters are stubborn, thick-headed monsters with "issues." And,
naturally, I - being the total stickler for suffering that I am - surround myself with such individuals.
And yet I wouldn't trade them in for the world. Richard included.
The moment I realized this, I knew that I had allowed my feelings for the man before me to run far deeper than was healthy.
For a while, I could blame the marks and say that what I felt was simply ma petite's feelings for Richard leaking over to
my own psyche, but once she shut the marks off and disappeared from my life for over a year, the feelings were still there.
And that left one thing: trouble. Trouble with a capital "T," as they are so fond of saying these days. When two men are fighting
over a woman, it's never good for Boyfriend A to develop a crush on the Boyfriend B.
And it's never good for Boyfriend B to come crawling to the Boyfriend A for comfort once Boyfriend B has rejected the woman
of his own free will. Richard is a man of mystery, truly. He, in his own way, represents the degeneration of these modern
times. That monsters with morals simply cannot be. One must be ruthless and strong to have power. It's quite sad when I think
about it, and it produces in me a mixture of frustration and admiration when I see Richard trying vainly to hold onto his
delicate little ideals. He never should have had to be a monster.
For the first time since he had come into my office that night, I really looked at him, savoring every aspect of his appearance
when I knew I should have been keeping my distance. White tank top, jeans with ripped knees, and dirty looking jogging shoes.
Perfectly normal attire for Richard. He looked wonderful, of course. The paleness of the tank top offset his tan, supple skin
perfectly, and his brown hair looked wonderfully soft under the lighting in the office.
Yes, I had *definitely* become too attached. Someone give me a slap on the wrist.
He suddenly stiffened and looked up, his hair framing his face. "What are you thinking?" he demanded warily.
I shrugged. "I was just thinking that you look good enough to eat." I smiled prettily.
He turned red, and I had the sudden urge to lean over the desk between us and kiss those flushed cheeks, to bask in the
scent of the forbidden blood so close, yet so far.
Isn't everyone glad I'm not impulsive?
"Very funny," Richard muttered, slouching in his seat, the tips of his sneakers almost touching the bottom of my desk.
"No one feeds off of me."
"So I've heard."
"Don't you dare start."
"I wasn't planning to."
He gave me a look that said he clearly didn't believe a word I had said. It was an incredibly dubious look, strangely endearing,
and dare I say, cute. It surprised a laugh out of me. I saw Richard stiffen instinctively against the sound, felt a shudder
run through his body, tugging the strings of his libido. It was almost enough to make the ardeur flare to life, but hey, you
don't live four hundred years and not learn to control the reactions of your own body. It's one of my many talents.
"Richard," I said as I rose gracefully out of my chair, the leather of my boots crinkling pleasantly. His brown eyes watched
me with undisguised caution as I made my way around the desk and approached the chair he was seated in. I swear, sometimes
people look at me like I'm about to rip their bloody throats out. Doesn't anyone have faith in me these nights?
I leaned down and planted my hands on the arms of his chair, lowering my face until we were practically nose to nose. Thundering
warmth wafted from his body, tickling the skin of my face and hands. His heart was beating faster, the blood coursing through
his veins, sweet like wine. Oh, Richard, how was I to know this would happen?
"Jean-Claude?" He made it a question, and I realized that my pupils must have begun that telltale shrinking. Oops. Back
"Mon ami, you cannot possibly be a good leader if you hate yourself," I told him, trying to deaden the blow of the words
by making them seem delicate and soft.
"I've already embraced my beast," he insisted heatedly. The fire in his eyes was delicious, hot enough to warm even a cold
creature such as myself.
"I'm not talking about your beast. I'm talking about you. You need to love or at least care about yourself."
He scowled. "Why? So I can be a conceited, self-indulged, overconfident, vain, smug…"
My, my. Whoever was he talking about?
"…arrogant, bombastic, haughty asshole?"
I blinked at him. "That's it? Come now, mon ami, you were on a role. It's good to know you think so highly of me."
He suddenly smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "Who said I was talking about you?"
Damn. Walked right into that one.
