December 29, 2005
Disclaimer: All characters, places, etc. from the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series
are the property of Laurell K. Hamilton. No copyright infringement intended, no profit is made.
Genre: Angst, psychology,
philosophy…romance? Okay, I give up. I have no idea how to classify this.
Author’s Notes: My first attempt
at an NC-17 slash story. Generally I’m very fond of our favorite pomme de sang but really, this was totally unexpected
– I would have thought of any other pairing first, but I suppose I always did like the challenge of the unusual. Apologies
if it’s not that great. Some French translations are at the end; I think you can figure most of it out. One last thing,
as a general appeal: ardeur is not spelled arduer, although the chapter previews of Danse Macabre and
Micah up at Ms. Hamilton’s site use the incorrect version. Don’t spread the error!
* * *
Jean-Claude lay in his arms like sinful candy, having just died. So far underground, there
was no hint of the inexorably rising sun outside, but Jason felt it anyway, attuned to the patterns of sun and moon after
years spent in the company of those controlled by such things…including himself, of course. The painful moment of death,
no matter how many times he had experienced it with Jean-Claude, always sent a shiver of mingled fear and anguish up his spine.
Fear of death, of course, as befitted all things mortal. The anguish was the particular sort he felt for and because of Jean-Claude,
an unfathomable emotion that seemed to underlie everything in their relationship. Tonight the fear was a little less, and
the anguish a little more.
He hadn’t been able to quite stop his breath from quickening, barely perceptibly,
when Jean-Claude had come back scarcely a half-hour before sunrise with the scent of unfulfilled lust. The touch of the ardeur
burned everything mercilessly when it was roused, and Jason had always been especially aware of it, perhaps by virtue of the
blood tie between them. He had even been warned of Jean-Claude’s exact nature as an incubus, when he had first become
the vampire’s pomme de sang. And yet, through the sudden surge of excitement in his veins, Jason felt his heart
twist, even as the vampire wordlessly threw himself on the silken sheets.
Anita’s particular scent was there
too, lingering over his clothes, and Jason knew that Jean-Claude must have been holding back all night. He was so careful
around her, afraid to scare her away with the strength of what he felt, and what she did not. Well, at least what she was
not aware of, yet.
The fragrances, layered over each other, the arousal, the need, spelled out the story of pleasure
and pain. The intimacy of scent had been one of the most surprising aspects of his change to wolf; even in human form, it
was a sense that was almost disturbing, almost an intrusion of privacy. Though now it was disturbing in more ways than one,
as Jason felt himself respond to the turmoil in the depths of those sapphire eyes.
He sat besides the vampire’s
sprawled limbs, noting a little ruefully that even when the vampire did it completely unconsciously, Jean-Claude on top of
black silk was an objet d’art. All such frivolous thoughts were banished, however, when Jason saw the tension
in the long, pale body. He hesitantly moved closer, offering wordless empathy, unsure whether he would be rejected.
shifted with sudden and fluid grace, tugging him down so that they lay pressed together, giving a low chuckle when the body
besides his responded to the potent force of ardeur and the incubus himself. In the semi-darkness of the traditional candlelight,
the werewolf’s embarrassment should have been invisible; Jean-Claude sensed it anyway, of course, and the chuckle became
a velvet laugh. The sound danced across his skin like the brush of clever fingers.
“Ma pomme de sang,
I did not think anything could cause you to blush so delectably any more,” Jean-Claude purred, his mood changing from
self-tormented to something darker and infinitely more dangerous. Jason risked a glance at Jean-Claude; the dark eyes had
completely bled to an intense shade of blue he had never seen before, even when the vampire had been caught in fevered blood
Every sense, human or otherwise, should have been warning him. He knew that he was prey tonight. But like some
kind of masochist, he didn’t care.
Hands settled on his shoulder, and then down the front of his shirt, deftly
undoing buttons and revealing hot, smooth skin, nipples erect and sensitive from cold. The barest caress of Jean-Claude’s
lips against the curve of his neck drew an unwilling sound of pleasure despite his best efforts to remain silent. His heart
pounded so hard he felt as if he had forgotten how to breathe, and he could feel those soft lips curve into a smile against
the pulse of his throat.
Then there was the mock-bite that drew only the slightest trace of blood, so that the sweet,
coppery scent filled the air, imperceptible to those blind, deficient human senses…but neither of them was subject to
humanity. It was intoxicating, calling his beast from its slumber and rousing the thrilling blood lust of the vampire.
had slept together nude more than once – often, in fact. To lycanthropes, bare skin was only natural, and Jean-Claude
had spent decades in the glittering, depraved courts of Belle Morte. But as Jean-Claude started on the silver buckles at his
waist, breathlessly laughing at the slick, synthetic material of his practically skin-tight pants, Jason knew this time would
be different. The ardeur rose, until the air was hot with barely leashed passions, heavy with drowning need, but he fought
to clear his mind for a moment.
