‘We’ll have cards made. Announcements.’ Darla paused as if considering the layout and look of the proposed calling cards. With a complacent smirk she continued her pacing. ‘We shall be the grandest family in London.’
‘In England.’ Angelus stretched and scratched, admiring the turn of Darla’s leg as she strolled across the room.
‘In the known world! Just think, Darling, if the Grand Duke chooses our little Dru, we’ll be the Sires of the companion of the most powerful demon in Europe. We’ll be elevated to the finest echelons of the nobility.’
‘I don’t need any bastard Frenchie’s approval or elevation!’
‘Austrian, Angelus. The Grand Duke is from Austria-Hungary.’
‘Who cares? He has a big dick, and he wants a pretty little thing to sit on it while he’s in London.’
Darla sat elegantly at her writing desk, toying with a pen. ‘She’ll face some stiff competition.’
Angelus snorted and considered bothering himself with a pun but couldn’t be bothered. ‘She’ll be the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.’
Darla, perhaps less confident about Drusilla’s attractions, pouted prettily. ‘I think we’ll need to ensure that she appeals to his superstitious nature….’
‘He’s a Goddamned vampire!’
‘And you’re never superstitious, I suppose!’
‘Aye, well. I’ll be damned if I’ll get excited about prostituting my childe for some Frenchie upstart who thinks he’s some kind of new demon monarchy.’
‘Tosh. We need this, Angelus. We need this kind of patronage.’
Angelus swung off the bed and scratched again. ‘When does his High and Mighty Dukedom arrive?’
‘A week—if the journey is as expected.’
‘I hope the damn ship sinks and takes him and all his bum-lickers to the bottom of the Channel.’
‘I think I’ll have Dru’s hair dressed in the new fashion we saw in Bath last month; what do you think?’
Suppressing a shudder, Angelus went out to find the new Childe to accompany him on his evening’s hunt.
* * * * * * *
Angelus grunted, pulled a pillow over his head and curled away from the screech. Something hit him, so he turned, conciliatory. ‘What, my love?’
She threw a letter on the bed then immediately picked it up and began stabbing at parts, as she read in indignant fury. ‘He’s dead! Staked!’
‘Who do you think? The fucking Arch Duke.’
Angelus sat up, curious. ‘Staked.’
She curled her lip and said with ill-feigned disgust, ‘A duel of honour—with wood tipped foils.’
‘Jesus.’ He returned to the warmth of the indentation and prepared to return to sleep. ‘That’s that then.’
‘His brother’s succeeded him and is coming in his place.’
Angelus sighed. ‘Damnation! All dicks are the same, Darla, when all is said and done.’ He hesitated and added, ‘Except mine, of course.’
‘It’s taken me three weeks to get Drusilla to understand that she’s not being mated to a hungry ostrich! How the fuck am I going to explain this?’
Not sure he liked Darla’s increasingly colourful language, Angelus considered curbing her tongue in interesting and inventive ways. Stirring to the thought alone, he smiled and made a playful lunge for her. She sidestepped neatly and banged the letter once more. ‘I will not let this steal what is rightfully ours!’
Angelus fell back with a theatrical sigh. ‘How long do you have?’
‘He’ll be here in two weeks.’
‘Don’t tell her there’s been any change. She won’t notice.’
Clearly tempted, Darla was about to reply when one of the servants knocked timorously on the door and handed her another letter.
She took it with a distracted air and tore it open, pacing and running through in her mind the things she still needed to do.
Her eyes scanned the paper, not taking in the words.
She read again.
She frowned and reread it.
Silently she handed the letter to Angelus and walked to the window, her back a study in tense fury.
After a suitable interval she turned back. ‘Well?’
Angelus was studying the paper with great concentration. She sighed and marched back, snatching it from him. ‘All dicks, as you so charmingly put it, are not the same—apparently!’
‘The new Arch Duke doesn’t want a female companion while he’s in London.’
‘Good! I’m sick of hearing about the whole damn affair.’
‘No. He wants… a man.’
She leant close to his face, almost spitting. ‘He’s a deviant, Angelus! He only fucks men!’
‘Come to bed, Darla. There’s nothing to be done with the sorry situation now.’
She began to pace once more. Just as Angelus was dropping off to sleep, she said very distinctly, ‘William.’
‘Who? I mean, what?’
‘William. We’ll offer him William instead of Drusilla.’
Angelus laughed then sobered. ‘You’re serious!’
‘Never more so. It’s perfect. He’s perfect.’
Angelus had thought many things about his tiresome new childe; that he was perfect was not one of them.
Seeing that he was about to argue some more, Darla slyly changed tack. ‘No… what was I thinking? He’d never do it. ’
Angelus bristled and postured. ‘He’ll do as he’s damn well told!’
She smiled sweetly. ‘My darling boy.’
* * * * * * *
However much he may have postured to Darla, Angelus did not relish his confrontation with William. Somewhere, deep in his gut, he felt guilty. He was a man—had been—just as William was—had been—and some things men should not have to do. He wouldn’t do it himself. Shouldn’t all great leaders be willing to do anything they asked of their men? Angelus fancied himself a leader and thought of himself as a man, but he didn’t feel much like either as he stomped down to the kitchens of the great house they were currently occupying.
William, however, was gone.
Nothing stayed private in a house of servants and minions. William had heard of the change of… emphasis… and had taken off.
Drusilla, crying, said he’d gone to live on the moon. Angelus gritted his teeth and began to track him to his far more prosaic hiding place.
It took him three days, but he finally located him in Dover, where it appeared he’d gone with thoughts of fleeing to the Continent. A trail of bloodied corpses, tortured and dismembered in ways that were clearly indicative of the thoughts uppermost in the boy’s mind, led Angelus to an inn near the docks that boasted of its fine ale and good food.
He hung in the shadows for a while, watching this new childe. He’d been in the family for less than two months, and Angelus had barely had time to learn his name, let alone imprint any sort of familial stamp upon his personality. And that was the crux of the problem, really: personality. William had too much of it, and it burst out in all in the wrong directions… at the wrong times… with the wrong people. Many hunts had been ruined by William’s odd passions, which seemed to Angelus entirely arbitrary: one night unwilling to eat a child, another only too willing to have some sport with one before the feast. He didn’t understand the boy, and that annoyed Angelus… roused his ire—pissed him off, if he had to be entirely honest.
But William wasn’t really a boy. Standing in the shadows, Angelus saw this for the first time. It was all too easy for him to think everyone young—everyone was compared to him. But in biological, human terms, William was some years older than he. William had been a grown man when he’d been turned; Liam hadn’t even begun to shave with intent. He was older now though… considerably. He’d seen things and done things that William would be unable to comprehend—for all his fucking education and reading….
Ire suitably roused once more, pissed off with William as usual, Angelus emerged from the shadows.
William was chatting up some sailors—to cadge a berth on a ship. By dint of buying them drinks and telling a few crude jokes the minions had taught him, he had them in the palm of his hand. Until Angelus said softly, ‘Will.’
William actually paled, as stolen blood, consumed that night, drained from his face. He stood up and glanced toward the door. An uneasy silence descended upon the bar. Angelus wasn’t easy to ignore and the odd, soft way he’d called to the pale, blond man confused the other patrons. He was too young to be a father seeking a lost son, too different in appearance to be a brother, too rough to be a master. The sailors glanced between them with less curiosity. Perhaps, of all the onlookers, they were the least surprised by such a confrontation between two young, attractive men.
William made it to the door, but no further. Not under his own steam, anyway. The rest of the way—actually through the door and into the street—he was carried by the force of Angelus slamming into him. They collided with the side of a cart, and Angelus heard something crack, but was unsure whether it was wood or bone.
He grunted and straightened them both, combing his fingers through his long locks, of which he was inordinately proud. ‘Time to come home… ugh….’ He sank to his knees, speech entirely beyond him. Life as a eunuch flashed before his eyes—so did William, leaving the scene.
Angelus waited until the pain subsided enough for him to stand, then rose slowly from the straw and dung-splattered road. He knew he should feel nothing but righteous fury, but he didn’t: he almost admired his childe. William was fast and strong and bold. He didn’t surrender and go quietly. He reminded Angelus of himself, and this last thought made him frown. It would take William some time to be tamed, and time was the one thing, ironically, they didn’t have.
Almost regretfully, therefore, he lifted his face to the sky and scented the air. William knew so very little of being a vampire. Did he really think he could escape his sire?
* * * * * * * *
Angelus was waiting for him at the docks. Just standing there quietly in the shadows. William skidded to a halt, and a nervous, excited giggle escaped him. Angelus, one eye forever on the dictates of the rising sun, nodded toward a warehouse. This time, William’s attempt to flee bored and annoyed him. He grabbed the smaller vampire around the neck and hauled him into the gloom of the storage area. ‘Stop it.’
William only kicked out more viciously until Angelus was compelled to enforce his command. He broke William’s right arm at the elbow and twisted it for good measure. That stilled the struggling figure. That made him writhe for other reasons.
‘Ye’ll come home with me now, Will. We have a week to make you presentable, and then ye’ll be offered to the Grand Duke for his pleasure.’
‘Nooo…. I think fuck you.’ Once more, traitorous guilt stabbed at Angelus, robbing his wrath of some of its power. ‘Now, are you going to co-oper…? Jesus! Will you quit it?’ He rubbed his shin and bent to the mutinous figure on the floor. He hauled him up by the lapels of his jacket. ‘Enough! You’ll come back with me now, and you’ll do your duty to your sire!’
‘I won’t! You can make me come back, but you can’t make me do it! I’ll never submit! Never! He’ll regret the day he ever tried to lay a hand on me! I will never submit!’
Angelus hung his head and said sadly, ‘You will, Childe. Only… it will be some time from now, and the interval between this resistance and your compliance will not be pleasant for you.’
‘Fuck you, Angelus. I’m a demon as good as you—you made me. You wouldn’t submit, and I won’t either! Do your bloody worst!’
Angelus nodded then punched him unconscious. ‘Aye, little one, I will. Only we must find a special place of privacy and quiet for the journey that is ahead of you.’ He frowned, holding the lolling face between his hands and murmured, ‘This cannot be pity I feel. That was bled from me so many years ago.’ He let the unconscious body slip from his hands and stepped over it. It was not long until the dawn, and he needed to find the place where William was to suffer.
He held out for three days.
In the hold of a rusting hulk, moored half a mile out and destined to be a prison ship, Angelus worked his fearful magic upon William’s helpless body.
Night passed into day and back into night without their notice, intent as they were upon the infliction of pain. Occasionally, they heard raised, human voices from passing boats, and Angelus would pause. Then the only sound was the plaintive mewing of seagulls until he began again, and William’s cries would rise, rivalling the screeching of the birds wheeling overhead. For the rest of his life, whenever he heard the cry of a seagull, Angelus would be taken back to this time and place and this intimacy with his childe.
For it was intimate—intensely so. They came with opposed, competing certainties: Angelus to win, William to not lose. Where these needs met became a place raw with emotion. Truths were squeezed out with the screams and the grunts of effort. They came to know each other more in those three days than they would have done in three years of easy, careless living in London.
By the time it was over, Angelus was exhausted, so when he heard a whispered, ‘Stop. I submit to your will, Sire,’ he fed upon the words as if blood. They poured into his parched throat and filled his belly. He released the barely recognisable form and laid it gently upon the tar-stained planks of wood.
‘You’ll go and prevail and bring this honour to your family?’
William couldn’t nod, but his eyes acquiesced.
Angelus knelt beside him. ‘You will feed and heal and go to him ready to accept his desires?’
This time, William only blinked in slow agreement.
* * * * * *
It promised to be a difficult journey back to London with one so terribly injured, so Angelus elected to remain in Dover until William was able to at least walk unaided. He selected a house near the turnpike and after eating the adult occupants, slowly fed an infant to his barely conscious childe. Horror seemed alive in William’s eyes, and at first he refused to eat, but only a look from his sire was needed to make him accept the tiny wrist into his mouth.
Satisfied that he would begin to heal, Angelus left to secure the house and find a safe mode of transport for them to return to the Capital in a few days.
When he returned, William was gone.
For the first time that he could remember, Angelus was dumbfounded. He blinked and stared at the spot on the bed where he had left the broken body. Had his childe been staked?
Only then did he notice the faint trail of blood that led into the adjacent room—William’s blood, with which he now had such an intimate acquaintance.
William was hunched on the floor, clutching something to his chest. At first, Angelus thought it was the body of the baby, then his eyes widened, and he took a step forward.
‘Don’t.’ William’s voice was pitifully quiet, but it held Angelus in place—or the large, jagged piece of wood pressed against his chest did.
Angelus’s voice caught in his throat, but he tore out, ‘What in the name of all that is unholy are you doing?’
William turned bloodshot eyes to him. Angelus could not tell what it was he saw in that steady gaze, but defeat it was not. ‘I win, Angelus.’ William pressed the wood home.
Angelus was quicker. Of course he was quicker and stronger and better—William could barely hold the stake, let alone plunge it home.
Angelus spread William’s helpless body on the floor and knelt over him, the stake discarded alongside them.
For the second time in his long life, Angelus was dumbfounded. He held William’s jaw and, almost gently, banged his skull in frustration against the floor. ‘You would stake yourself to escape me?’
William’s defiance only made his earlier, false submission the more outrageous.
For one brief moment, Angelus contemplated the fact that this slim, troublesome man had bettered him. Then he smiled, slowly revealing the core of the horror that he was able and willing to unleash upon those who crossed him. He adjusted his position on William’s hips and bent low to his ear.
He whispered, laughing, then licked William’s ear.
William’s eyes widened as he listened. He made a small sound—a grunt of air escaping, and it was more telling a capitulation than all of his fearful screaming.
Angelus straightened, still grinning, feral glints of malice in his eyes. ‘Maybe the pain would bring back her sanity. What do you think?’
William licked his lips. ‘Don’t hurt her, please, Angelus.’
‘You’ll be a good little boy for me?’
A hint of defiance was quickly suppressed. William closed his eyes as if that was the only way he could keep it down. ‘I promise I’ll do as you wish—make you… proud.’
‘Aye. A little whore to be proud of. Get up. You are apparently well enough to travel. We will feed then leave.’
He left William on the floor contemplating the horror that would descend upon his dark princess if he defied his sire again.
* * * * * * *
The whole household was subjected to Angelus’s wrath when he returned to find that the proposed visit to London by the new Grand Duke was now to be a tour of the North Country. Not only did the change of plans mean a six night journey, if they were to travel in the style Angelus wished his family to become accustomed to, it would mean six days passed idly at inns at great cost to his increasingly diminishing finances. He was beginning to lose his desire for the advancement that had seemed so tantalisingly close.
Darla refreshed his enthusiasm.
Tingling from her particular charms, he began make the necessary arrangements, issuing orders to his minions and planning the journey. He summoned William and was pleased when he came punctually and submissively to the door.
Darla’s eyes widened at the sight of the battered figure, and she laughed. ‘What have you done to him?’
Something in this mocking tone rankled with Angelus. William had impressed him, withstanding tortures that he had found intolerable when practised upon him by the dark priests of another century. What he was asking his Childe to do was distasteful to him, and he did not think it Darla’s place, a woman’s place, to mock Will so. Not quite knowing what he did, therefore, he went to William and put a brotherly arm over his shoulder, drawing him to the desk. ‘Are you up to writing some letters for me, Will?’
He felt Darla’s gaze bore into his back, fancied he heard her grunt of annoyance, but then she was gone in a flurry of silk and organza, and he conceded that he may have imagined more notice of his actions than she had actually shown. Perhaps he was noticing his own actions more and projecting this upon Darla. He had no idea why he was standing behind William, watching him write in his elegant hand, nib scratching on vellum. Why did he put his hand to a wound on the pale neck? William’s hair was poorly arranged, tumbling out of its fastening. He released it completely and spread it over the bony shoulders. William’s hand stilled upon the paper. He did not look up, nor did he tense, and Angelus knew that he was not the only one affected by the strange sense of intimacy that had come upon them on the ship. It lingered still around them, its tendrils brushing and sensitising their skin.
‘Please. Don’t make me do this, Angelus.’ The plea was soft and heartfelt.
Angelus sighed and lifted the hair, running his hands over the almost warm neck beneath. ‘You think too much, Will. It will be nothing to the things you will do over the course of this new life I have given you. You are a demon. Nothing can… affect you now.’
‘Everything affects me. More than before.’
‘Aye, well, you are the strangest demon.’
William leant back fractionally. Angelus did not step back, and the dirty-blond hair hung like a silken curtain over the front of his britches. He pressed against it and lifted his face with unexpected pleasure.
‘If I am demeaned, are you not also?’
Angelus huffed. ‘You are the only one who sees disgrace.’
There was a pause, and then William said sadly, ‘No, Sire, you see it, too.’
Angelus cuffed him, but so affectionately that he surprised himself, so stepped away to regain some authority. ‘Finish the letters and pack. We leave for Cumbria tonight.’
William bowed his head to his task, but just before Angelus reached the door, he asked, ‘Can it be just us?’
Angelus paused, and William clarified, ‘Don’t bring the women, Angelus. Please.’
Was he being infected by the strange human-like passions of this new Childe? Perhaps he was. Angelus nodded. William’s humiliation would not be witnessed by their womenfolk.
Angelus went from the bedroom to the relative peace of the library, oddly disturbed by this encounter with William. He could assign no cause to his discomfort, and this puzzled him. What puzzled him even more was the amount he was now looking forward to six days on the road alone with his childe.
The odd sense of anticipation that he’d felt for the trip evaporated within ten minutes of Angelus joining William in the carriage. It was not William at his sparkling best. However much the quirks of his childe’s personality annoyed him, Angelus missed them when they weren’t there.
He eyed William surreptitiously whilst ostensibly watching the passing nightlife of London, and the guilt stabbed at him again. What would it be like being so powerless? Sure, he had a sire, too—one to whom he owed his complete obedience. But he and Darla both knew that her hold over him was entirely sexual. She was due north, and his dick was a compass that would always point in her direction. If that force of nature was disturbed and he found another to desire, she would then be as powerless to command him emotionally as she now was physically.
As they rattled uncomfortably over the cobbles, he wondered idly what it would be like to be mastered. He tried to picture the dark force that would be able to do something so unthinkable. Although not consciously seeing a male figure, he conceded, given his phenomenal strength, that it probably would have to be male, and the form began to take shape in his mind. It towered over him, cowered him. It demanded of him and was given. It stripped him bare of all pretence and fear of failure, but in this complete surrender, gave him power of another kind altogether.
With a disturbing arousal, Angelus shifted in his seat. Surrender was dangerously seductive.
He glanced at William once more and found himself under particular scrutiny until the blue eyes were flicked elsewhere. The degree of accusation in the gaze hurt him more than it annoyed him. He sighed and stretched out his long legs (relieving other things as well as his feelings) and said softly, ‘Don’t take it so hard, Will. This time next month you’ll have some amusing stories to regale Dru.’
William brought his gaze back to rest on Angelus, and this time his look was almost incredulous—scornful. ‘I shall never speak of this to anyone! What do you think I am?’
Such direct confrontation demanded reprimand, but Angelus could think of nothing physical that he had not already done. More pain seemed pointless. William, however, had the sense to lower his gaze and mumble an apology, so Angelus let it go. Thoughts of William’s torture rumbled in his mind for another few miles, prompting him to ask eventually, ‘Have you fed well? Will you be healed when we arrive?’
William looked confused for a moment then nodded. Angelus had the sudden thought that his childe had not known the answer: he had been a vampire for only two months, and this was the first time he had been so badly injured. He berated himself for being so negligent with William’s education and slid from his seat to sit beside him. ‘Let me see.’
Angelus almost smiled at the odd mixture of panic and defiance in the tone. ‘We’ll start with your arm.’
William stuck out the suggested limb then distanced himself from the proceedings by staring out of the window and showing no sign of pain or otherwise to anything Angelus did. ‘It is not the quantity of the blood that you need to concentrate on, it’s the quality.’ William continued to make no sign that he was listening. Angelus did let a small smile escape at that but continued, ‘If you ate the Queen of England, you’d be healed in a day! Some common mudlark and you’d be still be broken next year!’
William turned and regarded the lowered head. ‘That’s daft.’
Angelus, utterly unused to being contradicted (and particularly not about blood), looked up, confused. William added more politely, ‘Blood is blood, Angelus. Under a powerful optic there is no difference between the blood of kings and that of slaves.’
‘How can that be? What about noble blood? And you’ve looked through one of these… optics?’
Angelus leant back against the seat, trying to convey disinterest, but the eagerness of his tone betrayed him. ‘What does it look like?’
‘Hmm. Red and white. But it’s exactly the same wherever the sample comes from. Except from sick people. I never eat sick people.’ William shook his head sadly as if everyone would benefit from following this considered piece of wisdom.
