"Apple of Sodom"
copyright © 1999, Stefen Vaughn and Dominic A. Wilde, all rights reserved

Spoilers- Post TVA

Disclaimer- Armand and Daniel belong to Anne Rice. We are only borrowing them for our own personal enjoyment, and because we thought that they deserved a night out. Dominic, on the other hand, belongs to Beverley- and he is mentioned with her permission.

This is a joint spec:
Armand- shadow
Daniel- Botticelli Devil

Dedicated to Tempus and Darkerlust for all of their exhaustive efforts in helping us research certain aspects of this spec. *grins*

Contains lots and lots of unresolved sexual tension between two vampires of the same gender- and eventually, some slash. If this offends you, then cover your eyes!

Yes, this is part of the RP that is currently going on, on the SG board. We've decided to thread it together, into a spec. Comments will be greatly anticipated ;-)

*****************************************

Naples, Italy
~Daniel~

There was no question about it, I loved watching Armand hunt. Especially if he thought I couldn't see him...those stolen moments were always the best.

There was such a ritual to it, every gesture full of some hidden meaning. The perfect balance of want and need...only I was never sure who held what role. Who was the one left wanting? The victim, or Armand? Hell, it was beautiful to watch.

Taking those who wanted to die definately had a purpose. But sometimes, I wanted to remember what I was. I didn't want to be merciful death, coming out of the shadows long enough to grant some mortal soul's last wish.

Some nights, I wanted what I had wanted in the beginning- to be free to take a life, any life that I chose. To be *that* set apart from the human race. Take without asking, take whatever you want...

This was one of those nights.

Maybe I was angry about how Lestat had gone about making short work of the only time alone with Armand that I had had since we all arrived here. Maybe I was angry about how he seemed intent on thinking of Dominic as his possession. Maybe I was just angry at him, period- for always having to be the center of attention.

After Marius had disappeared, I knew that I should be with Armand...and I would be, as soon as I took care of hunting for the night.

Maybe taking a life would be enough to take my mind off of killing Lestat...

So many mortals, I felt like I was surrounded on all sides. There was literally every type to choose from- male, female- tourist, villager. If I wanted to, I could close my eyes and listen to the music of their voices- the differnt lilts to the many different accents, for hours on end.

Look at the woman with the small, brown skinned child clinging tightly to her hand. Follow her down an alley, and take them both if it's what I wanted to do. How much longer did she have, anyway? One year? Thirty? Until some random act put an end to her life once and for all.

Didn't feel like being *that* random tonight. Smile at both of them, and let them pass.

Wait, what was that? Just up ahead, a young man who seemed to be having a bit of fun with the tourists. Picking pockets, mostly- grabbing any credit card that he could get his hands on. He fancied himself quite the hustler.

Maybe it was the way that his lips curled into an overconfident grin as he spoke to the elderly man asking him, in halting Italian, for directions. Really, it could have been any number of things...but as soon as I saw him, I knew.

I followed him as he walked away from the gentleman, one more credit card ahead than he had been a few minutes ago- casually slipping my hands in my pockets and falling into step behind him.

He knew he was being followed, and he must have thought it was a great game, because he glanced back over his shoulder and smiled when he saw me. Didn't even quicken his pace, although I did. Maybe he liked the idea of being caught....

We were shoulder to shoulder now, and the suprise on his face when my arm went around his waist was very near to being priceless. I pulled him into a deserted doorway and pressed him up against the bricks.

Such wide eyed suprise as my hand went around the back of his neck, fingers sliding through the glossy black curls. His mouth opened slightly, as if he were about to say something to make me stop- but I pressed a finger to his lips to silence him...and like a little child, he obeyed. My other hand tightened on the back of his neck, pulling his head to the side.

It was a graceless kill, too quick with a definate lack of finesse. But what did that matter, once the blood worked it's magic?

I left the body in a nearby dumpster, and began the trip back to the villa. Back to Armand...who I hadn't wanted to leave, in the first place. But at least now, all murderous urges had been quelled.

For the time being.

Back in the villa, I listened for the sound of voices. Pandora's, I picked out easily- and from her words, I could tell that she had been talking to Armand. I wondered if she would mind my interupting...but after a moment's hesitation, I simply didn't care.

I let myself into the room, and walked over to Armand, offering Pandora a quick nod and smile. Part of me felt guilty for intruding...and another part knew this was where I belonged. Where I should have been, from the moment that it came to my attention, that Marius had disappeared. If she didn't understand that...

I knew he was upset, and undoubtedly feeling abandoned by Marius *again*...and we would talk about it, I knew it. But not now. Some things had to be done in private. Especially where Armand was concerned...

I leaned over and nuzzled his neck, enjoying the chance to take this little liberty- enjoying the chance to be *this* close, for a change. I rested my chin on his shoulder, and whispered into his ear.

"You're freezing...come out with me for a while."

Too many other things there, just under the surface. *You're not alone.* *I love you.* I wondered sometimes, if he had the vaguest idea...
*****************************
 

~Armand~

I looked up as Daniel came into the room, giving him a sad but welcoming smile. The compassion in
those violet eyes was touching, and I knew even without being able to read his mind that he was
aware of how heartbroken I was over Marius's abrupt departure.

I forgot all about Pandora as I enfolded him in my arms, sighing softly as he nuzzled my throat. He
feels so warm and soft. I knew that he had fed; I could still smell the fresh blood on him, and it
made my own hunger stir, despite my sadness and inner pain.

"You're freezing...come out with me for a while."

I pulled back to rest my forehead against his, looked into his eyes and saw the concern there with
the love. He wanted to get me to get out and do something, not sit here and dwell on Marius.

"Yes. I am cold. Help me to get warm."

I stood up and leaned over to kiss Pandora on the cheek, giving her a smile that I hoped was
encouraging, but despairing that it is just as sorrowful as my heart felt. It wasn't that I didn't feel her
pain as well, it was only that I was too immersed in my own to give hers much thought.

"I must go with Daniel now. Be well Pandora, and do not give up hope. I am sure that Marius
will return to us."

Wrapping my arm around Daniel's waist I leaned into him as we walk from the room, grateful for
his presence and support.

I didn't care where he led me, so long as he didn't leave me. I couldn't bear the thought of being alone.

~Daniel~

"Yes. I am cold. Help me to get warm."

Too much sadness in those brown eyes- always too much.

Funny how a moment of clarity can hit you when you least expect it. Suddenly, I knew exactly what my purpose was...what it always would be, and had been since all of this had began.

I was going to make him smile if it killed me. Banish the shadows that haunted those eyes, one way or another.

Playing the court jester to his demon prince wasn't such a bad way to spend eternity, and the thought made me smile in spite of myself.

I waited patiently while he said goodbye to Pandora, shifting my weight from foot to foot, trying not to look too eager. It would be good to get out of here for a while...

As we left, arm slung casually and more than a little protectively around his shoulders- my mind was racing with possibilities...trying to decide on the one thing that would get rid of some of this gloom. Hunting would be a start- getting lost in human flesh always seemed to be a step in the right direction.

Leaving the villa behind, I took him back to where I had just come from. For a minute, I almost found myself telling him about my hunt...how good it felt to just reach out and take a life. But I was never any good at putting things into words, and I knew it wouldn't come out right.

Easy to forget that the being that walked so close, pressed against my side, had lived for 500 years. Sometimes, all I could see was the hurt child that he had been...and tonight was one of those nights. I stopped walking suddenly, and turned him to face me- tilting his chin gently so that our eyes met.

"Armand, are you ok? I mean, *really*?"

Still more than a little irrational fear that he would try it again, going into the sun. And this time he would be more precise about it.

I hadn't been aware of the noise before, but now it was all around us- the muffled strains of music, smothered by four walls. From over his shoulder, I saw it- a dive on the outside...all of these places were. Mortal boys and girls squeezed into impossibly tight clothes, the lines of gender blurred beyond any recognition. Standing out front without any pretense of order, all waiting to get in. Two of them were dancing, out of tune with the music...obviously too lost in each other to notice.

I knew what I wanted.

"I have something in mind, but we've got to lose *these* clothes."

I tugged at his shirt, and grinned- the idea forming and perfecting itself in my mind even as we stood there.

I took him by the hand.

"I've always wanted to see you in leather..."
*******************************
 

~Armand~

Walking from the room with Daniel, I was only marginally conscious of how much I was leaning on him. It just felt so good to be held by his comforting support.

I was a bit surprised when I discovered how far we had walked and finally found ourselves in the heart of the city.

I looked around in mild bewilderment. Daniel cupped my face and brought it back around to his. Such concern, worry and love in those those bright eyes. I could lose myself in them. I was so absorbed in the lights reflecting in his eyes that I almost missed his question.

"Yes. I'll be fine Daniel. I always have been."

I smiled softly and wanted to kiss that frown away from his mouth. My Daniel. Always worried about me. And he did bring out my own protective instincts. God and the Devil both protect anyone who ever dared to hurt him.

My brows drew together when he plucked at my shirt and declared that I had to lose it. Was he implying that I had bad taste in clothes or that he wanted to get me somewhere private and alone? His next comment made my eyes widen with interest and surprise. Leather? Well, I have worn leather before, but something told me that Daniel had something specific in mind.

Curious and rather enthralled I allowed myself to be led along by the hand by my fledgling, wondering with anticipation just what he was up to. Something told me that I was in for a very interesting evening.

~Daniel~

"Yes. I'll be fine Daniel. I always have been."

I nodded, brows drawing together in a frown.

"I'm going to take your word for it this time, only because it's easier than standing in the street arguing that you are *not* fine, but won't come out and admit it."

I leaned over and kissed him quickly- just allowing our lips to brush.

"Fine or not, if you think I'm letting you out of my sight for even ten *minutes*- you are sorely mistaken. Call me overprotective, call me a pest- but there will be no more of this attempted suntan business, you hear me?"

Had to be said. Amazing how much better that I felt, once that was out in the open.

I loved the look of suprise on his face as I tugged at his shirt, obviously thinking that it had been a jibe against his fashion sense- but he should have known better than that. He always had impecable taste in clothes, and what's more- he knew it. But he didn't question me...he allowed me to lead him wherever I chose to.

The only problem was, I had no idea *where* I was going.

Up and down the narrow streets, peering in shop windows- hoping to find what I was looking for...but it was more difficult than I thought it would be.

I finally turned to Armand in exasperation.

"I just don't get this. You'd think they would have..."

But just down the alley, set off by itself, was a little shop that looked like it may have held some promise. Two girls had just walked out, giggling to themselves as they peered into the bag that they were carrying. One pulled out what looked like an antique velvet shawl, and casually slung it across her shoulders- doing a little spin, as her companion looked on appreciatively.

I put my hands on Armand's shoulders, and gave him a gentle nudge in that direction, and tried to ignore the look he was giving me.

"No, I'm *not* crazy. Just follow me."

The shop was small, to be sure- but the atmosphere was perfect. No bright, glaring lights- instead, the proprieter chose to use small lamps, covered with silk scarves- filling the room with delicate, intricate shadows. The scent of incense was almost overpowering.

All along the four walls of the small room were racks and racks of decedant finery- more leather, lace, and velvet than even could be found in Lestat's closet, I wagered.

There were two others with us- a boy and a girl, carefully examining a deep burgandy velvet frock coat. This definately wouldn't do- especially since it appeared that there were no changing rooms. I whispered to Armand that I would be right back, and quickly found the proprieter.

After giving him a handsome tip, he agreed to close the store for us- his mood improving the moment that he had the money in his hands, almost gleefully shooing the boy and the girl out the front door. I waited until I saw the shades come down, and the *closed* sign was securley in the front window, before I went back to Armand.

"Looks like it's just you and me." I waggled my eyebrows at him, and immediatly went about the task of looking for what to try on, first.

A pair of black leather pants that laced up both sides...a blood red velvet shirt...a black fishnet shirt so flimsy that I could ball it up in one hand...a pair of black vinyl bondage pants...and two pairs of boots- one pair knee length, and the other pair just above the ankles.

Good enough to start with...

"Alright, you. Get over here and strip. And lets hope I can get these things laced up..."

**********************************
 

~Armand~

Wandering through the store and fingering the cloth of the items hanging on the racks I was only vaguely aware of Daniel speaking with the proprietor and the swift departure of the other patrons from the shop. I was thinking about what Daniel said to me in the street. He was worried that I might try to destroy myself again. I wouldn't, but then I had no way of convincing him of that. I would stay around for a while yet. Partly for him, partly for Marius, who I knew would evenually return, and mostly for myself, because I was just to curious to not stick around and see what the future held for all of us.

When Daniel came back to my side, his arms filled with clothes I had to smile. He looked so eager and happy and obviously wanted me to try some of these things on.
I raised both eyebrows when he told me to strip.

"Daniel.....did you just *order* me to do something?"

Flashing him a teasing smile I reached out and lifted the black leather pants from the pile and held them up to my waist. They were a bit long in the legs, but a pair of boots would hide that once I tucked the cuffs in. The red shirt would never do. It would clash with my hair, and the mesh shirt, while interesting was not quite in my style. I wouldn't have minded seeing it on Daniel though. Drapping the pants over my arm I started looking through the racks. A cloak of black velvet caught my attention for a few moments and I found myself rubbing my cheek against the soft fabric. If only it had been red....

Coming back to myself I abandoned the cloak and pulled a few shirts from their hangers. While they were black, they were not quite true blacks. One seemed more brown, and another had a hint of blue to it. Finally I found one that was a true black and of a style that I liked. Soft silk, cut in the flowing folds of a poet shirt and lacing up the front. Quickly I began gathering other items: a black leather waist corset, some belts with silver studs and chains, a pair of handcuffs, and finally, under a pile of boots and shoes, a pair of thigh high suede boots. A pair of fingersless suede gloves completed my ensemble.

I undressed with sublime indifference to the stares of Daniel and the shop keeper whose jaw was hanging on the floor, and went about putting on my strange new clothes. Surprisingly I was finding this all oddly liberating. It was as if I had shed my skin and donned a new one. I felt like a new person in them.

I stepped in front of the old full length mirror to take a look at the finished product. My legs looks longer in the tight pants that hugged every curve, the high boots cleaving to my calves and thighs. The corset nipped in my waist, making it even smaller as it gave me a beguiling girlish look to my figure, betrayed only by the smooth flatness of my chest. The loose folds of silk billowed freely above the corset and flowed over my arms. I couldn't decide if I looked like a pirate or a dandyish fop.

Adjusting the belts so that they hung low over my hips, I glance up at Daniel in the mirror.

"What do you think? Is it too much?"

~Daniel~

I knew Armand would enjoy this, once he got started. He attacked finding the
perfect outfit with the same fervor and exactness that he used in everything
that he did.

He had very definate ideas about what he wanted to wear, and I was content
to stand back and watch- although, I wasn't sure that I liked the shop keeper
watching. He looked like he was catching flies.

I wasn't about to part with more money just so that he would stop staring, so
I looked over my shoulder and glared at him- hoping that he would finally get
the picture, and stop the gaping. After all, he *had* to be used to seeing
people change. There were no changing rooms, and this certainly wasn't the
kind of stuff that you could just pay for, and take home. You had to make
sure that it fit! Otherwise, what was the point...

Of course, other customers might have been more discrete about it. But we
weren't *other customers*.

I pulled something that resembled an out of place barstool over and sat
down, torn between watching Armand change and scanning the room for
more accessories. He was doing an admirable job of finding them on his own-
digging through stacks of boots, pushing things out of his way on the
counters, rifling through the racks. He definately had a knack for this,
whether he knew it or not...

And the finished product was well worth waiting for. I couldn't help but smile
as he asked my opinion, still studying his reflection in the mirror- his
concentration making two distinct creases appear on his brow, lips turned
down a little bit almost as if he were getting ready to frown.

I came up behind him, resting my head on his shoulder, and raising his arms
out to the side.

"Too much? Hardly. We have a few details left, though."

There was a table set up on the left side of the mirror- a gaudy display of
makeup, in every color that one could imagine. I picked up a handful of
eyeliner pencils and two tubes of lipstick, ignoring the whiteface and blush
entirely. We certainly didn't need the whiteface, and the blush was
just...tacky.

I hopped back up on the stool, and nodded for Armand to come and stand in
front of me. Holding his face steady with one hand, I carefully applied the
black khol to his eyes- being careful not to overdo it. I wasn't trying to make
him over into an egyptian, after all. Once the outlines had been drawn, I went
back and smudged the lines with my thumb.

Using the same black pencil, I went back and outlined his lips- filling in the
rest with a crimson pencil, and finished off by blending the two shades
together.

I took the two tubes of lipstick- one a deep red, and the second a greasy
black, and rubbed a little of each into the palm of my hand- blending them
together until the color was a dark and muddy crimson. Very carefully, I
smudged a bit on his cheeks- finally following the line of each cheekbone with
the black pencil, and blending until there was just the right amount of shadow
to bring out the sharpness of his features.

Now *I* was the one staring, and I knew it. But it was hard to stop. Finally, I
stood up.

"Alright, turn around and take a very deep breath...and see how long you can
hold it."

I untied the the corset, and cinched it up as tight as I could manage- trying
not to tie it *too* tight. This was turning out better than I had imagined...but
there was still one thing missing.

Back up to the front of the store, to pick through a display of collars. I
walked back to Armand, and held my choice out- a three ringed bondage
collar- for his inspection.

"I know, this one is made more for appearances than functionality- but we
can't have it all."

Once his ensemble was practically complete, I started to give a little thought
to my own. My head was spinning with ideas- leather, vinyl, PVC, latex, even
*liquid* latex. But black, it had to be black.

I turned back to Armand, and grinned.

"Any ideas, boss?"

*********************************
 

~Armand~

I would never have let on how much Daniel's approval meant to me, but I
watched his face carefully in the mirror to judge his reaction to my selections.
Modern clothes seemed so dull in comparison to the silks, velvets and lace
that men could wear so freely in centuries past. Now it was only women who
were able to dress with elegant style. Masculine atire was just plain boring in
comparison with little variation. Pants and plain shirts. A blazer or a jacket.
Casual wear looked grungy, and formal wear came in only two styles. But
now I was surrounded by the things that I had loved in the past, and wanted
to wear it all, even if most of it was black. At least it wasn't insipid and
dreary looking.

When Daniel came up behind me and gave his approval of my choices I
almost smiled with relief. For some reason I desperately wanted to please
him this night.

The sight of the makeup gave me a bit of pause. I had never worn makeup in
my entire life. Not even at the Theatre des Vampyres had I allowed it to
touch my face. I decided that I would allow Daniel to put it on me if he
wished. After all, if I didn't like it, I could wipe it off again.

The eyeliner pencil tickled as it drew the lines around my eyes, and I had to
consciously resist the urge to blink as he smudged the lines with his thumbs.
I felt a strange, warm sensation in my stomach, like the fluttering of
butterflies as he worked to outline my lips. It was destictly pleasurable to
have him touching me in this way, and there was a certain intimacy to the
process of applying the makeup.

As he blended the lipsticks I watched him with half closed eyes, enjoying the
look of intense concentration on his face. He was like an artist working on
his masterpiece. Finally he was finished, and when he looked at the final
results he seemed suprised. I turned to the mirror and stared at the
reflection. It was me, but how different I looked! My eyes were even larger
than usual, and my mouth appeared sensual, boldly accentuated by the dark
colors. I turned my head to look at the contours of my face, now sharply
outlined by the blended shadows. A beautiful and androgenous Goul.

I gasped as Daniel pulled on the laces of the corset, tightening them around
my waist. It was a bit surprising to realize just how strong my fledgling was.
When he had tied the laces off, I let out my breath, and ran my hands down
my sides, feeling the constriction against my ribs. Delicious.

My eyes fell on the collar in Daniel's hand I looked up into his violet eyes.
Slowly I raised both hands and lifted my hair, baring my throat to allow him
to place the collar around my neck. A simple act, but it held a great deal of
symbolic meaning for me. I wondered briefly if Daniel understood importance
of my gesture.

From the warm light in his eyes I believe he understood all to well. I would
abandon myself to his care, at least for this night. He would be the Master,
and I would follow his lead.

Now it was time to outfit him, and when he asked for my oppinion I was only
to happy to help. After all, I had dressed him for years, hadn't I?

I selected a pair of tight, shiny vinyl pants with zippers all over them, and
plucked the fishnet shirt from the top of the rack where it had been casually
discarded. Such a skimpy garment, hardly worth calling a shirt at all, but it
would look wonderful on Daniel. I prefer light, easy footwear, like the soft
boots that I wore. Daniel on the other hand likes the heavy duty kind, so I
pulled a pair of Doc Martin's from the pile of boots and handed all of this to
him, waiting for him to get dressed while I went in search of accessories.

I couldn't resist a playful wink and grin to the poor proprietor who seemed to
be sweating buckets and having trouble breathing. His heart was beating so
rapidly, such a succulant, juicy rhythm....it reminded me that I hadn't fed yet.
I decided to play with the hunger for as long as I could this night, letting it
build.

I rifled through the trays of jewelry, selecting a few pendants and braclets for
both myself and Daniel.

"Do you have any preferrences Daniel? Silver? Gold? Ornate or plain?"

~Daniel~

It was still hard to stop staring at Armand.

I couldn't keep my eyes off of him as he went back to work, scavenging through the racks, looking for what he thought I should wear. He looked like a perfect little gothic doll...and if I was this caught up in his appearance, what would it be like once we were in the company of mortals?

Ah, they didn't stand a chance. Funny, but the thought made my heart turn into a triphammer inside my chest. I wanted to see him hunt.

He came back quickly enough, with an armload of garments- everything black, just the way I had wanted it. I knew without even bothering to look that everything would be in my size. Armand had picked out my clothes enough through the years to have it memorized by now.

I hopped off the stool, and quickly shed my t-shirt, reaching for the longsleeved fishnet shirt that Armand held out. I looked at it carefully for a few minutes, trying to decide what didn't look quite right about it.

Hmmm...ah, that was it. It was whole. Carefully, I pulled two long slashes in the front with a fingernail, and pulled it over my head. Yes, much better.

I kicked off my jeans and tennis shoes, and tossed them onto the floor with my shirt- making a mental note to keep Armand far away from the clothes that I had just taken off. It would be far too tempting for him to grab them when I wasn't looking, and throw them away...

I tried on the pair of pants next, and immediately, I loved them- the sheen of the vinyl, the contrast between the black and the bright silver of the zippers. And while they fit perfectly in length- I noticed one small detail. They were too loose in the thighs.

I asked Armand to show me where he found them, and went about finding a pair in the next smaller size. Easier said than done- there seemed to be at least half a dozen pairs in larger sizes, but nothing smaller. I was almost ready to find the shopkeeper, and tell him to go have a look in back, when I found a pair lying on the floor *under* the rack...probably knocked down by my own enthusiasim. Eagerly, I snatched them up.

This was going to be a challenge, and I knew it- these had been a tight enough squeeze, and the new pair were going to be even tighter. How to do this, how to do this.....

There was only one way. And Armand was definately going to think I had lost my grip.

I walked back up to the register, where the shopkeeper was lurking, obviously trying to pretend that he wasn't paying a bit of attention to us....but failing miserably. I was tempted to tell him to tuck his tongue back in his mouth- but instead, I asked if he had any baby powder on the premisis.

He pulled out a container from behind the counter and slid it across to me, without asking any questions.

Back to the back of the store, where there would be at least a minimal amount of privacy. I tugged off the pants, and liberally applied the baby powder to my legs.

With that done, I lay down on the floor and started the battle- wriggling from side to side until I finally had the pants up high enough to think about closing them. There was an art to this, rocking from side to side- knowing when to tug, and how far...the only problem was, it was definately less than graceful.

I looked back over at Armand, who had taken my spot on the stool. I could see that he was barely holding his laughter in check- and truthfully, who could blame him? I'm sure I would have laughed at myself, if I hadn't been concentrating so hard on getting these pants up.

"I know, this resembles some kind of strange mating dance, but there was no other way! Now stop looking at me like that."