“Anita…” Jason said it as a last resort, knowing that Jean-Claude
would not want to endanger his already precarious position with the object of his obsession. This wasn’t right; this
would hurt Jean-Claude in the end. His body was screaming for more, but the last thing he wanted to do was increase Jean-Claude’s
pain, and this would…
But even her name didn’t stop the vampire’s assault on his senses, and
the expression in those brilliant blue eyes was still wild, deliberately uncontrolled. “Yes, Anita.” Not even
his usual endearment.
“You shouldn’t be with me,” Jason managed to gasp out, indistinctly hearing
the sound of his double belts as they slid down his thighs, along with anything else he had been wearing. Jean-Claude had
more control than this, he had centuries of practice over the ardeur, but something had driven him over the edge tonight,
perhaps all the desperation built from night after night with nothing so much as a kiss. It was as unstoppable as a wildfire,
and the heat of the flames was just as deadly.
“And yet some needs must be fulfilled, am I right?” Jean-Claude’s
breath was hot in his ear.
“Yours…or m-mine?” Jason managed to stammer, his eyes closing of their
own accord as a pale hand reached around him and stroked a burning path from his collarbone to his stomach, stopping just
short of where he wanted.
“Mon jouet…” Another husky laugh, reaching deep inside him, more
intimately than he had ever thought possible, as if his soul had been touched. “Both, je pense…”
then on, it was as if he saw the world through pictures: the smooth marble of Jean-Claude’s neck, the hollow of his
throat, the black material that still clothed his lower half. Jean-Claude hadn’t fed tonight, was that why he let the
ardeur reign over him tonight? Because one hunger denied was another magnified? Because he knew that nothing would truly happen
between them, that it would be Jason that bore the potent force of all those unspeakable, denied needs?
yourself,” the command was given, and he obeyed unthinkingly, unable to look away from Jean-Claude, but knowing at the
same time that this was completely different from being seduced by vampiric powers. He had been rolled before, this wasn’t
it. It wasn’t love, it wasn’t even lust that ran through him at the sensation of his hand wrapping around his
length, stroking himself, hearing his own harsh panting, the sound broken only by Jean-Claude’s soft moan.
couldn’t have responded any differently if the words had been know thyself, because it shattered every disguise,
every illusion. One part of him horrified by this unbearable intimacy, one of the spirit rather than the body. The other part
didn’t care, revelling in the pleasure. He closed his eyes, but Jean-Claude was there in his imagination, waiting…
I want to taste you…kneeling between his open legs, sucking him hard, sliding him in and out of his mouth,
the convulsive motions of his throat pleasuring him...and the sultry sounds coming from his lover shifted dreamscape back
to reality, but Jean-Claude was there, too. Hot mouth on his, kissing him hard, so demanding, so unlike anything he
had ever experienced. The ardeur was insatiable, he understood it now, but this was more than the ardeur, this was Jean-Claude,
wreaking havoc on his mind, incapacitating all thought.
Lithe muscles moved, and one pale hand was splayed against
his stomach and sliding palm down, making him buck involuntarily into his own hand, thrusting against his own fingers. Jean-Claude’s
body besides him was completely unclothed – when had that happened? – but any wonder was lost as he felt the drag
of bare flesh on flesh. He stroked himself hard, almost too roughly, the movement slowly becoming smooth, sliding with fluid.
The ardeur…whatever vestiges of control were stripped away, as the edge of his orgasm approached; he felt suddenly
what Jean-Claude felt, fear and pleasure and pain all combined, heard the words escape from teeth clenched in ecstasy.
sun…daylight comes…” The sudden slight pain as teeth grazed his neck again, cutting into his skin, caused
his hips arch for a contact that he would not be given. A cry, the incubus in pleasure a reflection of his own, and he could
no longer distinguish from which throat the moans were torn from.
“Please, Jason,” came the whisper of
need. “For me…” Then, so suddenly, a hand covered his, sending him over the edge, feeding the ardeur, forcing
him to confession, until he could no longer tell who was master, who was servant…victim, prey, predator, as if such
bonds could be described by such words… His muffled cry of agonized release was matched by a one escaping from Jean-Claude
in the same instant, a cry of pain - the pain of a vampire’s death.
* * *
Now Jean-Claude lay in his arms like sinful candy, and the day was beginning, and Jason
would have ordinarily fallen asleep with the vampire right now, but he could not. His body felt heavy, languid with the aftermath
of his pleasure, he would have welcomed sleep…but he could not.
He looked at the world with a new kind of clarity,
as if he had never seen anything before. Never noticed the flicker of candlelight as wax burned and pooled. Never seen the
exact folds of the cloth draped to soften the bare rock of the walls.
Jason had never been one for much introspective
thought, not because he wasn’t good at it, but because, like most other people in the world, he preferred not to look
too deeply into himself, for fear of what he might find. It was simply easier all around to live, rather than agonize
over who you were, and what you couldn’t change. The philosophy was somewhat Romantic, and probably somewhat derived
from the idea of carpe diem, although Jason had made it uniquely his.
He was younger than Anita by some years,
but he’d arrived at that particular sort of enlightenment years before she did. He remembered the early days, when she
had been so concerned about the fact that he had dropped out of college. In most people’s eyes, that would have effectively
ended any hope of a good future, ‘good’ meaning successful, wealthy, enjoyable, all the conventional ideals that
were hoped for when you got to a certain old age.