There was silence for a while, sitting side-by-side, being jostled together by the rattling of the coach. Finally, Angelus said in a tone that brooked no dissent, ‘Royalty have blue blood.’
William gave him a look then folded his arms and stared out of the window once more.
Angelus began to study his nails with great concentration, wondering why he didn’t go back to his own side of the carriage. ‘We’ll eat a servant girl tonight.’
‘Whatever you wish, Angelus.’
‘You think I’m saying that to prove something.’
‘Why should you need to prove anything to me?’
‘I don’t! But I’m not anyway.’ He was getting confused now and pulled himself back on track with some effort. ‘Even though you’d heal faster, never eat from the better classes unless you have to—they are missed and reported.’
William turned back once more, and his look was decidedly frosty. ‘Unless you turn them then persuade them to kill the people who would miss them the most.’
Angelus laughed (without any humour) and, deliberately not rising to the accusation, challenged, ‘You think yourself of the better classes then, Englishman?’
Clearly angry that Angelus had not risen to the oblique reference to his mother, William replied, ‘I supposed that depends upon whom you choose for comparison.’
Angelus wasn’t sure whether it was William’s prissy use of the word whom or the implication behind his words that angered him the most. He elbowed him in the face for his impertinence and had the satisfaction of knowing that his childe had not become immune to pain.
Settling back to his side of the carriage, he put his feet up on William’s seat and began to hum tunelessly.
When William’s nose stopped bleeding, he pulled a book out of his pocket and pointedly read it intently for the rest of the night.
That it appeared to be in French worsened Angelus’s mood considerably.
* * * * * * *
Two respectable travellers, they booked into a respectable inn before dawn the next day. Angelus needed no other excuse for the odd choice of hours than to indicate William’s pallor and injuries and say that he needed rest before commencing their journey.
Angelus immediately left his room and joined William. As he shut and bolted the door, he said firmly, ‘Never sleep alone when you are away from home.’
‘Aye. Darla and Dru. The family.’
‘Isn’t it obvious, Childe? Even the death of a servant girl, such as the one we took tonight, might one day be our undoing. Our kind are sought and hunted and would be killed like dogs if they found us.’
‘Uh huh. Why take two rooms then? Isn’t that unnecessarily costly?’
Angelus gave him a look. ‘They’d have a right to kill us if they thought we shared a bed!’
William’s eyes flashed, and Angelus cursed inwardly as his careless reference to the whole reason for their trip. ‘That’s different.’ He was making it worse, and he knew it. ‘Go to bed.’
Angelus pulled off his shirt and undid his britches. Pulling off his boots, he lay back on one side the bed, his arms folded behind his head.
William paced looking tense.
* * * * * * *
Angelus woke with a start, unsure what had woken him, suffering the after-affects of a disturbing dream.
Suddenly, for the first time, it occurred to him that the one thing that would solve William’s dilemma would be his death. Arguably, therefore, he had fallen asleep on the one person he shouldn’t have. With a small smile of satisfaction, he stretched luxuriously, secure in the knowledge that it would never happen. Quite how he knew this, he couldn’t say; he just did.
What had woken him? He opened his eyes then cursed and rolled nimbly off the bed when a loud crack and subsequent shattering filled the room. Aghast, he cursed and looked toward William. His face was running in blood. The large dress mirror lay in wicked-looking shards, glittering on the floor. William, it appeared, had head-butted the mirror.
Angelus cursed and stepped toward him, taking him by his upper arms. Slivers of glass were embedded in his face, one large shard appeared to have pierced his eye, but when Angelus removed it, he saw it had only separated his left eyebrow. The blood, however, filled William’s eye socket and gave him a fearful aspect.
‘What the fuck are you doing?’
William tried to pull away and said dully, ‘He won’t want me now.’
Angelus shook him. ‘You little….’ Instead of continuing, he pushed William into a chair and poured some water from the pitcher onto the towel. Very carefully, he dabbed around the glass shards and removed them, one by one. William sat uncomplaining, a dead, uncharacteristic look on his face. The towel turned red, but Angelus continued. In his mind, he said the things he should say. In his mind, he pictured torturing or staking this disobedient childe. But he continued his slow, gentle ministrations. As he tipped William’s face from side to side, as he held and steadied his chin and patted around the finely delineated cheekbones, he almost laughed at the idea that someone wouldn’t want this face—bloodied and cut, or not.
William suddenly drew his gaze from the distant place it had been fixed and said woodenly, ‘You can do this—appear gentle and concerned and almost human—but you are soulless. You can feel nothing Angelus—nor ever will again.’
Angelus froze, his hand held halfway between William’s face and the pitcher of water. ‘Nothing?’ He lowered the towel and tipped William’s face toward his. Had he neglected his childe’s tutoring this badly? ‘Is that what you think my demon is? Feeling nothing? William, remember the coach last night? Remember how we came down that last gradient with the brakes howling and screeching against the wheels? Do you remember? That was as a soul holding a man in check: he howls to be free. I am without restraint, Will. I am the coach let loose to fly, unchecked. It is an exhilarating ride but a dangerous one: I’m as likely to crash and burn as to stay in furious flight. But, Will, don’t ever think I don’t feel the journey—in here, in my body: every jolt magnified from the speed I travel; every movement ecstasy, because it could be my last.’ He drew one finger down William’s cheek, following the line of one ridiculously sharp cheekbone. ‘But you, my moment of folly, what of you? Not human but not quite demon either. You can’t work up the courage to release the brakes, yet you crave the exhilaration of the plunge. You tease them over the wheels of your life, only half-willing to let go. You have a very bumpy ride ahead of, Will. You jolt and veer off on tangents, hurt and confuse people. Let go, William; ride the whirlwind with me. Travel at my pace.’
‘Why did you turn me?’
Angelus looked away, not expecting this. ‘It was a mistake. Male, female, male, female—one begets the other: sire and childe. I should never have turned a man—I can’t, won’t, give you what you need from a sire to be whole.’
‘What you have from yours?’
‘Yes. What I have from Darla.’
‘And what Dru has from you?’
On the finality of that word, William wrapped his arms around his body and stood, his face creased with misery as he blurted out, ‘I wish now that we were there.’ Seeing that his words had the desired effect, he added childishly, ‘He will give me what it appears I need.’
Angelus frowned. As much as he’d wanted capitulation from his childe, now that he had it, it did not sit well. ‘He is not your sire.’
William shrugged. ‘Semantics.’
Not knowing what that meant, Angelus opted for silence. He began to pace, wary of the strong shafts of light dissecting the room. He glanced down at the towel in his hand, studying the patterns of blood. Suddenly, with a proprietary growl, he said, ‘I’m hungry. Come here.’
He took William to the bed and bit hard without the finesse one would usually expect a sire to practise on a willing, obedient childe. William was tight and hard to push into, but eventually his flesh yielded to Angelus’s remorseless penetration. The evocative, metallic scent filled his nostrils just as pleasingly as the blood filled his mouth. He sucked wide-mouthed into the wound, pushing his tongue in to lick around the chords and tendons in William’s neck. ‘I am your sire.’ He allowed William’s head to drop to the bed and withdrew, a fine chain of fluid delicately swinging between them. ‘I should hurt you. Punish you.’
William nodded, resigned.
Angelus closed his eyes for a moment then opened them and said softly, ‘It will not be so bad, Will.’ William opened his mouth to reply, but words did not come. Angelus found himself staring, hypnotised, at the soft pink shapes. Quietly, he repeated, ‘Not so bad,’ then leant down and took William’s warm lips between his own.
There was no mistaking the kiss. It wasn’t part of the feeding ritual. It wasn’t a filial kiss or one from sire to childe, despite how close that relationship might be. It was a deeply sensual kiss of tongue and murmured sound and wide mouths that sought and took.
They broke apart, and Angelus continued to stare at William’s lips, now glistening with his saliva. Slowly, he lifted his gaze to William’s eyes. He smiled, amused but mystified at his own actions. ‘See? You might actually enjoy it. Now, we must sleep or the night will be upon us once more.’ With that, he removed William’s jacket, loosened his collar and then pulled him into a tight spoon. When he sensed that William was about to speak, he put his palm over the soft mouth. ‘No.’ He was pleased when William obeyed and pulled him in closer for reward. Once more, the thought crept into his mind that it was very dangerous to sleep with this snake at his bosom. Once more, however, he felt an odd surge of heat at the thought of how ridiculous that was and allowed himself a wry smile, which he took with him into the darkness and relative peace of his demonic dreams.
William was sleeping deeply when Angelus awoke. He lay still, pondering damage limitation—for he knew he had to attempt some, and soon. He knew very well how William would react to the kiss. William was a would-be disciple seeking a God. Angelus had no intention of becoming William’s dark God, nor did he want worshipers. The kiss was unfortunate, because he could not pass it off as the casual affection of a sire for his childe. Nor could he pretend it hadn’t happened. Worse, he could not claim that it meant nothing to him. Although he had passed it off at the time with admirable composure, he knew that William knew that he knew they’d both been considerably aroused by it. That visible, physical reaction to a kiss in a partner was novel for Angelus, and it played on his mind. Cause and effect; lips and cock. Even remembering it caused his balls to twitch pleasantly. Thinking about that made them rise… and the chain reaction continued, until his plan to mitigate the damage of the kiss turned into a stealthy fondling of a very hard shaft.
And then the desperately disagreeable temptation to wake William hit him. His hand sped up just thinking about showing his erection to his childe. He wanted his balls caressed, his cock sucked. He wanted to be bitten and licked and to take—hard. He wanted to be ridden to exhaustion, matched pleasure for pleasure. What would it be like to have his lithe, powerful childe writhe upon him? Would their bodies clash and contrast, or match and meld?
And was he sick? Where had any of this come from? Two weeks ago he’d been unable to remember this man’s name; now he wanted to fuck him?
With every ounce of his self-control, Angelus forced images of William out of his mind and replaced them with Darla’s. He was missing Darla’s charms; that was all that was wrong. With her now riding his cock—her slim back arched to take him full length, her high-pitched moans—he arched and had a satisfying orgasm… which is not what it had promised to be when it had begun. He pouted, watching the familiar sludge bubble over his fist. Satisfying!
He was already more than a little irritated, therefore, when William suddenly jerked out of sleep, then rolled away with a curse of disgust. ‘What the fuck are you doing?’
If you were going to get caught out beating your meat, it should at least be a spectacular fountain. Not this slightly pathetic plopping. He lunged and caught William a blow to his belly. ‘Mind your manners, Childe!’
‘You wank off next to me when I’m asleep, and you say I’m to mind my manners!’ He skipped rapidly out of Angelus reach but was caught fairly easily and pinned into the corner of the room.
‘Do my lessons dissipate in sleep? Will you never learn?’ William didn’t seem to like his face being thrust so close, so Angelus pushed it even closer, his spittle landing lightly onto the pale features. ‘You do not comment on what I do; do you understand me?’
William turned his face and closed his eyes. Enraged, Angelus caught his jaw and forced it square once more. William’s eyes flew open. He blinked then glanced down. Only then did Angelus realise his hand was still coated with the slurpy mess he’d spilled in the bed. William tried to pull away, his face a study of oddly complex emotions that Angelus could not read. Because he could and because he wanted to, Angelus slid his hand rough and hard up to William’s mouth and ground the palm over his lips. When William tried to bite him, he pushed his fingers into the opening and mashed his sperm around the inside of William’s mouth. William’s eyes filled with tears of impotent rage, which only fuelled Angelus’s manic pleasure. He removed his fingers, then, grasping William’s face in both hands, he inserted his tongue and licked the traces of sperm from the warm, wet walls.
William tried to bite him again, but Angelus began to press his thumbs into the striking blue eyes, so he desisted and hung slack as his mouth was taken. By the time Angelus was finished, William’s lips were split and bleeding. When he pulled off, a delicate trail of pinkish saliva mixed with blood and sperm hung between them. It was a very fragile connection and shattered instantly when Angelus shook his childe, rattling his head against the wall. ‘Do you hearken to me now?’ Blinking with the power of the jolts to his skull, William nodded as best he could.
Angelus held him still, regarding him closely. ‘That will scar.’ He brushed a fingertip gently over the split eyebrow. Then he straightened and dusted William down.
William followed the inconsistent and confusing movements of hands, and without looking up asked tentatively, ‘What does it mean, Angelus—the kisses… the… what you were doing?’
Anger at himself for slipping into the trap of kissing William a second time—albeit a very different kiss—made Angelus more dismissive than he meant to be. ‘I’m softening you up for him, Childe.’ William gave a small cry of distress and pulled away, going to one of the windows and leaning on it, tight and silent.
Angelus studied his nails for a while, wondering why he’d said something that so patently wasn’t true.
* * * * * * *
Angrier with himself, for once, than he was with William, Angelus prepared to leave in studied silence and went to summon the coach. He wasn’t too sure what he was most angry about, but the fact that he’d kissed William was high on his list. That he’d then done it again was even higher. That he’d enjoyed them both was pretty near the top. However, that was below the fact that, as William had so helpfully pointed out, he’d wanked off and been caught doing it. But there, right at the very top, was the lie that any of this was readying William for the Arch Duke’s advances. He was so far from intending that it was laughable. He was closer to turning them around and taking William home. But then there was Darla to consider. So, perhaps, really top of his list of why he was so pissed off with himself should be that he was a coward who couldn’t face his sire’s wrath. Or that he was addicted and she was his opium—it was immaterial why he couldn’t cross Darla; he just couldn’t. He had to take William north and hand him over to someone else. For the first time, as a direct consequence of thinking about handing him over, Angelus was seeing William in a very new light. He supposed kissing him twice and sharing sperm had something to do with this revelation…. So, regardless of any of the other things that were top of the all-important list, actual top was how William was beginning to make him feel. That did more than piss him off. That sent him into a paroxysm of self-disgust that could only be assuaged by killing something. Which is what he did, therefore, as soon as they were under way.
Out in the countryside once more, darkness and the sound of wheels on the track their only companions, he spotted the telltale flicker of campfires. He said, ‘Gypsies’—the only word he had said since the last kiss—and leapt from the moving coach. The stealthy approach through the dark cheered him up a little. Scenting out the weakness of the humans almost put him in a good mood. Selecting a delicate morsel made him chuckle. Exchanging her for something much, much better made him positively gleeful, and when he rejoined the swaying coach some miles down the road, he was glowing with life and happiness once more.
He flung himself into his seat and unwrapped the bundle that he concealed in his cloak.
William, who had feigned disinterest in all Angelus’s actions up to then, murmured, ‘Darla said you shouldn’t eat gypsies.’
‘Pha. They are the least to be missed. We’ll take this little one down the road a-ways with us, and then he will be gone as effectively as if he’d never existed. Isn’t that so?’ He addressed the terrified boy, and predictably had no response other than a choked-off scream. Hand firmly over the boy’s mouth, Angelus lifted him onto his lap and offered the scrawny neck to William. A glimmer of interest sparked in the blue eyes, but then, seeming to remember that interest was inconsistent with his ignoring-Angelus tactic, he shook his head.
Anger flared once more in Angelus’s expression. ‘You would do well to stop defying me, Childe.’ He watched William’s response. When he didn’t see suitable contrition, he changed tact swiftly and skilfully. He turned the boy as if he were studying him, weighing him in the balance. He appeared to be about nine, but lack of nourishment could have given this appearance to one slightly older. He had the fear of one old enough to understand some of the desperation of his situation, if not the full import of the horror he had unwittingly met that night. ‘I think you will do!’ Talking to William by pretending to talk to the boy, Angelus chucked the child under the chin. ‘How would you like to be my newest Childe?’ He repressed amusement at the sudden spark of interest from the other side of the carriage. ‘You will be magnificent: never older or less perfect than you are now. Slightly cleaner, possibly….’
‘You can’t, Angelus. He’s just a child.’
‘What? A gypsy?’
‘Ah.’ This was exactly the point Angelus wanted William to be concerned about, but he kept his pleasure inside. ‘Again… so?’ He bent down and replaced his hand with his lips, kissing the boy as he’d kissed William the night before.
Angelus looked up slyly, his lips still on the smaller ones beneath. He’d rather have them on William, and he wanted to see the same realisation in his childe’s eyes. There was some strong emotion in William’s gaze, but Angelus wasn’t yet keen enough an observer of his childe to define it. He let the boy fall from his mouth and leant back against the seat. ‘I grow weary of you, Will, and I, also, wish we were at our destination.’
William’s eyes narrowed. ‘You could have fooled me.’
Angelus lunged across the coach, and in the ensuing struggle the boy was dropped to the floor. He began a pitiful wailing, which threatened to be heard above the noise of the coach. Angelus was forced to leave off his brutality to one companion to silence the other. Rubbing the side of his face, stemming blood from his nose, William slid to the furthest corner of the carriage and said distinctly, ‘Turn him if you want. Why should I care?’
‘But you do?’ Angelus did not catch his eye.
‘Yes! There? Are you happy?’
He was. And he was so surprised by just how much he’d wanted this admission from his childe that Angelus did not rise to the constant insult in William’s tone. Instead, he slid down his seat to sit opposite and graciously offered him the first bite with a murmured, ‘I do not need another male Childe. The one I have puzzles me enough.’
William’s expression at this odd confession gave Angelus more to feed upon than the skinny child. After sharing what there was, he eventually threw the husk from window and settled back to amuse himself by staring at William’s now prettily flushed cheekbones.
William’s obvious jealousy, or perhaps Angelus’s desire for it, had shifted the atmosphere in the carriage. William was reading again, but Angelus was pretty certain that very little was actually being taken in, and this pleased him enough not to mind this annoying human habit for once. He even smiled and asked softly, ‘What’s it about?’
William looked up. ‘It’s just a novel.’
‘Uh huh. Read me some.’
William flushed. ‘It’s a romance.’
‘I can do romance.’
William smiled softly. ‘You don’t even do books.’
The tone was so affectionate—almost flirtatious—that Angelus only replied in a similar tone, ‘Neither would you if you’d been born when I was.’ He shuddered and amplified, ‘Latin or Latin was the choice—and all about God!’
William smiled in return. ‘This has been a wonderful century for literature.’ He laughed as Angelus feigned a wide yawn. ‘You should try some.’
‘Aye. Maybe I’ll read in the next century. Or maybe the one after that. I have time.’
William frowned and hastily returned to his page.
William shook his head.
Angelus kicked him. ‘What?’
‘I don’t think you will outlast this century.’
This was so audacious that Angelus could only let his jaw drop in astonishment. William bit his lip and quickly added, ‘Forgive me. I spoke too boldly.’
‘No. I’m all ears now, Childe. Do go on. Do give me the benefit of your two months’ wisdom.’
William look pained. ‘Just because I’m only two months old in your—our—reckoning, doesn’t mean I didn’t have a life before this. Common sense, common human sense, tells me that you are too… confident.’ Something in his tone made Angelus think that William had intended to say arrogant, and when he raked William’s face with his gaze, he saw that supposition wasn’t far off the mark.
He said more icily, ‘Don’t stop now. My interest has turned to positive intrigue.’
Ignoring the sarcasm, William continued, ‘Take last night, for example.’ Angelus flushed, which made William flush even deeper. ‘No! I meant…. You fell asleep, and I could have…. I have every right to…. I mean….’ He took an unnecessary breath and finished more determinedly, ‘If I’d staked you, I would be free, yet you slept alongside me in utter disregard for your safety.’
‘And would you stake me one day, William?’
William held his gaze. ‘If I intended to, I would have done so last night.’
‘Why didn’t you?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘I think you do.’
William looked down at his book. ‘You are my prison, but I fear more what is beyond the strong walls you provide.’
‘Will you cease to fear it one day?’
Once more, William looked up. ‘Surely, I must—one day. Isn’t that the nature of growing?’
‘Then I must watch and wait for that day and be prepared.’
‘But when I cease to fear the life beyond you, you will cease to be a prison, Angelus. That is our paradox. You will then be something else to me, but I do not know what that something will be.’
‘If we both survive that long.’
‘Yes. If we both survive that long.’ He glanced away, but Angelus could tell there was something else he wanted to add. Finally, it was said. ‘You will if you are more cautious about your bed companions.’
Angelus stared at him for a while and then replied, ‘Mayhap I will limit myself to your company in bed and find my security that way.’ Very swiftly, he leant forward and kissed William again.
This time, for the first time, the kiss was returned full measure. The book fell to the ground; the coach swayed as they crashed against the back wall—Angelus pressing hard into William as they writhed mouth to mouth. William was the first to break the kiss. His eyes sparking with something that had been subdued since his flight to Dover, holding Angelus’s jaw in a surprisingly forthright hold, he whispered, ‘Is this for the Arch Duke’s benefit?’
Angelus cursed and let the power of his kiss reply for him. They fell onto the seat then swiftly down to the narrow space between them.