One tremendous breath in, and I managed to take care of the zipper, and snap them closed. Exhale slowly...and they were on. Now, to try and stand up...

It was actually easier than I had expected- and I managed to extricate myself from the floor with much more grace than I had exhibited earlier.

Yes, this fit was much better...I went for the boots next- not minding the fact that I had to lace them up. Didn't seem like anything after putting on the pants from hell.

I looked at my reflection in the mirror carefully, trying to see what was missing. Unconciously, I reached out and pulled a pair of handcuffs off of the display dummy that was set up beside the mirror, and hooked them through the belt loops of the pants, and snapped them closed.

I seemed to be the exact opposite of Armand- who, I was convinced, would exude elegence even if he were wearing a paper bag. I picked up the black khol pencil, and drew thick lines around my eyes- going back to smudge them beyond recognition. A little black lipstick, and I was finished. Not nearly as extravagent, but it would do for now.

"Ok, Boss- any finishing touches? Because if I'm not mistaken, it's almost time for the real fun to start."
 
 

**************************************
 

~Armand~

I watched Daniel changing into his clothes, and personally didn't think that there was
anything wrong with the first pair of pants. Granted they had a little give in the thighs,
but they looked all right to me. Daniel would have none of it. He immediately went
rummaging through the racks till he found another pair in a smaller size.

Watching him lay on the floor to wiggle and squirm into those too tight pants was vastly amusing.
It was tempting to simply fall on the floor and roll about laughing beside him. But that would
never do. Not for me. So I sat on the stool and laughed quietly at his antics until he
finally wriggled his way into the pants, and had to admit that the finished product was
well worth the effort.

The tight black vinyl looked painted on and quite a few of those silver zippers were
rather strategically placed. My fingers itched to touch him, to feel his firm hip and thigh
under that tight shiny material. I had to curl my hand into a ball to resist the
temptation. That shirt was just as distracting. He had ripped long tears into the fishnet,
and one of them slashed diagonally across his chest. Every time he shifted and moved
his arms, the tear would slide open and I could see his pink nipple quite clearly as it
flashed in and out of view.

His bending over to lace up the boots was almost more than I could stand, and I
quickly turned my attention back to the jewelry displays, blindly sliding my fingers
through the mass of jumbled baubles in their trays. I glanced at the shop keeper and
saw his eyes fixed in a glazed stare past my shoulder and I narrowed my own in a
fierce glare at him. He flushed and cleared his throat, then swiftly made his way to the
back room, muttering something about "the days receipts". When I turned back around
to Daniel he was just clipping a pair of handcuffs to his belt loop.

Stepping closer to the mirror, he reached for the eyeliner pencils and began outlining his
own eyes thickly before doing his mouth with the same shade of black. I waited for
him to finish and when he spun toward me and smiled, asking for my opinion, I had to
remind myself to breathe. This did not look like Daniel! But the eyes, oh yes, those
were his without a doubt. How vibrant and shining they were, intensely violet
surrounded by dark rings of kohl.

"Ok, Boss- any finishing touches? Because if I'm not mistaken, it's almost time for the
real fun to start."

"Only one or two." I replied.

I took the few steps that brought me up close and examined him critically and quite
seriously as I lifted the chain of a large cross over his neck, the gilded gold pendant
adorned with fake red rubies. No matter. I would buy him a cross with real rubies if he
wished it, later. He needed only one more small touch to complete his appearance.

I reached over to the makeup case and took out a small jar of black hair coloring.
Dipping my finger tips into the jar I took up some of the cream, and standing practically
on my toes, reached up to spread this evenly over several patches of Daniel's ash pale
hair. Absently I wiped my blackened fingers on a white lace shirt nearby and tilted my
head to consider my work. A thin painbrush was on the makeup stand, one of the kind
used for applying lipsticks and liquid eyeliner. I picked it up and dipped it into the jar,
using it's narrow tip to paint streaks into Daniel's long and jaggedly uneven bangs. At
last satisfied with the total effect, I tossed the jar and brush aside.

I looked Daniel over quietly, a small, pleased smile forming on my lips.

"There. You look perfect, Beloved. Mind telling me now, what this is all about?"

I wasn't prepared for the intensity of his gaze, or the scrutiny. Unconciously, I could feel myself straightening up- squaring my shoulders, and waiting to see if I passed inspection.

Funny that I hadn't noticed until now, just how quiet that it was inside these four walls- my mind had been such a riot of thoughts and ideas that it had given the perfect impression of external chaos. But now, drawn back to the moment- there was nothing save for the sound of leather sliding against leather, as he came closer.

I knew then that I would always do whatever I had to, to please him. It had always been that way, and undoubtedly always would. I needed his approval almost as much as I needed the blood to survive. Craved it just as much, in fact.

And right now, if I was given a choice between the two, I knew what I would pick.

But then, in a flash of clarity, I knew what he was doing...the same as I had been earlier, looking to see what little details might have been missed- trying to see what would make everything more complete. He wasn't scrutinizing *me* as much as he was what I was wearing, and I found myself breathing an inward sigh of relief.

He reached forward to slip something around my neck, and it wasn't until he had pulled away to go rummaging around through the makeup display that I took the chance to see what it had been.

A gilded gold cross, encrusted with paste rubies. I fingered it, felt the firm weight of it in my hand, and finally let it drop back against my chest. I liked it. It seemed to fit with the rest of the night, so perfectly. It was, after all, about being something that you're not. Besides, I liked the way that the light played on the paste rubies, and made them shine. Didn't care if they were real, or not.

I stood perfectly still as he applied the haircoloring- a bit suprised that he thought of it, because it hadn't even crossed my mind. Of course, I would never dream of coloring one strand of his hair- just as I would never dream of cutting it. It seemed like a sacrilidge to cut that hair...

I watched the concentration on his face as it made him wrinkle up his brow and narrow his eyes, smoothing the inky black coloring wherever he saw fit. The way that he had to stand almost on tiptoe to reach all of the areas that he wanted...

It was almost as if time had stopped for a moment, and I found myself stepping outside of it- looking in at some snapshot of another life. The cold marble of his fingers sliding through my hair, finally reaching for the small paintbrush after he had wiped the offending dye off onto a nearby lace shirt. I couldn't help but smile- no one but Armand would do such a thing. I made a mental note to add the shirt to the list of things that we would be paying for.

When he had finished, I looked at our reflections in the mirror and was almost taken aback at how different the two of us looked. I kept turning my head from side to side with my eyes fixed on the mirror, almost as if I couldn't believe that I was actually seeing *myself*.

The night definately held promise.

"There. You look perfect, Beloved. Mind telling me now, what this is all about?"

I had to shake my head to clear it, to connect that it was Armand's voice coming out of that beautiful, painted face. I felt drunk again, deliciously disoriented.

"*This* is all about escaping reality, even if it's only for one night. The possibilities are endless. Tonight, we make our own reality."

No sound at all now- just the artificial hum of the air conditioner, and the meaty pounding of one human heart.

I reached out and touched Armand's bottom lip with my thumb, rubbing away a smudge that might have been nothing more than a shadow. His skin was like ice...I tucked a loose curl behind his ear. Had to stop staring like this, had to.

I glanced back at the back room once, and then turned back to Armand.

"You want to take the edge off before we leave?"

Daniel looked so enticing, standing there before me in all his new finery. I still couldn't
stop looking at how those pants clung to him, and wondered just how he was managing
to breath in them. I was really hardly one to speculate on such things, considering that
my own waist and ribs were tightly cinched in this corset. It was a constant reminder
and torment to me. I loved it, and couldn't even have said why such discomfort was
appealing to me. I would probably have suffered it for the pure fashionability
alone.

The spark of amusement in his eyes was enticing, and I was intrigued by his words.
Escaping reality. How fascinating that by mimicking the very dead things that
we were, we might find some freedom and escape. Vampires, pretending to be
vampires. I had played this game before, but somehow I think Daniel had something
altogether different in mind. There was a deeper root to this than merely mummery, and
I was intrigued.

The touch of his thumb pressing against my lower lip sent a jolt through me. He was still
warm from his earlier kill, and the soft caress was igniting my senses. I closed my eyes
and concentrated only on that touch, of feeling the smooth, warm pad sliding over my
lip. Then I felt the soft tickling as he tucked an errant curl behind my ear.

I was floating with the pleasurable sensations, and almost missed his question. Even
when I opened my eyes again and looked at him, I had to struggle to find meaning
behind the words.

"You want to take the edge off before we leave?"

The edge off what? My desire or my hunger? I saw his eyes flicker to the backroom
again and that sly smile. Ah. The voyeuristic shopkeeper. I smiled slowly in turn, my
eyes darkening even more. I would indulge in appeasing both needs.

I took the single step that brought me flush against Daniel's body and stretched up to
kiss him on the mouth. Black lips to bloody crimson. My hands slid over the smooth,
shiny vinyl encasing his thighs, gliding around his hips to caress his firm ass. Slipping my
tongue passed his lips, I flicked it over his fangs, then deeper to stroke and lick at the
roof of his mouth, finally engaging his tongue in a slow, dancing duel before releasing
him and stepping back again.

Still smiling I took his hand in mine and began walking toward the door that led to the
back storage room of the shop. He hesitated only a moment before following me, and I
knew that he was surprised. I was inviting him along to witness, and that was something
I rarely ever did. Tonight I wanted to share the moment and experience with him, in all
it's intimacy.

I kept my hand in his as I pushed open the door to a narrow and cramped room that
served as storage and office for the shop. The proprietor was sitting at a tiny metal
desk, completely littered with papers. Invoices, receipts and long, curling tapes from
the register and the old fashioned calculator that he was tapping away at. The only light
in the room had been from the single desk lamp that cast a pale yellow glow in a circle
on the surface of the spread papers. Now the faint light from the outer shop filter
through as we entered, and it caused him to pause in his work and look up in surprise. I
closed the door and drew Daniel forward with me till we were standing beside the
desk, looking down at the man. He really was beautiful. Of middle years, and a bit
stout around the middle, with bright black eyes and thick hair that was only just
receding off his forehead and faintly gray at the temples. He looked at us over the rim
of his glasses and smiled in an almost patronizing way.

"Ragazzi, avete trovato tutti di che aveste bisogno?"
{Boys, you have found all that you need?"}

"Sì Signore. Abbiamo. Vi ho bisogno di soltanto una cosa di più. "
{Yes Sir. We have. I need only one thing more from you."}

I moved around the desk till I was standing beside him and slightly behind, giving Daniel
a clear and obstructed view as he remained in front. I had retrieved my wallet from my
discarded clothes earlier, and now removed several thousand lira, setting them on the
desk in front of the shopkeeper. His eyes widened and lit with greed as he reached for
the money. I bent forward and slid my arms around him, pressing my lips to his throat.
He tensed and gasped, then trembled in my embrace. The gesture had shocked him,
and I think he had half expected that I was about to put a knife to his throat and rob
him, but the kiss had completely disarmed him. I licked my tongue along the side of his
throat, then swiftly sank the fangs into the pulsing vein. As I felt the hot, thick rush of
blood flood my mouth, he stiffened and moaned, his entire body going rigid. I drank
slowly, letting the heart pump the blood into my mouth. With my lips sealed over the
wounds, I raised my eyes to Daniel's, holding his gaze as I swallowed the rich, salty
fluid with a steady rhythm. The look on his face and in his eyes was enough to send me
into rapture, and I knew that I had been right to share this with him. Finally I drew
away, before the heart could stop. Letting the limp body fall forward, I almost smiled at
the dull thud the man's head made as it struck the top of the desk. I had not drained
him to near death, only into a state of unconsciouness, and would leave him both his life
and his money, as well as a dream like memory of blissful pleasure.

Feeling somewhat flushed and renewed, I walked backed toward Daniel and slid my
arms around him, kissing him once more and sharing the blood that still lingered on my
lips and tongue.

"I believe our business here is concluded, Caro." Softly murmured whispers against his
mouth, feeding him tastes of blood in my kisses. "The night is still young, and I am
ready to enjoy it to the fullest."

~Daniel~

All of my senses were focused on the lone sound of that heartbeat- the walls seemed to pulse with it, flexing gently with each breath that I drew. Almost as if there were invisible strings tipped with fishooks, tugging mercilessly at my veins.

It wasn't hunger, because I had already fed.

Desire, want, and need- try to define them. The need had already been filled. All that was left was the pounding desire for more, for everything- to swallow another life and snuff it out like a candle flame. To preside over the moment like a god with black wings, a monster out of a fairy tale.

14 years, and the strangest thoughts *still* went through my head from time to time...

But this one wasn't mine- I had already offered him to Armand. There would be numerous other oppurtunities as the night went on, and I knew that Armand needed the blood. Need always had to come before want and desire...but if you were lucky, on a few rare occasions, you could combine all three...

In the hazy light, his face had taken on the appearance of the little marble god- no lines visible, no signs of life- only the deep brown eyes held that spark, glittering darkly with an emotion that I couldn't read. His lips melted into a slow smile, and for a moment it seemed that I was captivated completely- held firmly in place by those two burning eyes...by the painted mask of perfection that was his face.

As he moved towards me, I was barely aware of it. So fluid and graceful that I swore he hadn't moved at all, even though I saw him now with my own vampire eyes. From somewhere outside came a short, tinny burst of music- the haunting melody rippling through me almost as if it had been whispered directly into my ear.

"I lift my hands from touching you
to touch the wind that whispers through
this twilight garden
turns into a world
where dreams are real"

Funny the way that things jump out at you sometimes, significant in their own way. Dreams and reality- I began to wonder just how much the lines could become blurred, if we pushed hard enough.

Hands as hard and cold as ice sliding across my hips, pulling me closer- as if I needed any such encouragement. Lips brushing and mouths opening into one another, the familiar feeling of a cool tongue snaking past my lips and into my mouth as my hands found the sides of his face, cradling it- the silken strands of his hair tickling the backs of my hands. It seemed suddenly as if every inch of my skin had come alive- even the cool air of the shop as it pressed in on us was distinctly pleasureable, and I moaned into his mouth. I wanted...I wanted...

As usual, I wasn't exactly sure of what I wanted, but I did know that I wanted more.

He stepped back, and I all could do was stare stupidly- feeling closed in and helpless, the scent of the makeup still fresh in my mind, sweet and dusty.

He was going to feed, and I was ready to step outside and wait- after all, a little night air would help to clear my head...but the smile still played on his lips, like a mischevious child who has just managed to find a willing playmate. He had taken my hand and was gently urging me to follow him. Hadn't I just been wishing for this, moments before? The chance to watch him feed. It's an intensely private thing, even for the those amoung us whose tastes lean towards exhibitionisim...and the fact that he was doing it- he was going to share this with me, of his own free will, momentarily floored me. My legs seemed rooted to the spot...but I couldn't have stayed behind even if my life had depended on it.

Into the back room to find the shopkeeper, my own heartbeat tripping so heavily in my chest that it had managed to block out the sound of the mortals. The light was brighter back here, sharper and more focused- causing me to blink two or three times to clear my vision, and adjust.

I was transfixed as Armand spoke to him, feeding his greed as the lira were laid on the desk. I concentrated on the lilt of the sylables, the musical quality of the language...not really paying attention to what was said. I was too far gone to focus on the conversation as it was- the anticipation of what was about to happen seeming to settle in my stomach like a solid mass.

I watched as Armand's teeth pierced the old man's flesh with an equal mixture of lust and envy- wanting desperately for a moment to push him out of the way, and take his place. But I stayed still, eyes locked on Armand. As his eyes met mine, I unconciously felt myself licking my lips.

As he finished, leaving the man most certainly alive- he came back to me, mouths joining for another kiss. I could taste the heady sweetness of the blood on his tongue, and I devoured the kisses with renewed lust.

"I believe our business here is concluded, Caro. The night is still young, and I am ready to enjoy it to the fullest."

The words felt as if they had been breathed into me more than spoken- surely, no human ears could have heard them. All I could do was nod in response, reluctant to let go of the moment. Finally, I found my voice.

"I have so many things to show you tonight. And, thank you for...well, you know." I didn't want to let it pass- he had to know how important that it had been to me, letting me stay. Almost as an afterthought, blurted out before I could stop myself, "I love you."

We left the shop behind, and made our way through the narrow little streets once again- back in the direction that we had come. Back to the little club that pulsed with life, not to mention music. I wondered what it would be like once we were through the doors and inside- all but smothered by heat and humanity and human flesh. My hands were shaking, I knew it.

We were going to do this right- no vampiric tricks of hocus pocus to get us inside. We would wait in line with all of the other beautifully androgenous men and women- we didn't want to stand apart from the crowd, we wanted to be a part of it.

I stood behind Armand with my arms slung across his chest, head leaning down on his shoulder- contenting myself with listening to the music, and to the voices that surrounded us. The smell of pot and cloves was so strong that it seemed to be something that you would reach out and touch.

Suddenly, through the pleasurable haze- an image flashed before my eyes, of Dominic and Louis...something intended to hurt. Something that I didn't need to see. Recklessly and intentionally thrown out, just for me- but I doubted strongly that I was the only one who saw it. I sighed inwardly, to myself, and closed my eyes.

***I thought you understood, Nikki. You know that I love Armand- I never hid that from you. He needs me, and I'm here. Hell, I'll always be here when he needs me. ***

I held Armand a little bit tighter, more determined than ever to make this night something to remember.

~Armand~

Daniel's moan of pleasure was all I could have hoped for. It conveyed the passion and deep
need that still dwelt within him, and showed that I could still move him and bring these
feelings to the surface. Part of me had feared that I had lost him completely and forever.
That I would never have that same level of love that had once been for me alone.

We wander and we drift, but always in time we come round full circle; back to the ones we
love.
 

As he stepped back, I saw the dreamy and hazy look in his eyes as he tried to shake off the
effects of the blood kisses and focus his thoughts again. Should I admit to feeling a cold
and lovely triumph in his confusion? I did feel it, and in the next instant I was ashamed. I
wanted Daniel as my lover and companion, not my bespelled slave. I should not use my
seductions on him so blatantly. But then he wasn't a mortal was he? He should be immune
to my charms by now. Unless of course he really loved me. Did he? I was never quite sure,
because all to often he would suddenly pick up and disappear, without a word or a
backward glance, and once again I would be left alone.
 

He was thanking me for the shared experience of the feeding, and suddenly I wished that I
has shared more than just the visual aspect of his witnessing it. I wanted suddenly to share
the whole experience, to hold a victim between us and feed simultaneously from the same
moistly beating heart. I caught my breath and felt dizzy at the prospect. Mutely I nodded
my head, a silent acknowledgment of his gratitude for the gift, but my mind was no longer
on the man in the back room. I was thinking ahead to the next mortal that I would hold in
my embrace. Yes. Next time we would feed together.
 

"I love you."
 

I stared into those violet eyes and felt my heart tighten in my chest, as if a fist had closed
around it, constricting it with hard fingers. How long had it been since I had heard those
words from his lips, spoken with such feeling? Too long. And as always they had the ability
to make me feel small and humble, and even a little afraid. By all rights he should despise
me. What had I ever done that he should love me instead? I wanted to respond, to tell him
that I loved him too, and that I always would. He was my fledgling, my only child. But when
I opened my mouth no words came out. My throat was frozen closed and my eyes burned
with unshed tears.
 

Instead of returning his declaration of love, I lowered my head and turned on my heels,
walking out the front door. I stood on the pavement, taking breaths of the night air and
willing myself into composure again. When Daniel came out behind me, I blinked my eyes
rapidly and curbed the impulse to wipe at them with my shirt sleeve. It would draw his
attention, and likely smear the makeup that he had so laboriously and lovingly applied with
his own hands.
 

Silently I slipped my arm around his waist and walked alongside him, once again letting him
lead the way. I was so lost in thought I paid little attention to where we were going and it
wasn't until we were right in the press of the mortal throng that I looked around and took
stock of where we were. A nightclub, with loud music and laughter coming from within. I
looked at Daniel in bemusement as we passed the door and went to the back of the line. We
never waited in line, not for anything! A gentle prod to the bouncer's mind would have
gained us instant and immediate access, but for some reason Daniel wanted us to join the
mortals outside and wait our turn. Inwardly I sighed. I was never good at waiting, but this
was Daniel's night, and I would do as he wished.

As his arms came around me I relaxed and smiled, supporting his weight against my back.
His head rested on my shoulder, a sweet and endearing gesture. I placed one of my hands
over his as it rested on my chest, my eyes sweeping over the crowd milling around us. They
were all so young, and beautifully androgynous. Just like us. Same black clothing in bold
and elegant styles, with dark makeup over pale faces. For once we didn't glare like
beacons among the mortal masses. Each of these beings was glorious in his or her own
dark beauty and allure. I became fascinated with the various ways that a mortal could
decorate and adorn their bodies with ink and metal. A brightly colored tattoo of a spider on
a young man's neck seemed almost vividly alive to my eyes, and the girl next to him
sported dozens of piercings in her ears. A girl with a ring in the center of her eyebrow.
Another with one in her nose, and crimson tear drops tattooed to her cheek. One young
man had his lower lip pierced twice, with a silver hoop ring on either side and a small red
ruby stud in his left nostril. I wanted to reach up and open his mouth with my fingers, to
examine the tiny holes and question him about it. Why did he do it? Was there a meaning
to having his body pierced liked this? Did it hurt? And if it did, why did he endure such
pain?
 

Suddenly I wanted a ring too. Not on my fingers; I had plenty of those. No, I wanted
something beautiful and exotic likes these. I raised my hand and touched my left earlobe,
wondering what an earring would be like there. My fingers slid over my lips lightly, as my
eyes narrowed and I tried to imagine my lower lip pierced. One finger stroked over the
flair of my nose, and then up to trace the curve of one brow. The sight of a nipple ring
gleaming on a strong and hairless young chest captured my gaze, and I stared unabashedly
in fascination. How sensitive the nipples are, and here was one that had been lanced and
pierced so that it could be decorated with a ring and hanging charm. I looked closer at the
ornament as it swayed and gleamed in the lights. A tiny silver dagger. Almost immediately
I was drawn to another interesting sight, my eyes riveted on a girls navel, the ring hung
with several various charms and a little bell that chimed with her movements.
 

Ah, yes. I wanted a ring too. And what did it matter if the hole would close up again the
minute the ring was removed? I didn't care. It was the novelty of it that intrigued me, the
shear visual impact and beauty of such adornments.
 

Suddenly I felt Daniel stiffen against my back, and at the same moment I received a
barrage of startling images in my mind. Louis and Dominic, entwined in passionate
embrace. While I had received this shocking image, I knew it was not intended for me. Or
was it? Daniel was obviously the focus of the thoughts, and I understand that he had
become involved with the young fledgling briefly in Las Vegas, before coming to the Villa.
Was Dominic jealous that his lover was with me now, and was he trying to get Daniel
jealous in return? Then why send the images to me as well? I had no interest in him, nor in
Louis.

But did Daniel have an interest? Was he feeling jealous? I frowned and began to feel
doubt, but then his arms tightened around me and I felt him relax again, pressing against
my back. Whatever he might have felt, it didn't matter now. He was here with me, and with
me would remain.
 

A bouncer was moving up and down the line, looking at the people waiting to get in. Many
were whistling and calling out to him, some making brash and boldly crude gestures to get
his attention. One girl ran her hands over the swell of her breasts and flicked her pierced
tongue in the air rapidly like an obscene snake. The bouncer grinned and winked at her,
then moved on. I was still watching the girl and failed to notice that he had stopped near us.
It was the sound of the velvet rail being lowered that drew my eyes away from the girl, and
I looked at the man in consternation. With a smile he gestured to us to step out of the line.

I felt Daniel ushering me forward, and instantly I wondered what we had done wrong. Why
were be being culled from the herd? I didn't want to leave, I wanted to get inside and spend
more time with these entrancing mortals. I was just about to give the bouncer's mind a little
jiggle to that effect when he waved his arm toward the door, giving us permission to enter.
Still bemused I moved toward the entrance with Daniel, accompanied by the sounds of
disappointment from the crowd as the velvet rope was put back up, effectively holding them
at bay.
 

