Characters: Damian / Nathaniel
Rating: PG-13, Angst
Date: February 2005
Disclaimer: All characters belong to L K Hamilton.
A/N: Written for a competition on Mon Jouet.
I lay in the dark waiting for the unpleasant weight of the sun to slide away. This had only been a problem for a short while. I never used to wake early, or have to feel that heavy threat. I was not willing to further test my luck by facing that brilliant light again. My fingers caressed my sword hilt, but otherwise I lay unmoving. Imitating the corpse I was for half the day. One day maybe I would be a corpse in truth. I tried to keep my hand on my sword hilt when I died every day. Maybe I would have my chance at Bifrost. Maybe the Valkyries would come for me and carry me away to Valhalla. Maybe I could join my old comrades and hoist a horn of ale and tell tall tales as we feasted. Not that they would want to hear the truth of my existence since we parted.
It would be nice to taste food again; to chew and swallow; to feel the weight of a good meal straining my belly. Feeding did not have that pleasant sensation any more. There were other sensations that I had never felt as a human, but I missed the simple pleasures of humanity. Even after nearly a thousand years I mourned my losses more than I celebrated my gains. It was not as though I had chosen this "life" or even would have if I had the choice.
All these years piled up behind me and so few of them had any element of choice for me. I was freer now than I had been since I was truly alive, but it filled me with panic at times. These small freedoms could be taken away again so easily. For the first time since my death I had something to look forward to, something to hope for; but it was all so fragile. I could lose it all in a moment. My "life" such as it was hung on the whim of my Master. Anita was not a bad Master, she would not kill me on a whim; but she might by accident. And accidents had a way of happening around Anita. I did not understand her. I doubted any of the men dancing attendance on her truly understood her. Not even the Master of the City.
I owed Jean-Claude a great debt, but had not done very well in paying off my obligation to him. He had bargained for me and saved me from She-who-made-me. I had re-learned the lesson of not even thinking her name. Her lessons were always painful. I was not sure exactly what Jean-Claude had done or promised to ransom me from her clutches, but I had joyfully taken my blood oath to him. I was willing to do anything he asked of me, no matter how distasteful. Anything to be free of She-who-made-me. I knew Jean-Claude's reputation, I had steeled myself to go to his bed without demur; but the summons never came. He gave me a job in one of his clubs; dancing with the women who flocked there; kissing them and sipping their blood. It had certain possibilities, I thought. I hadn't reckoned with Anita.
The opening night of the club and she was pointing a gun at me and issuing orders, threatening me with the police. As if the puny humans would frighten me after centuries of She-who-made-me. My arrogance didn't last long. Jean-Claude made it clear to me that I would abide by Anita's wishes in my conduct. She was his Human Servant, defying her was defying him, and would cost me dearly. I understood. I understood very well. Jean-Claude might not be as cruel or inconsistent as most of the other Masters, but he was still a Master and expected obedience. His will was law, and I obeyed.
Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to be a Master Vampire; to be powerful enough to cause your own resurrection each sunset; not to rely on someone, anyone, else to bring you back to life. I would never know. I was old and powerful, but although I might get a lot older, I would not gain much more power; only the skill to use what I had more effectively. It had been a bitter pill to swallow when I realised that I would never be powerful enough to be a Master Vampire, never be powerful enough to escape She-who-made-me by myself. I had a few hundred years to get used to the idea. I had accepted it. I was free of her now, and bound more closely to Anita than I had been to her.
I had stopped arguing with myself about being Anita's Vampire Servant. It was a fact, no matter how uncomfortable it made us both. Now I was part of her second Triumvirate as well. My face had changed, my power level had increased, and my need for Anita's touch had increased as well. I was bound more firmly to Anita than ever, maybe for ever. That was not really a problem. My problem was waiting patiently for me to rise for the night. My problem was being bound to another male as tightly as I was bound to Anita. I had been willing to accept Jean-Claude as a lover if I must, but I owed nothing to this young were-leopard. Yet he was there waiting for me to rise. He would look at me with those impossible lilac eyes, that ridiculously long hair flowing down his back; he would offer me his blood; and he would silently offer me his body as well. His shielding was virtually non-existent; he did not even try to hide his attraction from me. I had been aware of it before we were bound together, but I could ignore the sultry looks and sighs. Now his thoughts and feelings intruded on me. I could feel his need nearly as strongly as my own.
The sun finally slid beneath the horizon. I sighed in resignation and pushed up the lid of my coffin. Nathaniel was sitting on a kitchen chair with his hands folded in his lap. He looked so innocent like that, but I knew differently. Until recently he had been a prostitute and starred in pornographic films; neither profession encouraged innocence, but both benefited from the appearance of innocence. I also knew he regretted the loss of the outlets those professions had provided him. We had not discussed any of this, it had all leaked into my head from his. He loved Anita and was trying to be what she wanted, but I knew what it cost him.
"Good evening, Damian," his voice was soft and happy. He was glad I was awake.
"Good evening, Nathaniel," I sat up slowly, blinking in the dim light of the basement. Nathaniel had lit a candle on the other side of the room. I looked around carefully. My new furniture was still arriving and it was always the first thing I did when I opened my coffin, check if anything new had been installed while I was dead. Nathaniel had questioned me closely about what I was getting and where I wanted it. He made sure everything went where it should. The air held a faint hint of lemon furniture polish. "You have been cleaning again?"