At first, they didn’t notice the slowing of the carriage, engrossed as they were in fastenings and fumbling fingers, frantically kissing at what lay beneath linen and silk. Only when a shot rang out did they pull apart. Angelus cursed colourfully and staggered off William to peer out of the window. Another shot, and the wooden frame against his face splintered, sending fine shards into his cheek. ‘What the…?’ He jumped over William and opened the opposite door, leaping down into the darkness. William landed at his side, and Angelus turned to him grinning. ‘There are some things I will be interrupted in my pleasures for—killing is one of them.’
William’s eyes were like frozen ponds: a delicious coldness that sent shivers down Angelus’s spine. His eyes travelled lowered, and he hissed softly between his teeth at the heaviness evident in William’s britches.
The body of their driver lay sprawled in the dust. Angelus swore once more and knelt to him. ‘Good coachmen—who don’t mind the odd habits of their employers—are hard to find. I’m….’ He ducked when another shot rang out. ‘All right! Now I’m goddamned angry!’ He turned to the darkness and shouted, ‘Come out, you bastards!’
William put a hand on his arm. ‘The gypsies.’
On a string of ill-kempt ponies, a menacing group of men emerged from the darkness. One was carrying something in his lap, and at the sight of the small bundle, Angelus pursed his lips and murmured under his breath, ‘Did I say not missed?’
He suddenly held up his hands and said in his best, cultured voice, ‘Can we help you, gentlemen?’
‘Ye killed him! My little one.’
Once more under his breath, Angelus hissed, ‘Gods, save us from a maudlin Irishman.’ Louder, he replied, ‘I think you have us mistaken for… men who give a damn….’ In an explosion of power that no one present was able to follow, Angelus leapt upon the first pony. To William, who was more able to follow his flight than the others, he appeared as some vast, mythical wolf of the dark forests leaping upon a hapless heroine. The horse reared in panic; the man was thrown; and then all was confusion of screams and desperate whinnies until there were two of them, standing amidst the broken bodies of men and horses. One still cried pitifully, and uncaring whether it was man or beast, Angelus twisted its neck with a flourish of pleasure. ‘Fuck. Now we have to walk.’
William, wiping his mouth, nodded at the coach. ‘We still have our animals.’
Angelus pouted. ‘We need to flee this place now. Kill them.’
William tipped his head to one side and regarded the sturdy horses, now fidgety from the disturbing events of the night. He pouted and watched Angelus hauling their boxes from the rear. ‘Should we not… ride?’
Angelus ignored him.
‘I can’t ride.’
‘Horses. They… don’t like me.’
‘No one likes you, Angelus; since when has that stopped you?’
‘They are mean, miserable creatures fit only for mines.’
William went up to the beasts and hushed their nervous stamping. ‘You wouldn’t like it down a mine, would you?’ He began to unharness them.
‘What are you doing?’
‘I don’t want to walk, and I really don’t want to carry those boxes….’ He swung up, bareback, and nudged the horse toward Angelus. ‘But I’m happy for you to walk.’
Angelus folded his arms and watched him, amused. ‘You are suddenly grown bold, Childe.’
William clicked his tongue and made the horse circle the powerful figure. ‘I’m grown something….’
Angelus laughed. ‘I would drag you down and discover what that something was, but we must be away from here.’
‘Then I suggest we ride.’
With a grunt of acquiescence, Angelus swung William’s chest up to him, then picked up his own and leapt onto the other horse’s back. It immediately shied and tipped him back into the dust. A peel of laughter rang out, and to his immense surprise, Angelus laughed along with his delighted childe. He grabbed the horse’s head and applied some of the charm he had in spades, but rarely showed to anyone or anything he wasn’t about to eat. The horse steadied, and more carefully and courteously, Angelus slipped up onto its back. Scooping up his box, he encouraged the horse away from the road and into a small copse. ‘We’ll ride tonight and find another carriage tomorrow. It won’t be,’ he turned and shouted back at the corpses, as if they were to carry the entire blame for his misadventure, ‘fucking cheap!’
They rode in silence for a while, enough on their minds without the need to converse. Angelus was the first to voice his thoughts. ‘You were good back there.’
William turned sharply to him. ‘Oh. I’ve not had much… practice.’
‘Aye, but you will. It’s not always for pleasure you know: sometimes it’s necessity.’
‘Yes! That’s how it felt to me, too. I thought I was going to burst if we didn’t.’
Angelus nodded. ‘That’s when you must be at your most focused. Don’t let the feelings overwhelm you.’
‘Oh! How can you say that so calmly? I’ve never felt anything like that before, not even with Dru—and you know how she makes me feel.’
There was a long pause then Angelus said, amused, ‘I was talking about the slaughter.’
William was very quiet for the rest of the ride.
* * * * * * *
Unwilling to risk a town so soon, Angelus opted to hole up in a ruined barn for the day. That it was free only added to its attractions. He made them a suitable den of hay and planks, saw to the horses then crawled in, away from the approaching rays of light.
William, he saw, was sulking. Well, ostensibly he was reading, but Angelus was getting better at reading his childe’s moods and noted the frosty glare at the words and the angry turning of pages with some curiosity—not at William’s mood but at his reaction to it. Why was he tolerating sulking? Why did he find this moodiness so attractive? Why, indeed, was he bothering to try and read moods at all? When had he turned into a girl?
Grumpy with a world that forced him to sleep with hay sticking in his ears and rodents scurrying over his feet and at himself for being so… not himself… Angelus curled up tight and forced sleep to come to him, demanding that it drive out all thoughts of William when it arrived.
‘This is just a game to you, isn’t it?’
Angelus jerked back from the delicious edge of sleep. ‘Huh?’
William picked up a stalk of hay and began to shred it angrily. ‘You are just distracting me with this… affection—so I forget what you are forcing me to do.’
‘I’m not forcing you to do anything!’
William flicked his glance up. ‘Then I’m free to go?’
‘No, you were free to resist the pain. You did not. You go.’
‘So, you are forcing me!’
‘Not at all. I was. Now you go because you said that you would.’
‘What? I’m a demon, Angelus. I don’t have to keep to my bloody word! This isn’t a gentleman’s agreement—you’re no bloody gentleman!’
‘Thank you. I wouldn’t want to be some mealy-mouthed, English, upstart prick. Now, go to sleep before I shut your insolent hole for good.’
‘Am I free to go then?’
Angelus yawned. ‘Try it.’
William stayed where he was.
* * * * * * *
When Angelus woke at the very moment of twilight, he found William’s face inches from his. He blinked. ‘What’s wrong now?’
‘Why are you staring at me?’
‘I was watching you sleep.’
‘Hmm. That must have been fascinating.’
‘Stop being womanish and fetch the horses.’ He made to leave the den, but William stretched out a hand and restrained him.
‘You said you didn’t like getting interrupted.’ With the same graceful slowness with which he’d approached his first victim, William lowered his mouth.
Angelus was waiting for him, and when their lips met he groaned and pushed his body against the smaller one. He laced his fingers into the long, sable hair and pulled it free of its rough tie. It cascaded over his hand, and he twisted it around his fingers, tugging William closer.
They kissed like humans. Lips swelled with the friction, bodies responded with a Pavlovian predictability to the touch of mouth to mouth. With surprising gentleness, Angelus drew William’s hand down to the front of his britches and splayed the fingers over the hardness beneath. ‘Take me out.’
William’s eyes widened fractionally, but without losing eye contact he began to unbutton each side. When the opening was sufficient, with a heartbeat of hesitation, he thrust his hand into the tangle of warmth beneath.
They both groaned at the same time, and Angelus whispered, ‘Your touch excites me.’
William’s eyes lowered to the flap of material and the movements within it.
Angelus pushed the flap aside. As if it had a life of its own, his cock lifted and peeled back, eager under the novel scrutiny. Angelus swore and lay back, accentuating the power of the erection. ‘Touch me.’ He wanted to see the moment when William’s fingers explored him for the first time. A bubble of excitement welled from his slit and trickled over the plum-red, meaty head of his cock. This was like no sexual moment he had ever experienced; it was heady with perversion, sweet with the perfume of misplaced desire. He should not want those masculine fingers with their chewed nails to touch him, but when they did—a tenuous exploration of the trickle—he arched and cried out, ‘Oh, Mother of God.’ He pulled William to him and crushed their lips together then released him and said with as much truth as he’d said anything for over a hundred years, ‘I want you.’
William murmured something and grasped the throbbing shaft, nothing tenuous about the grip now. He jerked it up and down roughly as only a man would think to do to another man. Angelus buried his fingers in the blond locks and massaged the taut neck as he was pulled. He closed his eyes to the pleasure and murmured, ‘I could become accustomed to this.’
William shifted his grip and began to kiss lightly around his face, over his eyes and lips. He slipped his tongue in with the skill of any whore and whispered, ‘Don’t take me north then, ‘Gelus. Let’s go away somewhere together. You want me….’
Suddenly, with a bellow neither of them wished to translate, Angelus rose from the hay. He was wrath and vengeance personified—a pagan god of straw and dishevelment. He caught William, despite the smaller vampire’s frantic attempts to escape and pummelled him viciously until, mindful of the purpose of their journey, he shifted his interest from the face to the belly where the blows would not show, and drove hard, merciless punches deep into his gut. When that bored him, when William could not longer stand unaided but was embraced in a perverted hug, he finished off with one upward cruel punch to his genitals. William retched. Angelus neatly sidestepped and watched, unmoved, as the collapsed figure vomited twelve-hour old blood into the straw dust that coated the floor. When William was done, Angelus put a foot to his back and pressed him remorselessly, face first, into the stinking filth. ‘Where you belong, Whore.’
He picked up the listless form by collar and waistband and hefted him onto the back of one of the horses. William clung to the mane but did not fall. To the slack face, lolling low, Angelus whispered, ‘We have three more days and nights to endure each other’s presence, and then I will be free of you and your tricks forever.’ He was careful not to let William see his expression—he wasn’t that good an actor. Unable to hide his hurt and confusion from himself, he was hardly likely to be able to conceal it from his childe.
He swung up onto the other animal and lifted both boxes into his lap.
Without another word, he walked his horse out into a cold, starlit night. He did not bother to check if William followed: where else could he go? All other paths for his childe had effectively been closed that night.
After some hours, they came to a river with gently sloping, sandy banks. Angelus urged his horse into the water, wading to the other side. He waited for the inevitable sounds of William’s horse, but they did not come. Reluctantly, he turned and saw that William had dismounted. He was standing, leaning on the flanks of his house as if exhausted. Then he turned and stripped off his shirt. He followed it with boots and britches until he stood naked and extraordinarily pale in the moonlight. A slight vapour, the waking breath of dawn, rose from the grass, and as he moved toward the water, he was more spirit than flesh. He waded into the deep middle then disappeared under the freezing water.
Angelus watched, numb. He didn’t trust his emotions anymore. Or perhaps they were too battered and bruised to read true. For the first time in his demon life, and perhaps sadly in his human one, he’d offered someone something real, only to have it shattered by a monstrous lie.
William surfaced, shaking water from his body and hair, removing the scents and stains of vomit, if not the evidence of its cause. Bruises marred his body like moon-shadows of tiny forms hovering around him. Instead of dressing, he retrieved his boots then guided his horse across the river to where Angelus waited. Calmly, he asked for his box. Angelus let it drop to the ground, and it fell with a forlorn finality.
Seemingly ignoring the mood Angelus was wallowing in, William chose clean clothes and dressed. When he was done, his hair retied and his boots on, he straightened and put his hand to the mane of Angelus’s horse to prevent him moving on. In a tone of voice that indicated he’d rehearsed this a number of times on the long ride, he said with great clarity, ‘It doesn’t matter how long the devil grants us this extraordinary life, you will never force me to do anything I don’t want to do. That is just something essential about me that you have to understand. So,’ there was the smallest of hesitations, then he continued, ‘I will go north with you, and I will make you proud of me, Angelus. I will give the Arch Duke whatever he wants, however he wants it, and I will bring prestige and advancement to the family. But I do it because I want to. I want to do this for you.’ Before Angelus could move from the position of rigid disbelief he’d held during this declaration, William swung up onto his horse, turned its head to the north and began to merge into the soft darkness.
There seemed very little to say, so Angelus stayed silent. He rode behind William’s determined back, watching it become gradually more and more distinct until he could deny the coming of the dawn no longer. When he spotted a church spire in the valley below, he turned his horse and headed in the direction of the small town. Once more, he repeated his lie to the innkeeper about his companion’s health, thinking with an odd stab of guilt that it was becoming less of a lie as their trip progressed, and hefted both boxes up the stairs to the adjoining rooms at the top.
William leant in the widow, dangerously close to the encroaching sunlight. Angelus went up behind him and closed the drapes more fully. William did not turn or acknowledge his presence until Angelus placed a light kiss on the nape of his neck. Then he hunched his shoulders as if the touch burned him more than the sunlight would have. Angelus nodded and withdrew. William had earned his own space that day.
* * * * * * *
When they left the inn that night, Angelus headed toward the main street to find a coach to progress their journey in more comfort. William hung back then said in a rush, ‘What about the horses?’ His voice was startling after so much silence between then.
Angelus turned back at the question, about to remonstrate this evidence of inappropriate human fondness, when his own feelings for William gave an untimely and painful stab to his heart. He sighed instead of frowning and replied with feigned gruffness, ‘Give them to the Innkeeper; they’ll be fine.’
William, clearly aware of his own inconsistencies and amused by them, went off happily to arrange for the care of the animals.
Limited in the small village to a public coach, Angelus was forced to share his night’s journey with a portly vicar, his equally portly wife and three dispirited-looking children. He was hungry, and their plump smells made his belly rumble. He glanced sideward at William to see how he took the temptation to find him staring at the vicar with a look Angelus knew spelled trouble. Personality was returning. Before he could intervene, William said conversationally, ‘You are a man of God.’
The man smiled. ‘I am indeed, my dear sir. Let me introduce my….’
‘So, you believe in him? God, I mean.’
The warning growl went unheeded by the one it was intended for, but the vicar replied cheerfully, ‘Do not trouble yourself, Sir. I am more than happy to discuss God’s works—their evidence is all around us….’
‘So, you believe in the devil, too.’
‘I do, Sir. And his works, if I may say so, seem even more evident in this Godless modern world.’
‘Why does God let the devil have his way?’
‘Freewill, Sir. Freewill. We all have—.’
‘What if we don’t? What if the devil has all the power? What if God turns his head when he passes by?’
‘You are passionate, Sir. I cannot fault that in a young man, but members of the gentler sex are present; I would beg you to moderate your tone.’
William leant back and nodded. ‘I beg your pardon. I meant only to pass this interminable journey with some conversation.’ With that, he turned his face to the window and did not speak again.
The reverend turned to Angelus. ‘Do you go far, Sir?’
‘Ah! Beautiful country: the lakes and mountains…. You must be eager to see them.’
Angelus paused for a moment then replied in a rush, ‘I would they sank into the sea and left no trace, so I would be entirely unable to find our destination.’
The good reverend was silenced and busied himself with his youngest child. William, however, turned his head and regarded Angelus’s profile. Slowly, Angelus turned, too, and met the long, steady gaze.
* * * * * * *
Just after the eleventh hour, they pulled up to some imposing gates, and the vicar and his family descended with some polite farewells. Angelus immediately stretched out his long legs to the opposite seat. William changed seats and leant into the corner, folding his arms.
Angelus watched him for a moment. ‘We need to feed.’
‘I’m not hungry.’
A vision of the pale figure vomiting painfully slipped into Angelus’s mind, and he pursed his lips, annoyed that it disturbed him. ‘Nevertheless, you must eat. I’ll bring us something.’
He began to rise, but William was quicker. ‘Let me.’
They eyed each other for a moment until William flushed and said, ‘I gave you my word. I’ll go north with you.’
‘And as you pointed out, this isn’t a matter for gentlemen’s promises.’
William leant forward angrily. ‘Then read me as a demon, Angelus. Hear me as my sire.’
Angelus was about to reply, but he turned his head and said uncharacteristically quietly, ‘I cannot. Not like the girls. You are silent when you should howl what you are.’
Hesitantly, William came forward and put his hand to Angelus’s hair. He pushed his fingers into the long locks. ‘Then read me with what is between us in other ways.’
Angelus closed his eyes for a moment then caught William’s wrist. As if they had been having an entirely different conversation, which perhaps they had, he whispered, ‘I am sorry, Will.’
William gave one swift caress to the soft hair. ‘I know you are, ‘Gelus.’ With that, he leapt from the moving coach and disappeared into the dark.
As he had never apologised for anything before, Angelus had no past experience to use to gauge his current feelings. For one minute he felt something akin to elation, but then it felt more like despair. As neither of these, nor any other emotions so womanish were acceptable, he began to work on rage, fuelling it with his hunger and the unwelcome suspicion that he had just been played by a master.
* * * * * *
To Angelus’s intense relief, William returned—and with food. He had not wanted to have to hunt him down. Indeed, he had been considering not doing so, just to save the embarrassment of having to admit that he had been so wholly taken in.
William’s hunt had been particularly successful. The driver pulled up the horses when he saw him approaching, and it was with great solicitude that he helped him into the carriage with a young woman. She appeared to be in deep shock and clutched a baby to her breast and would not let him part them. He offered further assistance, but Angelus assured him that they would take care of her, and so he returned to his seat and flicked the horses back to movement.
William gave Angelus a quick look and smirked. ‘Surprised you, I see.’
Angelus narrowed his eyes. ‘You skate prettily on very thin ice sometimes, William.’
William laughed and nodded at the almost catatonic woman. ‘I’m afraid I had a snack on the way home.’ He tore the baby from her arms, shrugged at its lifeless body and tossed it from the window. Her eyes rolled into her head, and she fell to the floor in a dead swoon.
Thus she was spared the horrors of her last few moments. Unconscious, she neither heard the gentlemanly discussion about the sharing of her blood, nor felt sharp incisors puncturing her slender neck.
Satisfied, Angelus leant back against the seat and watched William feeding. ‘We should hide her body more carefully than you did the child.’
William laughed softly and propped her in the corner of the carriage, adjusting her veil so her face was concealed. ‘There. She can come to Cumbria with us.’
‘She will begin to smell, you foolish childe.’
William took her hand and patted it like a fond husband reassuring his wife. ‘Don’t listen to the unpleasant man, Darling. You smell like a rose.’ He turned to Angelus. ‘I wonder where the old man’s god was tonight.’
‘Don’t start one of your annoying rambles about God.’
‘Don’t you ever think about it all? What we are? Why we are?’
William shifted his gaze to the corpse then quickly back to Angelus. ‘Then why are you staring at me like that?’
‘I am pleased with you; that’s all.’
William flushed. ‘You think with your belly.’
Angelus laughed. ‘Not this time.’
William flushed more and played with the lifeless fingers in his hand. He appropriated a ring and tried it on his little finger. He flashed another look up at Angelus then dropped it down. ‘Why do they hate us so?’
Angelus looked startled then annoyed. ‘What now? You change the subject as randomly as you change your moods, William.’
‘You said they would have a right to kill us. I want to know why they hate us so much—why you hate us, too.’
Angelus looked confused. ‘I don’t hate us. I revel in what I am.’
‘You fight it all the time!’
‘Fight it? How so? Where do you see this fight?’
‘You’re resisting… me.’
‘I turned you! How was that resisting? I would turn the whole world, if I could, fool. That is hardly fighting.’
William was quiet for a moment then said deceptively casually, ‘I didn’t mean being a demon.’
Angelus was spared a reply when the coach came to an abrupt halt, and a young man climbed aboard. He greeted them politely, tipped his hat to the corpse and settled into the corner opposite William.
Angelus glared at William, the previous conversation still uppermost in his mind. ‘We shall be in Stratford by morning. I would like to continue this interesting conversation about what you seem to think I am then.’
The young man straightened. ‘Please, don’t let me interrupt you. Let me introduce myself: I’m George Thomas—of Stratford, as it happens.’
When he saw that Angelus wasn’t about to bother himself with a reply, William said, ‘I’m Mr Williams and that’s Mr Angel—and his good lady.’
‘I’m honoured.’ George was about to tip his hat once more to their female companion, when the coach jolted over a particularly bad pothole. The corpse began to tip forward. George murmured his delight and held out his hand politely.
Angelus changed seats and sat between William and the corpse. ‘She’s a wee bit delicate and must not exert herself.’ He put his arm across the torso, pinning her to the corner and turned to William. ‘Mr Thomas will think he is deserted. Change seats.’
William crossed his legs elegantly, bringing one thigh in contact with Angelus’s. ‘I’m comfortable where I am.’ He folded his arms and pursed his lips as if deep in thought.
Angelus patted his thigh in an oddly menacing way. ‘I look forward to our arrival in Stratford.’