We were entering the club now, passing through a foyer that was almost completely black,
heading toward the sounds that were coming from behind the heavy doors in front of us. I
could hardly wait to enter this new world that Daniel was so eager to show me. But when he
pulled open the doors, I froze on the threshold, assaulted by the wild music, the mingled
sents of mortals combined with that of beer and wine, hashish, perfume and incense.
Jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense and myrrh.

I was suddenly terrified of stepping into this abyss of human flesh and pleasure. It had
been so long since I indulged in such hedonistic pursuits, I had come to distrust such
delights for myself. I closed my eyes and then opened them again, willing the rising hunger
to retreat once more.
 

I slipped my hand into Daniel's, clutching it tightly as I prepared to take that first step
down into the whirlpool of dancing mortals as they celebrated their lives, while worshiping
death.
 

I knew without a doubt, this would be a night that I would never forget.

~Daniel~

I loved watching him as he took in the crowd of mortals. If I turned my head slightly to the side, I could could see the intense concentration as it played across his features, causing his eyes to narrow and his lips to purse. And if I listened very closely, I was sure that I could hear the gears clicking away inside his head as he tried to figure out what everything meant.

There were two young men standing directly in front of us- one in conservative jeans and t-shirt, with the added splash of black lipstick- and the second, dressed more outrageously in leather pants and midnight blue velvet. They were talking amongst themselves when the young man in the t-shirt suddenly threw his head back and laughed, revealing a small bit of metal going through his tongue.

I fully expected Armand to walk directly over to him and pry his mouth open to have a better look. He would want to know why it was there, why it had been done, and what it meant. I wondered if I should bother to explain the fact that most of the people here would be unable to answer these questions for one simple reason: they didn't know what drove them to do such things. It was peer pressure, mostly...and they were all following a trend.

Very disappointing to someone who loved symbolisim.

I wondered if I should tell him that I had tried the same thing on occasion- piercing various body parts just to see what it was like, and then removing the offending bits of metal when I got tired of it. It had become my own long standing private joke- I removed the jewlery just so I could go through the ritual of being pierced again.

Pain was theraputic. It reminded you that you could still feel. And it gave you something real and tangible to focus on, effectively blocking out the annoying emotional pain that seemed to surface every once in a while.

I didn't want to dwell on the fact that my *I love you* had gotten effectively blown off without so much as a backwards glance. He was still here, wasn't he? We were still together.

Then why did I feel so confused?

That was simple enough. I wanted to know where I stood. What we were to each other. And I was afraid to ask, because I wasn't sure that I wanted to hear the answer. It was the same confusion that I had felt since everyone had gathered at the Villa- the same thing that kept me feeling like I was walking on eggshells everytime we were alone together, even though I was good at hiding it. Everything that came out of my mouth lately felt *wrong*...and the one thing that finally felt right had been met with complete silence.

I didn't want to push...I shouldn't have said anything, and I knew it. After all, he was still reeling from the fact that Marius was gone. Again. But it had been the combination of the kiss, and the fact that he had shared the feeding with me that had prompted me to do it. I felt like doors had been opening, finally- and so, without thinking for a moment that I had been doing the wrong thing, I said it.

And I had been met with a wall of ice in return. One step forward, two steps back.

But like I said- he was still here. And that had to count for something. I wasn't going to sulk, or push the issue any further. We would enjoy tonight without any thought to the future.

I was the master of denial, when I wanted to be...

I could tell that he was getting impatient with the waiting, for the way that he figeted in my arms. Armand waited for *nothing*- and it was taking a tremendous act of will to keep still. I just held on a little tighter, and smiled to myself. I knew that we would be let in- our appearances would see to that. The bouncers were always incredibly superficial...if you looked just *so*- you were always ushered in.

Almost as if on cue, one of the men standing guard over the coveted door came towards us, and lowered the rope- giving a brief nod of his head to show that we had passed judgement. No attention at all was paid to the fact that we were obviously a bit more than two *friends* out for a night on the town...one of the reasons that I loved these places so much. Sexuality and gender had never been an issue. Nothing was shocking, or out of the ordinary.

Giving Armand a gentle nudge forward, we made our way towards the entrance of the club. The music seemed to be growing and swelling with every step forward that we took- and I knew it was going to be close to unbearable inside. For a minute, I hoped wildly that I hadn't made a mistake in bringing him here. No time to turn back now...three more steps forward, and we were in the foyer.

As we prepared to dive into the heart of the club, I felt Armand grip my hand a little tighter, and I turned to look at him. He looked almost afraid of this...and I understood why. It was new, and foreign, and most definately bizarre. And at times, it could feel like you were hovering very close to sensory overload. But at the same time, it was one hell of a rush...

I took his face in my hands, pretending to be checking his makeup- but of course, it was just an excuse. Just a way to touch again, without appearing too over anxious. I smiled down at him.

"Didn't even smudge your lipstick- you're a natural at this, you know that? Now remember, gorgeous- just relax and have a good time."

Stepping into the club was like stepping into another universe. If it had been dark outside, this was like being sucked into a black hole- the walls and ceiling had been painted ebony. The floor was the only area of contrast- painted a deep scarlet. For a minute, I felt as though I couldn't breathe- too many different scents fighting for my attention at once. Alcohol, perfume, pot, cigarette smoke...and just underneath all of it- sweat and human skin.

The heat was unbelievable- if you stood perfectly still, you could feel it washing over you in steady waves, almost in time with the music. There was a balcony above us that spanned the entire length of the club- packed solid with mortals who were laughing and talking over the music. Straight towards the back, there was an enormous dance floor- just above it was something that resembled a cage, where two mortals were working furiously to keep the music going.

I couldn't keep my eyes off of the dance floor. Bodies so close together that I was amazed anyone could move without slamming into someone else....and the way that they were moving! Definately not in time with the music- it was almost as if each person were moving to their own beat- uncaring, oblivious to anything else. The raw sensuality of it was amazing.

Well, we couldn't just stand here and gawk all night, although that was exactly what I wanted to do. Just to stand in one spot, and soak it all in. I decided that the best place to go would be the bar. We could sit and observe for a while there, out of the way. I put my arm around Armand's shoulders, and urged him to follow me.

There were two barstools that were empty, and blessedly off by themselves. After hopping up on one and giving it a good natured spin, I turned my attention back to the bartender. He was a mammoth, angry looking man- head shaved completely bald, with tattoos covering every inch of his exposed flesh. He wore a heavy silver ring in his nose that was attached to a chain that ran to his ear. I don't know what it was about the chain, but I was fascinated. When he came over to ask for our orders, I complimented him on it.

His appreciative smile led me to believe that he wasn't nearly as gruff as his outward appearance made him out to be. When I asked where he had gotten it done, the smile grew even broader yet.

He had done it himself.

I swore, if Armand would have been paying attention- he would have been able to see the little light bulb light up, over my head.

After a quick whispered word with the bartender, I watched as he disappeared into the back to find someone to cover the rest of his shift.

I turned back to Armand, not even trying to hide the smile that was spreading across my face.

"You know, you would look beautiful with a lip ring..."

~Armand~

Sensing my trepidation, Daniel held my hand tightly, giving it a comforting squeeze before
pulling me closer and taking my face in his hands. He was pretending to check my makeup,
but I knew that he was using that as excuse to study my face and expressions. I didn't
mind. I love any excuse just to have him touch me.

I almost groaned in dismay when he began leading me toward the bar. I hated such tall bar
stools, because they were always to high off the ground for me, and I felt like a small child
with my feet swinging in the air. I felt some relief when I saw that these had layers of rungs
on the legs, and I would be able to put my feet on one of them. Daniel hopped easily onto
his stool and spun it around full circle with gleeful exuberance. I cast him an envious look
as I clambered onto my own with as much grace as possible. I could have jumped up into
the seat, but one never knew who might be watching, and I didn't want to draw any
untoward attention to us by using vampiric athletic skills in public. Even so I found myself
looking around with concern, having the uncanny feeling that we were being
watched and not by mortals. For the briefest moment, I thought I detected the presence of
another immortal. Frowning slightly, I scanned about with eyes and sense, but could not
detect any other vampires nearby. Not that it meant anything. Recent experiences had
taught me to be wary, and just because I couldn't sense another immortal, didn't mean that
they weren't there. In this crowd it would be very hard to tell.

While Daniel faced forward and spoke to the Bartender, I faced outward and watched the
dancers on the floor. After a few moments I completely forgot about the other presence as
I tried to determine exactly what particular rhythms the dancers were gyrating to, because
none of them were in anyway moving in synch with the music. It was like a wild and
primitive orgy of motion, and I was reminded of the old Sabbats. We had danced and leapt
and whirled around the bonfires with the same wild and mindless abandon that I saw before
me.

I think I would have been content to just sit there and watch these exuberant young mortals
for the rest of the night, but Daniel drew my attention away once more.

"You know, you would look beautiful with a lip ring..."

I turned on the stool to look at him, startled that he should say such a thing. Had he seen
my fascination in the piercings while we were waiting outside? I tilted my head to the side
as I fingered my lower lip thoughtfully and considered the prospect, trying to picture myself
with such an adornment. Another image interposed itself, and I suddenly smiled as I
hooked the heels of my boots over the rungs of the stool and slowly turned the chair around
till I was facing Daniel directly.

"And what about you?"

I moved my fingers from my mouth to his, lightly stroking them over his lips.

"Would you get yours pierced as well? And how would these rings interfere with kissing?
What if they got tangled and locked together? We could be stuck together in an eternal
kiss."

Still smiling I trailed my fingers up over the line of his nose, and across his pale eyebrow,
smoothing the fine, feathery soft hairs. I thought a ring there might look very nice on
Daniel, drawing even more attention to those beautiful eyes.

I saw his eyes darkening as I touched him, and moved my fingers down again, over his
cheekbones and along his jaw till my thumbs met at his chin. Still holding his eyes with
mine, I slid my hands down his throat and onto his chest, slipping my left hand into one of
the slashes of his shirt and brushing my fingertips over the ever hard nipple.

"Or maybe you could wear a ring here...." I pinched and rolled it firmly between thumb and
forefinger, my breath quickening at his response and changing facial expressions. Leaning
forward I brought my lips a hairs breath away from his own, whispering against them softly.

"Would you like that? I could even pierce it for you, and I wouldn't even need a needle..."
I suddenly bit his lower lip, sharp enough to drive the fangs into it. At the same time I gave
his nipple a sharp pinch between my fingernails, feeling him jerk and tense at the duel pain.
I suckled his lip for a brief moment, tasting the blood and reveling in his moans, before
drawing back and licking my own lips. I loved the taste and feel of him. How I had missed
it.

Still stroking and rolling his nipple between my fingers, I caressed his cheek with my other
hand and brushed my lips over his with light kisses. I wanted him. I wanted to find a dark
and secluded corner right then and there, to take him in my arms and lose myself within
him as we shared kisses and blood. Everything else had dwindled to nothing around me in
the face of this desire and need. I spoke to him in Italian, and I dare say he probably didn't
understand a word of it. It had never been one of the lanquages that he picked up easily.
But that was alright, because it made it all the easier for me to say these things, all the
feeling that I had difficulty expressing in English.

"Daniel, mio Daniel. Ti desidero, bello raggazo. Ti bisogno..."

Before I could continue, to utter the next words that trembled on my lips, another intruding
presence loomed close. I jerked back suddenly and glared at the mortal; a huge man
covered with tattoos. I recognized him as the Bartender and wondered what he was doing
on this side of the bar, standing so close to us. He seemed expectant, and I glanced at
Daniel questioningly. He had been speaking to the man earlier, and I now sensed some
secret conspiracy between them. I sighed inwardly with disappointment as the intimate
moment was lost, and sat back, waiting to see what my impetuous fledgling was up to now.

~Daniel~

The look of suprise on his face was more than I could have hoped for. It was at moments like this that I knew mind reading wasn't really necessary, not for us at least. His fascination for body jewelry had been so obvious outside- and yet, he was still taken aback by the fact that I had noticed.

This only strengthened my beliefs that everything he did was unintentional. He was so unaware, so oblivious to all of the eyes on him, constantly watching and drinking in every detail...

And I was the worst of them all, wasn't I?

I knew I was staring, chin resting in the palm of my hand, elbow propped against the bar. It was impossible not to, the way that he sat with his head so thoughtfully tilted to the side- one delicate finger tracing the contours of his bottom lip...almost as if he could feel the exact spot where I had been picturing the ring. His touch was so deft, so light- the color on his lips stayed as precise as when I had put it on. As I concentrated on his fingertips moving across the flesh, I could almost feel them on my own...

"And what about you?

I jumped when I heard his voice, more than a little embarrassed by the fact that I hadn't been paying attention. I shook my head, trying to clear it- trying to remember what we had been talking about.

When his fingers found my lips, all memory of the previous conversation almost left me completely.

"Would you get yours pierced as well? And how would these rings interfere with kissing? What if they got tangled and locked together? We could be stuck together in an eternal kiss."

Hard to concentrate on anything but the warm fingers probing and stroking my lips. Warm- not hot, not cold....the blood of the shopkeeper taking the chill off, but he still didn't match my own burning heat. Touch like satin. I wanted to suck those fingers into my mouth. Tease them with my teeth.

But this was just a game, just as the kiss had been, earlier. Watch Daniel react, and them push him away. I was going to be more cautious this time.

I laughed, and shook my head dismissively.

"This is why we would get them pierced on opposite sides- to avoid the dilemma of locking lip rings. Although, the prospect of being locked into an eternal kiss is an intriguing one..."

Being cold or distant had never been my forte, and this only reinforced that fact. My emotions always boiled just under the surface, and keeping them in check had always proven to be impossible. I felt things intensely, even as a mortal- and I reacted accordingly. And besides, he was smiling. What had this night been about? I wanted to see him smile. Mission accomplished, and deemed a sucess. I could drown in that smile, if I let myself...

I felt my resolve melting away as his fingers danced across my face- touching, tracing lines here and there. I was faced with the fact that when it came to him, I had no real resolve. I could be hurt and angry, but it would disappear the moment that he touched me. Some things never change.

I tried desperately to read the emotion in his eyes- wanting to see what was there underneath the surface of permanent eternal calm. Maybe if his fingertips hadn't strayed onto my throat, I would have been able to do it. And they were still moving, traveling downward with deliberate slowness that I found both infuriating and intoxicating. The lightest of touches. Even in this maddening heat, I could feel my skin breaking into goosflesh, the hot sting of sweat trickling into my eyes.

"Or maybe you could wear a ring here..." Fingers finding and closing on a nipple, squeezing mercilessly. I sucked in my breath sharply, and let it out slowly again through clenched teeth. Delicious, yes. Why bother trying to hide it- he would know anyway.

He leaned closer- close enough so that our lips were touching, and my senses were flooded with his scent...spicy and sweet, the mortal blood still clinging to him like an exotic perfume. I couldn't move.

"Would you like that? I could even pierce it for you, and I wouldn't even need a needle..."

Words breathed against my lips, just as they had been before...but it was different this time. I was feeling it more intensely than before- maybe because he had caught me unaware, or maybe because I knew that every pair of eyes at the bar were watching us. Either way, I could feel the hairs rising, on the back of my neck. Hot and cold at the same time, alternately sweating and shivering. The pit of my stomach felt like hot lead.

No chance to respond- just the sharp sting of teeth, and pinching fingernails. My body seemed to have a mind of it's own, spasming and tensing under the onslaught- my heartbeat effectively drowning out the thunderous beat of the music for the first time all night. As I felt the gentle suction against my lip, I had to remind myself to breathe. No point in holding back the moans that bubbled in the back of my throat...I was lost.

His touch had turned gentle again, maddening- more so than the sharp pinch. I couldn't keep my eyes off of his face, the way that it seemed to have changed- softening somehow...the look in his eyes making me tremble more than the touch ever could.

Soft kisses, yes- give me those lips...I was leaning forward, hands resting on the smooth leather that encased his thighs- rubbing and squeezing, feeling the strength that coiled in the muscles...soft and hard, steel enfolded in silk. I could have spent the rest of the night on that barstool, quite content with the kissing...

The only voice that I heard was his- the musical Italian lilt of the words cutting through the growing haze in my mind like nothing else could have. I understood them perfectly, although I knew that he was under the impression that I didn't. And I was ashamed of myself for how I had felt earlier. I had to learn to stop questioning, and pushing. I should have known by now that he did everything in his own time, in his own way.

Even if the words wouldn't have made a bit of sense to me, I could read the emotions in his eyes plainly. I only hoped that he could read mine just as well....

I was hanging on those words, waiting for him to finish- and I *knew* that I was holding my breath...but he stopped so suddenly that I felt myself jerk back in my seat right along with him.

It was the bartender. Damn, I had forgotten about him....I turned back to him and glared- wondering just for an instant if there would be more blood in a human body that size. I didn't want this moment to be lost.

But then, once I had calmed down a bit, I realized that it didn't have to be.

I slid off of the barstool and gestured for the bartender to wait a minute. I stood in front of Armand, and nudged his knees farther apart- wide enough to accomodate me as I placed myself between them. I ran my hands across his thighs again, finally letting them slip around his back.

Leaning in close, I teased the contour of his ear with the tip of my tongue before I gently sucked the lobe into my mouth- biting down enough to catch his attention, but not hard enough to break the skin. Ignore the fact that the heat had made his hair curl even more, allowing one damp ringlet to cling to his cheek.

"You trust me, don't you?" Whispered directly into his ear...I wondered if he heard me over all of the noise.

I lifted him off of the barstool, and held on to him for a moment, enjoying the feel of his weight in my arms. Finally, I let him slip back to earth, and took his hand. Nodding towards the bartender- he lead the way, and we followed.

Through a side door and down a winding set of stairs, leaving the pulsing rhythm of the music further and further behind, with each step we took. I was glad to get away from it, at least for a little while. Ever since we had walked in, I had the vague notion that there was another vampire, hidden in the crowd- just a sense, nothing more. Armand had definately noticed it as well...but I had no luck locking on to a mind, and every time I looked about- all I was met with were mortals who were deep in the throes of pretending. As we came to a large oak door, I put it out of my mind entirely.

With seemingly one gesture, the bartender swung the door open and turned on the overhead light. As we stepped inside, I could see a low couch, covered in black velvet...and tables, lined with rubber gloves, needles, and more jewlery than my eyes could take in at once.

The bartender turned back to us, and gave what I'm sure he thought was a reassuring smile.

"Ok boys, choose your pleasure."

~Armand~

Standing fluidly, Daniel made a slight gesture to the bartender and then slipped his legs
between mine. As he slid his hands over my leather clad thighs I let them part even more,
having to resist the urge to reach out and pull him in, close and tight against me.

I kept my eyes on his; such darkened pools of amethyst glittering in the dim light. When
his palms slid around my back I arched forward into his embrace, my thighs tightening
briefly against his. It was tempting to wrap my legs around his hips, to clasp him firmly to
me and not let go.

The touch of his warm breath against my ear, followed by the flicking lick of his tongue
made me close my eyes and moan, my hands gripping tightly to his arms, digging into his
biceps when he sucked the lobe between his lips. I wasn't even aware that I had raised my
hands to take hold of him. A shiver traced it's way down my spine, and I tilted my head
farther to the side, gasping as he bit down against my earlobe. It was a gentle bite, not hard
enough to break the skin, but the sensation was exquisite just the same.

"You trust me, don't you?"

His softly whispered question broke me out of the near swoon I had been sinking into,
making me suddenly aware of how completely I had almost surrendered myself to his arms.
What was happening to me? I couldn't remember ever being so completely entranced and
enthralled by Daniel. His very presence made me feel dizzy and lightheaded. Such an
intoxicating feeling, and I didn't want it to ever go away. I felt an overwhelming urge to
cling to him desperately, to beg him to never, ever leave me again. Such a revelation was
shocking in the extreme. To think that I, Armand, loved another so much that I would be
reduced to begging at their feet. But I did love him that much, and I knew that I would
never be able to bear it if he left me. I felt the renewed pain of Marius's abandonment, and
I shivered, feeling a chill of apprehension over what the future might hold of us. No, don't
think of that, concentrate only on now, this moment, this one night out of a thousand.
Emblazon it in my memory, and hold it forever.

Realizing that I was breathing rather raggedly, I didn't trust myself to speak in a controlled
and calm voice, so I mutely nodded my head. Yes, Daniel. I trust you. Implicitly.

His hands gripped me firmly, lifting me off the stool and I tumbled lightly forward against
his chest. It didn't matter that my feet were suspended off the ground and only his hands
were holding me up. I felt quite safe and secure, his touch warming me again. For a moment
I laid my head against his shoulder, my fingers pressing against the backs of his arms with
gentle pressure. As he lowered my feet to the floor, I let my cheek slide down his chest,
resting it there a scant second as I leaned against him. Finally I shifted my weight back
onto my own legs, and allowed him to take my hand, leading me along as we followed the
bartender to a back room.

How ironic that now our positions were reversed. Only a short time ago I had been leading
him by the hand as we ventured into a dark and secluded back room to tryst with a mortal.

Down the steps and through a door, into a closed and windowless room. My eyes were
immediately drawn to the low couch, covered with soft black velvet. Erotic thought were
tripping through my brain as I felt Daniel pressed against my side, the scent of the mortal
filling the air of this closed in space. Blood and sweat, mingled with the reek of whiskey and
cigarette smoke. I felt the hunger again, but firmly tamped it back down. As Daniel moved
toward the table with the jewelry, I released his hand reluctantly. My own attention had
been captured by the other table, with it's array of supplies. I was only marginally aware of
the bartender as he told us to pick what we wanted, and then went about cleaning his hands
at a small sink in the corner.

I understood now why we were in this room. No one has ever accused me of being dense.
At least not within my hearing.

Moving to the table, I looked over the various tools and apparatus. Needles, bottles of
astringent, cotton balls, paper towels, and rubber gloves. I cast a disdainful glance at the
latter. I did not like the rubber gloves; they were a cold and artificial barrier that encased
and concealed warm, living mortal flesh. I wondered if we could convince him that the
gloves were not needed. I knew that they were for protection, to prevent the spread of that
awful disease that spread itself through bodily fluids, but we were in no danger from it. We
could neither contract nor contaminate another with it.

Laying beside the box of offending gloves were several small foil packettes. I picked one
up and ripped it open, pulling out the thin, somewhat slippery piece of round latex.
Grimacing slightly at the feel of the sticky substance that coated it, I unrolled the condom
to it's full length and examined it. It seemed that the couch had its other uses, and the
bartender was a well prepared and cautious man. I slid one finger inside the condom and
pressed against the shear lining, testing its resiliency and strength. The tip of my finger
went straight through the thin latex. Well, it was never meant to be tested against vampiric
strength.

I became aware that I was being watched closely, and looked up from my experimentation
to see the moral staring at me with a perplexed expression. No doubt he found my actions
quite strange. Not that I cared in the least what he thought. I smiled at him as I dropped
the torn condom into the trash can beside the table, then casual wiped my fingers clean of
the lubricant with one of the paper towels before discarding it into the trash as well.

I glided over to Daniel who still appeared deeply involved with perusing the jewelry.
Perhaps I had been fortunate, and he had not witnessed my little display of curiosity.
Sliding my arms around his waist, I pressed my face against his arm.

"Choose something for me, Beloved. You know my tastes well enough by now. And be sure
to choose something for yourself as well. Make it a matching set."

I stretched up and kissed him on the cheek, then released him as I sauntered over to the
couch where I half reclined, leaning my back against the wall and drawing one knee up to
my chest, my arms clasped around it as I waited patiently for the next phase in our little
adventure.

~Daniel~

Cool and damp, so different from the sauna that we had just left. My body was having a hard time adjusting, and as I took in my surroundings I wiped a hand across my forhead, trying to remove the traces of blood sweat that still clung there, before the mortal could notice.