I didn't have anything witty to say in return so I decided to return to the subject at hand. "Anyhow, Richard, you don't
have to become a tyrant to be a good leader. Do what you have to do. Don't worry about petty idealistic entanglements."
The look in his eyes was cold and bitter. "Only you and Anita would call ideals 'petty.' If I let go of my moral standards,
I'd be a monster. Just like you."
I clutched one hand to my chest melodramatically. "Oh, wound me deeper, Richard. Perhaps tell me my power base is unstable.
Perhaps tell me that I have no control over my people. Perhaps tell me that I am not at least *some* kind of leader."
A tide of amber suddenly began to wash over his brown eyes, and I felt his beast stirring. "Get away from me, Jean-Claude,"
I leaned in closer despite the violence I felt brimming in him. "Have I insulted you, mon ami? Me, who you think so lowly
of? Why are you letting a conceited, bombastic, heartless asshole ruffle your fur?"
"Constant," he suddenly said, breath fanning warmly across my skin, stirring the ardeur.
I was surprised enough to lean back a couple of inches. "What?"
His eyes were slowly bleeding back to their normal brown. "You're the only thing that's constant in my life. Arrogant,
self-indulgent, but at least you're fucking stable."
He sounded so tired that I was almost moved to pity. The brown of his eyes was so dead, so empty, mere shadow of its former
color. His shoulders seemed to droop, the sleeve of the tank top sliding off one of them with a soft rustle. His eyes drifted
to my chest, and I realized that the collar of my shirt had slipped down, exposing the cross-shaped burn scar. He had seen
the scar before, but for some reason, when I felt his eyes on my body, the ardeur suddenly surged up. I resisted it, shoving
it down as deep as I could. Was it just me, or did the ardeur seem to…like him? I was in big trouble if it did.
I straightened, backing away from him a couple of steps. If he had felt the ardeur stirring, he showed no signs of it.
Either that or he just didn't care. Scary thought.
He suddenly looked up at me, eyes wide and tragic. "I don't want a new lupa," he said in a voice thick with emotion. I
felt the tears coming.
"Richard," I said warningly. I didn't know what to do if he started crying. If it were Asher or ma petite, I would have
offered them comfort in my arms, but this wasn't either of them.
"No! No!" he suddenly yelled, shaking his head violently. "Shut up! I don't want a new lupa! I want…her!" The last
word was laced was so much pain, so much love, so much hatred that it hit me like a fist in the gut. He covered his face with
his hands, as if to hide from me what his ragged breathing and dancing energy betrayed. His beast surged, clawing at my aura,
trying to draw something out of me. I gently pushed it back. What it wanted, I would give gladly.
I held out my arms. "Richard."
He stared up at me through the strands of his hair, eyes full of pain and tears. He saw what I was offering, but he didn't
"Please take my comfort, mon ami," I said softly, no voice tricks. "Since you will accept nothing else from me."
The mistrust in his eyes was so thick that I was certain he would refuse, but he suddenly rose to his feet, hands still
covering his face. He sort of stumbled, and I caught him in my arms, his body warm, solid. I slid my arms around his waist
and felt his wrap around my shoulders, hands fisting themselves in the velvet of my jacket. He clutched at me as if I were
the last creature on the face of the earth, and maybe for him, I was.
For the first time ever, I was holding Richard Zeeman in my arms, and it was only then, with his body pressed against mine,
that I realized just how dangerously unstable he was. He was gasping as if he couldn't breathe, his body trembling, his hands
gripping the material of my jacket so tightly I was sure he was going to rip a hole in it. I could sense that he wanted to
scream, but couldn't. The set of his body was tense, rigid, violent. I was cradling a vessel of pure chaos in my arms, full
of bottled emotions with no outlet.
"You can hold me tighter, mon ami," I whispered firmly in his ear. "I am not going to break."
A brief hesitation, and then I felt his full strength flood his limbs. He crushed me against him, as if he wanted to meld
my body into his, make us into one being. My eyes widened slightly; I hadn't expected such strength, but then again, he didn't
kill Marcus and become Ulfric because he lacked physical strength.