William nodded, seemingly unconcerned by the implied threat. ‘So do I, but I suspect for different reasons.’ His hand came to rest idly on his thigh, his fingers brushing Angelus’s.
Angelus couldn’t help a small smile, so he hid it by kissing his ‘wife’s’ hand delicately. ‘You presume too much.’
‘Oh, my presumptions are always based upon experience.’
Angelus snorted. ‘You have a selective memory.’
‘I do. I remember some things very clearly: the smell and taste of salt, hardness and the way the word want plays in my mind.’
Angelus bit his lip and turned to contemplate the passing night. Very casually, he crossed his legs and folded his coat tails more carefully over his lap.
William laughed out loud, fished his book from his pocket and immersed himself in someone else’s romance for a while.
George Thomas looked between them in fearful expectation. He had not understood one word of the preceding conversation and dreaded lest they address him in a similar manner and found him terribly wanting.
Angelus took excellent rooms in one of Stratford’s best hotels. They did not look at each other as the clerk made the laborious entry in the book. Nor did they speak as they mounted the staircase and found the rooms allocated to them on the top floor. But the pretence of lack of interest fell as heavily as their boxes when they entered the first room. They seized each other with the power of demons but then kissed as softly and lovingly as any humans tasting each other for the first time. Angelus slid his lips to William’s ear and whispered, ‘Did your memory do this justice?’
William only tightened his grip on the long hair and opened his mouth wider to Angelus’s. Angelus laughed and kissed him back, pulling him into a hug so tight William’s feet left the floor. They tumbled back onto the huge bed then parted and lay panting slightly on their backs. Angelus gave a small bounce. ‘Money well spent.’
When there was no reply, he turned his head and regarded the thoughtful profile. ‘Don’t think too much about this, Will. You can’t solve every puzzle, can’t define everything. We are something you can’t study under that optical glass of yours. We just are. This just is, and I don’t know what it is any more than you.’
William nodded absentmindedly. ‘I wasn’t thinking about that.’
‘Oh.’ Angelus pouted. ‘Am I going to like this?’
William, still staring up at the ceiling roses, smiled. ‘I don’t know.’ He turned his head to meet Angelus’s gaze. ‘Be my first, ‘Gelus. I don’t want it to be him.’ Very slowly, following the intent of his words, he brought their mouths together and whispered into the kiss, ‘Please, take my virginity.’
Angelus felt deep stirring from the kiss but even more from the plea, now lodged somewhere tight and hot in his loins—but what he was feeling was wrong on so many counts he didn’t know how to say no forcibly enough. This could not be affection; it was just gratitude that Will was finally compliant. It couldn’t be excitement at the thought of entering another man; it was just extreme sexual deprivation (he’d been without for four nights, after all). It certainly wasn’t something that made him feel sad for being a demon; he never missed being human and revelled in his demonic persona. So, compliant Will, missing Darla and still a mighty demon, he should say no. He shrugged, kissed Will and rolled on top of him. ‘We’ll need some of these pretty clothes removed, I’m thinking.’
Will gave him an odd, knowing smile as if he’d heard some of Angelus’s internal debate. He jerked up his hips, grinding them together delightfully. ‘You do it.’
Angelus needed no further prompting. His childe knew his foibles well. He stripped William with delight, exclaiming over every new and different thing he found, as if he had never seen another man naked—and in all essentials, he hadn’t: he’d never seen one aroused and wanting him; never seen nipples pebbled and darkly flushed; never seen a cock erect and leaking for the want of his touch. When William was naked, Angelus levered off the bed and stood at the end, looking down at him as he undressed. ‘Touch yourself.’
William gave him a very familiar, cheeky grin and put his hands to his head. Angelus stepped forward and stood between his thighs as he unfastened his necktie. With a sly chuckle, he lifted his knee to William’s testicles. ‘Shall we try that again, Childe? Touch yourself.’ He began to press, and William winced, half-laughing, half in genuine alarm.
Then he put a hand to his cock and looked up through lowered lids. ‘Is this better… Sire?’
At the sound of the seductive, teasing title, Angelus groaned and ripped his shirt open exposing his powerful chest. ‘What am I?’
‘You’re my sire.’
‘Aye and you’d….’
Before he could finish telling William what he would do well to remember, William had him on the bed, pinned down. ‘But I’m your elder and better—as men, anyway.’
For one moment Angelus’s world was filled with crimson demon rage; screaming called to him. But, incredibly, it was only one moment. When it was passed, he began to laugh and was laughing so genuinely that he was helpless to William’s power. He was kissed and his nipples bitten hard before he could shake the smaller man off, but even then, William fought back, and the contest was remarkably evenly matched.
After some considerable damage had been inflicted on both sides (although more on William’s as he was naked and had more dangling vulnerability) they fell apart to regroup. Angelus wiped his bleeding nose and, looking at the blood, said, amused, ‘Methinks you have feigned weakness over these last few weeks.’
William was examining a bite on his belly. ‘I always need a suitable trophy to make it worthwhile winning.’
Angelus launched himself on William once more, and this time the advantage of surprise and weight held the smaller vampire down. ‘What is it you think you will win by this show of strength, Childe?’
‘That you stop calling me childe would be a start. I don’t want to be your childe—some kind of dependant dotard obeying your every whim.’ He added quickly, perhaps at something he had seen in Angelus’s expression, ‘Don’t you get it even now? I will obey you to the ends of our eternity for other reasons: because I want to, not because you order it.’ He pulled Angelus down to his mouth, roughly twinning his fingers in the dishevelled hair. ‘Maybe I will tell you what to do sometimes.’ He ground their lips together, then between the friction murmured, ‘Submit to me, Angelus. Let me be more than a childe to you.’
Angelus jerked his head back, remembering how he had imagined letting it all go for some faceless, dominating power, remembering the freedom he had felt under that submission. But his master would have to be a great power, not this slim, sable-haired man beneath him… who was kissing him, and nuzzling into his neck and fondling him in a way that flooded his body with desire. For the first time, demon or human, Angelus began to understand that domination was nothing to do with physical power. He felt an almost blood-like craving for William—for his body, his notice, his approval, his… l—.
Angelus jerked his head back again, so fast this time that a crack of cartridge was audible. For his love? Did these odd feelings equate to what he felt for Darla? After a moment’s consideration, Angelus decided that, worryingly, what he felt for William bore very little resemblance at all to what he felt for his sire.
William pouted. ‘What?’
Angelus swallowed. ‘I begin to think your faults are catching.’
‘Hey!’ He hesitated. ‘Is that good or bad?’
Angelus laughed. ‘For a demon, it is bad—very bad.’
William wriggled with pleasure. ‘Punish me…?’
Angelus groaned and jerked his hips hard into William’s naked groin. ‘Will you withstand me for three days this time? I’m not sure I can last that long meself, Chi—Will.’
William bit hard into Angelus’s neck, one of their most erotic places to be touched, and whispered, ‘I’ll do well to last three minutes, when your cock touches mine.’
Angelus cried out and began to tear at the buttons on his britches. He had never heard a man say that word before. That it should be said in such circumstances enflamed him. The illicitness of what they were doing aroused him beyond measure. Cock to cock with another man—he almost feared he would not be able to release himself in time.
Finally, he was free, and William pushed the britches down over the hard backside. They lay with their cocks touching, bellies flat against one another and hard, muscular arms spread out, muscle matching muscle. Angelus touched his lips teasingly to William’s. ‘You spoil me perhaps for the other kind of loving.’ He pressed their hips together harder to emphasis his point.
‘Huh.’ William pursed his lips thoughtfully. ‘I always thought Darla had the biggest dick in the family anyway.’
Angelus’s eyes flashed wide with anger, but at the unconcerned, amused look that greeted this warning, he sighed and put his head down on William’s chest. ‘I’ve created a monster. Do you no fear me at all?’
William chuckled. ‘I fear you’re going to hurt yourself sometimes. I fear that you’ll do something really dumb one day and that will be the end of it all. I fear you’ll eat the wrong person, perhaps, and that I won’t be there to stop you. I fear you’re going to leave me.’ His tone turned more sombre. ‘I fear, Angelus. Of course I fear.’
‘Oh.’ He lifted his head and stared into the blue eyes. ‘Where does this come from? These feelings? I have never done anything that would make you… admire me.’
‘I didn’t say I admired you. I just love you.’
Angelus pushed himself off William and lay on his back. He’d finally heard the word aloud that was unspoken in his mind. ‘Love?’
William turned onto his side and began to play with Angelus’s hair: separating the long strands. ‘Are you going to tell me that it’s impossible for demons to love?’
‘What about the brakes?’
‘I talk too much.’
‘Then let’s stop talking and do what we do best.’ He eased Angelus britches off the rest of the way and on the way back up, stopped at the hard, wavering cock. Angelus could not read his expression. He read what followed though. He read the way William’s lips slipped so eagerly over his sensitive tip. He read the way the tongue came into play, probing his slit. He read the way the throat opened to greet his seeking cockhead. And all this reading told him that he had been living half a life until this point. Nothing he had experienced in bed had ever come close to the pleasure that William was giving him.
He arched and wriggled and cried out so loudly that William’s hand sought him out and clamped down over his mouth. He nodded, and the hand began to leave, but he caught it and entwined their fingers. At every pull and suck from William’s educated mouth, Angelus squeezed the slim fingers, more like a man seeking comfort from pain than one lost to the throes of pleasure.
He had thought the pleasure could not increase. Then William began to lick him slowly, just the very tip of the agile tongue in contact with the silky, veined skin of his cock. Each lick began at the very root with a slight probe into his nest of hair, then rose up the throbbing length to swirl around the bubbling slit then down once more. He repeated this over and over again until tears sprung to Angelus’s eyes, and his moans needed quieting again. When he thought he could take no more, William fell onto the thick shaft, swallowing it down, massaging it as his throat convulsed with the intrusion. He brought his free hand into play then, holding the base of the column and working it hard, digging his fingers deep into the source of all Angelus’s pleasure, rubbing hard into his testicles and down his perineum. No delicate female fingers these. No gentle probing until he was forced to take over and finished the job himself. He felt as if he were being tortured by a master who could read his body like a book of pain. Yet it was torture like none he had experienced before. He would never want this to stop. He would crave it like an addict craved opium. He would spend his life trying to recreate this moment and these sensations deep inside William’s throat.
With the shock of realisation that he was about to ejaculate, Angelus began to fumble frantically at William’s head to push him off. William only took his wrists and pinned them to the bed. Helpless, Angelus reached the place he needed to and felt his balls implode, hard and painful, shockwaves of sperm rushing up his cock to explode against William’s throat. Rip after rip of shooting fluid convulsed his body, and he thrashed against his captor more like a man losing blood to a vampire than sperm.
At last it was over, and he felt as if he’d gone half a dozen rounds with the devil. He was covered in sweat—not something he usually had to contend with, being dead and living in England—and twitching all over his body. Even the nerves in his toes were firing off tiny signals of pleasure. Memories of being alive flooded his mind. He wanted to cry and laugh and run out into sunshine. Instead, he pulled William’s head up onto his chest and kissed deeply into the straggly hair.
All went quiet, except for something crying out deep in Angelus’s heart. He wanted to ignore it: he wasn’t given to listening to his heart. Instead, he stated it casually, not a question. He feared to make it a question in case he was given answers he did not want to hear. ‘You’ve done that before.’
William took it as a question, however, and nodded against the smooth skin. ‘Many times.’ Before Angelus could react, he went on, ‘The first time was the night after you turned me. In all the confusion of my new life, there was one certainty: you. I awoke needing you like a human baby needs mother’s milk. And when that analogy occurred to me, it was a short step in my mind to imaging it—your milk… squirting hot into my mouth.’ Angelus meant to remonstrate, but he squeaked inanely instead. ‘The next time was a few nights after—the first time you beat me. I forget what the beating was for now. You had a cudgel you’d taken off some copper, and as you poked it at me…. I was imagining it was something else…. I wanted you to force me to suck it. We’ve done a lot more than that in my mind since then. I think you’re right, Angelus: you should never have turned a man. I have all the needs of any other childe for a sire. I desire you as intensely as Drusilla does—as you do Darla.’
Stunned by this entire revelation and reassessing every moment they’d spent together in the light of it, Angelus eventually asked, puzzled, ‘Then why all this resistance…?’ He paused then answered his own question. ‘You didn’t resist this journey because the idea of it sickened you.’
William lifted his head. ‘On the contrary—it did. Does. But not because of what I’m to do… only who I’m to do it with. I’m being given to another man by the only man I want—the one I want to want me.’
Angelus sat up, and ran his fingers through his hair worriedly. ‘This is all wrong. You speak of men, as if that is what we are. We aren’t men, Will. We’re demons, and this romantic web you spin can’t apply to us. We can’t have a… romance. We fuck. That’s all this could be—if it becomes anything.’ He stood up and went to the window, leaning on the wall just to one side. He knew William was staring at his lean, muscular body. His cock rose in response to the imagined admiration. He sighed and hung his head, confused by his own lies. Confused that he was confused. He had left confusion behind him with his heartbeat and his liking for sunlight. Gruffly, he turned and said, ‘I’m tired. Move over.’
William’s face registered some strong emotion that Angelus did not want to read as disappointment, but did as he was asked. Angelus slid under the heavy eiderdown and closed his eyes.
After five minutes he gave in, turned to William and pulled him into his arms. ‘Say nothing.’
‘I wasn’t going to.’
‘You’ve just said something.’
‘Are you going to punish me?’
Angelus chuckled. ‘Has anything I’ve ever done actually punished you?’
There was a pause then William said sadly, ‘Yes. Giving me to him.’
There was an even longer pause then Angelus replied equally sadly, ‘Then, yes, I am going to punish you.’ With that, he turned his back to William and wondered, as he fell into an uneasy sleep, just who that handing over would punish more.
Angelus woke with a start and realised that far from sleeping with a snake at his bosom, he was sleeping with the only creature who truly loved him. He brought his mother and sister to mind: long forgotten ghosts. They had loved him. And now this—love once more, linking the vast distances of his life.
He slid silently from their bed and went out into the first darkness. After some considerable time and effort he secured what they needed and returned to the inn. William was pacing, agitated, in the bedroom. He wrapped his arms over his naked torso when Angelus came in. ‘I thought you’d gone.’
Angelus kept his voice neutral. ‘Why would I go?’
William glanced away. ‘Because of what I told you. Because I love you.’
Angelus grunted, not risking a more coherent response. ‘Get dressed. I tire of this journey and would it were over. I have secured a coach and driver who will travel day and night and not mind that we drape the vehicle in funeral garb.’ He knew William’s eyes were hardening as he recited this mundane tale—that he had expected more after the events of the day shared in the bed, which now mocked them both with its rumpled appearance. He turned away and began to gather his belongings.
* * * * * *
They set off after feeding briefly in the theatre district. Their feast was an actor, and he did full justice to his final, staring, role.
As they drove away from the city, Angelus kept his gaze away from the pale form opposite—the one who loved him.
He was a demon, and he sought out such weakness in others and exploited it. He perverted love. Familial ghosts rose in his mind once more, accusatory, timely reminders of what love was to his demon. He’d perverted their soft, female love before he’d killed them. That was love. That was what he was now. He was evil; evil and love could not co-exist. One destroyed the other. He was damn sure he didn’t want one blob—red or white—of the evil in his blood destroyed by love.
He treated William with cold disdain for the remaining hours in the coach.
* * * * * *
The road from Stratford to the Lake District was so well trodden that they made up time, travelling day and night, only stopping to change the horses and feed. Good as his word, the driver seemed unconcerned when Angelus draped the coach with thick cloth and travelled in darkness with his pale companion through the beautiful northern countryside.
Only one day late, they arrived at Witherthwaite Manor on the third day of this silent and hateful leg of their journey. Neither was in a suitable mood to meet the Arch Duke, so Angelus indicated their dishevelled appearance as an excuse to delay the moment, and they were shown up to an impressive room on the third floor.
William was in a strange mood that Angelus could not read. He seemed neither resisting nor resigned, but in some strange place between these two extremes. If Angelus had been more perceptive, which being a demon he was refusing to let himself be, he would have said that William was waiting for something: holding himself in abeyance until he saw the lay of some desired land. Angelus felt he’d shown William enough—despite how pleasurable that exposing had been—and felt nothing but impatience for this odd detachment. He took his simmering anger out on William by curt commands, sniping criticism and disdain, when, given the circumstances, gentle persuasion, praise and admiration might have served better. He had not missed the melee of young men in the vestibule of the manor, presumably there for the same reason as William. If William was not chosen then their journey had been in vain. Not given to self-analysis of any kind if he could help it, Angelus refused to examine why he was not facilitating William’s success more.
* * * * * * *
Washed and changed, they had no excuse but to descend and join the party. Angelus could only assume that these jumped-up foreigners were trying to impress the locals with their European manners and style of living, for a grand ball was taking place in the very limited confines of the Witherthwaite main hall. He had no idea what the original owners of the manor would think of the proceedings, and could not ask them now, for they had been drained and mounted on chairs to one side of the room to watch, dead as the creatures that had taken their lives, just less mobile. He could not deny they added a delightfully macabre touch of originality to the decorations.
The guests were a mixture of those come to seek the Arch Duke’s favours, those whom they were selling to gain these favours and those who hung around, dross and detritus of any demon gathering: the weak requiring the crumbs from the tables of the strong. It wasn’t hard to tell into which of these three categories every guest fit. Any women present, Angelus put into the third category—he was an eighteenth century Irishman in thrall to a woman; his opinion of the fairer sex, demonic or no, was not high. Male demons like himself, he put into the first category. He even recognised a few of them: hard, powerful vampires who had put away an impressive number of years and intended to put away some more. That left only the pretty ones. Unfortunately for them, they fell into the second category. As he scanned the faces, Angelus was a little surprised to see a few humans amongst the young men being offered. They were clearly not volunteers, and the expression lambs to the slaughter came to mind: if they were not taken by the Arch Duke, they would soon be taken in other ways. The hosts, sitting so grand and immobile, watching with their dead, glassy stares, would only serve to remind them of their gristly fate. The others in that category were vampires—and recently turned, if their nervous awe seemed anything to go by. Not for the first time, Angelus felt a stab of disgust for his own kind. Was it a truism that only the worst of the human species joined his? There would seem to be some justification for this view. Who was usually out alone at night in places where vampires hunted? Thieves, whores, troublemakers, drunks and idiots…. They were fairly represented tonight.
Ironically, therefore, William’s main competition appeared to come from the humans. This was not good. Depending upon the Duke’s tastes, they were highly attractive items: terrified, warm and eventually edible. Tasty and wriggling…. Screaming and moist…. He swore under his breath and turned to see what William was doing.
For one moment, as he scanned the room full of all these disparate creatures and his eyes alighted upon William, he saw his own childe as a stranger: weighed him up as competition, just as he had the others. Suddenly, he laughed. What competition? Even in his odd, detached mood, William drew all eyes to him. Men and women, human and demon, they watched his slow progress around the room. He was looking at the murals and admiring the decoration of the hall. He was looking at the décor! Angelus laughed out loud and startled himself just how much genuine fondness laced this sound. When William caught the laugh and turned to him with a small, private smile of recognition, Angelus felt a great deal more. It infuriated him so much that he turned to one of the vampires he knew, nodded in a friendly way and asked with as much control as he could muster, ‘Where’s the damn host? This drags like an old woman’s pleasure.’
The vampire sneered. ‘He’s tasting the offerings—apparently. That one yours? He’s new.’
Angelus followed his gaze to William. ‘Two months—ten weeks now.’
‘Nice. Darla turn him or that mad little bint of yours?’
Angelus, debating whether to rise to the slur on Drusilla’s size, murmured before thinking, ‘He’s mine.’
The vampire turned. ‘Yours? Angelus, you surprise me.’ He paused for dramatic affect then added maliciously, ‘Perhaps you would like to companion his Highness during his stay.’
Angelus lashed out. Every head in the room turned (except the dead ones) and a howl of gleeful delight went up. Formal balls were all well and good—two master vampires pounding the proverbial out of each other was so much better. Before a really good brawl could start though, a herald sounded a brittle clarion, which wavered for a moment then gained strength. It was so unexpected, so unnecessary, so pretentious that Angelus laughed, disbelievingly. His adversary stilled his hand and turned to the main doors with the same expectant expression as every other pair of demon eyes.
Angelus flicked his gaze sideward to find William at his side. His face was a picture of mixed emotions: fear, dread, amusement, derision, curiosity, excitement and…. Was that arousal? Angelus ground his teeth together, seething with some undefined emotion, and leaning to William’s ear, murmured, ‘They say he reminds one of Nero—and not because he plays a fiddle.’
William’s eyebrows lifted, and he replied calmly, ‘I had a classical education, Angelus. I can assure you, he looks nothing like him.’