The fact was, the future was important, but not as important as
the present. Contrary to expectations, Jason had been a rather good student. Underneath his flirtatious, careless exterior
was a serious person, who knew exactly what mattered to him, and what didn’t. It was one of the secrets to successful
people: that you really needed to have to have a good sense of what you valued, in order to decide what to sacrifice –
and everyone sacrificed something.
There was a type of brain-washing, among the newer generations, mostly. The idea
was that you spent years and years of your life tied up in all the things you didn’t want to do, in hopes that one day
you’ll finally get all the things you want. The education system was only one part of it, but it was a good example.
The whole problem was, mortal lives were so brief, and yet people forgot that they lived in the present, not in the future.
He’d spent too much time recently thinking about the fragility of mortal life and the logic of letting some
opportunities pass by and grabbing others. In the pre-Jean-Claude days, he’d believed to some extent in the traditional
method of sacrificing now for later, and then he’d been inducted into the world of the preternatural.
It was rather tragically funny how he even divided his life not in pre-werewolf and post-werewolf eras, but in terms of Jean-Claude.
Meeting Jean-Claude had thrown him into a kind of new uncertainty that he hadn’t even experienced in the first
horrifying days after he had realized he would be effectively turning furry every month. It had changed his life in a way
that nothing else ever had. Meeting Jean-Claude had completely erased the line between “now” and “later,”
so that suddenly he had seen how stupid it was to live half your life in anticipation of the next half – because in
the end, humans only had one life to live. You didn’t exactly want to cut the time in half, did you?
was both blessing and curse, however trite the comparison. He forced Jason to realize that some things could not last forever,
and at the same time showed him what could. Werewolves couldn’t. Vampires could. Most types of lust couldn’t.
Some types of love could.
At first, Jean-Claude was simply such a powerful vampire, such a frozen perfection of all
things decadent and desirable. It was hard to describe the exact fascination Jason had with him, a mixture of so many things,
but perhaps fascination was most fitting. But unlike most fascinations, this one never faded and only drew him in deeper;
Jason had placed Jean-Claude on a pedestal, but he was never disillusioned…maybe because it wasn’t an illusion.
The vampire of his thoughts lay motionless in his embrace, flawless with a flawed soul, if such were the things that
left vampires at the awakening of the sun, and returned at twilight. But Jason didn’t see them as flaws – the
need Jean-Claude didn’t show anyone else, the moments before death when he would tell Jason, and only Jason, his deepest
desires. His wants. His needs. And he made Anita sound so beautiful in his words, how could Jason help falling in love with
her, just a little, too? And if that utter devotion was a reflection of Jean-Claude himself, how could Jason resist the allure
of his master?
In some ways, he envied Jean-Claude with all his heart. Jean-Claude had Anita. Asher. Even, to some
twisted degree that neither would admit, Richard. Though all those relationships might be imperfect, dysfunctional, perhaps
beyond saving when it came to Richard, there was no denying that they were intense. The kind of thing you could never forget,
no matter how many years had passed, just as Asher and Jean-Claude had lost Julianna and yet still grieved.
only had himself. He’d fixed his life around Jean-Claude, because he was the only one who had ever given a damn about
him, purely for being himself. Jean-Claude was the first to ever give Jason the kind of love he craved, though he hid it well
behind his jokes and easy teasing. The vampire was the first to see him as someone special and someone worth caring for, worth
giving attention to. He had never been important to anyone before, nor had anyone ever been so important to him. No one else
could compare, could provide the kind of relationship he needed.
And that relationship was one of the things that
could not last forever.
He could not begin to imagine what it would be like, that unmarked day marked so certainly
in the future, when things would end. What could waylay, deceive, defeat time? The blood that ran so richly red in
his veins had brought them together, vampire and werewolf, and would one day force them apart, by virtue of what they were.
The separation would come sooner or later, a sudden thing or perhaps a prolonged distancing, a fate unheeding of either’s
desires. It would come, despite the fact that Jason fed more than Jean-Claude’s blood lust, or the fact that Jean-Claude
had always been more than just a master.
That was just the way the story would end. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and
The thought, which had come so naturally to him, startled a laugh out of him, tinged with the merest
hint of bitterness. Even that had been a gift. A joke, to give him Shakespeare’s Macbeth, so famed for its supernatural
and gothic themes. But Jean-Claude would always make such little references to books, allusions to the intellectual world,
and it was never condescending. He, alone out of everyone, had never underestimated Jason, perhaps because he himself had
once been misjudged by Belle Morte.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to
day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief
candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no
And when that hour on the stage was up, what then? When the last act had closed at Guilty Pleasures,
where would he go, what would he do, that lonely night when Jean-Claude had finally wooed Anita completely? What happens when
forever comes to an end?
He breathed in Jean-Claude’s scent, mingled with his, and willed himself not to cry,
not to think. He didn’t regret anything, and there was a freedom in that, a joy. Because life was in the present, not
the future. Because though the future is ever-changing as it approaches, memory is fixed, even as it retreats, and it was
better to have bittersweet memories than none at all.
And having Jean-Claude for today was enough.
* * *