More importantly, however, was the easing of the violence in his body as he held me to him - one who could handle his strength,
his instability. I felt a shimmer of his disbelief, as if he couldn't imagine why my bones weren't shattered by his "monstrous"
strength. It almost made me laugh because I had the power to snap him in half, and he was worried about hurting *me*.
My resilience dispelled some of his self-loathing, and I felt the muscles in his body slowly relaxing, one by one. He started
to cry, sobbing quietly as he gathered some of my dark, curly hair into his hands and buried his face in it, perhaps pretending
it was someone else's. Or perhaps he was imagining I was just some random stranger whose arms he had stumbled into and was
now clutching like they were the broken mast of a ship in the tumultuous ocean. This seemed the most likely thing, until I
noticed he was whispering something into my hair.
"Jean-Claude," he was murmuring, over and over again. "Jean-Claude, Jean-Claude…"
This surprised me more than the time ma petite pushed me backwards into the bathtub when I was trying to seduce her. But
at least he knew who was holding him.
His tears ran dry after a few minutes, and he was motionless in my arms. My hair had fallen from his grasp, and his fingers
were lightly stroking the velvet of my jacket. My face was tucked into the crook of his shoulder and neck, a fragrant hollow
filled with his warmth and scent. I rubbed my hands up and down his back, feeling the smooth, warm skin underneath the coarse
material of his shirt. My incubus shifted, wanting his heat, wanting to feed on his sex until it was full and sated. I shoved
it down again.
Richard must have felt a twinge of its presence, though, for he slowly leaned back until he could look me in the face.
Drying tear tracks ran from his eyes to the curve of his jaw, discoloring the skin slightly. There were several winged emotions
rolling through his eyes, but I didn't want to see what they were. Reality comes knocking on my door occasionally, but I dodge
her company whenever I can.
I lifted my right arm and rubbed the velvet sleeve gently across one of his cheeks, drying the tears like I had seen a
mother do with her child last night. Using the same arm, I grazed it over the other cheek, and while my arm was still in front
of his churning eyes, I leaned forward and pressed my lips to his.
He gasped, but my mouth was already gone. My arm slid around his head, fingers slipping into his hair, massaging his scalp.
His eyes were surprised, torn, I think, between wanting to kiss me or kill me. I felt his pulse throbbing in his skull.
I could still taste him on my lips. The ardeur started to rise.
"Go away," I told him softly.
And he did, but not before he reached up and patted my cheek. A strange gesture, somewhere between a caress and a slap.
Then he slid out of my arms, away from my body, and moved to the door. And I watched him go, fighting both the ardeur and
my own desire to chase and envelope him in my arms again.
He opened the door, and the sound of music filled my office, throbbing and exotic, music you can strip dance to. He half-turned,
his shoulder-length brown hair hiding everything but his mouth from view.
"See you, Jean-Claude," he said quietly. The door clicked shut behind him.
Silenced embraced me with its wings, and I felt the tension slowly ease out of me, the ardeur sinking back to where it
belonged, dissatisfied. The music was now muted and dim. I sighed, a lonely sound in the empty office.
I shifted with the intention of going to lie down on the couch, but was suddenly struck by a tangy, intoxicating scent,
like a forest at midnight. I looked down and realized the scent was coming from my clothes. I smelled like werewolf. Like
I had to meet Micah and Anita later that night, and the scent would have to be gone by then so as not to raise much unwanted
and unanswerable questions. But for now, it was just me. I lifted the front of my shirt to my face and breathed in the scent
of Richard deeply, savoring the lingering feel of his presence in my office before it was sucked away by that cold, heartless
thing called Reality. I had two lovers already and one ex-lover living with me. I didn't need another one.
Sometimes I hate being me.
If I go crazy then will you still
Call me Superman?
If I'm alive and well, will you be
I'll keep you by my side with
My superhuman might
You called me strong, you called me weak
still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times
I never let you down
You stumbled in and bumped
If not for me then you'd be dead
I picked you up and put you back
On solid ground
Three Doors Down