"Just a little bit," he ducked his head, with a small grin, "You have such beautiful furniture, I enjoy polishing it. The side tables arrived today." He pointed towards the couch. The small inlaid tables were in place at either end; probably already with a layer or two of extra polish.
"Thank you, Nathaniel." I climbed out of my coffin and went to inspect the tables. The round tops had a representation of Yggdrasil in brass set smoothly into the dark wood. I ran my finger tips from the roots to the spreading branches. I could feel the coolness of the metal in contrast to the warmth of the once living wood. The deep sides had a complex pattern of inlaid brass; I turned the table slightly so that Ourouborous' head and tail faced out into the room. The two didn't really belong together, but I liked the effect. Nathaniel crossed the room slowly and stood looking down at the table with me.
"Will you tell me about them after you have fed?" he asked hesitantly. He was trying to change for Anita, to be more dominant, or rather less submissive; but he still had trouble asking for things just for himself. In some ways I was glad of that, I did not want him asking me for the things I knew he needed. His needs made me as uncomfortable as they made Anita but for different reasons.
"Yes, Nathaniel," I smiled at him gently. He made me want to be gentle with him even though I knew he was not used to kindness; or maybe it was because he was not used to it that I wanted to offer it. I was not used to being looked after the way he looked after me; I wanted to give him something to show my appreciation. We very cautiously cared for each other. "I will tell you about the World Tree and the World Snake. If you really want to hear about them."
"Yes please, Damian," he flashed me a happy smile, "I like you telling me the old stories; but not until after you have fed. Where do you want me?"
"Here on the couch, Nathaniel." I stepped aside and let him settle on the couch. He looked regretfully at the bed across the room, but he did not say anything. He never did. I knew he would prefer to lie in the bed beside me as I fed from him. He would prefer I fed from the femoral artery rather than his neck, but he didn't suggest it. I moved behind the couch and reached across the back to slide my arms around him. He wriggled back and tilted his head eagerly to one side. He was totally passive in my hold, but vibrated with enthusiasm.
"Do you want me to roll you?" I asked as I always did.
"I would rather you didn't, please," he replied as he always did. He enjoyed the pain, and if I rolled him there would be virtually no pain. I had not told him that it would be more pleasant for me as well. He gave me his blood freely; the least I could do was take it in the way he preferred. I sighed too softly for him to feel or hear, and bent my head to his neck. His pulse pounded in excited anticipation. I teased both of us by lingering a moment just above his skin savoring the meal to come. Then I struck, my fangs sinking deep into the soft skin. His blood welled into my mouth and I swallowed greedily, relishing the taste. He stiffened in my arms and moaned with pleasure. I knew I was causing him pain, but that was pleasure to Nathaniel. I sucked harder causing more pain, and he groaned in appreciation. I tried to ignore his body's reaction to the stimulation. But his arousal was hard to ignore. He wore his normal house clothes, thin silky shorts. Today they were a bright green. He had bought them because they reminded him of my eyes, he told me. I had not commented. I was not sure that I wanted to think about the implications.
Holding him in my arms, my fangs sunk deep in his neck, I was more aware than I wanted to be of his erection straining against the thin fabric. His blood filled my mouth and stomach, and I was aware of the blood filling his cock as well. My concentration slipped for a second and his thoughts flooded me, before I could get my shields back in place. He was thinking about my fangs and his cock, but in much closer proximity than I wanted to. He longed for me to feed there, even more than from the nearby femoral. His thoughts came with images of what he wanted. My hair spilling across his belly and thighs, I forced the rest of the image and his imagined response away. I concentrated on the blood flowing from his neck, and shut my eyes so that I couldn't see his eager, straining body. I swallowed a last mouthful of hot life and withdrew my fangs. I licked the thin trails of blood from his neck without thinking about it. He shivered in response.
"Thank you, Nathaniel," I said, slowly lowering him back to the seat before I drew back.
"It was my pleasure, Damian," his voice was deeper with his arousal, and he chuckled as he relaxed against the couch, "As you well know."
"After I tell you about the tables," I walked around the couch and sat at the other end, "we can do some more work on your shields."
"Sorry. Did they slip again?" he grinned at me. He wasn't sorry at all. Maybe I was falling for that innocent look after all. He wanted more from me than just feeding, and he was "accidentally" making sure I knew it. I was almost certain it was deliberate. Almost.
"Yes, they slipped again," I said sternly, "Your thoughts are your own, but I don't want to share them," I said very firmly. "If you don't learn better shielding, I won't be comfortable feeding from you at all." The mild threat had the desired effect.
"I promise to try harder, Damian," he was all lilac eyes and contrition, "I want you to feed from me. Please be patient with me while I learn."
"You need to practice more, Nathaniel," I said gently, "I don't think Anita would like to share those thoughts either." His eyes grew rounder, but he didn't give himself away. I was fairly sure that he had enough control not to share his fantasies about me with Anita. Control and self-preservation! He didn't say anything, but he nodded vigorously. I settled more comfortably into the plump cushions, "You wanted to know about Yggdrasil, the World Ash."
He rolled over onto his belly and propped his chin on his hands, watching me with those wide eyes as I spoke. I told him stories for an hour and then we practiced shielding for another hour, until it was time to go to work.
Tomorrow was another day, and we would play the game again. Sometimes I wondered who would win in the long run. But did it matter?
We had a lot of tomorrows together.
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