Angelus whipped his head around, ignoring an audible crack, to see a man, flanked by a number of associates, progressing through the throng. He had to agree with William: he looked nothing like a fat, self-indulgent, insane Emperor.
Hard was the word that came to Angelus’s mind first. A number of his prejudices were instantly blown away in that initial assessment. It wasn’t how he expected foreigners to look. It certainly wasn’t how he expected sodomites to look. This man, this vampire, exuded power and authority. He was in human form and seemed easy and at home in his human body. Well over six feet, unusual in a world where five foot ten was tall, he was broad in fine proportion to his height. Even from this distance, Angelus could see that this bulk was all muscle—it was evident in the easy grace with which his clothes embraced his body. And what clothes! Where were the pretentious riches he’d expected from this… girlie-man. Where were the velvets and jewels so beloved of the effeminate? This man was dressed for war. He favoured a tight-fitting pair of overall trousers and military jacket, both of which appeared dusty and travel-stained. Angelus cursed that he had taken the time to change into the finery Darla had insisted they bring. He felt the fop compared to this man. Try as he might, he could no longer apply the word effeminate to this powerful creature coming toward them. He stole another glance at William and was confused by his thoughtful look. Unfortunately, William took just that moment to steal a glance at him, and their eyes met. Something passed between them. Angelus was the first to look away… and straight into the eyes of the Arch Duke, who had been watching this small exchange with hooded, interested eyes. ‘You must be Angelus.’
Something in Angelus’s brain fired off and told him he shouldn’t be impressed by this great man knowing his name; that he was being toyed with; that he didn’t hold with royalty or approve of vampires aping human manners. But it was the tiniest of shots compared to the huge cannonball of pleasure that ripped through his gut at being recognised and hailed politely by this impressive demon. He gave a small bow. ‘Aye, I am. Are you enjoying your stay?’ Fuck. That was inane. Should I have called him sir?
The Duke smiled enigmatically and turned his gaze upon William. ‘Ah… the poet vampire.’
William pursed his lips. ‘I gave up poetry when I gave up life. The rhymes I seek are different now.’
‘Do you seek them here?’
‘I had not intended to. Now, I’m not so sure. ’
The Duke’s smiled widened and became more genuine. ‘Perhaps I could aid you in your search.’
‘I’m not sure I would survive what we discovered together.’
The Duke flicked his gaze to Angelus and then back to William. ‘I sense that you have already begun your journey of discovery.’
William hesitated then nodded. ‘But I waste my time. I had thought the treasure I seek merely… suppressed. Now I know that it is dead.’
‘I am dead, too.’
‘Your form of death seems more to resemble mine.’
The Duke laughed and turned to one of his minions, speaking in rapid French. Angelus hadn’t understood the conversation in English, so this one hardly added any more ire to his wrath. The Duke nodded politely at William. ‘Shall we speak more on this subject?’
‘I think I might enjoy that… conversation.’
The merest shadow of arousal crossed the handsome features before the Duke moved on to greet the rest of his guests.
Angelus grabbed William’s arm in a painful grip and manoeuvred him to the back of the room. ‘Do you want me to end your miserable existence?’
William prised his fingers off, equally annoyed. ‘What have I done now?’
‘You turned him down!’
‘What! Are you a total moron, Angelus?’
Angelus actually reeled back. He felt it physically… a disorientation and dizziness at his childe’s audacity. William did not apologise or lower his gaze. Angelus put his mouth against William’s ear. ‘When we get back to our room….’
William jerked away, clearly unimpressed. ‘What? What petty revenge are you going to take, Sire? Beat me? Tell me a scary story? Show me your cock? Make me suck it?’ This last came out a little louder than William apparently intended and a lot louder than Angelus wanted. A few heads turned. A few minions snickered. William leant in close and finished in a staged hiss, ‘Your power over me lies rejected in that hotel bed, ‘Gelus. You’re nothing more than a sad little bully who… who… who I…. Fuck you!’ With that, he stealthily punched Angelus in the gut and pushed his way out of the hall.
Stunned, Angelus watched him go. He would have followed if it hadn’t have been for an unfortunate intervention by one of the young vampires brought as offering to the Duke. Watching the fight with glee, he minced toward an equally dissolute colleague and hissed, ‘Do see the lovers’ spat.’
Angelus turned and tore his tongue out.
The ensuring commotion allowed him to slip out unnoticed. It was only when he reached the cool evening air that he realised he was still clutching the slippery organ.
* * * * * * *
The moon was bright, and the light from the continuing party spilled out over the terrace. Even without his preternatural eyesight, Angelus would have been able to see William sitting on the low wall that led down to the gardens beyond. He watched the lowered head for a while then went and sat next to him. He held out the object in his hand with a small laugh. ‘Peace offering?’
William started and wrinkled his nose. ‘Ever the romantic, Angelus.’ This rather began and ended the conversation in one astute observation.
Angelus pouted for a while, playing with the dangling roots of the tongue. ‘You expect too much of things—people. You will spend your life disappointed.’
‘Better than living in a box, afraid to peep out.’
‘You think I’m afraid?’
‘Is this going to be a conversation where I tell you home truths and then you beat me to a bloody pulp?’
Angelus smiled softly, waggling the tongue as if it were speaking for him. ‘No.’
William plucked the object from his fingers and tossed it into the dark. ‘Then, yes, I think you are too afraid of what people will think of you. You gauge your every remark or action by the affect it will have upon others—how they will see you.’
Angelus turned his head slowly and fixed William with a stare that did not hide his amusement. ‘Are you actually a demon at all?’
William laughed ruefully. ‘Have I not proved it to you often enough?’
‘Aye.’ He sighed. ‘He was handsome, was he not?’
Angelus turned swiftly to see if he was being mocked, saw that he was but in so affectionate a way that he did not have the heart to take offence. William added, ‘I liked his accent.’
For some reason they both found this inordinately funny, and for a rare moment in their strange acquaintance they shared the intimacy of laughter. It progressed other intimacies, and it was no short time from laughing and wiping tears from their eyes to kissing. William’s mouth was wide and welcoming and held no recrimination. Angelus’s body quickly responded to the feel and taste of it and the way William’s fingers played through his hair. He was about to take those fingers and have them play another way when his own wrist was seized and his hand pressed to something hard and twitching under William’s britches.
In one bright moment of self-awareness, Angelus saw that everything William had said about him was true: he did govern his life by other people’s reactions. And if it was true, then this had to be the most sublime moment he had experienced since being a demon. This man’s whole body was responding to him: his touch, his taste, his caress. He had produced this tight swelling. He had brought forth that light, eager moan of desire. Despite everything he had done to alienate his childe, William still wanted him. In this one moment, he was experiencing total validation of who and what he was. He hardened in response, his fingers wildly kneading the swelling beneath them. Fumbling, he began to undo buttons that would lead him to a more intimate acquaintance with that solid flesh.
At the same time they heard martial sounding footsteps on the terrace behind them and pulled apart, flushed and confused.
Angelus stood, and this movement attracted the notice of a man who had just emerged from the doors. He came closer and addressed Angelus. ‘His Highness has chosen.’
Angelus refused to allow his eyes to stray to William’s face. ‘And?’ Although he already knew the answer.
‘Congratulations. Your fortunes are on the ascendant.’
If they were, then they were the only things ascending for Angelus. Other things, which had risen painfully, deflated. He swallowed. ‘What happens now?’
‘Now? Now you are free to return to London, or you can remain and enjoy the hospitality for as long as you wish.’
‘I didn’t mean me.’
‘Oh, my apologies. His Highness anticipates staying in this part of your fair country for a number of months, and then he has expressed an interest in visiting some acquaintances in Scotland—and trying haggis. Naturally, William will travel with him.’
Angelus sensed William standing just behind him.
It seemed to him then that some great moment had arrived: the dividing moment between what was and what would be… could be. Instinctively, he knew that this was the moment that William had been waiting for since their arrival in this house. Nothing had been certain up to this point.
He looked up at the man silhouetted against the lights from the ballroom. He glimpsed a number of other shadowy figures in the periphery of his vision. They were leaving nothing to chance.
And by then he had left it too late.
If he had been going to intervene, declare something, stop something, then he needed to have done it instantly. Such gestures, coming as they should from the heart, should not be weighed or judged.
Or so William appeared to think, for he calmly stepped over the wall without a backward glance to Angelus and went toward the shadows sent to collect him. Only the uncharacteristically rigid hold of his back told Angelus his childe’s views on the events that had just transpired.
The messenger bowed politely then went to join his countrymen.
Angelus watched them leave then dropped his chin to his chest. ‘What would you have had me do?’ The darkness gave him no reply.
It hardly needed to; for the first time, his heart was answering that question for him.
But that could not be.
What he had begun to feel toward William, what he could taste still in his mouth and hear in his heart, was no more real than shapes in clouds or a statue of the Madonna moving. Didn’t matter how much you wanted these things to be true, they weren’t.
He was a vampire! He had been a man consumed by a demon, a demon cast out from heaven—one of the fallen. It had writhed in the pits of hell, dark and formless, until it had learnt how to enter the new creation on blood and worm its filthy way across the centuries, one after another, making, to spite the creator, men in its own image. It extinguished life; it made barren the essence of humanity: pity, love, kindness. It took them all and perverted them.
He didn’t have magnified feelings; what a crock of shit he told himself and others. He was nothing more than a shadow play on the wall, playing out its petty dramas: an absence of light, colour and depth. Sunlight was anathema to a creature of shadow—as was love to a creature of evil.
Despairing, he tipped his head up to the sky. The night had always been his friend—always answered his questions: what is power? where is fear? how endless will be my corruptions?
But now it was mute.
He heard nothing.
Except… that tiny voice from his heart that would not be quieted.
The world suddenly coalesced to the tiny space he occupied, a great sucking of the universe into his consciousness.
He was a demon.
But he had once been a man. He had once been a man created in another’s, better image…
…and by the time he hit the doors to the inner sanctum, he was so wired and so full of certainty that he’d begun to laugh. Self-awareness coursed through him, and he took out half a dozen of the Duke’s small army before he’d gone halfway down the corridor. When he crashed through, he was uproarious, almost unable to function through laughter. He was rescuing William. Bodices ripped asunder in his mind; great swells of ludicrous music played in his head. He was living out the most ridiculous romance the world had ever seen—but he didn’t care. He was rescuing William.
It seemed to take a while for this fact to register with the surprised couple on the bed.
William got it first, and with a look that sent chills of desire into the soul-empty places in Angelus’s body, he scrambled away and joined in the laughter.
The Duke didn’t seem to find it funny at all. His skin, which appeared to crawl with a life of its own, until Angelus realised he was seeing firelight flicker on a skilful, fearsome tattoo, seemed to visibly chill. Angelus had to give him some slack: what man would find amusement in being separated from the object of his desire with his britches half-mast and his cock a forlorn signpost waving in the wind of their departure?
Angelus, shrugged, grabbed William’s arm and crashed them both through the lattice window to the courtyard below.
They landed with the uncanny cat-like grace of their species and headed toward the stables. No time now for debating the merits of horse versus carriage. They leapt upon the fastest looking horses and swung them toward the open fields behind the house.
‘They will come for us.’
‘Aye, I know.’
There was no time for further talk; the night and rough ground took all their concentration. Although preternatural themselves, they could not forget the physical limitations of their horses. They rode them hard as they dared across the small park that belonged to the manor and then out onto the moors beyond. The going was traitorous; one slip and a limb would be snapped or a rider lost to the fearful bogs that marked the area.
Angelus could feel the sweat and straining muscle of the beast between his legs. It flexed and worked beneath him. William’s slim form fixed his eye in front. Adrenalin, which had flooded his body during the escape, slipped sideward and began to give to rise to different but equally powerful responses. His body was all sweat and straining muscle, too. With a light curse, he edged his horse closer to William’s, caught at his bridle and pulled them both to a halt.
William glanced behind into the pre-dawn mist that was beginning to rise over the moors. He turned his eyes to Angelus, but before he could articulate his fear that they were being followed, he saw Angelus’s expression.
He swallowed deeply.
Angelus pulled him off the horse and turned him insistently into the solid body, face buried deep against the steaming, sweating warmth. He leant hard against him, crushing him between beast and man, horse and beast, creature and demon. The horse was stoic, used to battle and flight and fear. It stood its ground, as the one pressed into him reared back and cried out into the darkness. It flinched only a little as the other, taller one thrust forward and let out a sound it had heard only in the worst heat of battle: men meeting their maker; men finding their maker did not exist for them; men defying the requirement to meet him at all. It braced as these strange creatures rocked and thrust against it. It took comfort from their satisfaction in themselves, its world always defined by the pleasures and vagaries of its masters. Its mate, less occupied with these intimates, stomped and snorted into the misty dark fearfully, held from fleeing only by a loose rein in an uncaring hand. Sensing their impending doom, it cared nothing for love and wished to continue the flight.
Neither vampire registered the horses, even the one they used for support, as Angelus slid deep in William’s body. If they knew of its existence, it was only as a substitute heartbeat, for they missed that, so human and so intensely loving was this in all other respects. The beast’s strong, slow beats lulled them as they rode and arched and moaned their pleasures between them. They had not even bothered to undress. Angelus just poked free from a gap between buttons and entered William’s backside while his britches were half-mast. Too many clothes, not enough time, no shared words to define this moment.
They defined it instead with light touches to hair and face and glances twisted over shoulders.
Alarmed at something, the horses lifted their heads and snickered softly.
Angelus leant his forehead on William’s back and whispered, ‘I would have made this something to remember, Will. I fear we have been discovered.’
William lifted his face and laughed. ‘I will remember this to the end of my days, Angelus.’
‘Shall I finish us off?’
That he should be asked so tenderly seemed to overwhelm William. He just nodded then laid his cheek back on the warm flanks. The horse shied more vigorously at the violence of the thrust that then followed. Angelus followed its movements though and thrust again and again, the sound of voices and the glimpses of lights bobbing in the mists unheeded.
With a final thrust, he found the place he needed to release. No orgasm, alive or dead, had ever matched the pleasure and intensity of this one. He was filling William’s backside with his sperm, and nothing William could ever say to him would deny this moment. With what breath he had left after the intense orgasm, he leant into William’s neck and cried raggedly, ‘Whose are you?’
The sound seemed to echo in the encroaching fog and magnified the hitherto muffled sounds of angry voices. William suddenly twisted around and seized Angelus’s lips with his own. ‘Whose are you?’
He held them apart, and Angelus was fixed with a formidable stare. Mutely, he nodded, and William seemed satisfied, saying wryly, ‘May I suggest then we… get the fuck out of here?’ He grimaced, hitching up his trousers.
Angelus tipped his head back and roared: predator, sexual animal, lover. So what if it brought their pursuers closer? Bring them on.
An arrow pinged through the tight ring they’d formed, narrowly missing one of the horses. ‘Fuck!’ Laughing, they leapt onto the animals and took off across the gently sloping tor. Immediately, a cry went up, then all was the sound of hooves, leather and panted breath steamed from wide nostrils.
The ground became clearer, and Angelus was shocked to discover how close to dawn they were. He could feel its traitorous fingers upon his skin, sensitive and tingling already from the pleasure he’d found deep in William’s rectum.
He glanced across, a surge of pride filling him as he saw how lithe and pretty William looked upon his horse. Then an arrow embedded in William’s shoulder, and he slipped, righting himself at the last moment as the horse stumbled to his lack of control. He showed no sign of pain, pulled it out and nodded at Angelus’s concerned look.
Angelus glanced behind and felt fear for the first time. He had not realised his impetuous, romantic gesture—a gesture of man deeply in love and discovering that for the very first time—would land them in the middle of a war. It was an army streaming behind them: demons in varying gracious uniforms galloping in fluid and controlled lines upon them.
He wasn’t even a very good rider.
It was becoming a serious toss up between being caught by the Duke’s Frenchie army or the sun. Angelus wasn’t sure which death would be less painful.
Angelus followed the line of William’s gaze and saw a barn at the top of a field that ran to the edge of the moors they now traversed. He swung his horse hard to port, feeling every muscle in his thighs strain at the effort to turn the headlong flight. William at his side, hair now smoking and skin beginning to peel, they careered toward the shelter.
Angelus didn’t dare look back. They were all demons, and his pursuers needed the shelter as desperately as they did.
A low dry-stone wall separated the moors from the field, and they took it at full gallop.
Angelus felt himself go and could not believe that “He was unseated and ignominiously trampled” was to be his final epitaph. He hit the ground hard, dazed. Something snagged his arm, and, incredulous, he was hauled onto the back of William’s horse, and so they continued. In a tumble of burning flesh they made it inside, their remaining horse running wildly free, glad to be away from the mad rush.
They flung themselves to the doors, face to face, grinning, kissing even as their pursuers circled and swore, battered on the door and caught fire.
Suddenly, there was a cry in a language neither understood, the sound of pounding hooves and then silence.
‘Is it a trick?’
Angelus frowned. ‘It’s a good one then. Climb up and take a look.’ He indicated a hayloft with his shoulder, and William ran lightly up the ladder and peered cautiously out.
‘There’s another barn… maybe a boathouse at the bottom of the hill. Come look.’
Angelus went to join him, his blood pounding with adrenalin from the flight. He caught William around the waist and looked over his shoulder. ‘Fuck.’ A dozen horses milled aimlessly around outside a rude wooden structure by the side of a deep, swiftly flowing river. It was far inadequate to their shelter, and Angelus chuckled at the thought of the vainglorious Frenchies huddled together in that stinking hut. He stretched then stepped back into better shadow.
‘Hey, look, they’re watching us.’ William waved cheekily then gave them a more emphatic gesture.
Angelus laughed and pulled him down onto the hay. They lay entwined, staring up at the passage of the sunlight across the slatted wooden roof.
William turned his head. ‘So?’
‘So… were you pleased to see me?’
William laughed and tickled a stalk of hay across Angelus’s face. ‘Are you fishing for a compliment?’ He hissed: Angelus was definitely fishing for something.
‘Mmm. You’re still hard.’
‘Extreme fear doesn’t seem to affect my… ahh.’
‘Did I scare you, little one?’
William arched as he was freed entirely from the soft cloth. ‘You are a very scary person, Angelus… through the window?’
‘It was supposed to be a romantic gesture—I’ve had very little practice.’ He ran his hand up William’s silky erection then chuckled ruefully. ‘And even less at this.’
William placed his hand over Angelus’s and slowed him down, making him grip harder. ‘Oh, yesss.’
As Angelus pulled, William’s tight foreskin bunched, exposing a soft, bulbous head, darker and wetter than the rest of the shaft. His mouth watered at the sight of it; he wanted it in his mouth as much as he wanted the first warm, sweet taste of a lusty woman’s blood.
William tasted even better. He tasted of male desire and power; he smelt of sex: musty scents rising from the springy nest of pubic hair. He buried his nose deep. The harder he pushed on to smell into William’s sex, the harder the cockhead jammed against this throat. Wholly unused to the sensation, he eased off and grinned with pleasure when this slow, tight-lipped withdrawal gave rise to an even louder groan of pleasure than the deep-throating had.
He repeated the whole sequence and this time found the sensation of having his throat invaded more acceptable. He shifted position slightly and relaxed into the pleasure, the slippery hardness gaining another few inches.
Suddenly, William’s whole body went rigid. He scrabbled frantically at Angelus’s hair. ‘I’m going to….’
Angelus had ample time to pull off.
He had enough time to grin around the thick cock and not pull off, too.
Consequently, the thick slurpy offering filled his throat and ran unchecked to his belly. It spilled out between his lips, making the cool velvety shaft a delicious toy in his mouth. He swallowed and licked and mouthed wetly into the root while William danced like a puppet on a fleshy string.
By the time Angelus let the cock fall from his lips, it was almost soft. It was so like other slippery organs he’d sucked on and swallowed that he was fearful lest his eagerness saw some irreparable damage done. He chuckled as he lay down. ‘It would not do to bite it off.’
William didn’t reply. He was staring unfocused at the roof.
Angelus, secretly very pleased with himself, chuckled again and pulled him into the crook of his arm. He kept one hand lightly on William’s softening penis, playing with it gently, teasing and stroking. ‘What are you thinking?’
William stirred fractionally. ‘Do you think that for the rest of my life I’ll be looking for someone to match the romance of you crashing in through that door? Do you think I’ll spend my eternity finding all other lovers inadequate because I’ve now had you?’
More pleased than he would ever be willing to admit, Angelus huffed. ‘No. I think the Frenchies will get us tonight.’
William came back to a much sharper focus, his body suddenly tense.
Angelus shrugged. ‘They have horses, William; we do not. I don’t doubt your speed, or mine, but even we cannot outrun such a force. They will be upon us before we can make safe our escape. You will be spared the deep sorrows you anticipate for your life.’
‘Are you mocking me?’
Angelus heard the soft, flirtatious tone and replied in kind. ‘I do not understand half you say most of the time, so no: I would not dare.’