Undoubtedly, he already found us strange enough. I'm sure I looked older than most of the other patrons of this particular night spot, just as Armand looked far too young to have slipped past the bouncers at the door. Even as he busied himself at the sink, washing his hands, I could see him stealing glances at Armand when he thought no one was paying attention.

Something about the stolen glances made me want to tear his throat out...not particularly because he had been caught looking, but because he had interupted our moment upstairs. He should have discreetly gone back to work instead of insisting on interupting. But something in his expression gave me the distinct impression that he had enjoyed it.

""Choose something for me, Beloved. You know my tastes well enough by now. And be sure
to choose something for yourself as well. Make it a matching set."

Perfect little painted angel leaning casually against the wall, too beautiful to be real. But he *was* real, and we had come so close upstairs...close to something that I had been wanting desperately since arriving at the villa. The moment was not lost, I told myself- we would have it again. And again, if I could possibly arrange it.

My cheek still burned from the kiss.

I saw the bartenders eyebrows quirk when he heard what Armand had called me, *beloved*- something so natural that sometimes I took it for granted. Not tonight, however. I wondered what the massive hulk of a man was thinking.

I turned back to Armand, fighting the urge to grab the man by the back of the neck and toss him out into the hallway. I could have done it, easily enough- locking the door behind me. But this, after all, *had* been my idea.

"I'm thinking that something simple would be best to start off with..."

That was true enough. Just a simple ring to adorn the lip- nothing particularly fancy. It would be more than enough. The sparkle of silver against the backdrop of pliant pink flesh was an incredibly erotic thing.

I turned my attention back to the display of jewlery, giving my full attention to all of the shiny bits and pieces that had been safely tucked away behind glass. I selected two silver rings that had been nestled side by side in the display.

The bartender wasted no time in taking me by the shoulders and ushering me over to the couch, urging me to lie down. Ah, so I was going first then? No matter. As I relaxed into the musty velvet, I couldn't help but be reminded of other places, and another time- dingy apartments crammed full of mediocre artwork, all done by mortals who believed that they held some hidden talent...cold water flats inhabited by dark eyed bohemian beauties of both sexes, all seemeingly containing the same ancient and well used mattress, lying in the middle of the floor. And always, not very far away- Armand, playing the attentive and gentle cupid. From my vantage point, I could see him standing above me, only increasing the strange, dreamlike quality of the moment.

I kept my eyes locked on Armand as I felt the bartender leaning on my chest with one beefy elbow, pulling at my lip roughly with his strong fingers. Strange, being touched through this barrier of rubber. The smell of the latex was almost nauseating. People would do anything for our blood, and he was taking great pains to make sure that he didn't come in contact with it. If he only knew...

I felt the sharp stab into my lip, and immediatly all I could think of was what had just happened upstairs...the sensations, the intimacy...I hoped the whimper that I heard hadn't come from me- but if it did, it came more from frustration then any amount of pain. Any amount of want or need I had ever felt as a mortal had never been this focused, this urgent.

It wasn't until I tasted my own blood in my mouth that I became aware of *his*- the way that he leaned over me, I could see the artery pumping in his throat, covered by sun warmed, sweat slicked skin. So easy to reach up and pull him down to me, test the resiliency of that skin with my tongue...pressing against it long enough to feel the thick vein bounce back.

I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind, realizing finally that he had finished. I flicked the ring with the tip of my tongue, getting used to the feel of the metal invading my flesh. As I sat up, the bartender turned his attention back to Armand, nodding in his direction.

"You sure he's old enough?"

It only just dawned on me that this man was speaking english. I wondered where he had come from, and what he was doing *here*. Always a story there, if you look hard enough...

I pushed myself up from the couch, and swung my legs back over the side. Reaching behind me, my hand closed around any part of Armand that I could grasp, and pulled him beside me.

"Don't let his appearance fool you...he's more than old enough. Would you believe that he's actually older than I am?"

Of course he wouldn't believe it, because I don't think he wanted to.

He stripped off his gloves and discarded the used needle, turning back to us when he had finished.

"You want the same thing, or did you have something different in mind?"

~Armand~

When the man ushered Daniel over to the couch, I remained against the wall, just at
Daniel's shoulder. I didn't want to miss a thing, and this position gave me an unobstructed
view.

My eyes met Daniel's and I gave him a tender smile, though most of my attention was
focused on what the mortal was doing. I followed his movements as he leaned over Daniel,
pressing one arm against his chest while his fingers pried at Daniel's lips. The needle went
in swiftly and I heard the gasp of pain that came from my fledgling. My eyes narrowed and
I tensed, but seeing that he was still pliant and accepting, I remained still. His eyes were
glossy and bright with a far off gaze. I could have sworn that what I saw in those dark
purple depths was desire, not pain.

Two drops of crimson blood beaded on his lower lip, welling up around the puncture wounds
as the needle was withdrawn. The ring was quickly threaded through the hole and snapped
shut with a faint click that could only have been registered by ears with acute hearing,
beyond the mortal range.

I watched Daniel lick the blood from his lip, the tip of his tongue flicking against the ring,
testing the feel of the unfamiliar jewelry. I saw his eyes linger on the man's throat and
knew that my child's thirst was rising as quickly as my own. How could he not want such a
delectably filthy morsel as this great, hulking brute?

Daniel snagged me by the wrist and pulled me closer, urging me down onto the couch with
him. He assumed the man had been asking if I was old enough for the ring, and assured
him that I was. Reaching up with one hand, I felt of the ring in Daniel's lip, and smiled
knowingly as I looked up into the mans eyes. He didn't fool me for a moment. He wasn't
concerned over the piercing. A child of 12 could get that done, no questions asked. No, he
wanted to know if I was of legal age for other reasons, and here in Italy age was not so
much an obstacle as it was in the States. Children drank wine as young as 10; it was often
served with the evening meal. There was no legal age for drinking, but for sex, one had to
be 16 at least to give consent.

"You want the same thing, or did you have something different in mind?"

"The same will be fine, " I murmured softly, leaning against Daniel's shoulder and
continuing to study the man while I played with the silver ring.

He appeared indifferent and accepting of my answer as he prepared the second ring, but
his heartbeat and his thoughts gave him away. He was excited, and it was as much from
doing the piercings as it was from being in such close proximity to us. He liked the sight of
the blood, the winces and cries of pain that so often accompanied the stab of the needle. He
was looking forward to making me cry out as Daniel had, hoping to see the pain reflected in
my eyes.

I kept my hand around Daniel's arm, refusing to release him or allow him to move away.
Let him think I was clinging to him to for support, out of fear or uncertainty. The truth was
I just wanted to keep him close to my side, to continue touching him.

As the man put his fingers on my lips I felt a slight tremor in them, and realized that in his
haste he had forgotten to put on a new pair of gloves after discarding the first. I was not
about to point this out to him, as I much preferred the warm contact of his flesh against
mine.

It takes only the briefest amount of time to delve into a mortal's mind and see what secrets
lay hidden there. This man's were very clear and close to the surface. He was an
American. He had gotten into trouble with the law over drugs, and had spent a short term
of time in prison for assault and battery. Having been released, he once again got involved
with the drugs. Rather than go back to prison, he had fled to live in Italy, where he had
some distant relatives. In prison he had experienced his first homosexual encounter, and
beaten the man with whom he had relations almost to death, due to his own shame and
denial. He had enjoyed it too much for his own liking. This had been a severe blow to a man
who prided himself as a connoisseur of women. After his parole, he concentrated all his
efforts into proving himself to be a *man* by bedding women frequently and in great
variety. Here, on this couch, he had enjoyed the favors of many young women and girls, in
exchange for his services. While quite a few pretty and androgynous boys had also been on
this couch, he had resisted the temptation that they posed, and made them pay in cash.

Until now. He had never had two vampires to tempt him before, and for the first time in
years, he was not trying to suppress his urges. It would have been futile anyway.

I felt the needle enter my lip with a sharp stab of intense pain. We, who feel every delicate
sensation more keenly than mortals, also feel pain more acutely. I felt the wounds burning
as the blood trickled slowly down my lip. It hurt even more as the ring was worked into
place and then secured. Like Daniel I licked my lips clean and examined the cool metal
with the tip of my tongue, but my eyes were still locked on the mortal bending over me. His
own were nearly black with lust, and I could hear the blood pumping from his rapidly
beating heart.

He was so ugly and mean that he was inresistably, enticingly beautiful. The muscles in his
arms bulged, and his biceps were as thick around as my thighs. I wondered what it would be
like to be pinioned in such strong arms. I looked over at Daniel and flashed my fangs in a
smile that only he could see, before turning my attention back to this brutish and seductive
creature, raising my hand to his face and stroking his cheek gently. I slid my fingers over
his throat, resting my thumb against the pulsing vein as I lifted my lips and pressed them to
his. I felt the ring moving with the pressure, and it was a strange and erotic new sensation.
But more pleasurable was the feel of those thick and fleshy lips against my own. He held
back for only a moment, then I felt his hands close over my shoulders, his mouth opening
wetly over mine as he tried to force his tongue between my lips. I let him plunge it into my
mouth, deftly sweeping it away from the tips of my sharp teeth with my own tongue. He
tasted of stale cigarettes and sour whiskey. Perfectly foul and delicious.

When he tried to push me down on my back, I resisted, easily holding him at bay. He was
surprised more by my strength than my resistance. I gave him a smile full of dark promises
as I drew my mouth away from his.

"Not yet."

I turned fully to Daniel and kissed him hard on the mouth, wrapping my arms around him
and drawing him closer. The rings didn't catch; as he had promised, they had been placed
on opposite sides of our lips. His to left, mine to the right. But they did lend a wonderful
new element of sensation to the kiss. I flicked my tongue over his ring, then tugged it
playfully with my teeth. Already the small wounds had healed. When the rings were
removed they would close up entirely, without leaving a single trace or mark. I cupped
Daniel's cheek with my hand, and turned my face so that it rested against his, my lips close
to his ear. So low that only he could hear, I whispered softly.

"Look at him. What a perfectly lascivious mind he has. Read his thoughts, and see the
images emblazoned there."

I already knew what was going on in the man's head. I wanted to heighten and intensify
those thoughts and fuel his desire to a fevered pitch. I turned my face to look at him,
rubbing my cheek against Daniel's as I let my fingers play through the soft ashen hair. I
heard Daniel's breath quicken as he scanned our admirer. The images and thoughts in the
mortal's mind were very clear. He could not believe his good fortune as he took in the sight
of us embracing and kissing. He would have us both, two beautiful young men together,
subject to his desire and will as he envisioned carnal acts that would have made the most
jaded of souls blush.

He had one hand still on my thigh, gripping it tightly as he slid his other hand over Daniel's
hip. He was already peeling away the constricting clothes in his mind, and was eager to see
the fantasy become a reality. Yes, he believed he would have us both.

If only he had known.

I kissed Daniel again, meeting his gaze with warmth and love.

"Together, Beloved. This time we share."

~Daniel~

"Together, Beloved. This time we share."

The bartender hadn't been the only one having lascivious thoughts. So wrapped up in my own, I had hardly paid attention to him. At worst, he was a hulking, mean spirited intrustion. At best, he was dinner.

Trust Armand to find the dimension that I had been ignoring.

As I prodded the gateway of his thoughts, the roiling emotions hit me like a slap across the face: a dangerous mixture of panic, denial, and animalistic need. No one could ever call me a prude, but his thoughts managed to catch me off guard. I was well accustomed to lust, but not when it was tinged with so much unfocused violence. This man was slipping ever deeper into a dangerous vortex, one that clouded his vision with a blood red haze.

Too bad he didn't realize that the hunter was about to become the prey.

For the second time tonight, I was being offered a gift- the chance to share in the most private of vampiric acts. Not even sex was as private, I thought to myself- remembering in one brief flash the image of Dominic and Louis, together. Even complete with sound. What a thoughtful child Dominic was. For one brief, burning instant, I felt the urge to get even- to show him how it would feel, had our positions been reversed. Just the thought was enough to make me feel better, and I knew that I wouldn't do it. Even though the thought of rubbing my own salt into the wound was tempting, it would hurt Armand. And nothing could make me do that. Nothing.

My thoughts were wandering again...where was I?

Ah, yes. Intimacy. Sharing. Sex had become a public display, but there was one constant in our world: the desire to remain isolated when it came to hunting. Feeding. Killing. The syphoning of one life into another. And this time, not only was I going to get to watch- I was also being asked to participate.

The magnitude of the suggestion was overwhelming. If we did this seemingly simple thing, we would have the oppurtunity to read one another's thoughts again, for as long as the mortal remained alive. It would be as simple as one of us projecting our thoughts into the bartenders mind, for the other to *see*. It was something that I tried not to dwell on, being actively locked out of one anothers minds...but to have this chance, this one chance! But look well at this garden, because once I do it, you'll never read my thoughts or see my visions again... At the time, I hadn't appreciated it the way that I should have- and I still found it hard to long for something so trivial, when in the end I had gotten the only thing that I had wanted in the first place: Armand.

I wanted him to see that, once and for all. I knew the way that his mind worked. I knew the doubt was there, always wondering just what it had been that had driven me to the point of nearly destroying myself just to get what I wanted. Immortality alone had never been my goal, because what would eternity be like, without him? The explanation always seemed too trite, to contrived. But if he could see it for himself, *feel* it...

This night was fast turning into a rollercoaster ride, and one that I never would have been able to forsee.

Strong fingers were convulsively rubbing and pinching at my hip- strong enough to leave bruises on mortal flesh. I doubted that Armand's thigh was fairing much better- but I also knew that he loved it, being touched by mortals. What vampire didn't? So many sensations that you take for granted on a day to day basis...

Sound of water trickling, far off- and giggling, drunken voices coming closer. The bartender's panic suddenly reached an almost fevered pitch- fear of being discovered here, with the two of us. The fear of someone else finding out about the desires that he tried so hard to keep hidden. He pushed away from both of us almost as if he were afraid of being burned, and moved towards the door. Undoubtedly, to lock it- for his own piece of mind.

Time to pull back a little bit, disconnect from everything else- a few seconds of clarity was all that I would need, or could expect. Because I knew that soon enough- everything would be out of control, and out of my hands.

I had already come dangerously close to losing control...as soon as he was back with us, his emotions would push me to the brink, again. I wanted the chance to remember *my* emotions, before they got lost in the fray.

The calm before the storm...

I turned back to Armand, and let my eyes take in the entire picture- the wide, dark eyes boiling with fierce desire, the soft lips swollen from the kiss...ah hell, so much for self control and staying restrained. No one else could do this to me, and I still found it a little...frightening. To know that someone else has so much control over you...

I reached out and brushed a fingertip across the lip ring, tracing the contour of his lips before covering them with my own, sucking his bottom lip gently into my mouth. I could taste the bartender...a human mixture of salt, whiskey, and tobacco. I pulled back enough to lick his lips, giving the ring another flick with my tongue.

It would be pointless to say that I could die for this kiss, considering that I already had...

I wouldn't give in to saying *I love you* again- this time, he was going to feel it, not hear it.

I had just leaned forward for another kiss, when I felt a grip as strong as a vice clamp down on my shoulders, pulling me back and away. Someone was clearly back, and getting impatient.

I could hear the music upstairs, very faint and far away, beating like a diseased heart. I wondered for a moment, if anyone would even miss this man...

I smiled back at Armand, letting him see a brief flash of fang teeth. Whenever he was ready, it would begin....

~Armand~

Would Daniel accept my offer? I knew that feeding was a very private matter, one of the
most intimate acts to be shared between our kind. I never let anyone join me in the hunt or
watch me feed if I could help it. When we held the victim in our arms and took their life into
our own, we became vulnerable and open to others. The taking of a mortal life elicits
powerful emotions, one of the strongest being love and desire. We feel it for the fragile
creature in our embrace even as we kill. To share the victim is to share that moment of
love and passion, to open ourselves up to the others thoughts and emotions, feeding upon
them as we drink the blood. At no other time were our barriers so low, revealing our
innermost wants, needs and desires.

It was frightening to think of letting Daniel get that close. I had always been able to know
his thoughts when he was mortal. I had known his every desire, as well as his fears. But he
had never known mine. Once I gave him my blood, my mind was closed to him, as was his
to me. Now for the first time, I was seriously contemplating letting him see and feel
everything that I had kept hidden from him all these years. And I would know his heart too.
What if it was not what I hoped for? What if what I learned was hurtful to me? I needed to
know, because the truth would be easier to live with than the fear and doubt that continued
to haunt me. Or so I kept telling myself. In truth the thought of his rejection was more
terrifying that I wanted to admit.

As the bartender went to make sure the door was locked, I looked at Daniel and saw so
much tenderness and love in his eyes that I felt weak. Always he could make my heart trip.
Sometimes it hurt just to look at him, to feel that swelling ache in my chest, so tight that it
was a physically painful.

His finger tracing my lips made me shiver, and I couldn't keep that tremor from reaching
my lower lip. I felt it quiver under the soft, exploring pad as he touched the ring, that light
touch sending more tiny jolts of pleasure through me. As he drew closer, I opened my
mouth to his, raising my face in eager anticipation. This was so very rare! Daniel almost
never kissed me. Most often I was the one who initiated the kisses. He always responded,
returning them with passion and warmth, but often I wished that he would act first, be the
one to draw me close, and claim my mouth with his. This was one such occasion, and I
surrendered to the touch of his lips on mine with complete abandon and hunger. I moaned
when he sucked on my lip, my entire body feeling the sensations of that gentle pressure,
and I leaned more fully into him.

His face and eyes reflected the same measure of passion that I was feeling, and when he
bent toward me again, ready to claim another kiss, I closed my eyes in breathless
expectation.

The kiss never came.

I smelled the musky, sour odor of the bartender just as he inserted himself between us
again, pulling Daniel away. I almost killed him right then, so fierce was the rush of anger
and rage that came over me. How dare he come between me and mine!

Then I saw Daniel's feral smile, the brief flash of his fangs, and my anger melted away. We
would deal with this minor intrusion, and in the doing transform it into something beautiful
between us.

I gave an inviting smile to the man as I pulled him down onto the couch with us. I knew
what he wanted, what he thought he was about to get from us, and I was not opposed to
feeding his fantasies. I wanted him to be delirious with lust when we finally took him.

Pressing against his left side, I kissed his throat, mouthing it with gentle hunger. The feel
of his pulse beating beneath was lips and tongue was intoxicating, and I had to fight the
urge to plunge my fangs into it immediately. To distract myself from the thirst, I move
lower, tugging at the neckline of the soiled shirt till it ripped, baring his wide chest with it's
covering of tattoos. I pressed my face against his damp skin and felt a roughness against
my lips that prickled and rasped. He shaved his chest, and the stubble was like sandpaper
against my sensitive flesh. Running my tongue over the hard, tattooed muscles, I found his
pierced nipple and licked at it, lapping the salt from his skin as I felt it harden beneath my
tongue. He groaned and gripped the back of head, clutching a handful of hair with his fist as
he pulled my mouth closer, pressing himself against me for greater contact. I opened my
mouth and sucked on the hard nub, pulling at the ring with my lips and teeth, savoring
every twitch and moan that came from him.

I lifted my eyes to watch Daniel. The sight of him kissing and caressing this brutish mortal
alongside me only served to increased my own lust. I sucked even harder at the nipple,
flicking the ring against my tongue, unable to tear my gaze away from my lover. Laying
against the massive chest, I slid my hand over Daniel's thigh, snaking my arm around his
waist and pulling him in tighter, making for a three way embrace.

I felt the man's thick fingers release my hair, sliding roughly down my back to squeeze and
kneed my backside with bruising pressure. Had I been mortal, I would have been black and
blue in no time from those hard, punishing fingers digging into my flesh, but I felt it as little
more than a firm caress.

With a hoarse, panting groan he gripped my arm, yanking it from around Daniel, and
taking me by the wrist, pulled my hand down to the front of his pants to press my palm
against the all to obvious bulge there. His hips lifted and he ground himself suggestively
against my hand with rough urgency.

How eager he was, enflamed with lust and rushing blindly toward his own death.

I felt along the hard shape, molding it through the stiff leather. With swift, deft fingers I
unfastened the pants and slipped my hand inside, grasping him with a firm grip and stroking
the thick organ, reveling in the heat of it as it swelled with pumping blood.

Even as I clasped his hard flesh, working it with my hand, my thought were focused on
Daniel. How many times had I watched him with various men and women, appeasing their
desires for my benefit? Had he ever known that while I watched him make love to another
body, I had secretly longed for it to be my own? That I would have given anything to have
him making love to me instead? I had always wanted to kill those mortals afterwards, so
envious that they should have what I could not.

Breathlessly I lowered my head into the bartender's lap, touching my tongue to the thickly
throbbing vein that ran along the underside of the shaft. So much blood collected in one
place; a raging fount that just begged to be tapped. It took all of my control not to blindly
drive my fangs into his flesh and drown in the hot gushes as they flooded my mouth and
flowed down my throat. I raised my eyes and locked them on Daniel as I licked at the
pulsing organ with long, slow strokes of my tongue.

For you, my love. This is all for you.

~Daniel~

I would like to think that I did an admirable job of hanging on to the last remnants of self control that I posessed, which was no easy task to begin with. I never had any self control when it came to the blood. But had any experience ever been like this? This was a new kind of hunger, and it had very little to do with the mortal who was so openly undulating on the couch.

Not that I wasn't enjoying him, because I was. To see that massive hulking body reduced a mindless expanse of raw desire was a definate thrill. To see him responding to Armand's every touch, or flick of his tongue...heaven.

I would have killed him in an instant, only to change places with him.

The purpose, Daniel- remember the purpose.

Who could remember what the purpose had been? My head felt too heavy and my eyes burned painfully. I wondered how Armand could do it, continue to press his lips to this burning human flesh without being tempted to end it. I couldn't think of anything else- even without touching him, I could feel the heat rising to the surface, could feel it swirling around me like a dense fog.

It was like pressing your lips to a furnace, it was that scalding.

For a moment, it felt as though I were watching everything from miles above- safely detached from the blistering reality. I desperately needed some sort of direction, needed to know what was expected of me. I was fighting against the loss of control with every fiber of my being, even though all I wanted was to unleash the beast and drain every drop of blood from this mortal body.

What did he want? What did he want me to do? I only wanted to make him happy. All I ever wanted.

I watched in wide eyed fascination as Armand leaned down and slid his tongue along the length of the bartenders exposed organ, raising his eyes to meet mine. Something undefinably obscene and beautiful at the same time about the wild tumble of auburn curls as they hung down over his face like a curtain, lips so wet and soft- perfectly shaped, smudged crimson bleeding down over his chin from the mortals violent kisses. It dawned on me then, that I had never seen him do anything like this. He had watched me on enough occasions- too many for my already muddled mind to tally in such a short time. But I had never....

The mortal's hand tightened on the back of my neck, fingernails digging into my flesh hard enough to draw blood, I was sure- pulling me towards him for a kiss. Rough and hard, keeping the grip on the back of my neck almost too tight for comfort. Mouths clamped together, pressing tighter, almost as if he were trying to devour my mouth, tongue sliding in and feeling along my teeth.

The urge to clamp down on that tongue was almost unbearable...

But this wasn't acceptable, because I couldn't see Armand.

I pulled back, biting sharply at his deceptively smooth chin, sliding my hand across his chest- fingers catching on a pierced nipple- pulling and stretching as he leaned back, filling the room with the sound of his moans.

As my eyes locked on Armand, the blaze of heat that I felt coming from those two velvet brown eyes left me unable to catch my breath.

I knew. I understood- everything.

I wasn't sure how long we watched one another in silence, broken only by the ragged breathing of the bartender- but something important had passed between the two of us. You could feel it, crackling in the damp air like static.

As I turned back to the bartender, I knew that he must have felt it, as well. It was the expression on his face- full of wide eyed shock, as he realized his place in the tableaux. I had seen it enough times before to be able to recognize it in an instant. How many other mortals reacted with the same shock and bewilderment, when they realized they had never been part of the equation at all.

He finally released his grip on the back of my neck, and was reaching for Armand- undoubtedly attempting to impale his mouth on the organ, growing far too frustrated to stay content with the lazy, slow licks that my lover was teasing him with.

It was time to stop fighting the self control...

I slapped him across the face before his hands could tangle in Armand's hair, catching him completely off guard- and I couldn't help but laugh as I saw the rage that was beginning to boil to the surface.

"I've decided to change the rules- no touching."

An idea was already beginning to form as I slid off of the couch, and reached into one of my back pockets, fingers closing around a small piece of cool metal. Quickly, I unlocked the handcuffs that I had been wearing- and before he could fully react- snapped one cuff closed around his wrist, and twisted the arm behind his back...reaching across him to pull the other behind, as well. With one last soft *click*- both of his arms were restrained behind him.

He stayed silent, staring at me open mouthed but accepting as I dropped to my knees in front of him. I pushed his legs apart and stayed still, letting him anticipate what was to happen next.

I ran my tongue across the tip of the organ, pulling back completely and then closing in again, running it down the engorged length- suprised by it's heat. If I had thought the rest of him was hot before, it was nothing compared to this. All of that heat, and blood- all in one place...

I reached over for Armand, pulling him towards me, holding his face in my hands, blindly seeking his lips with my own. I kissed him fiercely, biting at first his top lip and then the bottom, moving down his throat- nipping and mouthing at the skin, drowning in the taste and feel of him. Pulling back finally, I braced one hand on the bartenders knee, and and kept the other hand on Armand's cheek. I had never been allowed to touch him before, during these witnessed trysts- and I was revelling in the fact that this time, I could. They had never meant anything to me, just as this didn't...all I had ever wanted was him. And this time, I was going to make sure that he was a part of it.

A grunt from the bartender brought me back to the moment, as he thurst forward with his hips, seeking attention for his momentarily neglected cock.

I took him in my mouth as far as I could, sucking hard, and sliding back. Flicking my toungue across the tip before swallowing the pulsing organ again. He thrust forward, trying to force as much as he could inside my mouth- and I tried my best to oblidge him. All the while, I carassed Armand's face, fingers dancing across his lips- trailing down to slip inside his shirt, feeling the hardness of his chest, and the definition of each rib.

I knew the bartender was close to the edge, so close...I could feel it. I turned back to Armand, almost blinded by my own lust. This was it. This was the moment.

The pounding of the mortal heart was almost drowned out by my own, as I realized that in the course of a few short seconds, we would be locked together with the benefit of the blood and this mortals mind...and there would be no going back.

~Armand~

All the pent up and restrained lust, need and desire...I saw it reflected back in Daniel's
eyes, mirroring my own perfectly. He understood what was about to unfold between us, and
I could see he was as ready for it as I.

I felt a sense of shocked wonder when he struck the bartender across the face. Not over
the fact that Daniel could display such a sudden outburst of violence; I knew firsthand that
he had a fierce temper, and had more often than not been on the receiving end of it. But I
had never before seen him lash out in quite this way, with such a controlled and quiet
dominance. I think my surprise was more over the shear absurdity of such a sight. Daniel,
so apparently slight and frail compared to this great hulking mass of a man, and yet he was
in command, easily subduing the mortal without effort.

I loved the look of total shock and submission on the man's face. Priceless. Daniel had him
cuffed and bound now, his arms pinioned behind his back with the metal restraints. A
helpless and all too willing sacrifice, his life's blood about to flow freely upon the alter of
our thirst, to appease the hunger of little death gods with painted faces and mericiless eyes
above tender, cunning lips.

My eyes remained locked on Daniel, watching his every movement as he slid off the couch
and knelt between the massive thighs, spreading them wider. With a final teasing lick of
my tongue I relinquished my prize, ready to watch my talented lover take over the task of
tantalizing our prey.

As he flicked his tongue over the tip of the cock, my body slid lower and I stretched myself
out along the couch, my legs extended behind me on the velvet as I laid my cheek against
the hard corded muscles of the bartender's abs, the better to watch my fledgling up close.
That red tongue, flashing out between black coated lips to stroke over hot, pulsing human
flesh, pumped full with rich teaming blood was enough to make me moan out load, a shiver
of pure need coursing down my back. I felt it start at the base of my skull and move like a
shimmering snake down my spine and into my legs. Even my buttocks seemed to tingle and
tighten with the sensation.

Daniel must have heard that moan, for in the next moment he reached for me, pulling my
face close to his and kissing me with hard passion. It was a kiss full of hunger and want, hot
and moist and as lustful as any mortal's. I met it with equal fervor, undulating against the
couch, unable to contain or hide my own desire and need. His tongue was delicious in my
mouth, and I wanted to suck on it with abandon, to make love to it in the same manner
as I had the bartender's cock. All to soon he pulled away, but it was only to nip at my lips,
tugging them with his teeth and then moving his cool, hungry kisses down my throat. I
thought I would die then, so great was the lust and need for him. I had completely forgotten
about the mortal who was even then moaning and rocking his hips under my shoulder,
desperately and wordlessly begging for more attention to his own flesh. I could easily have
pushed him aside in those few precious and tumultuous moments, only to enjoy Daniel's
aggressive and demanding kisses a little longer.

It was wonderful to feel such boldness and strength in my fledgling, and I would have
surrendered myself to his will instantly, becoming his helpless slave and puppet, if only to
continue these heady embraces that robbed me of my senses.

But the blood was calling, and Daniel could not deny his hunger for it any longer. My lips
might feed his passion, but the blood would feed his soul, and through it, we would finally
have our meeting of hearts and minds.

As his mouth moved away from mine and engulfed the stiff and rigid organ, I sighed and
leaned my face against his fingers as they stayed on my cheek, kissing and licking at the
soft, smooth pads when they caressed over my parted lips. I watched with avid fascination
as he moved up and down on the cock, swallowing it deeply into his throat, able to see the
muscles constricting tightly around it when he sucked it to the root. I arched my own throat
as his hand moved down it and slid into the front of my shirt, teasing my chest and ribs with
light touches.

I was mesmerized by the sight of that thick organ pumping between his lips, even as I felt
the steady thrusts of the mans hips rocking under my shoulders, lifting me in time to the
increasing rhythm and tempo. His shallow breaths and groaning cries heralded his swiftly
approaching release. The scent of sex and blood was thick in the air, and I could no longer
restrain my own hunger.

I lunged forward and pressed my lips to Daniel's, following them as they slid along the
engorged shaft, tasting the salt of the man's sweat mixed with the tang of the clear flowing
fluid that surged from the swollen, throbbing organ trapped between us.

My eyes were open, but blinded by the power of the thirst and need, I saw nothing. With a
sound between a tortured moan and a feral growl I sank my fangs into that thick vein under
my lips and sealed my mouth tight around it, my eyes closing with the first shuddering and
ecstatic explosion of hot blood as it gushed forth in copious amounts.

I was caught up in the flood of it, the indescribable pleasure that rolled over me in waves,
and I clutched at Daniel tightly, seeking an anchor, something to hold me above the
buffeting tides of pleasure, lest I be swept away with it and drowned.

And then I felt it.

Daniel, wrapping himself around me, and lifting me up to safety and salvation, not with his
arms, but with his thoughts, which had suddenly pierced through the dark tidal roar of the
blood like a piercing beacon of light.

With tears of joy streaming from my eyes, I entwined myself around him, merging our
thoughts together.

At long last, we were One.

~Daniel~

What a position to be in.

I kept waiting for the realization to set in- for the bartender to come to terms with the fact that he wasn't particularly fond of this position, with his arms pinned and helpless behind his back. His first response would be to use his thighs in place of his arms- and each moment that I spent crouched there, between his legs- I waited to feel them close around me.

By keeping one hand on his knee, I could feel the muscles of his leg contracting and relaxing with a sporadic rhythm. He was actually trying to fight against the pleasure- actively trying to prolong it for as long as he could.

He was doing a very bad job of it. I would have to do it for him, then. And not because I actually cared to please this man, because truthfully- his pleasure was the last thing on my mind. But because I was enjoying it too much to let it go.

How many times had I longed for Armand to let go of the control that he prided himself on? And now, here he was- so far beyond putting up any pretense of being in control over what he was feeling.

And so close, draped across the bartenders lap- the way that he rode the tide of the rocking hips almost all that I could see, let alone focus on. Heavy lidded eyes, cloudy with desire...lips slightly parted, chest heaving beautifully with every breath.

I knew I would keep that image for myself, locked away in some secret part of my memory to replay over and over again, like a secret obsession. It was mine, only mine, and it was one that I would cherish.

I couldn't tear my eyes off of him. Each time I drew the pulsating cock into my mouth, I could only think of one thing.

For you...

It wasn't so different from any of the other trysts, really- save for one thing. There would be no bitterness this time, no resentment...because he knew. Just as I knew that the lust in his eyes- each and every tortured sound that came from his lips- was for me.

I wondered for an instant what it would be like to stop my assault on the bartender- leave him raging and helpless on the couch, and turn my attention on Armand. Take him, right there- leaving the bartender no other choice but to watch. It would have been so easy, and I was sure I couldn't stop myself when the idea made itself known to me...all of the years of wanting and being denied seemed to culminate in one pure, hot blade of desire that ripped mercilessly through my entire being.

Yes, now- don't tell me no, because I won't listen. I can't. That line had been crossed hours ago.

The bartenders hips were pumping furiously - and I realized that all I had to do was tighten my lips around my teeth and flick my tongue at the shaft as it impaled my mouth. Looking up, I saw that he had thrown his head back, and his face had gone a brilliant shade of red- and he had bitten his lip so hard in an attempt to stifle any scream that might have been building in the back of his throat that he had drawn blood. One rivulet tracked it's way down his chin, dripping with infinite precision onto his chest.

The scent of the blood hit my system, igniting the sleeping bloodlust like wildfire.

I pulled back, trying to fight the increasing heaviness in my head- feeling as though I were watching the entire scene unfold in slow motion. Drowning, that was it- in a sea of blood and heat and lust. Armand's lips suddenly meeting my own- and it was too much, the entire room seeming to breathe on it's own in tune with my own pounding heart. I heard his cry as his teeth found their mark in the straining human flesh- felt it, more accurately- and I answered with a growl of my own...clamping down on the thick vein, and locking my mouth around it.

An ocean of blood hitting the back of my throat with such force that for a moment, I wondered if I would be able to swallow quick enough...I felt Armand's arms go around me, tightly- hanging on to me as if I were his anchor- and I found myself doing the same. I needed this contact, more than the blood itself.

Never had the blood hit me like this- as powerful and as intoxicating as any blood of an immortal- and I wondered briefly if it was because of the bartenders orgasm, which was ripping through his body just as quickly as he hurtled even closer to death.

The blood...Armand...

I had to fight my way through the haze of the bartenders last thoughts and emotions before they choked me. Pushing and clawing my way through, looking for some peace in this whirlwind of feeling.

And there it was, just as it had been 14 years ago. The Gateway of Life and Death, Armand had called it- but it was nothing but a vision, a corner of his mind that had been closed off to me forever. How many times had I wished to see it again, just once? To be there, together- joined as one being.

Love you...always loved you. To be with you forever, that's what I wanted. None of this means a thing without you.

So much more to articulate, but would never be able to put into words. I concentrated as hard as I could into putting them into feelings, the purest, most base form of expression that I could manage....

~Armand~

The intensity of the rapture was so great I wanted to draw the blood out with ravenous
gulps, never once giving a thought to anything but the pleasure that was engulfing me,
rolling through me in wave after wave as the doomed man climaxed. His orgasm was a
tangible thing, ripping through me with violent force by way of the blood.

But beyond that physical pleasure, was a feeling of far greater worth, and a hundred times
more desirable. I heard Daniel, in my head, speaking words that stroked over me like
warm, satiny soft hands.

Love you...always loved you. To be with you forever, that's what I wanted. None of this
means a thing without you.

It was all that I had longed for, prayed for in the dark hours of the endless nights, floating
aimlessly in my waking dream of lonely existence. To know that Daniel loved me, that he
didn't hate me for what I had done. For killing him, and in turn making a killer of him.

He hadn't used me, not in the way I had feared. He had wanted the Gift, wanted
immortality, but not for the reasons I had always believed. When he had left me, it had
been a raw and bleeding wound to my heart, and I had feared the worst. That he had hated
and resented me, and that I had forever lost what I had tried so hard to cling to, even to the
point of breaking my own vow never to create another of our kind with my blood. I should
have trusted in him more, believed in the strength of our bond and not pushed so hard,
deliberately driving him away. And that is what I had done, hadn't I? I was so sure that our
love would be destroyed by the change, that I had actively done everything I could make
my own tragic predictions come true. I had been demanding and exacting in my tutelage;
cold and distant with my affections. Our fights had been violent and bitter, and in the end
Daniel had finally walked away.

But now, after years apart he had returned to me, and we could try again. I wanted it to
work, wanted us to stay together, for as long as time and fate and love allowed us. I bathed
in the glow of the emotions that he poured forth, a steady stream of love that twisted and
twined it's way around my soul. Linked by the blood and the mind of the mortal we shared,
I sent my own feeling back along the link, letting him know my own heart.

I Love you, Daniel. My fledgling, my child, my lover and dark brother. Forever bound
by the Gift of blood, and the power of our love. I'll never abandon you, never forsake you.
You are mine, Beautiful Boy, now and forever. And I am yours.

I wanted him to believe me, to know that I spoke the truth to him. Love was such an easy
word. It came quickly and often to our lips, spoken without hesitation among our kind. We
bandied it about with careless disregard or thought. I could say that I loved Marius or
Lestat as easily as I said I loved David, and all in the same breath as saying that I loved
my victims when I fed upon them, or loved the feel of velvet and lace, or the sight of a full
moon on a cloudless night. The truth seemed to be that we could love everything, while
loving nothing and no one at all.

But I did love Daniel. It was different from every emotion I had ever felt for any other
being. Different even from the depth of devotion and adoration I held for my Maker, or the
deep affection inspired by Lestat. One was my Father, and the other my Brother, but
Daniel....he would forever be my lover, no matter that I had made him. He was my child,
but not the way that I was Marius' child. I would never be a father figure to Daniel; our
relationship had never been of that nature. It had been complicated and tumultuous, but
never platonic.

I tried to let him know this, sending as much love as I could to him through the bond, saying
with pure thought and feeling what I had never been able to say out loud with words. But
the blood was slowing, the bond thinning and fading as our mortal link began to die.

Ah, no....don't die yet. Stay with us. We love you. Don't let your heart stop....not
yet....

I drank slower, trying to lessen the strain on the man's pumping heart, attempting to coax
another beat from the laboring organ, and then another.

But it was over. His heart stopped and his death passed into us, and with it I felt the thread
snap, the door slamming shut on our thoughts once more as the veil of silence descended
like a dark shroud.

Drawing my lips away from the limp, dead flesh, I laid my head against his thigh and wept
at the loss and the deafening silence that echoed within.

~Daniel~

My mind seems to be playing out the most absurd scenerio's in my head. It's the feeling, of course- the weightless feeling of being suspended in a solid mass of light and heat. It makes me think of all of the stories I had ever heard, about near death experiences. Is this how it feels to die? I can't remember my own death- the only thing that still burns brightly in my memory is the sound of Armand's voice.

If this is how it feels, then I know I would gladly die every night, for the rest of my life.

The bartenders thoughts have been completely banished- and I felt guilty, suddenly. We are killing this man, and we aren't even giving him the chance to remember his life. No beautiful visions for him...just the thoughts of two greedy demons, determined to use him for their own desires. But, feeling guilty was an absurdity that I couldn't afford. He was certainly no innocent, having taken what he wanted from countless others that were unfortunate enough to cross his path. Tonight, it was time to repay him tenfold.

Give...take...

I was revelling in the moment, knowing that Armand could read my thoughts again. There was something intensely comforting about it, reminding me of when I had been mortal and he had known every thought that had tripped through my brain. I couldn't hide anything from him, and I used to get so angry...funny that it would turn out to be something that I longed for, now. It made me feel complete. Nothing could have made it more perfect...

I Love you, Daniel. My fledgling, my child, my lover and dark brother. Forever bound by the Gift of blood, and the power of our love. I'll never abandon you, never forsake you. You are mine, Beautiful Boy, now and forever. And I am yours.

Like a bolt of electricity, that eloquent unspoken voice- touching every nerve ending, floating effortlessly through my mind.

I was holding my breath.

Other people wasted their time searching for proof of the exsistence of God. Miracles, angels, heaven and hell. This was my truth, and it was no less miraculous once the barriers had been lifted, and it had been revealed.

To have that confirmation, finally, after all this time! Of course, on some level, I knew that Armand loved me. Had always known. After all, would I be here today if he hadn't? But I still hung on to my human need to hear it spoken aloud every once in a while.

To hear the words spoken in the most intimate of voices, to feel the truth in the emotion behind them...

But even as I tried to process the information, store it away forever so that this moment would never be forgotten, I could feel the link starting to fade. How long had we been feeding? Could have been days, could have been mere minutes, but it would never be enough. Feeling the veil of silence as it slammed down again, the human heart ceasing to beat...it was a physically painful sensation- almost as if someone were wrenching my own heart out of my body.

The roar of the blood, the tide of emotions- suddenly and abruptly silenced, leaving me with a harsh ringing in my ears as I tried to adjust to the human sounds around me again. Music still thumping away upstairs, still reminding me of a diseased heart- irregular, swelling and cresting.

And beyond that, the sound of the most heartbroken sobbing that I had ever heard.

I blinked a few times to clear my vision, still unwilling to come back to reality.

Such a vision had never exsisted on this earth, I was sure of it. The picture of the perfect wounded cherub- enough to make any god in the heavens weep, if they saw it. But he looked so wrong, suddenly- laying against the mass of flesh that had given us this great gift. Nothing but dead flesh now. Strange how I could be enticed beyond belief by a mortal one minute, and then utterly sickened the next. I hated to be near them once the spark of life was gone.

Sometimes, if I let myself think on it, I swore I could feel the process of decomposition beginning...

Such sadness in those tears, I couldn't stand it! Just as I couldn't stand to see him resting against that flesh. I took another minute to gather my overtaxed thoughts before standing up, and pulling him into my arms. I carried him a short distance away from the body, and sat down on the floor- settling him in my lap. Any fear of reproach was gone. The freedom of not having to wonder if I was going to be pushed away was an amazing thing.

This was time for quiet contemplation, for rediscovering all of the feelings that had been buried for so long. Touching and kissing, and wiping away the tears. Don't cry! It's not fair. This is my rebirth. How can you cry? Don't you know what this means? Is it possible you never knew? Only this time, it wasn't my rebirth. It was ours.

There was wetness on my own cheeks, and I was shocked to see that I had been crying, too. I wiped at my eyes, and pulled away a hand that was smudged black. It didn't take long for the laughter to break through.

"I would kill for a mirror right now. I have a feeling that we should have tried harder to find waterproof mascarra."

~Armand~

I felt empty and alone. My soul, my very being was once again locked within the
solitary shell of my preternatural body; an island of desolation in the wake of a raging
hurricane. It left me feeling abandoned, battered and weak, a castaway on the deserted
shores of my own mind. After joining my thoughts with Daniel's; feeling, seeing, hearing
through him once more, to suddenly be thrust back behind the walls of silence was
unbearable. It had been a wonderful, exhilarating flight of the senses, a union that went
beyond the physical, joining our psyches together for an all too brief moment, before
ripping them apart and flinging us back into the narrow, tight confines of our separate
forms. Such a bond, such a perfect, harmonious and sublime union can never be adequately
described. No words exist yet in any language to do it justice.

And so, in the aftermath of such pleasure and joy, I felt a profound sadness.

For the poor mortal upon which I lay and shed my tears, I felt nothing. I loved him little or
not at all while he had lived; I cared for him even less now. He was nothing but a vessel,
the means to an end, and now that his purpose was done, I wanted to be rid of this flaccid,
cooling corpse.

The blood coursed warmly through me, but I still felt a deep, gnawing hunger within. A
craving that was undefined, but which I felt certain no amount of blood would assuage.

I felt Daniel's arms come around me gently, and unresistingly I allowed him to pull me to
him, cradling me in his lap like a small child. Ah, how good that felt, to lay against him, safe
and warm and sheltered in his arms, listening to the soft rhythm of his heartbeat under my
cheek. Physical contact. I was forever shying away from it, yet yearned for it always. His
lips were warm and soft against my hair and face, kissing away my tears.

Ah yes, give me your arms, give me your kisses. Hold me tight and don't let me drift
away into that void of darkness and lonely solitude again.

My eyes were closed as I lay against his chest, but I felt the sudden shaking of his
shoulders as he began to laugh softly. Somewhat vexed that he should be amused while I
languished in despair, I lifted my lashes to fix him with a withering glare.

At the sight of his face, my lips twitched involuntarily.

I would kill for a mirror right now. I have a feeling that we should have tried harder to
find waterproof mascarra.

Suddenly I began to laugh, at the shear absurdity of it. Here we sat, on a cold stone floor in
the company of a corpse, looking like a pair of wide eyed raccoons, and Daniel, my beautiful, precious and exuberant child Daniel,was wishing for a mirror.

The bartender's body slowly slid sideways and he flopped over onto the couch like a
jointless rag doll, his hands still cuffed behind his back, his open mouth slack and drooling
against the black velvet cushions. The wide open, staring eyes were glazed and glassy, his
whole face still wearing a look of continued surprise.

I laughed even harder and buried my head against Daniel's shoulder waiting for the fit to
pass. I had to collect myself, regain control quickly, for both our sakes.

After a moment I sat back and wiped at my eyes, smearing the makeup even more. I didn't
care; it could be repaired later, but now there were more urgent matters to take care of.

Sighing, I kissed Daniel tenderly and wiped my thumb over his lower lip, smoothing out an
uneven splotch of black.

"I'll be your mirror, Beloved. But first we must dispose of the kill."

I kissed him again, a slower, longer kiss.

"Then, after we have fixed ourselves up again....."

Gentle, tugging pull against the lip ring with sharp teeth.

"We can go back upstairs."

Another lingering kiss, full of unspoken promise.

"I want to dance."

~Daniel~

The mind link, no matter what a short time it lasted, was supposed to bring both of us some kind of peace. A way to express what was inside without words- to *know* what secret feelings each of us held.

There was no doubt, it had been wonderful. After all, in the past- Armand had always known my thoughts, but I had never been given the oppurtunity to know *his*. Never once. And now that I did...

The echo of those feelings still reverberated through my mind. In the quiet calm of the room, the words seemed to play over and over again in my head- almost as if my brain were trying to convince itself that what it had heard and felt, was really true.

23 years of searching. Looking for the well hidden and guarded truth that hid behind those luminescent brown eyes.

The laughter had been the last release of the tension that had begun to build the moment that we left the villa- and even though I knew it wasn't necessarily appropriate, I couldn't stop myself. Luckily for me, Armand understood. How many times in the past had my laughter caused a problem or two? At least this time, I didn't have to explain that I wasn't laughing *at* him. I just couldn't help it sometimes.

And hearing his answering laughter in return- that had been better than the blood itself.

Peace. Contentment.

"I'll be your mirror, Beloved. But first we must dispose of the kill."

Punctuated by a sweet kiss, enough to make me want to ask if we could leave the bartender alone for a while, on his couch. I didn't want to leave just yet. Going back to the real world seemed to be a travesty, and one that I wasn't sure that I was ready to deal with. I wasn't ready to surrender this closeness.

"I know, we have to get rid of him- but can't we..."

Silenced by another kiss, one that seemed to stop time dead in it's tracks. That delicious heaviness in my head was coming back...

"Then, after we have fixed ourselves up again....."

Ah, there it was! The same underlying feeling that had been plaguing me all night. A gnawing, fierce need for *something* that eclipsed even the desire for mortal blood. Like a tremor, rippling through my stomach, causing my heart to feel like a caged bird beating it's wings inside my chest. Teeth against my lips, tugging at the ring...I knew if I tried to stand just then, I wouldn't have been able to. I seriously wondered if I could find my voice to answer.