‘Hmm. I suspect you are being surprisingly ironic.’
‘If I am, it would surprise me, too. Foolish little poet of mine; I would see the world through your eyes for a moment if I could.’
‘Then you’d see yourself and never wish to return to where that sight was denied.’
‘An Irish peasant with ungainly manners and straw in his hair?’
William laughed. ‘You fish for compliments like a woman.’ He suddenly propped himself up on his elbow, his eyes sparkling, his scabbed-over eyebrow raised.
Angelus felt a stab of anticipation. ‘What?’
‘I was just wondering if you would be like a woman in… other ways.’
Angelus grabbed him and fixed him with what he had always thought was a paralysing stare. It didn’t even paralyse the locks on William’s head. They shook free with his laugher. He shot out his hand, grabbed Angelus and squeezed. Angelus arched and groaned, his own erection, untended till then, betraying him. William scrabbled at buttons, kissing him savagely. ‘Let me.’
Then Angelus was exposed. William turned him over.
Angelus held his gaze, twisted over one shoulder, not quite resisting, but not acquiescing either… until William found him with a finger. Then he was lost to the novelty and the delicious wrongness of sodomy. But what could be wrong when William fingered him so sweetly…? Nerves he had thought lost to death fired off like tiny salvos of pleasure. William spat and stroked the wetness into him, making him moisten and open slightly in return. And then there was pain—pain from sex for the first time in his life. And on the pain, Angelus realised he was being mastered—not by some mythical dark figure of immense power, but by his own childe: slim and pretty, strange and funny, his childe of the fancy tongue and busy fingers.
It didn’t matter. He let go of having to be Angelus as effectively as he had envisioned doing for a far more powerful master. He would no longer be, with William, fear summoned by a name. This slow penetration seemed to him then a great freedom. He had not felt so liberated since he’d been a child, running to someone older and wiser and stronger than he. As William lay on him, pressing him into the straw, pressing into him, some undefined burden was lifted. William was no longer his childe; he was his lover.
William rushed in and filled the soul-empty places of his body.
What need had he of God or souls when he had William?
‘Is that good?’
Angelus laughed long and loud, the simplicity of this question so at odds with the things he had been thinking. ‘Yes, it’s very… good.’
‘Like this, too?’ William dipped lower, and his cock stroked along the top wall of Angelus’s rectum.
It was exquisite, but he only grunted and put a hand back onto William’s backside to make him do it again. William laughed and batted him away. ‘No, tell me.’
‘Yes,’ between gritted teeth, ‘it’s very good.’
‘Mmm, that’s better. Is this delightful, too?’ He pulled out entirely then re-entered slowly, and Angelus melted into the prickly straw beneath.
Suddenly, Angelus tensed. ‘What’s… oh, fuck, that’s good when I tighten… but what’s that noise?’
William didn’t stop the slow thrust into Angelus’s new resistance—he wouldn’t have stopped if the trumpets of heaven had sounded—so Angelus grunted and dragged them both over to the wall, where he gingerly pulled a slat of wood to one side. ‘Fuck!’ A lone horse was coming toward them, dragging what looked like a bizarre creature made of skin and wood. ‘Look!’ He felt William relent and drag his eyes off what they were doing to gaze out of the aperture. He didn’t stop the pleasurable fucking though.
‘Looks like they’ve… bloody hell! Have they killed and skinned my horse? The bastards!’
Angelus twisted his head around. ‘You are the worst demon I have ever had the misfortune to be acquainted with!’
William gave him a cheeky flick of one eyebrow and a particularly penetrating thrust. ‘Is that so?’
Angelus grunted and went back to watching the odd arrivals. ‘They’ll spring out at the last minute and rush the doors then there’ll be shouting and fire…. Did I say stop?’
William laughed and pushed back in, wriggling his hips down as far as he could, rubbing their bodies together.
Angelus dragged his eyes from the annoying spectacle and looked around the barn. Very reluctantly, he eased himself off William’s deep penetration. ‘Don’t move.’
William held theatrically still: a man doing press ups with an exposed, shiny, erect red cock. He lowered fractionally and teased his wet tip on the rough floor of the loft.
Angelus, distracted by this sight, nevertheless eased over to one of the roof spars and broke it off with a jagged end. ‘This should do.’
He pushed open the top door of the barn, standing in the shadows to one side, and balanced the long shaft in his hand. With remarkable strength and accuracy, he hurled it javelin-like into the squishy mess of raw flesh and planks that concealed their enemy.
The results were fairly disappointing—the conveyance just collapsed. The horse, no longer urged on by the contents of its obscene load, began to happily crop the grass. William suddenly hissed, ‘Whistle it closer!’
Angelus tried but only an odd raspberry sound emerged. The horse looked up, farted and wandered off in the direction of the river for a drink.
‘Fuck!’ He hung in the opening, shouting obscenities at the boathouse for a while until William coughed lightly.
Angelus glanced over and groaned with surprised pleasure. William was still in position. He went to him and pushed him over onto his back and with no further ado, straddled him and sank deep onto his greasy thickness.
This was very different.
Now they were facing each other and could not lose themselves to their own individual thoughts. William spread his fingers over Angelus’s thighs, kneading into the firm muscle. Angelus dipped his head and closed his eyes, rocking softly on the impalement. ‘What have you done to me?’ The whispered words held no accusation, only wonder. He lifted his face and added equally softly, ‘You have entirely unmanned me. You!’ He shook his head with a wry smile, and William chuckled at the look, then snaked out a hand and caught him around the back of the neck, pulling him down for a kiss. They kissed languidly, rolling, dislodging their joining, but neither seemed to mind. They ended up at the far side of the loft in the cobwebbed shadows, entwined and sleepy, kissing in a desultory way and running hands lazily, like old lovers, over familiar skin. Finally, Angelus levered himself up onto an elbow and sought William out with one finger. He played with him for a while, watching pleasure and desire flit across the pale features beneath him. ‘I want to be in you again, Will.’ He wetted his finger and replaced it, in case William did not get his meaning.
William put a hand to Angelus’s mouth, trailing his thumb over the slightly swollen lips. ‘Make it slow this time….’
Angelus murmured in surprised desire and shifted to get into position over the slim form. He took his cock in one hand and stroked it to hardness, watching William watching him. ‘Do ye like what you see?’
William blushed deeply, but his cock jerked higher, answering for him.
Angelus laughed. ‘You will never be able to fake desire for me, Will.’
‘Nor hide it.’
‘Huh. I had not thought of that.’ He grinned with a small, feral flick of his tongue to moisten his lips. ‘Even if we become bitter enemies, I will know that you desire me.’
William laughed. ‘I do not think, if we were to discover enmity, either of us would be around long enough to consider desire.’
Angelus leant down and whispered in his ear, ‘You are not a master vampire yet, Childe. Do not think you are my equal. I will always be… around.’
William wrapped his arms tightly around Angelus back for a moment then suddenly rolled them. ‘Then I shall have to take you another way.’ With no preliminaries, he mounted Angelus, pushing in deep and hard until Angelus felt fullness as far as his belly. William withdrew and pushed again. He entangled his fingers in Angelus’s hair and said, more to himself than the one beneath him, ‘I will never be your enemy.’
Lost in the throes of his pleasure, feeling William’s hardness sliding against his sensitive walls and sending waves of delight to his balls and cock, Angelus did not comment more than a soft grunt of acknowledgement. Once more, the thought crossed his mind that if he was going to be a sodomite, he should at least be the aggressor, the taker, but the thought dissipated on another intense ripple of pleasure from deep within his rectum, where he had felt no sensation for over two hundred years, let alone this, which quivered his entire body and delighted his genitals. Hardening, leaking, aching, pleasure building like a furious sneeze just out of reach, he cried out and began to pump his cock, the rhythm of his fist matching William’s surprisingly skilful work inside him. William began to pant, and sweat dripped from his forehead. He braced his arms either side of Angelus’s broad shoulders, and the panting turned into small cries of effort at every thrust. They were entirely in synch, lost to the rise and fall of body, the build of pleasure and imminent release. And then they released together, William’s sperm being sucked high by Angelus’s greedy body and Angelus’s shooting like a fountain and wildly wetting them both.
They collapsed with groans of pleasure that made them both laugh. Angelus wrapped his arms around William’s thin back, squishing his sperm between their unusually hot bodies. He could feel it tickling as it dried and this, as much as anything they had done, brought back the sense of wonder that had consumed him since that uncharacteristically romantic dash into the Duke’s bedroom. Tickling… on his skin… the corpse he inhabited…. He had never felt less like a cadaver and more like a man since he had actually been one. And his manhood had been a swiftly curtailed drunken stagger, which he did not care to remember. So this, this moment with William in the hay, was the best it had ever been. For this moment, his demon was quelled, all the striving ceased, and a sense of deep calm overtook him.
Of course, it could have been nothing more than a post-orgasmic male slump.
He grinned and licked gently into William’s sweaty neck, whispering, ‘You make me think too much.’
‘I shall mistake you wholly for a woman soon.’
Angelus took the bait, as had been intended and rolled them, pinning William down into the hay. If a vestige of anger remained by the time he’d rolled them, though, it dissipated on the bright delight of William’s laughter. Nevertheless, he went through the pretence of being furious: shaking William and banging his head on the floor of the loft, making the unstable platform wobble alarmingly. ‘I let you take me because it is your job to pleasure me and my privilege to lie back and be… pleasured.’
‘Is that so?’
‘I am the king of your tiny world, William; remember that.’
‘Even kings need consent to rule effectively.’ He paused just enough to have Angelus raise his eyebrows in suspense then added with a chuckle, ‘And you have mine, Sire. In full measure, for eternity.’
Angelus rolled his eyes and tried to look disgusted at the romantic, human sentiment, but he was secretly so pleased that one far less observant than William would have seen right through the act. He cuffed the laughing figure and commanded gruffly, ‘Sleep. The night will be upon us, and we will not have regained our strength.’
‘Are we really to die tonight?’
‘I have no intention of being destroyed by a French fairy.’
‘So… you have a plan?’
Angelus pulled William against him, slim back to his chest and grunted in reply. When William seemed about to question this non-committal response, he squeezed—hard. He had no idea what they were going to do and did not underestimate the seriousness of their plight. He’d been in such a predicament before, in a very similar barn. That time, however, he’d been betrayed by his lover. He fell asleep on the thought he’d been having for a few days now that, indeed, William was nothing like Darla at all.
He had an odd dream that disturbed him more on waking than most of his demonic nightmares. He was in a room filled with bright sunlight, but it did not burn him. The sense of longing he felt as he squinted into the sunshine disturbed him profoundly, for not missing sunlight was fundamental to his success as a demon. He was high up and vertigo—something he had never suffered from—made him nauseous as he looked down at things he did not understand. He closed his eyes, and then he heard William’s voice, but when he turned there was a stranger looking back at him with hate-filled eyes and disdain on his tongue. He woke in a sweat. ‘William?’
Angelus sat up and peered into the shadows that lurked at the far side of the barn then glanced out at the day. Half an hour from darkness. The sense of impending doom overtook the confusion of the dream, and he dropped lightly off the loft to join William.
His childe was stroking a bail of hay with something akin to fondness. Watching the elegant fingers over the smooth compactness of the straw made Angelus stir, and he came up behind the slim figure, wrapping his arms around him, feeling down to see if his was the only arousal. ‘What are you doing?’
William nestled happily into Angelus arms. ‘I’m rescuing us.’
William nodded. ‘I have a plan.’
‘You. You have a plan. With… straw?’
‘Hmm. Remember—I told you: I had a classical education.’
‘So the fuck what? I learnt Latin until I farted conjunctions—doesn’t help me with a plan.’
William eased out of his arms and indicated the large roll of tightly bound hay. ‘Help me.’ He began to push it toward the door. Angelus watched, not helping, until he was given a look and then condescended to push. ‘Now what? Whoa. Careful or it will roll….’ He began to laugh. ‘Ah…. So, we flatten our enemy with straw?’
‘Not quite.’ William was pouting, staring at a lamp, which was nailed to a post.
Angelus quickly saw the significance of this in relation to the straw, but he frowned. ‘No flint. We cannot light it.’
William turned his clear blue gaze upon Angelus and very slowly and very deliberately held his fist into a beam of sunlight that streaked in through the rotten planks of the barn. He began to smoke. He didn’t flinch but held Angelus’s gaze, as he had once before, when some promise had been made between them that neither had then understood. And as if the promise now revealed itself in this light, Angelus came forward and held his fist out, too. This time, however, he seized William’s and entwined their fingers. They exploded into flame at the same moment and quickly held their fists to the wick of the oil lamp. The intensely evocative and almost erotic moment was suddenly broken by genuine pain. ‘Jesus, fucking Mary!’ Angelus beat at their hands, laughing. ‘That’s it! No more romantic gestures, Will!’ He put his burnt fingers to his mouth then with a small, seductive smirk let them drop and took William’s fingers in instead. Around the hot flesh he said with glee, ‘Let’s do it…. Let’s send a little message to the Frenchie.’
Clearly enjoying the sucking of his fingers, running his hands urgently over the front of his britches, William shook his head. ‘Too early. This has to be timed just right.’
‘Why? We want them trapped there. In twenty minutes they will be riding up here for some fun with us.’
‘Exactly.’ William eased his fingers from Angelus’s mouth and replaced them with his lips. ‘What can we do to fill twenty minutes?’
Angelus took over the stroking of the very prominent length marring the tight front of William’s trousers. He squeezed it, felt its shape, hefted and weighed it, all the time kissing the eager lips with a matching delight. Ghosts of the dream returned to him, and he frowned, pulling away a little. ‘Will you always love me?’
‘You speak of love?’ William’s delight was as evident as his surprise.
Caught out, Angelus shrugged and replied wryly, ‘Aye, well. I use words you would understand. And you didn’t answer me.’
‘I don’t need to.’ He opened his mouth wide and pulled Angelus into a kiss almost frightening in its intensity. But something in that very intensity worried Angelus. He was only too aware how narrow the dividing line was between love and hate. He would not like to see such passionate intensity turned against him.
William pulled away. ‘It’s time.’
Angelus could not believe they had been lost to kissing for so long. William’s mouth swallowed time. He did not want to leave off the erection he was enjoying beneath the grubby linen. William, however, stepped back and lifted the lamp off the nail. He handed it reverently to Angelus. ‘For honour, Sire.’
Angelus huffed and plunged it deep into the bail. ‘I have no honour. I hope it burns them all the way to hell.’ With a flourish, he kicked the roll of hay out of the doors and into the fading sunlight. It rolled slowly down the hill initially, then rapidly gained momentum. Activity in the boathouse was evident and some shouting was heard. It was an incredibly accurate first salvo, and the ball of hay exploded against the frail wooden shack. Sparks and burning hay flew into the air, but the foreigners had been ready: they quickly doused the flames with water, which they had in ample supply in the river, which ran so swiftly behind them.
The activity increased. They were clearly preparing more defences. They needn’t have bothered; the next two flaming balls missed them entirely and went hissing into the river. They cheered and jeered up at the barn, shouting obscenities. It was now too dark to see detail from the top barn, which was the cue they had clearly been waiting for to leave their shelter. They lost no time in catching spooked horses and mounting them.
Another roll came tumbling down the field, but it didn’t even ignite, and they laughed, jeering as it crashed harmlessly into the wall of the boathouse. They spurred their mounts hard up the steep field and surrounded the barn.
There was no escape possible unless, unarmed and without horses, Angelus and William charged them and all their impressive martial power.
Obsessed with the barn, however, none of the demons was watching the boathouse, or the last roll of hay, which had mysteriously not ignited. Thus they missed furtive movements within it and two figures emerging from the depths. Only one of the demon soldiers turned his head when he saw something moving on the river, out of the corner of his eye. A large, impressive figure, which held aloof from the men, frowned, then shouted a warning, but by then it was too late: Angelus and William were being carried swiftly downstream in a rowing boat, and however mercilessly the duke spurred his army in pursuit, they could not follow the twists and turns of the deep, fast-flowing river.
Angelus stood in the boat, defying the occasional arrow, showing his pursuers his contempt, until he nearly tipped them both out. He was still laughing half an hour later as they rushed on through the night, caught in the swift currents heading inevitably for the sea.
They lay side by side, staring up at the vast dome of night. Angelus finally mastered his laughter and fell silent. Eventually, he said in a tone that belied he was a demon and the master of lies, ‘You are clever, Will. I’m… proud of you.’
William turned his head. ‘It’s not the way I had promised to make you proud on this journey.’
Angelus pursed his lips, oddly reluctant to get into this particular discussion. Nevertheless, he enquired deceptively casually, ‘Would you have gone through with it? Fuck the Frenchie?’
‘I’m not sure I had much choice at the end. He was powerful.’
‘But you wouldn’t have done it willingly.’
‘Is that a question?’
Angelus thought about this. ‘No. I’m telling you.’
‘All right then, no—I wouldn’t have done it willingly. How could I? My thoughts were all with you as they were from the beginning and will be until the end.’
Once more, the dream flashed into Angelus’s mind. He tucked William’s head into the crook of his arm. ‘I would have those thoughts always as they are now, Will. Don’t be my enemy.’
A sense of deep contentment stole over him, and he stroked William’s hair as they swayed along in the boat, chuckling occasionally at the remembrance of their escape.
When he heard only silence from his companion, he glanced over at the distinct profile and felt an odd stab of dismay to see William’s face creased with anxiety.
William shook his head then shrugged as if he was damned whatever he did and said uncharacteristically incoherently, ‘Is this… to you…? I mean…. For me it’s… but I know you can’t, or won’t…. Only, for me this is….’
He trailed off when Angelus’s finger came to rest on his lips. ‘It is for me exactly what it is for you, Will.’ He closed his eyes for a moment then opened them and said distinctly, ‘I turned you.’
William tilted his head back until he was staring at Angelus’s strong profile. ‘You mean, even then you thought…?’
Angelus shrugged, making the boat rock. ‘You don’t turn someone on a whim, Will. It can’t be a… mistake. That person is going to be your companion—for eternity.’
If he’d thought that this would please William, he was mistaken. The pale brow furrowed even more, and he turned his head away. Angelus sat up cautiously, waited for the boat to right, then turned the sad face back to him.
Suddenly, William blurted out, ‘What about Darla and Drusilla now?’
‘Aye, what about them?’
‘She turned you; you turned Dru. Are they companions for eternity also?’
‘Of course. We are a family.’
‘But will you…? With them?’
Angelus reared back. ‘What? You want some kind of exclusivity?’ He felt a familiar and welcome surge of genuine anger, perhaps fear, but then something else crept in, and alone on the dark river with only William and the stars for company, he was forced to examine this something. Darla’s charms… William’s charms. He grinned and began to unbutton William’s britches. ‘Maybe I’ll consider it. Maybe I’ll tell me darling Darla that I’ve found someone prettier than she.’
William closed his eyes with pleasure for a moment but then widened them theatrically. ‘But don’t tell her it’s me, will you? Christ on a cross, just imagine that scene….’ They both did, silent and thoughtful.
Angelus cuffed him. ‘Aye, I think I’ll leave that little detail out of me tale of lust and adventure, eh? I’ll tell her I don’t want her because I met a little blonde French floozy and she’s the light of me life!’
‘I think telling her you’d taken a vow of chastity would be more believable.’
‘Well, what will you tell our little Drusilla?’
William blushed. ‘I’m not sure she’d… notice. She gets me mixed up with Miss Edith sometimes.’
‘I had not realised Miss Edith was so… endowed.’ With that perfect cue, he released William from the confinement of his clothes. The tight erection stood eerily pale in the starlight. Angelus bent down and murmured with his lips pressed to it as if it were a sacrament, ‘Of course, you know the girls sometimes… pleasure each other.’
William’s expression was so funny Angelus nearly tipped them both into the river with his suppressed laughter. He could almost hear the cogs grinding in the agile brain. He eased up the supine figure and kissed him, slipping his tongue in. ‘They do this.’ The cock swelled noticeably in his fist. He laughed and kissed him wide-mouthed. ‘And this.’ William’s cock throbbed so hard his own cock responded in kind, and with a groan of discomfort, he released it until it stuck out over William’s abdomen, leaking drips of clear fluid upon him. ‘Shall I show you what else they do?’
William could only nod, stunned.
Angelus ripped the open britches off and wrenched William’s legs apart, diving onto his hole, flicking his tongue around it and sucking. He was watching William through lifted, amused eyes and liked the reaction he saw. ‘Did you not know these things, Will?’
Gripping the sides of the dangerously swaying boat as if he really was in danger from drowning, William replied in awe, ‘Have you…?’ He swallowed deeply then continued reverentially, ‘Have you actually seen them?’