"Mmmmm...tell me more." Against his lips, more of a steady breath than anything else.

"We can go back upstairs."

Back into the fray of sweat and heat and noise- but it didn't seem quite as tempting as it had before. There was enough heat in this room, mostly radiating from me...and the noise? Just listen. I could hardly hear over the pounding of my own heart. Certainly, it was enough to give even the loudest music and human voices upstairs some definate competition.

This kiss was returned with equal fervor, with no thought given whatsover to any type of reply. I could still taste the bartender on his tongue- and for a moment, that perfect instant of unity felt like it was within my grasp again, if only this kiss was never broken...

"I want to dance."

I pulled back finally, reluctantly, feeling a smile spreading across my lips. I wondered what I looked like again- some deranged clown from a circus of the damned, no doubt- smeared, smiling black lips...almost enough to send me into more peals of laughter. But this time, I resisted.

"You? Honestly? You would like to dance? Well then, I think that's enough inspiration for me to get busy, and get this body taken care of, right away...because I think this is something that I'd like very much to see."

Even as my mouth voiced the words, I found myself looking idly around the room- searching for a radio, or a stereo- anything at all. If Armand wanted to dance, I thought a more private dance had some very definate possibilities...

Time to take care of the business at hand before anything else, unfortunately. I pulled Armand to his feet, and together, we set about the task of getting rid of the body.

This was always the most unpleasent part of feeding- and I tried my best to get it over with as quickly as possible. Although, before we carried him out- I *did* make sure that his pants were zipped. A measure of respect that I wasn't even particularly sure that the bartender deserved.

Supported between the two of us, head lolling first onto Armand's shoulder and then mine- he looked to be nothing more than blissfully drunk. If anyone happened into us in the hallway, I was sure they wouldn't even bother questioning it.

Through the narrow passageway we went, looking for a suitable place to dispose of him. And finally, we found it. At the very end of the long hallway, a small dark room- thankfully- with a dirt floor. Tucked into one corner was a furnace, another held a water heater, and in the center, a sump pump. Perfect. Within moments, we had him buried securely under the dirt. I stepped back when we had finished, to admire our handywork- no one would ever be able to tell that the floor had even been tampered with.

Back to where we had come from, to see what we could find in the way of repairing our makeup. I was sure that we looked like dead whore's- which, in the end, wouldn't have been such a bad thing. Undoubtedly, we would have fit in even better, once we ventured back upstairs.

But...but...

Ah, there! I hadn't even noticed it before. On a far shelf, covered in a fair layer of dust- a small, compact stereo system, complete with a selection of CD's. Perfect! The makeup could wait a bit longer.

I wandered over, and rifled through the limited selection of music. Nothing looked even vaugely familiar, so finally- I simply hit the play button, and waited to hear what would come out.

Haunting was the only word to describe it- slow and seductive, and very pleasing compared to what thumped and pounded upstairs.

I walked back over to the door and locked it once again...for the time being, at least. Didn't want anyone stumbling in, searching for the lost bartender.

I turned back to Armand.

"You mentioned something about dancing?"

~Armand~

My comment seemed to catch Daniel off guard. I heard both amusement and interest in his
voice as he expressed a desire to see me dance. The look in his eyes told me that interest
outweighed the humor of such a prospect.

I had never done such a thing before; not in his presence, but now....I had so much
unfocused energy and simply could not remain still. I needed to do something, anything to
try to channel these undefined but restless feelings churning inside.

And I had to put some distance between us, physically. All these kisses and tender touches
were only making me more aware of those unsettling feelings. I didn't want to stop kissing
him though. I could have stayed with him like that for the rest of the night, nestled in his
arms and exchanging kisses and heated caresses, only.....

Only what?

I had a vague and unnerving feeling that they wouldn't be enough, and eventually we would
pass beyond them to....

To what?

It was almost with relief that I untangled myself from his arms and stood to help heft the
bulk of the bartender's body between us. But as soon as I was free of his warmth and
embrace, I wanted to be enfolded in it again. I wanted to return to his arms, to press my
lips against his blood warmed flesh and taste his kisses, feel his touch and....

Stop that! You're a vampire. You don't *need* that anymore....

And I didn't. Did I? I remembered the images that Dominic had sent to us, of himself and
Louis and I felt suddenly hot and flushed. I thought of the rush of feelings and intense
pleasure that had washed over me as we played with our victim, and how my mind had
dwelt on different images, taunting me with visions of a shared passion. Daniel and myself,
sharing our bodies as well as the blood, joined together in the flesh and not just by our
thoughts. Such tantalizing visions, but quite impossible, I was sure.

We found a convenient place to dispose of the corpse and once the grisly but necessary
work was done, we headed back to the room again, my mind still entertaining these
disturbing notions of physical intimacy. It was not that vampires couldn't have sex. We
could. We usually simply chose to lose ourselves in the rapture of the blood rather than in
the flesh. But Daniel had ventured past that, hadn't he? He had become involved with
Dominic for a brief time, and I had to wonder why. Not that I faulted him or anything. I had
been having my own affair with Marius at the time, and while it had been wonderful, it had
also seemed almost....incestuous.

Such niceties and moral taboos meant nothing to vampires, but while I still loved Marius, I
continued to see him as my superior, my Master and my Pale God. I found it hard to
completely relax around him, to give myself over to him without reserve. This train of
thought invariable brought me back to Daniel. What would it be like to give myself to him?
To surrender to him completely and erase the lines between Maker and fledgling,
becoming instead lovers, in the truest sense of the word. Scary thought, that.

While Daniel moved around the room, searching, or so I believed, for some means to
repairing our makeup, I went to the small sink and turned on the tap. I waited for the water
to heat, and noticed that there was an open cabinet above the sink. Closing the door to the
cabinet, I saw that it had an old mirror in it, cracked and tarnished at the edges where it
met the frame.

My face in the mirror was both frightening and grotesquely beautiful all at once. The black
streaks made by blood tears and mascara had trailed down my cheeks, and the lipstick was
almost completely smeared away, save for a remaining hint of red and a few dark splotches
on my chin and jaw. I looked like an extra from some B-rate zombie film.

Behind a curtain under the sink was a shelf, and on it some old threadbare towels, ragged
and frayed around the ends. Taking one, I wet it under the water and carefully began to
wipe my face clean. It helped, but wouldn't remove the paint completely. My eyes still had
dark circles around them, making them look sunken and bruised, and my mouth was still a
dark shade of red, no matter how much I scrubbed at my lips with the wet towel. At least I
no longer looked like a zombie. I resembled more a malnourished street urchin.

I heard music begin to play behind me and looked at Daniel in the mirror's reflection. He
had found a CD player, and was now watching me with a sly smile, a demon's grin in the
ravaged mask of his face, streaked and smeared with black. He made me think of a
pale haired version of The Crow.

"You mentioned something about dancing?"

The music was hypnotic, and I found that I liked it's slow, sensual rhythm, haunting with it's
seductive quality. I wet the cloth in my hands again, and wrung it out. Turning I made my
way slowly toward Daniel, moving in time to the music, and letting a slow smile crease my
lips as I approached.

Snaking an arm around his waist, I pressed against his hip and thigh, swaying to the music
as I raised the damp rag and began wiping the makeup away, leaving only a trace of the
black rings around his startlingly bright eyes. Satisfied at last, I tossed the cloth away and
wrapped both arms around him, molding myself closer to his lean frame.

"Yes, I want to dance. With you. But I don't know how. Teach me."

~Daniel~

Strangely symbolic, wiping away the makeup. Erasing the last traces of the masks that we still chose to hide behind, leaving us more purely ourselves than before.

I wasn't sure what I found so unsettling about it. It was almost as if some of my confidence had been stripped away, along with the layers of grease and powder.

You know exactly what it is, don't pretend that you don't.

The two of us together, here in this small room. No more distractions- no purpose other than being alone. And what, precisely, was being alone going to accomplish? Where was it going to lead? To a few more kisses and caresses- enough to leave me inflamed and wanting more, before going back upstairs.

No- no, that wasn't right. *Wanting*. The realm of want had been passed hours ago. I needed this, more than I had ever needed anything before. But as much as I knew it- as much as I was starting to come to terms with it...I was also sure that it was quite impossible.

Armand and I had never...not that we couldn't have, if we wanted to. But obviously, he had never wanted to.

It took concious effort on my part, not to take it as a personal rejection. At first, I convinced myself that it was just his nature- he chose the blood over any other sort of physical intimacy. That was natural enough, wasn't it? I was the one who was still clinging to mortal habits that were probably best forgotten. Best not to dwell on it.

But this time, gathering at the villa- seeing him with Marius, I knew. It was nothing obvious- actually, nothing more than a gut feeling. So, it wasn't the fact that he wasn't interested in the act itself...he just wasn't interested in *me*. So much for the not taking it personally...

But what right did I have to feel put out, or jealous? We were two seperate beings, who made their own decisions and choices. He chose Marius, and I had chosen Dominic.

My mind was racing, no point in trying to deny it. And still, I couldn't quite find a way to explain to myself *why* I had chosen Dominic. I knew right from the start that it was...wrong. Wrong for me, anyway.

Lonliness is a dangerous thing, sometimes...

Back to the present, back to now. Here. With no idea where this night was going.

Stop thinking, Daniel- just react.

Easier said than done. Fear of rejection still hovered just below the surface...easy to push away, and just as easy to give in to. But would I give in to it this time? Would I let myself just walk away from this, without ever knowing if maybe, this time, things would have turned out differently?

No walking away, not this time. Even though I would have killed for a few minutes on my own to clear my head- to bring my thinking back under my control.

I knew I had to let it all go- this thinking about the past was nothing more than a stalling tactic on my part.

Why the hell are you stalling? Nervous, Molloy?

I was tempted to laugh at myself- long and hard. I was acting like a scared High School kid.

"Yes, I want to dance. With you. But I don't know how. Teach me."

Ah, that was enough to bring me back, finally. Voice like silk. It moved through me like an electrical shock, and I was convinced that I could feel every hair on the back of my neck standing up. Delicious to feel him this close, pressed against me- my arms went around him easily, pulling him even closer.

"I find it hard to believe that you don't know how, but I'll do my best..."

I closed my eyes and listened to the music, letting it wash over me- seep into every pore. How long had it been since I had done this? Moving in tune with another body...each step in concert with the other. I had never been *this* painfully aware of being close to him.

I rested my hands on his hips, feeling every movement almost as if it were my own. I could do this- concentrate on the movement, and the closeness...nothing else mattered.

But, my hands had minds of their own- and they weren't going to be content, resting idly on his hips. I slid them around his back, and down further- fingers gliding across the smooth leather, giving his ass a none too gentle squeeze.

That was when I knew it was over. If I listened closely enough, I swore I could hear the blood boiling, in my veins....I knew what I wanted, and I certainly wasn't going to get it by sitting back and doing nothing.

We were only a few inches away from the couch- and before I could change my mind, or try to rationalize it again- I pulled back, and pushed him back onto the couch. I knelt down between his legs- running a hand along the soft leather, tracing a pattern on his inner thigh.

"You know, dancing is nice...but I know of a game that happens to be much more fun. It's called roleplaying. Ever hear of it? You assume the role of someone else. You *become* that other person. I'm thinking that it might be fun, if you *became* the bartender..."

Casually, I reached up and toyed with the button on his pants- heart pounding so loudly in my ears that I couldn't hear anything else. Waiting to see if I would be met with out and out disapproval...and if I was, would I stop?

Not this time.

~Armand~

Daniel had that vague, thoughtful look in his eyes, the one always told me that he was
dwelling on something of profound importance. A little crease was visible between his
eyebrows and I wanted to reach up and smooth it away.

His arms came around me, pulling me closer to his tall, lean frame and I laid my head on
his chest, my hands sliding around his back to rest on his shoulder blades. I turned my
head, pressing my cheek against his blood warmed flesh and smiled a secret, hidden smile
as my fingers curled into the mesh netting of his shirt.

"I find it hard to believe that you don't know how, but I'll do my best..."

So, I had lied. But not completely. I did know how to dance, but not like this. I knew the
waltz and the minuet. I knew various folk dances from Italy and France, and the wild
orgiastic gyrations of a Grand Sabbat. But this was different. In centuries past, dancing so
intimately close would have been scandelous. Oddly enough, it would have been more
scandelous for a man and a woman to dance like this, rather than for two members of the
same sex to come into such close contact. Social mores can be so strange at times.

But I had told my little lie with only one purpose, and that was to be where I was now. Held
close and tight against Daniel, feeling his hands roaming over my body. Such a wonder,
intoxicating sensation. It sent tingles along my spine, and I felt them radiating outward to
my extremities. Down my legs and along my arms till it reached my fingertips. Even my
scalp seemed to tingle with the pleasure of it.

I allowed him to move me in time to the music, swaying against him with my eyes closed,
the sensual motions lulling me into complete relaxation. I caught myself just I started to
make something that sounded suspiciously like a deep throated purr.

His hands were moving over my hips, and then they slide up and over the curve of my
buttocks, cupping them and squeezing almost painfully hard as he drew even closer. I could
feel the rigid shape of his arousal rubbing against me, and it almost sent me over the edge.

If ever I had needed proof that he desired me as much as I wanted him, this was it. His
heart was beating rapidly under my ear, and I could feel his chest rising and falling with the
increased rate of his breathing. Did he even know that he was grinding himself against me;
and was he even awared that I was pressing closer to feel those hard, rubbing grinds?

I soon had my answer.

Daniel shoved me back forcefully so that I stumbled into the edge of the couch and
collapsed onto the black velvet cushions. I doubt it was graceful, and I am sure I looked
quite shocked as I gazed up at his face hovering above me.

Why had he shoved me away? Had I somehow repulsed him?

Before the hurt could begin to overwhelm my confusion, he knelt down between my knees
and pushed them farther apart, interposing his body firmly between my thighs. My eyes
went wide as his fingers slid along my inner leg, a feather light touch that I felt like a
burning brand through the leather.

"You know, dancing is nice...but I know of a game that happens to be much more fun.
It's called roleplaying. Ever hear of it? You assume the role of someone else. You
*become* that other person. I'm thinking that it might be fun, if you *became* the
bartender..."

A game? I blinked and tried to digest what he was implying. He wanted me to pretend that
I was the bartender....a dead corpse we had buried in the boiler room? My brows knitted
together as I attempted to understand this. The gleam in Daniel's darkening eyes and the
feel of his wandering hands going up to the fastenings of my pants gave me my first real
clue, and my expression cleared.

Ah, how amusing. Daniel is a necrophiliac, and wants to see how well I can play dead. Shouldn't
be too difficult, since I *am* dead. But then so is he, so I guess that makes me a necrophiliac as
well.

I gave a slow, predatory smile, tempered by the softening in my own eyes as they darkened
with increasing desire and excitement. This is what I had wanted; this is what I had been
yearning for all these years, and now finally, at last the moment had come. Everything that
had transpired this night...no...everything that had transpired over the last 23 years, had
been leading up to this. The long, complex dance of our courtship was about to come to an
end, and I was more than ready to take this final turn on the dancefloor.

"I don't play games Daniel. I was never an imaginative child, and not given overmuch to
pretend play."

I locked my eyes on his and licked my lips, my breath catching as my heart beat faster.
Shifting my hips, I moved them closer to the edge of the couch and raised my right leg,
slipping it over his left shoulder and slowly rubbing my boot covered calf against his neck
while the fingers of my right hand slid across my silk covered chest, toying and playing with
the ties of the black shirt. Lowering my lashes I looked at his mouth, lifting my left hand
and reaching out to trace my fingers over his lips, lightly rubbing against the little silver
ring. Such a soft, sensuous mouth. When I spoke again, my voice was husky even to my
own ears.

"Are you sure you want me to pretend to be someone else? Don't you want me,
Daniel?"

~Daniel~

"Are you sure you want me to pretend to be someone else? Don't you want me, Daniel?"

My breath seemed to catch, forming a solid lump in my throat. I felt like a know-it-all child suddenly- one who has been shown that he doesn't know nearly as much as he had originally believed. Did I want *him*? Well, that was a question that didn't even need answering. The pretense of the game was just that- a way for me to break the tension, a way to see how far I would be allowed to go before I was stopped. More importantly, a way to save face if he said no, he didn't want to play. Because that way, it would be the game that was being rejected, and not me.

I was very aware of the fact that rejection was a definate possibility, and I knew that there was no way that I could deal with it- not tonight. I wondered if he could hear the way that my heart was pounding- hammering in my chest like a jungle drum, louder than any music either upstairs, or here in this small room. I was convinced that if I looked down, I would be able to see it- like something out of a cartoon- chest slamming outward and receding with equal force. The thought made me smile a little to myself. This terror was new, and definately exhilerating.

I could still hear water running somewhere nearby, and I wondered for a minute if it had started raining outside. Why this thought pervaded my mind now, I had no idea- but a quick look around the room showed me something that I had missed before. A small shower stall, off towards the back- with water running in a slow, steady stream from the faucet. Something to remember for later, perhaps.....

I turned back to Armand, and forced my eyes to meet his. One hand moved off of his thigh to rest on the calf that was so casually rubbing against my neck, while the other moved moved behind him, to tug on the lacings of the corset. I wondered if I would ever be able to stop looking at him- the finely drawn brows, the wideset eyes that glittered like amber in the dim light, still bearing the faint smudges of black. The generous mouth, which had been so quick to smile this evening....I wanted to taste and touch and devour everything, all at once- and if I wasn't careful, that is exactly what I was going to do.

But this moment had taken far too long in the making, and there was no way that it was going to be rushed. It would be excruciating, surely...but I was sure that I could make myself suffer just a bit more, for the cause.

I rubbed my cheek against the soft leather, and grinned back at him.

"Yes, I want *you*. All of you. I think I did an admirable job of waiting up until now, don't you?"

My other hand left his leg and I leaned forward, reaching around behind him to concentrate my efforts on the corset lacings. Why did I have to tie those things so damn tight, in the first place? I wanted skin, as much of it as I could possibly get my hands on- and the urge to start shredding and tearing was overwhelming. But, unfortunately, we would need these clothes again, later. It wouldn't do to ruin them in an act of eagerness. Finally, it opened under my fingers and I quickly pulled it off, and tossed it aside.

I pulled at the silk of the shirt, fingers blindly finding buttons and opening them, freeing them from their fabric prisons. I gently pushed his leg from my shoulder and came closer, pushing the fabric off of his shoulders, sliding it down his arms until the only silk I felt was that of preternatural skin. I brought my mouth down on his shoulder, tasting the skin on my tongue before biting down sharply. Another nip, closer to his throat- which I saw was smeared with black from my earlier ministrations. Quick trickle of ancient blood, mingling with the greasy, sweet taste of lipstick. As I lapped at the trickle of blood, the scratch healed under my tongue.

Reaching back for his legs, tugging off first one boot, and then the other- tossing them onto the ever growing pile of discarded clothing. My mind was racing, and one thought in particular kept trying to make itself heard: How are we ever going to get into these clothes again, a second time? Ah, who had time to worry about such a thing.....fingers that suddenly didn't feel so nimble reaching again for the button on the pants, hands trembling out of my control, palms cold and sweating.

With a concentrated effort, the button was released, and I leaned forward to nuzzle his belly- kissing, tasting- dipping my tongue into his naval. Down further, to the leather clad bulge- mouthing it's shape, licking at it- teasing it through the leather. Finally, I urged him to raise hips, and I peeled the pants down and off completely.

A banquet of flesh, and mine for the taking.

I wondered briefly if my eyes had glazed over, as I knelt- taking in the sight before me. Hands trace up the tight thighs, smoothing muscles under my fingers- rubbing, constantly rubbing. I leaned forward until my face was against his chest, and my tongue found a nipple. I teased the hard little nub, rolling it on my tongue until I covered it with my entire mouth, and sucked, hard. The urge to bite was there- to clamp down with viciously sharp teeth...to hear him cry out in a heady mixture of pleasure and pain. But I only grazed it with my teeth, before moving on to the other.

I reached between his legs, and closed a hand around his rigid length- pumping it slowly, squeezing and pulling with an even pressure. With my free hand, I reached up and around the back of his neck, pulling him to me for a kiss- long and deep, sucking on his bottom lip- nibbling on the flesh until I was the one who pulled away, breathless.

It took an act of sheer willpower to let go of him, but I did- using both hands to push his thighs further apart. I ran my tongue along the inside of his right thigh, sucking hard enough at the flesh to mottle it, scraping against the silk with my teeth. His shaft brushed my cheek, and his skin was so hot that I was convinced it was going to burn me...but I move across to the left thigh- licking, and leaving stinging bites in my wake.

I pulled back finally, wrapping my hand around his shaft again. I never fully understood this mythos that vampires couldn't engage in sex. I mean, after all, vampiric flesh is far more sensitive than human flesh...

I teased the head with my tongue, delving into the slit, before sucking it into my mouth. I used the same rhythm that I had before- devouring it until I could feel the tip brush the back of my throat, pulling back, and letting my lips slide over the pulsing organ again.

I stopped only for a moment, long enough to look up into his eyes, before picking up my pace...

~Armand~

Daniel hesitated, and I felt a lump of fear in my throat, my heart seemed to stop
completely, pausing as if it too were waiting for his answer. Maybe I had misunderstood.
Perhaps this really had been meant as a game, and he was not interested in me *that* way
at all. But then why was his heart beating so rapidly, and his hand rubbing and squeezing
convulsively at my thigh? Surely he wasn't completely impassive to me.

I stared into his wide, violet eyes, trying to read the shifting emotions I saw there. His hand
left my thigh, moving up to grip my boot encased calf and I felt my heart sink, the lump
leaving my throat to form a solid leaden weight in my stomach. He was going to push my
leg away from his neck and shoulder, I was sure of it. But instead he held it lightly, leaning
forward to slip his other hand around my waist, sliding it up along my spine to the top the
corset, his fingers tugging with gentle urgency at the laces as his eyes remained locked on
mine.

I arched my back slightly, giving him more room to unfasten the cords, my breathing
shallow, almost holding every breath in, afraid to move for fear of breaking this spell. My
hands had a will of their own and reached out to touch his face, tracing over his forehead
and down his cheeks. I ran my thumbs over the line of his lips, feeling their softness, the
way they trembled slighly, then opened, his breath warm and moist against my skin. He
was so beautiful, with such finely drawn features and almost delicate bone structure. A
strong, high forehead, straight narrow nose and full, sensuous lips, his eyes so bright and
vivid, a startling shade of violet framed by thick, lush, ash blonde lashes. Violet eyes, the
color of love.

When he suddenly smiled at me, it was more welcome than blue skies and forbidden
sunlight.

"Yes, I want *you*. All of you. I think I did an admirable job of waiting up until now,
don't you?"

My eyes burned with unshed tears of relief, and as he leaned even closer to continue his
efforts to remove the corset lacings, I brushed my lips against his cheek, murmuring in a
soft whisper when I reached his ear.

"Ah, Daniel. You have waited for nearly a quarter of a century, but I have been waiting for
this my entire life."

And I had been. For more than 500 years I had hoped and dreamed, longed for a deep and
abiding love that would last forever over the course and span of our eternity. I had once
believed with a child's naivety that Marius would be that love, but those dreams had been
dashed and destroyed before they could even begin to take form. I had hoped to find it with
Lestat, but his rejection of me had hurt and wounded so deeply I knew that the scars would
never fully fade. My love for Louis had been calm and quiet, and it brought me peace for a
short time, but it was not the love I had longed for.

It was here, now in front of me. Daniel was the one who could make me burn, awaken my
cold heart and force it to feel, to open my eyes and finally see the world around me again
with clarity and wonder. I would always love the others, in separate, different ways. They
were part of my life, but Daniel was a part of me. Perhaps the very best part.