Angelus chuckled into the saliva-slick hole. ‘Aye.’ He let William’s legs drop then came up and laid on his chest. After flicking one nipple to hardness, he began to suckle. ‘They’ll do this on each other’s swollen tits for hours. ‘Tis a wonder and a beautiful thing to watch.’
Suddenly, something hit his face with such velocity it stung. Then another shot hit his cheek and clung before dripping off. William began to moan and thrash trying to get a hand to his releasing cock. Angelus held his arms pinned, suddenly alarmed at the rock of the boat, but could not resist sucking the pebbled nipple as if drawing out the sperm. He desperately wanted to put his aching cock inside William but did not want to be tipped into a cold, fast-flowing river. Instead, he levered over the slim figure and began to dry hump him, rubbing his cock against the thin belly, feeling an orgasm hovering deliciously close.
William, however, appeared to have different ideas. He twisted onto his side, ignoring the rocking of the boat and stretched one leg high. ‘Please…. Do it…!’
Angelus only had to lunge forward with his hips and he was against the tight resistance. Last time, the smell of horses and the fear and stamp of hooves; this time, the rocking of the boat and the starlight and sense of being the only two beings in the entire world. He entered on a world of pleasure and desire that made them both cry out, their voices loud over the water like the death-moans of some exotic river nymphs. He thrust, but water sloshed over the side of the boat. He was forced to take long, slow strokes that drove them mad with demented need for more. It was like tickling across the tip of the penis: exquisite agony.
‘I need more.’
Angelus rolled onto his back and pulled William onto him, the agile figure squatting on his thick cock. But every time William seated hard enough for their desire, the boat rocked and took on more water. Finally, Angelus said, ‘Fuck this,’ and rolled them with furious movements until they tipped together into the rushing darkness. They separated and lost each other under the water. Neither of them could swim, but it didn’t really matter, as they couldn’t drown. They splashed and spluttered as uselessly as humans until they found themselves face down and shivering on the muddy banks, their perfectly good boat only a distant, bobbing speck.
‘You imbecile, Angelus!’
William had been tipped with his britches half-mast. Now he was naked from the waist down, his trousers heading out toward the sea. Angelus felt he ought to rise to the insult, but he was entranced by the sight of William’s cock poking out from under the tails of his shirt. It winked obscenely at him, red, wet and evilly inviting. He had it in his mouth, mud and all, before William could abuse him again. William’s skin was cold, even for him, and tasted of the river: musky and dank. He suckled hard, mainly from intense desire but also from hunger. The cock hardened as he sucked, growing in his mouth. William’s fingers entangled in his wet hair, pulling him on, demanding and hungry in their own way. And then William took over, leaning back slightly and fucking him hard—and Angelus let him. Angelus knew that William sensed his capitulation. Some balance in their relationship shifted, if only for this moment and if only in play. William tugged painfully on his hair as if it were reins and hissed, ‘You’re a moron, Angelus.’ He thrust into Angelus’s mouth and then stayed in deep, forcing Angelus’s face against him until he decided it was time to ease off. ‘It suits you: on your hands and knees to me. Suck me.’ He went deep once more, stroking Angelus’s cheek as if encouraging a child to swallow. Angelus tightened his throat muscles, as close to a swallow as he could manage, and William cried out, almost sobbing in pleasure.
And a sweet fluid, better than blood yet also feeding all his needs, squirted deep into his throat. He swallowed again and again, crawling forward on his knees in the mud until the last drops were taken. Even then he rolled the softening cock around in his mouth, licking and tasting the faint traces of William’s sperm that lingered under his foreskin. When he was done, he sighed deeply, paused for a moment then snatched William’s legs from under him. William fell heavily into the mud of the riverbank, his shirt up around his torso. Angelus leant over him and growled menacingly, ‘You were saying?’
William stared up at him for a moment then said with deceptive casualness, ‘Will it ever be better than this? Do we finally understand each other?’
Angelus sank slowly onto William’s chest and felt fingers in his hair once more—only this time, they were intensely loving and soothing. ‘I think we do.’ Allowing them a few moments more, he then rose and surveyed their surroundings. ‘We need to find food and clothes and be on our way.’
William pushed up on his elbows then sat and leant fondly against Angelus’s leg for a moment before standing. ‘We could keep going—like the boat.’ He stole a glance at Angelus’s expression. ‘If we did, we would arrive in the New World…. I have read that it is a place where we would find a… conducive environment. And not just for being blood feeders….’
Angelus did not comment directly on this suggestion that they run away together. Instead, he pursed his lips and asked, ‘What would you do now if you were the Frenchie?’
‘The Arch Duke?’
‘Aye. What would you do if it were you?’
William thought for a while then he looked across the river as if he could see the object of his thoughts. ‘Drusilla!’
‘Aye. If I had been humiliated as he, I would seek revenge. He knows where we are currently staying in London. He could be there, if he rode hard, in four days.’
‘We must go!’
Angelus glanced down at their bare feet and dishevelled clothes. ‘This has been an interesting journey, William.’
They jogged to the highest point they could see and quickly spotted a faint glow from habitation a few miles down the river. Dawn was not that far off, and its threat hastened their steps.
The light turned out to be from a lock keeper’s house. Angelus broke a window silently, but they were prevented from entering. Angelus began to curse, but William tugged at his sleeve and nodded toward a small hut to the back of the house. This time, Angelus heard it too: a sneeze. They went over the pulled open the door. A tiny, terrified child stared up at them from a rough, wooden commode. Angelus crouched down and said in his most engaging tone, ‘Hello.’
He might as well have changed into his demon form, such was the level of fear in the little one’s face. William crouched as well. ‘Are you scared?’
The boy nodded.
‘Do you want your daddy?’
‘Shall we take you to him?’
Inexorably, the child agreed to his death.
‘Then come.’ William held out his hand. ‘Invite us in and you will be with him forever.’
* * * * * *
They went swiftly through the house. There was little money, but what they could find they took. Upstairs, a man and woman lay deeply asleep with a baby in a crib beside them, and in another bedroom a small child lay asleep on a pallet, a warm empty space beside it that would never be filled again.
William indicated towards the bedroom with the adults, but when they returned to it, Angelus took only some britches that lay draped over the end of the bed and some boots. He mouthed against William’s ear. ‘Find a sack.’
William ran downstairs and emptied out a sack of coal and returned with it. Swiftly, Angelus gathered up the sleeping infant from the second bedroom and stuffed it in. As they fled the house, they gathered up its catatonic sibling for the sack and did not stop until they were some way down the river. William stopped first and grabbed his arm. ‘Why did we not feed?’
‘We do not have time to stop. This way we can feed when we lie up for the day.’ He lifted the sack, from which tiny whimpering noises were issuing. ‘Remember, Will, children are portable, and despite your theory about blood, theirs is stronger and better for us than that which is old. If we are careful, we can feed from these for the whole journey. Now, we must fly!’ With that, he threw William the britches, pulled on the boots himself and began to run.
William, still barefoot, struggled to keep up.
At the next house they came to, they stole horses and another pair of boots. Angelus tied the sack to his saddle horn, and they turned their horses south. As they negotiated the thick woods that seemed to dominate this country, William murmured, ‘Why do we not try the railway? They say it takes only one day to reach London from as far north as Manchester.’
‘I do not know where Manchester is.’
‘It’s sort of east of Liver….’
‘I meant that I do not know where we are, foolish childe. We would waste too much time trying to find our way to a station. Besides, I have heard that men are crushed at those speeds and cannot father children after journeying in such a manner.’
‘You cannot father children anyway.’
‘‘Tis so, but I do not want my testicles crushed.’
There was a pause, and then William added with a slight laugh, ‘Neither do I.’
They glanced at each other with pleased smiles, and William added lightly, ‘Things have changed a great deal, have they not?’
‘Aye. I wear ragged clothes and another man’s shoes.’
‘That is not what I meant. But you know that and dissemble only to provoke me.’
‘If I knew what that meant, I would probably deny it.’
William edged his horse closer to Angelus’s until their thighs brushed. ‘This life you have given me suddenly seems very good, Angelus.’
‘The prison I hold you in?’
William tipped back his head and laughed loudly. ‘I think I found a key and the lock it fits.’ He made a crude gesture with finger and clenched fist, and Angelus blushed.
‘You are still irritating, Childe. That has not changed. Come, there is a house of God. It will make a suitable lair for the day.’
Snug in the tower of the old church, they unpacked their food, and fed hungrily. Insensible from the near suffocation in the sack, the children were hot and limp, their blood flowing freely, and both vampires had to restrain themselves from going too far. William wiped his mouth with the back of his hand appreciatively, as Angelus carefully wrapped up the remains for the next day. ‘You were right: they are good.’
‘Take orphans in preference—if you can. They will never be missed. A decent orphanage is a rare treat in England these days, but I will take you to the continent, and there you will find them in abundance. The less humans value their own kind, the more we will prosper, William. The worst of times for them are the best of times for us—war is particularly to be desired.’
William toed the sack. ‘I do not think they will live through the day in there.’
Angelus’s face creased with a frown of concern then he sighed. ‘You are right. Eat up, and we will find fresh before we leave this parish.’
Finally sated and content but too exhausted to do more than sleep, they curled together and let consciousness slip away in the security of God’s house.
* * * * * * *
The rest of the trip was uneventful. They made good time and arrived in London five days after their unplanned boat trip. The house they had appropriated looked normal enough on the outside. Nevertheless, they waited until they saw one of the minions leaving on an errand and questioned him before entering.
Darla found their ragged appearance as amusing as the minion had. Angelus refrained from twisting her head off, however, and only said in a tone that booked no refusal, ‘Pack. We leave this place tonight.’
She sobered and issued suitable orders to the servants unquestioningly. Her demeanour, however, was anything but subservient, and she watched the two male vampires with carefully disguised interest. Drusilla was not at home, and Angelus waited for her to return from her hunt with ill-feigned anxiety, standing to one side of a large window in their chamber, holding the drapes to one side, alternately looking up and down the street then glancing at William. Under his breath, he said, ‘We should have agreed a story.’
William nodded and replied equally quietly, ‘I was thinking another duel, perhaps: a change in leadership?’
‘Then why did we run with our britches on fire?’
William suddenly brightened. ‘Tell her he liked me too much and was going to take me abroad and you had to rescue me and we…. All right. Not my best idea.’
‘We’ll tell her it was all a trick to lure us away from London. There she is!’ He swung away from the window on seeing Drusilla and picked up the last of their luggage. Darla had already left the room, going down to deflect Drusilla’s questions. With only a tiny glance around, Angelus dropped the bag and took William in his arms. He held him off for a moment as he looked at the now very familiar face then said in a rush, ‘Perhaps we should have headed to that new world of yours, just the two of us.’ They had spent five days in each other’s company, and he missed that perfect companionship more than he did the sex, which would now necessarily be curtailed.
William slid his hand seductively onto Angelus’s chest, as was his right now and murmured, ‘We could go now—down the back stairs, out into the night and away.’
But whatever Angelus’s reply might have been was lost, as he pulled sharply away and made to be tidying William’s hair. ‘There. Darla! Are ye ready?’
Darla nodded, her face giving nothing away. ‘Where are we going?’
‘I have a fancy for Windsor. I might get to see me a real queen! And it will be far enough away for us to be safe.’
‘What are you running from, Angelus? Or should I rephrase that to: You are running, Angelus?’
Angelus took her arm and began to lead her down the stairs. ‘They are an army, Darla. I’m not shamed to be running from an army.’
‘Shame. Now, there’s an interesting word.’ But her murmured comment was not listened to as Angelus bundled them all into the carriage and gave the driver the necessary instructions.
* * * * * * *
‘Come here.’ She held out her hand as she lay invitingly on the comfortable bed.
Angelus tried to walk very slowly, hoping desperately that his cock would rise before he reached the acres of petticoat and lace that awaited him. He wondered what William was doing with Dru, and that thought—William trying to make himself hard too—had some effect. He felt a twinge of interest, a spark of response and a slight thickening in his britches. He pictured William picturing him, and the response was immediate. By the time he reached the bed, therefore, he was fooling Darla, if not himself.
She lay back on one elbow and regarded him with a strangely concentrated look. ‘Tell me your adventures now, Darling. I’m agog to hear how you came to such an unfortunate end.’
He ran his hands up her stockinged calves lifting them slightly. ‘It’s a long and tedious tale, Darla. I am in the mood for something else.’ Unfortunately, just at that moment, he caught the faint smell of her, and it so differed from William’s musky maleness that what little erection he’d achieved subsided. He let her legs drop and crawled up beside her on the bed. ‘Christ on the cross, but I’m tired.’
Darla, however, wasn’t. She’d been without Angelus for almost a fortnight and wasn’t in the mood to take no for an answer. He smelt good and had a certain air about him that she found particularly pleasing. She began to rub his back, and he grunted his appreciation. ‘So, how did you find the deviant, Angelus? Did you feel threatened?’
Very unwilling to get into this conversation, Angelus neatly steered it back to domestic concerns for while then yawned and repeated that he was tired. Darla, however, was not one to give up that lightly. She rolled onto her back and said casually, ‘Did you like the new maid I procured for myself today?’
‘The only one you didn’t eat?’
‘She was too pretty to eat. Did you not think so?’
‘I didn’t notice.’ He had not. He’d seen her, but his eyes had glossed over her pouting blondness seeking William.
William had been carrying in the boxes, his shirttails hanging loose, his hair a mess. Carrying in the boxes but looking at him….
‘…do you not think?’
‘What? Sorry….’ His cock had stiffened once more, and he pressed it into the mattress thinking about that look.
The eyes had been filled with mischievous, private knowledge, and he’d ached to go over and kiss them closed.
‘You used to like pretty little maids when I first met you, Darling. Do you remember how you told me of that little hussy who toyed with you when you were still in short britches.’
He was so hard now remembering the fleeting glances and murmured words that had passed between them since leaving London that he was pained lying on his belly. He turned onto his back, folding his arms behind his head.
Perhaps William was lying in this way, too, exposing the dark tufts of hair so silky and so pleasant to nuzzle into.
‘She used to allow you glimpses, didn’t she?’ He realised with a jolt of shock that Darla had left the bed and was now pacing slowly around the room. He sat up, trying to feign interest. Suddenly, she bent as if picking something up from the floor and swished her skirts to one side, revealing bare thighs above stocking tops. She appeared to be wearing no undergarments. With a smirk, she came over to him and murmured in a strong Irish accent, ‘Oh, little sir, I think I’ve bruised my hip.’ She teased her skirts high, and Angelus caught a fleeting glimpse of pink fringed by blonde hair before she giggled and dropped the flounces. ‘Forgive me, Sir, your father would be so angry if he caught us.’ Angelus closed his eyes and pictured the scene—but being caught out with William.
He’d liked to have seen his father’s face as his cock slid into William’s arse. Better still, he’d like to see the expression if he’d been straddling William. He could feel it even now: that perfect shaft, sliding in, stretching him wide.
‘She let you feel her.’ She took his hand and slid it up to her moist lips, urging his fingers into her. He pushed them further back and began to fondle her tight arsehole.
Suddenly, he lurched off the bed and said wildly, ‘I need to secure the doors.’
‘Now? Do it later, Angelus!’
‘Do I have to explain me actions in me own damn house?’ He slammed the door, and Darla winced—the petulant outburst from the Irish lout she had found and turned in a stinking alley angering her more than the interrupted sex.
Angelus ran wildly down the stairs to the library, seeking the decanters of whisky. One of the owners of the house was sitting in a chair by the fire, but empty of blood, she didn’t play hostess as well as she might. Angelus’s hand shook as he poured himself a large drink.
He heard a sound in the doorway and straightened, expecting an irate Darla. Then he heard a quiet exclamation of pleasure. He smiled, his whole body ready for the first touch. William’s hand landed on his neck; his body pressed against him. ‘I need you.’
Angelus could not have put it better himself. He turned and let William see and feel the evidence of his need.
‘What are we going to do, Angelus?’
‘I don’t know, little one.’ He pulled William close and breathed deeply into his hair. ‘I would it were dark and we could go out into the night for some privacy.’
William glanced back at the door then pulled away and returned to it. Very deliberately, he turned the ornate key in the lock. Angelus was upon him before he could turn back. He pressed himself to the slim back and ran his hands up William’s spine, feeling every disc, flaring his strong fingers over the prominent shoulder blades. William felt hard and welcoming under his hands. He moved his hands lower and undid the laces of William’s britches until he could push them down. With little further ado, he found the tight arsehole that had been on his mind as he’d fled from Darla. Before he’d thought it through too much he fell to his knees and spread the pale cheeks. William hissed and arched his back slightly, pushing himself toward Angelus like a wanton offering. Angelus fell upon him, more like feeding than pleasuring, biting into the tempting flesh enough to bruise. It was a short step to licking. His tongue seemed to find its own way into the twitching indentation and, once there, it went wild: probing, pushing, tasting and wriggling along the slick walls. William was cursing and begging for more, so Angelus eased a finger in. Then, almost overwhelmed with need, he rose swiftly to his feet and released his cock as urgently as he had once done with another, more human need. He entered William with similar relief to a long piss, his whole body shuddering with dissipating tension. Slowly, he leant upon William, squashing him against the door. William’s neck was so warm and comforting; so lean and strong. He laid his head in the curve and murmured, ‘Does that feel good?’
William only nodded at first then said vehemently, ‘I am compete now.’
Angelus sighed at the passion in the tone—the lack of control the choice of words indicated—but he knew, if he examined his heart, this passion would only be a mirror of his own feelings. He began to toy with his cock in the warm depths of William’s body. ‘We cannot think like that, Will. Remember, we are demons, and this is just fucking. It cannot be what you, or I, want it to be.’
‘If it is just fucking, then why do you hide it from Darla? They fuck each other; why should not we do the same?’
Angelus kissed into the warm skin on William’s neck. ‘What I have with Darla is more than fucking. You know that. She is my sire. We have been all in all to each other for over a hundred years.’
William tensed and pulled his neck away from Angelus’s lips. ‘Why do you tell me this? When you are deep in my body?’
‘I tell you so you will understand that I cannot tell her. She would not accept it, and she would kill you. If we left, she would hunt us down.’
‘I’m not scared of Darla!’
‘You should be.’ He emphasised his words with a particularly hard series of thrusts, then eased right out, until his cock, freed, bounced high up to his belly. ‘I am fearful for you, Will. She has been my companion forever, still, I can imagine a time without her. Hell, if it came to it, we each would sacrifice the other to save our own skin; we both know this and understand it. But you….’ He tightened his grip around William, trying to put into words what he felt. ‘I feel complete with you, too, and if you were killed, something of me would be lost. If I were a fanciful man, I would say that you are my only soul now.’
William twisted his head around and stared into the hypnotic brown eyes. ‘I love you.’
Angelus shook his head. ‘Shhh. Don’t say it or think it. It’s not possible. It’s just….’ He pushed back in and whispered into the lean neck, ‘Fucking.’
William stared a while longer at the dark eyes, seemed to see what he was seeking in their private depths and nodded. ‘Yes.’
They continued their activity, which they called one thing and thought of as another, until both came. Silence an imperative, Angelus clamped his hand over William’s mouth and bit hard into the back of the smooth neck to stifle his own cries. They came, jerking and spilling, with only the dead observing.
Parting was impossible. William refused to return to Drusilla, and Angelus had no intention of subjecting his body to Darla’s powerful sense of smell. William declared he would stay in the library. For the first time in his life, Angelus seemed desirous of some learning himself, but he knew being found reading with William would only arouse Darla’s already heightened suspicions. Instead, he took himself off to the kitchens to torment and bully some of the servants. She always approved of that.
The days stretched long and frustrating before them. They only found relief at night when they could leave the women and hunt together. Their feeding rituals became intricately entwined with sex and the release of their bodies, each into the other, until they began to smell the same. After a week, Angelus was so full of William—his company, his sperm, his scent, the taste of his blood—that he became oblivious to the things he normally noted as a matter of course. Darla’s moods, for example….
She tried tempting him with delicious morsels that she acquired in some of the finest homes in Windsor, but nothing she brought home, however young or sweet, brought his attention back to her. She knew he had someone else. She also knew that William knew who this other woman was, for Angelus spent all his time with the idiot. She let it go for a few days. Windsor suited her, and she shopped and entertained herself in her usual style, quite content until the fifth day of their stay. Then, sated with blood from a particularly juicy kill, her thoughts turned south. She thought about Angelus and the ways he had—the ways she’d taught him—of pleasuring her.
She summoned him to her chamber, but the servant told her that the master was from home—that he had not returned from the night’s activities.
Darla felt a slight anxiety at this news. Thoughts of the flight from London flitted through her mind. Was it possible that Angelus had finally been bettered? Then she laughed at her own stupidity. One thing she knew for sure: Angelus was a survivor. It’s what he did best. Yet, he had that childe with him…. She didn’t understand William at all. She made no effort to. He didn’t interest her. But even she had noticed a distinct change in his manner since the return from the north. She could only assume that a stiff shaft in the arse had wrought some improvement in his demeanour. He was beginning to resemble Angelus, which could only be good for him.
Damn him, where was he? She peered from a corner of the window out to the main street, the vast walls of the castle providing sufficient shadow for her to remain for some moments scanning the area. He was probably laying up somewhere, waiting for the sun to go down, only William for company. She smiled; he would be more than ready for her when he returned.
Second best, she sought Drusilla out to while away the time her Angelus was away.
Dru was in the library, burning books. Darla watched her for a while, her thoughts more on Angelus than on this odd behaviour. Eventually, she roused herself enough to ask, ‘What are you doing, my dear?’
Drusilla toed a pile of books she had stacked ready and said with edgy tension, ‘They’ve been very naughty, Grandmother. I’m punishing them.’
‘Ah.’ She sat down by the fire and watched the rare editions smouldering, admiring the flicker of reflected flames upon gilt. ‘Did William say they would not be back today?’
Drusilla began to twist her hands nervously, and she tossed another two books on the fire.
‘Drusilla? Have you seen William?’
‘’E’s been naughty, too.’
Darla felt an intuitive prick of alarm at this, something in the coincidences beginning to form a pattern. Admiring herself for sounding so casual, she sat next to Drusilla on the hearth rug and asked, ‘In what way?’
Drusilla only tightened her already tight lips and shredded a book before burning it. For the first time, Darla realised that these were not books from the library, but William’s—from his box. She stilled Drusilla’s hand. ‘What has he done?’
Dru’s anger subsided, and she said forlornly, her hands fluttering in her lap with anxiety, ‘Little Willy’s dead.’
‘Dead! My God, Drusilla! How?’
‘Daddy took him away.’
‘Angelus killed William?’
Drusilla screamed. ‘Daddy’s killed William? Oh, God! Oh, God!’
‘Shut up! Sit down! Drusilla, try to summon your faculties from wherever they vacation and tell me what has happened.’
Drusilla began to rock and sob, hugging herself. ‘Little Willy won’t come out to play any more. I wrap ‘im in me best ribbons and stroke ‘im just like William likes, but e’s dead.’
Darla didn’t want to ask, but she did anyway. ‘And what does William’s erectile dysfunction have to do with Angelus?’
Drusilla looked up at the ceiling. ‘When William’s asleep, Willy whispers to me of Daddy. ‘E rises up then, hard and wet enough, but when I ask him to play with me he shakes ‘is fat plumb and says he only wants to play with Daddy.’
Darla shuddered for moment, but she wasn’t sure whether this was in response to the thought that Drusilla had private conversations with William’s cock or at what she now heard about Angelus.
Darla was many things, but she wasn’t stupid. Four hundred years and counting gave proof to this. She saw immediately how things lay between Angelus and his new childe. Fucking, she could have accepted. It did nothing for her—the thought of two men together—but if Angelus wanted William’s arse occasionally, she wouldn’t have denied him it. But that wasn’t what this was. Silence and secrecy—that’s what it was. Sneaking around behind her back—that’s what it was.
She knew beyond a doubt that they were now in some bedroom—together. Together! Fucking—but what did that matter? Lying entwined, talking, laughing… companions—that mattered.
Angelus was her companion—the one she had chosen and turned and created in the image she needed for her eternity.
‘I think we should punish Daddy; ‘e was greedy, wanting little Willy when ‘e has one of ‘is own to play with. Miss Edith was crying, but I poked her eyes out.’
Drusilla began to poke at the books as if they were eyes, too. ‘Nasty boys.’
Darla gave a little tinkling laugh. ‘My sweet darling. There is one thing you have to learn about men: they don’t have cocks; cocks are attached to men.’ She laughed again at Drusilla’s expression of incomprehension. ‘You see, our greatest obstacle to controlling them is also our one true method of restraint.’ She patted Drusilla’s thigh. ‘Never mind. Now, I want you to do something for me. Tonight, when William returns, you must take him hunting and do not let him return until the following night. Do you understand me? Repeat it.’
‘I take William out hunting and not let him return till tomorrow night.’
‘Can you do that for me?’
‘Of course, Grandmother. Are you going to throw a surprise party for him? I love surprises!’
‘Something like that, yes. Remember: not until tomorrow night.’ Darla rose and returned to her own chambers, satisfied that she was manipulating Drusilla just as successfully as she would Angelus when he eventually returned.
Neither wanted to enter the house, and they lingered in the twilight, standing too close to be anything other than what they now were. Eventually, however, Angelus nodded toward the substantial front door of the equally substantial house they had made their temporary home and said flatly, ‘They will be worried.’
He could see in William’s eyes that he cared little for this but could not be too harsh with him for what else he saw in those blue depths. He smiled and nudged him with his elbow. ‘Come on. My arse is too sore to go at it again anyway.’
William rolled his eyes. ‘You were tortured by the bloody inquisition!’
‘Aye, but their pokers were only…’ he made a suitable gesture between finger and thumb, ‘this thick. Yours is….’ He spread his arms wide until he had William laughing again, and with his arm around the smaller vampire’s neck, they entered the house.
Only Drusilla was in evidence. She was sitting at the piano in the drawing room, staring forlornly at the keys. She brightened when William came in and flew to him. He embraced her, keeping his gaze on Angelus as he did so. Angelus watched for a while, until he could stand it no longer, then ran up the stairs for his own dear welcome.
* * * * * * *
At first, Angelus thought that Darla was bleeding. Then his eyes became accustomed to the low light from the fire, and the scene revealed slowly before him. She was sitting on the ottoman at the foot of the bed, and draped across her lap was a man. A soldier. His scarlet jacket had been the blood in Angelus’s mind. He was altogether quite colourful, for his trousers, which were half-mast around his legs, were blue, and in between—where his jacked ended and his trousers began—his backside was bright pink. Darla’s spanking was contributing to this last colour, as possibly to the pasty-white sheen on his face, although that may have been due as much to the two vivid bite marks on his neck.
‘What the fuck are you…?’ He trailed off—not because he got that this was a totally nugatory question, given he could see very well what she was doing. He stopped because at each slap given to the tight bottom, Darla spread the cheeks a little further apart. Angel’s heart nearly kicked to life once more. He blinked and came closer, quite aware he was staring but quite unable to stop. The man’s cleft was smooth and pale, shiny with a similar sheen of sweat to his forehead, but his arsehole was densely hairy, guarded by a forest of silky black hair. Angelus heard the blood leave his head like plumbing in a new-fangled system and felt faint as if from starvation. His new obsession had suddenly and instantly merged with his old one, and in his mind the man’s arse looked liked a tiny, tight, hairy pussy. He could not take his eyes off it, as glimpses were presented to him at every stroke of Darla’s hand, and Darla, completely unaware of the affect she was having, continued to slap and spread…. She began to tell him the story of the soldier and lay off the spanking for a moment. But as she talked—oh, God!—she idly stroked and fingered the silky hair, twisting it around and curling it as one might a baby’s lock.
Angelus wondered if he was having a brain seizure. First his heart, then the blood leaving his brain, now his legs felt weak. Suddenly, every other part of his body shut down—except his eyes, which could not leave that hairy arse.
He tore his eyes away and dragged them to Darla’s face, but there was no cognition. ‘Take him!’ She levered the limp body from her lap and pushed him at Angelus. ‘I need to speak with the maid for a moment.’ As she exited the room, she glanced back and said impatiently, ‘You can drop him now! He’s nearly dead anyway.’
Angelus didn’t drop him. And he wasn’t dead—he was moaning faintly, but whether from the loss of blood or from an intuitive knowledge that he had finally met an enemy he could not defeat, the soldier hung passively in Angelus’s arms.
The fire crackled.
The clock on the mantel ticked gently.
He heard no voice telling him not to—inner or otherwise—so Angelus laid the dying soldier over the rail at the end of the bed and parted him with shaking hands. He had the startling realisation then that not only did every neck in the world belong to him, if he so chose, every arse now did too. This silky darkness was the arsehole of the world. All the times he’d been shunned or laughed at by men who thought themselves better than him; every soldier in scarlet who had come to his country with a fancy accent and a sword—now they were his for the taking…. They were all arseholes. He was better than them all.
It was so tight inside the soldier that Angelus cried out, the sound raising a faint grunt from the man wrapped painfully over the iron rail. He thrust hard, careless of splitting or bleeding. He was better than them all. He hissed it, a mantra, as he speared the helpless soldier. ‘Better than… better than….’
* * * * * *
As good as her word, Drusilla took a very reluctant William out hunting. She played on his guilt at leaving her so unattended for the week and made him take her to the dolls’ shop on the high street. He broke in and then hopped up onto the counter as she went around the shop asking the dolls which wanted to come home with her and ripping the heads of those that said they did not. After a while, William appeared to get bored, for he jumped down and murmured something about needing to tell Angelus something. Drusilla handed him a headless doll and said innocently, ‘Oh, you mustn’t go home yet, William. Grandmother said you must not.’
William dropped the mutilated doll. ‘Darla said I must not return?’
Drusilla’s eyes widened. ‘Oh, the moon is cross! Someone told you. They’ll have to be punished.’ She hugged herself, fear in her eyes. ‘Naughty rabbit.’
William flew out of the shop and up the cobbled street, ignoring the stares from the occasional soldier or whore out at that hour.
They were discovered! Somehow, Darla had found them out. She was torturing Angelus! Angelus needed him! A darkness came into his heart at the thought of losing Angelus.
This, however, was nothing to the eclipse of all the light in his life when he stood on the threshold of the bedroom. And it wasn’t so much the fucking, although this was bad enough, but for every thrust into the warm human, Angelus said, ‘Better than… better than….’
* * * * * * *
Angelus turned his head when he sensed the figure in the doorway.
He was a demon; he was profoundly dead, but he died a little more when he saw William. He explained; he said everything that needed to be said—but out loud he said nothing, for there was nothing he could say.
And he could not catch William, for William had only to turn and run. He had to pull out of the bloody, greasy hole and fasten his britches before he could follow.
Once more, Angelus tracked his childe, and he could not but notice how things had changed in only a few weeks. Then he had tracked as a sire, seeking and demanding obedience. Now he tracked as a desperate man, seeking something he knew he had already lost.
Because he knew William.
Fuck it, he should know William: they had become so close he sometimes heard William’s thoughts.
William was as easy to track as he had been on the flight to Dover. A similar trail of corpses led Angelus to him, but something in the degradation of these cadavers disturbed even his equanimity with death. They’d been stripped of their humanity: tortured, displayed obscenely, and sometimes not killed but left to slow, agonising deaths. Angelus would find them half alive, clinging vainly to some shred of hope that death would still come quickly at the end. He disabused them of this hope, leaving them alive, impaled and in agony. He had no pity for them—his fear and unease was for William alone. Such acts were unlike the man he had come to know over the past fortnight, and Angelus did not want to face the mounting evidence of just how much William had been hurt by his betrayal.
He eventually tracked him to Bath—a city familiar to William as a man. He’d even taken lodgings, as if a pleasant season with his mother was about to begin.
Angelus watched the lodgings all night, but when the dawn came he was forced to take refuge in the sewers below the street. When night came again, he was in position, watching.
William emerged early on and began to walk along the street in the direction of the Pump Rooms. Angelus followed him. He did not fear to be sensed, for William was apparently too preoccupied to notice anything around him much and, once or twice, came near to being run down by carriages.
He walked past the Pump Rooms and carried on toward a part of the city Angelus knew only by reputation. When he fed, he preferred a better class of human. William was accosted by whores and urchins, but he still seemed not to notice them, hands thrust into pockets and head hung down.
He turned into a dilapidated house on a large unkempt plot and pushed his way in between the broken shutters.
After a suitable time, Angelus followed. As soon as he entered the house, he smelt the blood: some fresh and some horribly stale. He also heard what he suspected was the source of some of the fresher smell: pitiful moaning.
He jogged up the stairs, following the sound until he reached the attic.
William was leaning to one side of a window, staring forlornly at the garden. He started when Angelus came in, and his whole demeanour changed, as might a man’s striding out on stage. His face brightened unnaturally. He pushed off the wall. ‘Angelus! Where ya been? I’ve missed you.’
This was not the reception that Angelus had expected. He hesitated but came forward. William grabbed his shoulders and kissed him, hard and fast with lips that were as inviting as marble. Then he punched him familiarly in the shoulder. ‘Like me new invention?’
Angelus turned to the source of the moaning. A man was standing on tiptoe in the shadows of the attic, an old rag stuffed unceremoniously in his mouth. He wasn’t bound, per se, but he couldn’t move for he was impaled. A large spike of wood, which had been fixed to the floor, entered his body like an obscene muscle-wasted third leg. William pulled Angelus closer. ‘See?’ He giggled. ‘End’s as sharp as a toothpick. If his legs get tired….’ Angelus stared at the man’s face and did not think he had ever seen a more ingenious or simple torture device. Some escape from the horrible predicament had obviously been attempted—the source of the smell of dried blood. An ashen face stared back at him—sickly sweat on trembling features. He was young, and despite fearful tremors, his legs still held him. Angelus knew they would not for much longer.
He wasn’t all that interested and pulled William away to the other side of the attic where they could have some privacy. ‘What you saw, Will, wasn’t….’
‘It’s Spike now.’
‘Spike. William’s dead.’ If there was a brief change of hue in the deep blue of William’s eyes, then Angelus was too slow or too ill-prepared to catch its meaning before it disappeared. He caught William’s jaw instead and held it still, turning it to the faint moonlight that streaked in through the window. He studied the expression, the eyes, the turn of the lip—all of which he knew very well.
William stared back at him, his eyes as empty and as dead as any common minion. Whatever had been inside the body that had been different, which had led Angelus on this unexpected path, was gone. Will, his lover, was gone.
Angelus felt a huge surge of emotion and named it relief. He had been lost in a place of human emotion and weakness. What had he been thinking? Perhaps he’d had the demon equivalent to a midlife crisis. He was over it now. William didn’t exist any more, and he could return to the demon excesses that he so enjoyed.
He clapped William on the back then, because he could, and because it would amuse him, he went over to the man and kicked his legs away.
They both howled with laughter at his short, agonised scream and useless wriggling. Then they fed together before he finally expired.
It was the perfect moment—Angelus kept saying this in his head to make it so.
When he’d finished, he wiped his mouth and felt a sudden urge to be relieved. He caught hold of William’s sleeve and pulled him close. ‘It was just fucking, Will; I told ye….’
‘All right. Spike then. I feel like trying out this new spike….’
Once more, the light in William’s eyes altered fractionally, but he turned away before Angelus could assign this a cause. He turned back and eased his arm out of Angelus’s hold. ‘I fancy a nice juicy whore tonight. Let’s choose one together and give ‘er the shag of ‘er life. No… better still, let’s find some pretty little honourable miss and ruffle ‘er lace, eh?’
Without a backward glance, he sauntered to the stairs and disappeared from sight.
Angelus caught him up on the street. ‘Do ye not even bother to hide yer victims, Will?’
‘Spike. And why? Ain’t like he’s gonna tittle-tattle on me, is it? ‘Sides, I want someone to find ‘im. My name’s gonna strike fear in hearts across Europe.’
Angelus couldn’t resist and asked bitchily, ‘And the New World?’
William’s shoulders tightened briefly, but Angelus could not be sure this was due to a remembrance of another time and another place, when those words had been a code for a better place. ‘Nah. Bunch of bloody poofs and wankers, I hear.’
Angelus caught his arm, swinging him around. ‘Stop it. I’ve got the message that you’re pissed with me, Will….’
‘You can stop the play-acting now.’ He cupped his hands to the back of William’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
William pulled back, far harder, and Angelus staggered a little. ‘Will you stop! You bloody ponce! Jesus, Mate, get a woman!’
‘Stop it!’ He seized William’s arms, not playing any more. He was fucked if he’d go along with this any longer. Now he was over the shock, he wasn’t relieved—far from it! He wanted Will back! ‘What’s with this Mate stuff? Drop the fucking game, Will.’
‘It’s Spike! Fuck you, Angelus! It’s Spike. S-P-I-K-E!’
‘Fucking Spike then! This is about the soldier. That’s all it’s about. You’re punishing me by pretending to be this…’ he waved his hand dismissively, ‘Spike.’
William’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped back. ‘You think I’m…. What? Pretending!’ He shook his head as if awed by Angelus’s arrogance. ‘If I was doing that, it would imply a level of hurt so deep that I’d had to shut down completely—to protect myself. And, Angelus, we’re only demons… how could a simple demon feel that deeply? That’s just bloody daft.’ He grinned infectiously and punched Angelus on the arm. ‘Now, stop being a total girl and come find some nice little shag with me….’ He plunged his hands in his pockets and strolled away, whistling softly.
* * * * * * *
As Angelus had never known how to describe William’s uniqueness, or to name the effect it had had on him, he did not know how to cope with its absence. He only knew that this was not his Will, this Spike, who was a creature of angles and plains: surfaces your gaze slid off without penetrating. If William was acting, then it was a command performance, for after that first conversation, he never wavered or let slip the slightest hint that he was cognisant of any change. Neither Darla nor Drusilla noticed anything other than an excessive blood lust, an inventive taste for torture and the dumb name. The first two they enjoyed, the last they ignored, continuing to call him William. Angelus deliberately called him Spike, as if somewhere in his own mind, this labelled the change—told William that he knew it was just an act and that he was onto him. He occasionally saw a flicker of something cross Spike’s face when he used his chosen name, but it was gone too quickly to seize upon. Besides, if William was pretending to be Spike, then Angelus could pretend, too: he pretended to be the Angelus that was relieved at not loving William. It was complicated, but as they had endless hours to fill and eternity waiting for them, they had time to play games until the rules were perfected and a hand rarely dealt that challenged either’s determination to win.
Angelus watched his childe grow in wickedness. He even heard of his exploits from others as if hearing malign fairy tales. Spike. William the Bloody. The names interchanged, but the person remained the same. The dead blankness in the eyes had been replaced with a manic sense of fun. It occurred to Angelus that the pretence of being hollow, given William’s excess of personality, had proved too much for him, so he had switched to some other act—one that was easier to maintain. Then his demon would roar with fury, telling him that he was thinking too much about William again, and he would try to force his thoughts back to Darla or Drusilla or anything other than the maddening man he shared his life with.
For they did still share their lives. They travelled as a family and lived their own particular lives as a family. They shared nothing more than houses and hunting grounds, however, for William seemed to make very sure that nothing—not even spit or sweat—from his body ever touched any part of Angelus’s. But it was nothing Angelus could call him on, as anything more belonged to the William time—a time he was pretending not to remember or miss.
His body ached with need for William’s touch, but even that, over time, faded. It was replaced with a dull dissatisfaction with all sex. He found it hard to get excited, his cock rarely a compass to anything, particularly Darla.
Occasionally, they would be forced into more intimate proximity than either wished. More than once, Angelus returned from an outing with Darla to find Dru with William, engaged in activities that Darla wanted to join. He thought he could see as much reluctance to have them join the fun in William’s eyes as he knew was in his own, but he did not refuse. That would have said more than he wished to say.
When the girls were done with their pleasures, they would fall asleep, leaving Angelus and William in the bed ignoring each other. But occasionally, Angelus would wake to find William’s clear blue eyes regarding him with great concentration. They were uncomfortable moments, when Angelus felt all his pretensions crumbling to naught, when he could have wept for the need to embrace William and tell him how he still felt. But there wasn’t just a concentrated stare directed at him: there was cold ferocity in the look, which Angelus felt sure William was unable to mask as well in these circumstances as he did in others. He couldn’t say anything in the face of that implacable hatred, and although he called himself a coward, he stayed silent.
When it pleased William to release Angelus from his glare, he would turn away, and Angelus was left to stare at the back of the blond head and wonder why, if he had no soul, he could feel so miserable.
It wasn’t just cowardice that kept him silent, although the second reason was no easier to accept. At the bottom of Angelus’s inability to speak of his love to William was a very real fear that the situation was exactly as William had presented it. It now seemed to Angelus, some weeks from the incident with the soldier, that William was right: how could anyone be so hurt by such a minor betrayal as to continue such amazing deception—it just wasn’t credible. William would have capitulated, slipped up, revealed himself long before now if this was an act. No one—no demon—could be so entirely led by his heart as to react so to something so meaningless in this way.
Thus Angelus reasoned.
Sometimes, in dark moments of the night, when even eating had lost its allure, he wondered which would end first: his wanting of William, or William’s great pretence.
So, he went on calling him Spike, but every time he did, the name snagged his heart with a painful reminder of what he had lost, and in there—in the still human chambers of his heart—he thought William every time that hated name passed his lips.
The End. Feedback always most welcome to: jenny
continues in “Dweller in the Land of Death”