I offered no resistance as he pulled the corset away, taking a deep breath as I felt the
constricting leather release it's hold on my waist and ribs. The shirt was quick to follow, his
hands pushing it from my shoulders as he eased my leg from hisneck and shoulder, sliding closer to
place his lips against the bared flesh. I curled my leg around his waist, drawing him in
closer as I closed my eyes and moaned at his kisses, gasping when he bit sharply, and
shuddering with pleasure at the silken caress of his warm tongue lapping at the wound.

He moved to my throat and my whole body quivered with electric shocks, my head falling
back against the couch as my hands slid into his hair, my fingers buried in the soft strands
and curling tightly against his scalp. When he pulled away to remove my boots, I let him go
with great reluctance, though I kept my hand against the top of his head, loath to give up
contact completely.

His fingers went to the buttons of my pants and I caught my breath, releasing it slowly as I
went pliant and accepting under his hands. The touch of his lips and tongue against my
stomach made me gasp and jerk involuntarily, the sensation was so acute, so intense.
When he slipped his tongue into my navel I had to bite my lip not to cry out, my fingers
tightening in his hair as my breath became harsher and more ragged. His mouth moved
lower, pressing against my erection through the leather, and I was lost in a near swoon,
hardly aware that I was clutching at him tightly, my hips rocking and twisting as I sought to
get closer to that tantalizing mouth. Without any coherent thought I lifted myself up, aiding
him as he slid the leather pants down over my hips and thighs. I did not see or care what he did
with them once they were removed; I was too lost in pleasure and drowning in the
sensations of cool air against my overheated flesh, his hands and lips like brands of fire
tracing over my skin.

I pulled him to me as he pressed against me once more, his lips seeking and finding my
already hardened nipple, stroking and laving it with his tongue, his teeth scraping over it
with maddening lightness as he sucking it into his hot, warm mouth.

He pulled my head down to his, locking his mouth over mine at the same moment his hand
closed around my shaft, stroking and pumping it with a steady, smooth rhythm. I cried out,
the sound lost against his questing tongue. I was dying now, my body losing all shape and
form, melting beneath him as he reduced me to molten heat and desire. I was certain that I
would burst into flames, be consumed by this fire and rendered to a pile of ashes.

Not only the sun can destroy.

I was panting and breathless as he pulled away again. Opening my eyes I saw him moving
down between my legs and I groaned, shuddering with anticipation. His lips teased and
tortured, sucking and licking along the insides of my thighs and I was aware that I was
twisting and writhing wantonly against him, making soft mewling sounds of need that I tried
to hide and muffle away by pressing the back of my hand against my lips. Useless and vain
attempt, as my cries became louder, his hand closing around me once more and his tongue
sliding over the all too sensative tip, delving into the slit and making me bite down on the
back of my hand to stifle a scream as his lips finally engulfed the throbbing head and shaft.

All my shield and defenses, all my mask were gone, destroyed complete by this onslaught
of passion as I surrendered to Daniel completely. I felt utterly helpless and lost, completely
vulnerable and stripped of all layers as I lay naked and exposed in his grip. With the
shedding of the clothes had come the shedding of all barriers, a symbolic razing of my
walls, crumbling them to rubble around me. It was as if the clothes had been a protective
armor, the only real thing holding my control in place, and now they were gone and so were
all my hard wrought facades. No longer the cold and distant Coven Master, not even The
Vampire Armand, I was simply....who was I now? I didn't know anymore, and it was
frightening in the extreme, to be so open and vulnerable, stripped to the soul and left
without a single shred of my former masks to hide behind.

I was crying, the tears sliding down my face as I looked at Daniel, his beautiful eyes
watching me intently as his lips continued to caress my swollen shaft, sliding up and down
with a determined rhythm, pushing me ever farther away from myself.

That he was still fully clothed, and I was so vulnerably naked only made me more aware of
my increasing sense of helplessness.

I took my hand away from my mouth, ignoring the blood that flowed from the back of it as I
stretched my arms toward him, my eyes pleading as I beseeched him imploringly.

"Daniel....please....." the words locked up in my throat, catching on a sob.

Help me....
 

~Daniel~

It was too much- almost more than I could stand. If I had any preconcieved limits before this started, I was fast pushing myself past all of them.

There was no doubt that I was on fire.

Every sound that came from his lips pushed me closer and closer to the edge, but I was powerless to stop my assault. It was almost as if I had discovered an unknown addiction, and I was willing to do whatever I had to do, to feed it.

Let the pressure build until it was painful to breathe...

Too much going through my mind, but I had to grasp on to anything- anything at all, just to stop myself from thinking about the sight of him twisting and writhing just above me. The way that he rocked his hips was enough to make me want to dig my fingers into the tender flesh and hold on to him...I wanted to feel everything, every movement- and know that it was because of me.

And the sounds, oh god, the sounds! Had anything ever sounded more beautiful? I wanted to find his lips again, and drink in every moan- feel them pass from him into me...but I couldn't tear myself away from that gorgeous cock. The way that it throbbed and pulsed in my mouth, in perfect tune with his heartbeat...almost like the bite, but so much better.

I was a greedy monster, that much I freely admit. I wanted to taste every inch. I wanted everything that my lips touched.

I want...

Ignore the fact that my own cock pulsed painfully between my legs, screaming for attention. Every inch of my skin was alive and needing...something. Even the cool breeze that seemed to be coming from underneath the locked door was maddening, the way that it seemed to wrap itself around me in it's chilly embrace- only serving to remind me that I had never been this hot before. Had never burned for so long.

I was drowning in it, there was no doubt about that. But when I looked up to meet his eyes, the blistering confusion came back, tenfold.

Tears? Had I done something wrong? Did he want me to stop? I blinked a few times to clear my vision, hoping that it would serve to help me get my emotions back under my own control.

My own control...think about what you just said, Daniel.

I had been trying desperately not to analyze the situation- because if I did, if I let myself fully realize it...the game would be over before it even had a chance to start.had to force myself to pull back, and really *look* at what was happening. Armand, here with me....no intrusive third party involved, no one else forced to become the focus of my misdirected lust. Completely compliant to my every whim...even down to the fact that he had allowed himself to be stipped of every article of clothing. Had he ever let me do this before? The answer was a resounding *no*. Of course, this wasn't the first time that I had seen him naked...but in the past, it had been on his own terms.

"Daniel....please....."

Raw, coupled with the tears- it was almost as if I were hearing his voice for the first time. And in a way, I was. This was *his* voice- no artful facade, no pretense of power. I thought to myself that *this* is what he must have sounded like when he was still mortal, before everything had changed him. The confusion was dying away again, being replaced by the insistent throbbing between my legs...the fire in my lower belly burning even hotter than before.

Love and lust combined made for one hell of a rush...

I forced myself to pull back, even though the last thing I wanted to do was stop. But I had to offer something in return, didn't I?

The blood on the back of his hand caught my eye, and I reached out to bring the hand to my lips- licking away every last trace of the blood, before turning it over and placing a kiss on the palm. I rested my cheek against his thigh, and held on to his hand...just wanting a minute to look at him- really *look*, and appreciate what I was seeing...because who knew when or if I would ever see it again.

Finally, I pushed myself back, and reached for my boots. They had to be the first to go, obviously- or the pants would never come off. The shirt slipped easily over my head, and I tossed it aside, onto the pile of Armand's already discarded clothing. I lay back, trying to ignore the icy cold of the stone floor as it pressed into my back...and tried, with all of the grace that I had ignored earlier, to peel the vinyl off. Much to my suprise and amazement, they were much easier to take off, then they were to put on. I felt like a snake shedding it's skin.....

The cold air against my bare skin made me shudder in spite of myself...but given a little time, I knew that the heat radiating from my own body would be enough to warm the entire room.

I stood up, and walked back over to Armand. Impossible to hide the grin on my face. I wondered when I was ever going to stop feeling so dizzy.

"Why didn't you tell me how cold it was in here? Don't worry, though- I think I know of a way to warm up..."

I pushed him back on the couch, and lay down on top of him- the shock of warm skin against skin almost sending me spiraling even further. I couldn't get enough of kissing him, only this time, I was the one who was moaning with abandon. Bodies pressed so closely together, dizzily grinding against each other like two single minded teenagers in the backseat of a car. It would have been so easy to take him, right there...

But, I knew what I wanted. The chance to give him back the smallest bit of his lost control.

I got up, trying to ignore the way that my erection bobbed viciously in the air, looking for any chance of more contact.

I pulled Armand up with me, and set him on his feet. Reluctantly, I let go of him, and sat down again- finally reaching down to stroke my own aching cock.

"Come over here, little cherub- if you're ready."

~Armand~

He took my hand, licking at the blood on the back of my fingers, laving it with his tongue
till the wound closed and healed. I could only sigh in blissful contentment under such gentle
ministrations, the touch of his lips and tongue causing the pleasure and lust inside me to
rise in waves.

It was with great reluctance that I released his hand, watching him sit back and begin to
remove his clothes. This loss of contact seemed a slight respite to my senses and I thought
I could use it to get myself back under control. That was until I found myself captivated by
the sight of Daniel stripping down to the skin. Completely mesmerized I couldn't focus on
anything but the sight of his gorgeous body as it was revealed to my hungry gaze. First the
boots, and then that skimpy, almost non existent shirt that had been tantalizing me with
glimpses of his pink nipples off and on all night. His bared chest looked so inviting and
smooth, I wanted to run my hands all over it, teasing and tasting his flesh as I nibbled and
sucked at those pale nipples. They were quite different from my own, being a soft, pale
shade of pink, while mine were a light fawn, though once they had been a deeper, darker
shade of nut brown. I wanted to bite and suck those tender tip till they stood hard and
peaked like little pebbles under my tongue and fingers. All the better to pinch and twist
them.

When he laid down on the floor and began to wiggle out of those tight vinyl pants, I caught
my breath and groaned, my hand going to my groin, gripping and pressing it hard in a vain
attempt to stop the sudden, surging rush of intense lust. The sight of him lifting his hips to
slide the pants over his buttocks and thighs was enough to almost send me leaping on top
of him. He shed the pants and stood up, his cock captivating me as it thrust upright, hard
and rigid in front of him. It bobbed with every step he took toward me, and I couldn't help
but grip my own organ tighter, stroking it almost feverishly.

I had to forcibly concentrate on what he was saying to me.

"Why didn't you tell me how cold it was in here? Don't worry, though- I think I know of
a way to warm up..."

Cold? How could he say it was cold? It felt like a furnace to me, and I was burning up with
the heat that seemed to be radiating from the inside out.

I tumbled back onto the couch when he pressed me, lifting my head to catch at his lips as
they descended on mine. My hands gripped and held him close, my whole body arching and
shuddering as his weight came down onto it. I spread my thighs, cradling him between them
and moaning deliriously into his mouth, half out of my mind with desire and need as our
cocks rubbed and stroked against each other. This was heaven, molten heat and desire,
twisting and coiling in the pit of stomach. I didn't try to stifle my cries this time, breathing
them into Daniel's mouth even as I drank in his. My hands were restless, roaming at will
over his body, touching, stroking everywhere, because I wanted to feel all of him.

Just as I was about to wrap my legs tight around him, pulling him closer to my flushed body,
he pulled away and sat up, dragging me with him. I was so surprised I didn't even think to
protest till it was too late and I was standing on my feet in front of him, a bit wobbly and
dazed.

Blinking heavily to clear my mind and vision, I looked to him sitting there in front of me,
his hand busy gripping and stroking his erection while he watched me with a dark and
hooded gaze.

"Come over here, little cherub- if you're ready."

Those words instantly brought me back to my senses. Little Cherub....he dared to
taunt me like this! I think it was then that I finally understood just how this *game* was to
be played. I would have easily surrendered to him moments before, pliant and malleable to
his will, but now he was deliberately letting me regain a semblance of control again. I tilted
my head to the side, letting the curls fall across my shoulder and face, then smiled slow and
wickedly as I approached him, kneeling down between his wide spread legs and gripping his
thighs tightly. We could play this little game of his all night, this shifting of power as it
vacillated back and forth between us.

Sliding my hands up his thighs I followed in their wake with my lips, kissing and nibbling at
the tender inner flesh, then soothing the red marks with the tip of my tongue. I listened to
his breathing, his stuttering moans and felt the tensing of his muscles under my hands as he
let me explore his body. Let me....as if there was anyway that he could have stopped
me from doing what I intended!

My hands moved up to his hips, fingers curling around them to grip his ass and then pulling
him sharply forward so that he was perched on the very edge of the sofa. Now he was more
reclining than sitting and I pressed forward, slipping my arms under his thighs and lifting
them up onto my shoulders as my mouth moved toward his cock. At first I licked and
stroked over the flared head with only my tongue, delving into the slit with sharp, rapid
flicks. I reveled in the taste, feel and texture of him, closing my lips over the very tip and
sucking strongly, but then my careful control disintegrated completely, and I decended on
his cock with wild abandon. I could have been gentle, using slow, teasing licks and
caresses, but I did not have the patience for that anymore. I wanted, needed to taste him
fully, and I wanted to drive him to the very edge, without letting him fall over the precipice.
I wanted to hear him cry out and scream with pleasure. Pleasure that I was making
him feel.

I worked my mouth up and down, lips tightly sealed around his swollen shaft as I sucked
voraciously, my tongue stroking and rubbing rapidly along the underside of his cock,
creating hot friction against the sensitive skin. It wasn't long before his hips were bucking,
lifting up off the couch as he tried to thrust deeper into my mouth. I was more than happy to
oblige him....for a moment or two. I plunged down to the root, wrapping my lips around the
base and holding him trapped in the constricting channel of my throat, the muscles
tightening and caressing the thick head. When his ass lifted from the cushions, driving
himself deeper, I slipped my fingers between the smooth cheeks and probed at the tight
opening, feeling it spasm and clench.

I lifted my head from his cock and scraped my teeth down the underside of the shaft,
delighting in the way he twitched and jerked, giving deep, throaty moans of pleasure, which
only grew louder as my tongue found his balls and lapped at them greedily. I rolled them
around with my tongue, lifting and pressing against them with long, firm strokes, mouthing
and nipping at the shifting sac before opening my lips and sucking them inside. First one,
and then the other. I deliberately kept my hand away from his cock, even though my
fingers twitched and ached with the desire to wrap themselves around the hard organ and
stroke it. There would be no quick completion to this act, and I didn't want to over
stimulate him just yet.

But there were other things I could do to my lover, and I eagerly set about doing them.
My lover. How good those words sounded to me. As I mouthed and sucked at his
balls, my fingers wiggled and wormed their way into his tightly clenching ass. First one,
stroking and gliding smoothly passed the rough ring, followed by a second finger when he
shuddered and then relaxed. I moved those fingers back and forth steadily, caressing the
soft inner walls as I stretched him wider. He was so tight; it had been a long time since he
had been opened like this, and I decided that I should make it easier for him.

Removing my fingers, I gave his sac a final hard suck, letting them slide out of my mouth
wetly. I only glanced up at his face briefly to see the expression there, the almost drugged
look in his eyes as he panted and moaned with lust. God, he was so beautiful in his passion
that he made my eyes hurt. It was enough to firm my resolve to make him writhe and twist,
to see just how much torture and erotic stimulation he could withstand, before he broke and
took things back under his control once more.

Shifting, I lifted his legs higher, both hands sliding under his ass and spreading the firm
cheeks as I slipped my tongue downward and stroked the tip over the spasming hole. I
licked around it teasingly, then nibbled at the slightly rough ring before pressing against it,
delving as deeply as I could into him. My fingers pressed and kneaded against his ass as I
slowly worked my tongue in and out of him, increasing the speed and pressure as he began
to move and twist against me, his groans and sighs becoming louder and more ragged. I
was so focused and intent on giving him pleasure that I wasn't even thinking about my own
hard and aching need. There would be time enough for that later.

I slid one hand out from under him, trailing it over his hip and through the fine curling nest
of pale hair that surrounded his wildly twitching cock. I could feel the heat emanating off of
it even before I closed my fingers around the shaft, pumping it in time to the strokes of my
tongue as I fucked it in and out of his ass.

I knew from the violent shaking and loud, breathless cries being torn from his lips and
throat that he was going to snap at any moment.

I almost purred aloud with pleasure.

That's it, my lover. Show me what you are capable of.

~Daniel~

little cherub...proof that rational thought had just been tossed out the window. I hadn't meant it to be an insult, or a challenge- but it had to have come out that way. I had said it with the best of intentions, trying to give Armand the chance to get back some of his all important control...but judging by the look on his face, my good intentions had backfired completely.

I was almost hurt.

He looked anything but cherubic with the tumble of curls falling over one shoulder- half obscuring his face, but not obliterating the wicked smile that peaked from behind the tangle of auburn. Little devil was more like it, little satan- black smears still evident on his neck, all around the collar that he still wore. The only thing that he still wore. Thick band of leather with three prominent metal rings. Awfully tempting, that sight. I wanted to hook my fingers through the smooth metal rings and drag him back up for another kiss...anything at all to stop what I knew was about to start, because it would be too much and I wanted this to last as long as it possibly could.

Slow down......hurry up.....I couldn't make up my mind any more.

One thing cut through the fog that had permeated my mind, however. It was the look in his eyes as he crouched between my legs, fingers digging into the flesh almost painfully. I suddenly knew what one of our victims must have felt like, being caught up in that predatory gaze.

Dinner...

Was this what the bartender had felt? If so, then he had been one lucky bastard. No wonder he had died with the faint traces of a smile on his face...

I closed my eyes and leaned back, letting my head rest against the back of the couch. I couldn't look at him anymore- it was impossible. If this was being turned into a game, one more look would be all that it took to push me over the edge. My fingers still burned to close around those metal rings, long enough to unceremoniously throw him over the edge of the couch and take what I wanted...but no, not yet. I could suffer a little longer, couldn't I? I could, and I would- by whatever means necessary. I resolved that I wasn''t going to make a sound- I wanted to see where my boundries were.

It didn't take very long for my resolve to crumble, however.

As soon as his hands touched my thighs, I could feel the muscles begin to clench with a will all their own. It was almost as if *they* were playing a game- trying to anticipate where his lips and tongue would touch next. In my minds eye, I could almost visulize it...his lips hovering above the skin, hot breath searing the flesh long before his teeth and tongue ever touched it. The anticipation was almost the best part...and I was amazed by how in tune my body was, to what he was doing. The moan that escaped my lips sounded strange to my ears- low and guttural. I wondered if this was how he felt while I had taken my time, tasting every inch of his skin that my lips could reach. I hadn't fully appreciated the torture of it before, but now I most certainly did....

The heat in my lower belly was almost agonizing, and I realized that I was alternately sweating and shivering, both at the same time. Every muscle quivered and jumped- and it was by an extreme act of will alone that I stayed on that couch. I wanted to reach out and touch him, but instead, I gripped the cushions of the couch- feeling the worn velvet as it began to shred underneath the pressure of my fingernails.

I was just adjusting to this new brand of slow torture when I felt strong hands pulling me forward, towards the edge of the couch. I cracked my eyes open in time to see him lifting my thighs up over his shoulders, and my breath caught in my throat. I knew exactly what was about to happen, and I knew there was no way that I could stand it. Every fantasy that had ever played in my mind about this moment seemed to come to life suddenly, and all I could do was squeeze my eyes shut again, and hope that I had the strength to live through it.

I hadn't realized that I was holding my breath.

The moment that I felt his tongue stab at the head of my cock, my breath escaped in a tortured whimper- not the scream that I felt building in the back of my throat. I didn't have any time to recover- all at once, he seemed to be devouring my cock, and all I could do was let go of the couch and press the heels of my hands against my eyes, so hard that for a moment bright flashes of colors and shapes flashed before my closed eyes. The feel of being enveloped in that hot, wet mouth was heaven- and I couldn't keep still. My hips pushed forward of their own accord, wanting to find a way to go deeper, as deep as I could get- and I knew I wasn't going to be happy until I opened my eyes. I had to see it. I had to see him.

When I took my hands away from my eyes, everything was blurred almost beyond recognition- but slowly, he came back into focus. Just like I had always pictured...and just like earlier, with the bartender, I couldn't stop staring. There was something about the sight of his soft lips, still looking slightly swollen from the earlier kisses...so wet and inviting. And the way that his hair brushed against my thighs as his head bobbed, tickling the skin. It was all I could do not to reach out and tangle my hands in that hair, and fuck his mouth in earnest......

Just when I was sure that I couldn't stand another minute, my cock slid out of his mouth- and I cried out in confusion and disappointment. But, I should have known that he was far from finished. His mouth moved lower, his tongue snaking out and finding my balls. If I had believed in the christian god, I would have picked this moment to start praying.....and I realized, suddenly, that I *was* praying....praying to anything that would listen, because I knew there was no way that I was going to survive this. The hell with the sun, the simple truth of the matter was that I was fully prepared to burst into flames, and blink out of exsistence.

I was lost in the sensations, in the moment, in the heat of his mouth and tongue as they worked together to push me closer to a pinnacle that I hadn't realized actually exsisted. The cool air against my burning cock only inflamed it more, and the pull was so insistent, so immediate.....I bit into my lip, tasting blood- trying in vain to find anything at all to concentrate on besides *this*. Every muscle in my body was jerking, straining, pulsing with a mind of their own. This was the center of the universe. Trying to keep still or muffle the moans and whimpers that came from my throat was impossible. I was nothing but a writhing mass of pure need, completely shameless.

There was insistant pressure suddenly, as he worked first one finger and then two inside of me- and for a moment, all of the writhing stopped. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe- and I realized that I was systematically shredding the couch cushions again. God, I couldn't take this, I couldn't- something was going to snap, I knew it. It was like an electrical current, ripping through my belly, and I caught my breath in a sharp, hoarse scream. But in a matter of moments, I was rocking my hips- pushing towards him, trying to force him in deeper.

I could hear my voice, but it sounded like it was coming from somewhere else- from some *one* else. Nothing but unintelligible words of encouragement, half slurred obscenities- trying to tell him both to continue and stop, at the same time. Whispered pleas that I hoped he wouldn't heed.

Nothing exsisted anymore but this blinding lust...it was the only thing that was real.

He pulled back, and I almost sighed with relief. I wondered if I would be able to stand. My legs felt like rubber, and I had a strong feeling that my knees would buckle as soon as I attempted it. But before I could think of anything else- he shifted my legs higher......and I was ready to protest this time, honestly I was. But my mouth couldn't seem to form any words.....at least, nothing that made a bit of sense.

Pressure again, only so much different than before. Something soft and wet, and every bit as insistent as his fingers had been. Pressing into me as his hand stroked my cock in an almost exact rhythm. I prayed that no one was anywhere near the basement, because I knew my cries echoed my desperation. For the first time all night, I was glad of the pounding music that still thumped away, upstairs.

God.......god, this was too much. Everything was on fire, and I needed......needed it *now*.

Gathering every last ounce of my strength, I reached down and caught one of the rings on the collar, and dragged him up off of the floor. I threw him over the arm of the couch- realizing only later that I had managed to get up without falling. Something that I was sure would amaze me, later. I pinned his body beneath mine, reaching up to finally tear the collar off. I wanted to taste the skin underneath- the sweet, hot sweat slicked skin that had been hidden all night. I brushed his hair aside, and locked my mouth against it, roughly sucking on the skin, eagerly licking up the blood sweat that clung there.

He was effectively pinned, cock pressed firmly against the velvet arm of the couch. I found the rough ring of muscle, and pressed against it, sliding in with one firm thrust. Heaven, so hot and tight.....I had to hold completely still for a moment, because it was too much. With my mouth still locked on his throat, I rotated my hips and started to thrust, slow and deep. Reaching around him, wriggling a hand between him and the couch, I wrapped my fingers around his cock, and started to pump him in time with my thrusts...every so often, forcing myself to hold still...to stop, and catch my breath. The urge to go harder, faster...ah, god.

Without thinking, I could feel myself pressing harder into the soft flesh of his throat....

~Armand~

Every sound that issued from Daniel, every writhing, bucking twist of his body, only served
to fuel my own passion. He was frantically trying to get away from my not so tender
ministrations, while at the same time he attempted to strain closer. His control was
perilously close to the breaking point, and I wondered just when he would give it up
completely.

I didn't have to wait long.

Once I went to work on him with my tongue, he went wild and thrashed almost violently. It
is amazing how another person's reactions can affect one. I was aching with want and need,
yet all I desired at that moment was to wring more cries and moans of pleasure from his
throat. It was almost enough for me. Almost.

I was so intently focused on my task, that his sudden turning of the tables took me by
surprise. I felt his fingers slide through the ring of the collar around my neck and pull me
away forcefully. The speed with which he surged up off the couch and spun me around,
throwing me across it's arm, was startling, and left me gasping for breath.

This is it, I thought as he pinned me under his weight, his hands tearing the collar
away from my throat so that he could press his lips to the somewhat chafed and reddened
flesh. This is what we have both been waiting for....needing and wanting for so long.
 

There was a reason why we had never done this before; never made love in this fashion.
Several reasons, actually. When Daniel was a mortal he had desired me, and I had in turn
had wanted him, but knew that I could not indulge in sexual passion with him. Lust and
excitement bring the bloodlust to the forefront, and I did not trust myself to keep a tight
reign on my control, not like Marius had been able to do with me. But then again, maybe he
hadn't succeeded so well there either. Engaging in sex with a mortal usually results in the
death of the more fragile being. Our strength is immense, and in the throws of carnal
pleasure it is all to easy to forget that strength, and accidentally crush the life from our
lover. And the need for the blood is intensified as well. I would never have risked Daniel's
life in that way. But he had never understood my reticence, and I had never really bothered
to explain the particulars of it to him. I simply let him believe that vampires were incapable
of sex. I'm sure that if he had known differently, he would have pressed me harder for it,
certain that we could overcome such minor obstacles as broken bones and blood loss. After
all, as a mortal boy I had certainly pressed my own suit with Marius.

I never allowed anything overtly intimate between Daniel and myself, because I knew that
once begun I would not be able to stop. I loved and wanted him too much. Better to not
touch at all, rather than tempt the beast.

After his creation, everything was different between us. I was so sure he would hate me,
that eventually he would leave me all alone again, that I couldn't allow myself the pleasure
of his touch or embrace. I became more distant than ever, wanting to spare myself the
inevitable pain. I can see now that I was wrong, and much of the unhappiness in the
following years was my own fault. I pushed Daniel away, deliberately trying to destroy his
love for me.

But never again would I make that mistake. He was here with me now, despite everything,
and he loved me still.

I shuddered at the feel of his lips sucking hard against my throat, his tongue lapping at the
sweat dampened skin as he pressed against me from behind. I knew that it had to be this
way. He had to be the one to take possession of me this time. Always before I was the one
in command of every situation, but now I had to yield, to bend and give in to him. I was not
losing any control; I was freely offering it to him. I wanted him to become my lover and my
equal.

The first thrust was painful; blindingly so. I couldn't stop myself from crying out as I felt his
cock tearing into me. I bucked my hips hard and pushed my hands against the cushions of
the couch. Everything was centered right there, on that feeling of white hot impalement. I
groaned as he began to move in and out of me, twisting and rocking my hips against him
feverishly. Beyond the searing pain was an indescribable pleasure that was building inside
of me at an astonishing rate. I've heard that sex is mostly in the brain, and I have always
laughed at that, thinking that it must have been a woman who came up with that theory.
Perhaps it wasn't such a silly notion after all, for despite all discomfort, I was unbearably
aroused and excited by this. It was Daniel who had me bent over the couch, slowly and
methodically reaming my ass with deep thrusts. It was that thought that kept playing itself
over and over in my mind.

It's Daniel....Oh God, it's Daniel....Daniel...!

When he pulled my hips up and back, sliding his hand between me and the couch to grip my
aching shaft I almost climaxed on the spot. I know that the sound that came out of my
throat was a loud and plaintive wail, and I am sure that someone must have heard it, even
above the music playing upstairs. Surely that unknown and unseen vampire that I had
sensed earlier could hear it, but I certainly didn't care at that moment. I still don't.

All I could conceivably concentrate on was the pleasure that Daniel was giving me, and I
wanted to return it to him. I used everything I had ever learned to ensure that this was the
best he had ever had...or ever would have in his entire life. I worked at moving my hips
against him, in time to his rapidly increasing thrusts, flexing and tightening my muscles
around him to caress his cock as my own slid smoothly through his clasping fingers.

His hands tightened around me, almost painfully and I felt his breath quicken with his
moans, his teeth scraping over my throat as the fangs pressed against the flesh. I arched
my back and reached up with my left hand, gripping his hair tightly as I tried to support my
weight on my right arm despite the jarring rhythm that continued to shove me forward and
threatened to knock me off balance.

Yanking sharply against his hair I pulled his mouth away from my throat, turning my head
to meet his eyes. They were almost my undoing. So intent and darkly colored with lust they
seemed to burn into my soul. My breath was hitched and ragged, but I somehow forced the
words out between gasping pants.

"No...no blood. Not this time. I want...I only want you, inside me....I want you to feel only
me....just *us*....."

My thoughts were disjointed and my mind clouded from the overwhelming sensations. I
wasn't sure if I had been able to express my desire to him adequately, or if he would
understand. The blood is wonderful, but sometime it can get in the way, obscuring all else.

I wanted to come from Daniel making love to me, and I wanted him to come because of
me.

I lifted my head higher, to press my cheek against his with a rubbing caress. Tightening my
fingers in his hair, I looked at him through passion glazed and half slitted eyes, whispering
hoarsely against his lips.

"Harder, Beloved.....hard, fast and deep. Fuck me like you *know* you want to....I won't
break...."

~Daniel~

I heard him cry out, and I knew that I should have gone slower, prepared him more- but it was impossible to think. All that mattered was the feel of being buried in that tight, hot flesh. It was more than what I wanted, it was mindless need.

He was grinding against me, and I could feel his muscles tensing and relaxing- almost as if he were trying to draw me in deeper- and I realized that even though I was the one taking *him*, he was still in control. Of everything. If I thought I had been reduced to a writhing mass of flesh before, it was nothing compared to this. I wanted to grab his hips and hold him still- anything, just to stop the maddening movements before I slipped past the point of no return. It was a wonderful thought, making it last- unfortunately, that's all it was...a wonderful thought. As much as my brain was screaming at me to slow down...everything else was urging me forward.

I could taste him.

Each tiny droplet of blood sweat that I caught with my tongue only reminded me of how much more that I wanted. And what I wanted was everything. It was such a natural thing to do, poised to bite- sharp teeth increasing the pressure against his throat until I was sure that at any moment I would feel them slide through the barrier of the deceptively hard flesh...

Give me...give more...all I want...

But before I could clamp down on his throat like I wanted to, nimble fingers tangled in my hair, and pulled my mouth away from the skin- and I heard myself cry out in suprise and disappointment.

I was looking into impossibly dark eyes, half lidded and clouded with lust- drawing me in, and holding me captive. God, it hurt to look at him...so fucking beautiful... I knew he was speaking, because his lips were moving- but it took a concentrated effort on my part to actually *hear* him.

"No blood- not this time. I want...only you, inside me...I want you to feel only me...just *us*..."

I wasn't sure what finally cut through the fog in my brain- the words themselves, or the sound of his voice...so beautifully ragged and breathless.

I understood completely. But even if I hadn't, I would have done anything he asked me to. Anything at all.

Now it was my turn to see if I could find my voice.

"Only you...only me...nothing else." Not as bad as I had been expecting- the sentance actually came out on the second try, although my voice was so hoarse I wondered if it made any sense to anyone but *me*.

"Harder...hard, fast and deep. Fuck me like you *know* you want to...I won't break."

Words breathed against my lips, but these were so much easier to understand. Like a knife, slicing straight through to my soul- so similar to what had happened earlier, when we had actually shared one another's thoughts. I wasn't even actually sure if these words had been spoken aloud...but it didn't matter, because they had struck a chord within me...reached some dark, secret place in my heart that I had been trying to ignore...out of some perverse need for self protection.

Like you know you want to...

Even here and now, I realized suddenly- I wasn't letting myself understand or acknowledge what was happening. Up until this point, I had simply been going through the motions...being very careful not to connect emotions with the feelings and sensations. Why? Maybe it was something that I had wanted for so long, that I was afraid of what would happen if I just gave in. What are you so afraid of? Why can't you just let yourself see what's happening? Don't worry about what comes next, or how long it's going to last. Who the hell are you hiding from, anyway- him, or yourself?

Armand wasn't the only one who had walls. Some of us are just better at keeping them hidden, and pretending that they don't really exsist at all.

I could feel the last little bit of my resistence crumbling away, like so much ancient, moldering stone. It was most definately comfortable, not to mention comforting- to hide behind...but how long can you really pretend? It was almost as if I were looking down on the scene, completely disconnected from myself. And for the first time, I really made myself see it for exactly what it was worth. Armand, giving himself to me, completely. What I had always wanted. The damp ringlets plastered to his cheek, the lazy beads of sweat that slid down his neck...but the one thing that burned brighter than anything else were his eyes. The way that he looked at me.....at me...not Marius, not Lestat.

He was here, in *my* arms....and I wanted to hear him scream.

It felt like something inside of me shattered, finally- the last piece of myself that I had been holding back was suddenly free, and there would be no turning back.

His words had been the last piece of encouragement that I needed.

Growling low in the back of my throat, I let myself go and thrust in harder- all the way in and almost all the way out...letting myself be carried away by the rhythm and urgency- pounding into him with a force that would have left anyone else bruised, I was sure. Battering him against the arm of the couch, like some kind of machine gone hopelessly out of control. One hand keeping a tight grip on his cock, pumping it in time with my thrusts- squeezing it through my fingers....feeling the hot length in my hand growing hotter and harder until I couldn't stand it any more, and there was nothing I could do but pick up the pace even more, until I was sure that one or both of us would lose our balance, and end up on the floor.

I was screaming, I knew it- not words, just noise- and I buried my mouth against the flesh of his shoulder to muffle the sounds....to taste him again....not the blood, just his skin. I felt him tense as his cock twitched and spasmed in my hand, the muscles of his ass gripping my cock like a vice...and I wanted to hold out just a little while longer, but it was too much.....feeling the orgasam as it shuddered through him.....

I grabbed his thighs with both hands and plowed into him even harder, pulling his body back to meet my thrusts until the unbelieveable pressure built inside of me, and I felt as if I were shattering into a million pieces. I screamed into his shoulder as I came, squeezing my eyes shut...shuddering violently. I lay against him heavily, sure that I should move- but I couldn't, and what's more- I didn't want to. Ever again.

Breathing, just breathing...and kissing. Shoulders, the back of his neck, down his back. Finally, I couldn't stand it any more....I wanted to see his face. I turned him towards me, stroking the damp hair back from his forehead, tucking the errant curls behind his ears.

"So fucking beautiful...."

I grinned in spite of myself, when I realized that I had said it out loud this time.

"Thank you."

~Armand~

Daniel went still and tense at my words, then growled and gripped me harder with his
hands before finally giving into the wild abandon of his lust. His lust, my lust...our lust.

I wish I could say that I had profound thoughts and revelation at that time, but the truth is,
my mind knew nothing, and my body simply took over with primitive instinct. Even now I
look back on it and can't find the words to describe the feelings. I don't know if such
words even exist. It was a combination of so many things; physical, mental and dare I say
it...spiritual? We had both wanted so much, for so long, yet denied ourselves this one act
that would give us all that we had desired from one another, because we were too scared
of what the consequences might be. Running and hiding from our own wants, dreams and
needs, because we were afraid that if we shared them with each other, we would never be
the same. And it's true. We aren't the same anymore. But I'm getting ahead of myself
here, and should return to *that* moment.

All I remember is a sudden sensation of perfect rightness. There was pain, but it was a
glorious pain, and it seemed to wash away all my doubts and fears, stripping away the last
shreds of my barriers and all semblance of control. Two things drive us to excess; the
blood and passion. A vampire can lose his or her sanity and control to either rather easily,
and be reduced to a basic animalistic state by them. We can become frightening monsters
when the bloodlust takes hold of us, and the same is true when our emotions are pushed
passed our endurance. Bearing this in mind, it is probably a good thing that Daniel and I
did not share blood while making love, or one of us, perhaps even both, might have died.
We were quite insanely violent enough as it was.

No mortal could have withstood such brutal thrusts, yet I was meeting each one with
enough force to rock him back onto his heels. I will swear to this day that the couch itself
was moving across the floor, propelled by our frantic motions. Loud grunts, moans and
cries were echoing through the room, and it didn't matter who was making what noise,
because all of it was mixed together into a cacophony of sound, underscored by the
rhythmic slapping of flesh against flesh. Two wild jungle cats, in the heat of mating,
couldn't have rivaled us for the din we created.

The pain had vanished at some point, replaced by nothing but shear and total pleasure, a
rising ecstasy that was felt in every minute particle of my body. I rode the waves of it, till
it narrowed to a fine taut line, a thread of pure sensation that stretched and quivered as it
was drawn tighter and tighter, till it reached it's limit and broke. I heard myself scream,
my body stiffening and shuddering with the intensity of the release when the drawn thread
snapped. I saw flashes of bright light, white behind my closed eyelids; the after images of
the lightning that pierced through my brain. It seemed to last forever, this blinding ecstasy
that I was suspended in, before it let me go, and I fell back down into my body.

I heard Daniel cry out behind me, felt his final thrusts and the force of his own climax as
it passed through him and into me with a rush of hot, wet warmth. That was another
ecstasy altogether. I shivered and moaned with delirious rapture, taking pleasure in my
lover's release.

I came to my sense slowly, gradually finding my way back to conscious reality. My body
was jackknifed over the arm of the couch, my face pressed against the cushions. I flexed
my fingers and found them buried at least two inches into the shredded upholstery.
Daniel's weight was heavy on my back, and I could still feel him pressing deep inside me,
his cock twitching and thumping with his rapid heartbeat, echoed by my own. I gripped
him tightly with rhythmic, pulsing spasms, waiting for my body to stop vibrating like a
plucked lute string. It all felt so wonderfully delicious, and I didn't want it to end.

His lips were against my neck, his face pressed tight against my shoulder as his breath
wafted over my damp skin. After what seemed an eternity, his lips moved over my
shoulder and throat, planting kisses on the tingling flesh while his hands slid over my hips
and back. I could feel our bodies sliding together, both drenched and wet with sweat. It
carried the scent of our mingled blood in it, which enflamed me with a new hunger and
desire. I became aware of another scent as well, rich and erotic to the senses. It served to
increase my hunger and need even more.

I winced slightly when he pulled back and withdrew from me. I was a bit sore, after all;
having just been so thoroughly used, but it was a welcomed pain, a reminder of what we
had just shared.

Lifting me up, Daniel turned me in his arms, and I found myself perched on the edge of
the couch, my own arms coming up around his shoulders for support. His face was only
inches from mine, and wore a look of half wonder and delight. He had never gazed at me
with such soft and tender affection in his eyes, and I found myself studying his expression
with an equally rapt intensity. My own hand raised to his face as he stroked damp curls
from my forehead, smoothing them from my cheek and neck to tuck them behind my ear.

I was amazed, and utterly enthralled with him.

"So fucking beautiful...."

His lips barely moved, yet I heard the words clearly, and saw the expression in his eyes
as he said them. It wasn't merely a testament to my physical appearance. His words had a
much deeper meaning, and I read them in his eyes and face.

"I love you too, Daniel."

I smothered his next words with my lips, kissing him with all the passion and love that I
had so jealously guarded from him for so many years. I didn't need or want him to thank
me. I was the one feeling gratitude, thankful that I could finally show him what I felt
inside, and just how deeply I felt it.

I bit sharply into my tongue, fangs piercing hard and deep so that the blood flowed thick
and freely. Pressing it between his lips, I fed him my blood and love with hungry,
passionate kisses.

This is enough. If I should cease to exist tomorrow, then this will have been enough to
make my life complete and whole.

~Daniel~

My words of thanks were lost the moment they came out of my mouth, smothered by a kiss that did nothing to help me regain the ability to think coherently again. Stifled by the press of Armand's mouth against my own...the intensity of it took me by suprise. I thought by now, my emotions would have begun to wind down, but I was finding out that was far from the reality.

Sweet, blood soaked kisses...blood that I had been willing to die in order to taste- again and again, each little bit never nearly enough to satisfy. As greedy as I had become over the years for human blood would still never compare to how greedy I was when it came to *his*.

I had limited self control on a *good* day...

It was indescribable. A swirling vortex of pleasure, clouding my vision with the most delicious red haze...but it wasn't just the blood. There was something else, completely intangible and yet totally impossible to miss. A depth of feeling that hadn't been there before. The walls really *were* gone....and for the first time all night, I wasn't wondering if they were going to be replaced. It didn't matter. This....all of it, was enough.

With a great reluctance, I finally pulled away- settling both of us on the couch so that we could lay together for a little while. I just wanted a little time to be quiet, to let myself digest the impossibility of it all. I knew that if we rushed right back upstairs to the garden of earthly delights that waited for us, I would begin to think of this as a dream...and I wasn't ready to give it up just yet.

Would I ever be ready? It was doubtful.

Slowly, I began to feel myself come back down to earth- the muffled sounds of the raccuos music upstairs drifting down to us once again, followed by the steady drip, drip, drip of the water in the shower stall. Faraway voices- drunken laughter and whispered pleas and promises that would have been impossible for any mortal to hear. Distant footsteps, and slamming doors. A quiet, disconnected caccophany that I found myself almost straining to hear. It left me feeling drowsy, and completely content.

One look over at the shredded upholstery, however, and I couldn't stop myself from laughing. Oh well- judging by the looks of it, it was old anyway, and undoubtedly in need of reupholstering.

So, we ruined a couch. Considering the circumstances, the damage count could have been much higher.

The circumstances, Daniel. Why don't *you* consider them.

My mind still refused to accept the magnitude of what had happened. This wasn't just sex- not for me, and even more unsettling- not for Armand, either. I wasn't precisely sure what it meant in terms of the future, or how things would be different...hell, I wasn't even sure how *long* things would stay different. Too many questions racing through my mind, and not one answer in sight.

It didn't matter, though. I was happy. So insanely happy that it took a concentrated effort of will not to be babbling right this very second. I wondered just what it was about sex that had this affect on me- I was sure I could talk until my throat was raw, and no more sound would come out. And somehow, I wasn't sure Armand was ready to deal with that side of me.

So, I bit my lip and kept the flood of meaningless conversation at bay...at least, for the time being.

Something else had me enraptured. The look in his eyes- the openness was completely new, and it was so difficult to equate *this* Armand, with the one I knew so well. The one who, up until now, had only been able to give himself to me in tiny, painful portions.

Gods, this was massive, and I knew it- but I wasn't going to start thinking about it, and get overly emotional and sappy. Time to bite my lip again, and get back to reality- as much as I would have been content to spend the rest of my life in the basement, that was most assuradly impossible.

We were a mess. We most certainly couldn't just put our clothes back on, and go back upstairs. Besides the obvious, there was also the ruined makeup to consider. Well, there had to be a way to make ourselves look more presentable.

Ahh...the shower!

I slid off the couch, disentangling myself from Armand, and giving him a crooked smile. I headed straight over to a steel cabinet that was set against the far wall of the room, and immediatly opened it and went about rifling through it, looking for anything that would help me in my quest.

Towels, soap, a few trial size bottles of shampoo...the man was bald, what need did he have of hair care products? There was even a little bit of makeup- not as much as what we had found earlier, but I had no doubt that this would do in a pinch. I grabbed the towels, soap, and shampoo and headed back over to Armand.

I reached out my hand, and grinned.

"So, how about sharing a shower? You can't deny, we need one...."

~Armand~

I would have been more than content to simply lay there wrapped in Daniel's arms till
dawn. Nothing mattered to me outside of that moment of utter peace. Everything else
was pushed from my mind; the mortals above us, dancing and drinking; the loud sounds
of the blaring music; even the other vampires back at the Villa. All of it could wait;
forever for all I cared.

I studied his face beside mine, taking in even the smallest detail. The way his long
lashes rested against his flushed cheeks. The sheen of blood sweat that matted his hair,
causing the long and unruly bangs to cling to his forehead. I even watched the way his
finely shaped nostrils flared with every deep breath, and the wet, glistening shimmer of
his softly parted lips. He was indescribably beautiful to me, and I felt a sharp pang in my
chest, a constricting around my heart that made me afraid to even breath or move, for
fear of shattering this quiet moment.

Daniel's eyes opened and he looked at me, a sweet, serene and wondering smile gracing
his lips, before he shifted his gaze and started to laugh. Perplexed I followed his line of
sight and saw that we really had done quiet a number on the poor couch. The velvet
upholstery was ripped and shredded, with huge tufts of padding showing up through the
rents. My lips quirked in amusement. I had never claimed to be a compliant or passive
lover, and knew from past observation that Daniel was far from sedate himself. So, our
furniture was sure to suffer in the future. It could always be replaced.

I sobered abruptly at the change in his eyes. He was looking at me again, and biting at
his lower lip, as if there was something important he wanted to say, but couldn't seem to
find the words for. There a myriad of things I wanted to say as well. Things that I had
kept buried deep inside, afraid to give voice to for fear of being hurt or rejected. But he
wouldn't reject me now, would he? Surely not after what we had just shared. Still, I
thought it best to wait and see what he had to say, before baring my own soul any
farther.

Suddenly he pulled himself away from me and stood up, leaving me feeling abandoned
and alone on the ruined couch. Before I had time to feel hurt over this, he gave me a
smile and headed over toward the wall and a steel cabinet there, rumaging through it's
contents.

I pushed up onto my side to watch him, a faint hint of worry causing me to nibble my
lower lip I studied his actions. His whole demeanor seemed to be changing, reverting
back to the flippant and carefree nature that he usually exhibited when he didn't want to
discuss anything of a serious nature.

Avoidance. Daniel was a better master of it than I was.

He came back with an armload of towels and little bottles of shampoo, and those tiny
little cakes of soap that had always fascinated me; the kind that one found in the
bathrooms of hotels. I remembered all the times I had followed Daniel around the world,
and all the various cities and hotel bathrooms where I had ripped the wrappers from
endless little bars of soap, and dumped the contents of the diminutive bottles down the
sink, just out of curiosity over the very novelty of such items.

"So, how about sharing a shower? You can't deny, we need one...."

Well, he had me there. We certainly were a mess, and badly in need of that shower, but
still.....

Sighing softly I gave him my hand and let him pull me to my feet. I walked to the
shower and turned it on, holding my hand beneath the spray to test the temperature. All
the while I kept my back to him, not wanting him to see the turmoil in my eyes.

We had just made love, and now Daniel was acting as if it had never happened,
laughing and joking with good natured humor. Was he going to simply brush it all aside,
pretend that nothing had transpired here between us, something far deeper and more
meaningful than a simple roll in the hay?

I watched the steaming water run down the drain and frowned. Now that I really
thought about it, this was very much in Daniel's nature. Several time during the evening,
when things and begun to get intense between us, he had shifted gears and tried to
adopt a careless, lighthearted attitude, to deflect the serious magnitude of the event. I
finally began to understand. All the while I had been hiding behind my masks and
indifferent attitudes, he had been hiding behind his. It was his own defense against pain.

I nodded my head slightly at this revelation, then turned to smile at him as I stepped
forward into the shower, immersing myself beneath the hot spray of water. Wetting my
hair, I slicked it back and held out my hand to him, beckoning him to join me.

I would let him keep his shields for now, so long as he did not make a mockery of what
we had shared. And I would try to keep my own down, and not block him out with
coldness and blank, emotionless masks. Perhaps once he saw that I was not going to
retreat behind the old walls, he too would relax and let down his guards, and then we
could talk. We had plenty of time for that, later.

For now, it was simply enough that we were together, with no anger or hostility
between us.
 
 

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