"Ennis, what do you dream about at night?" Czeslaw assumed that even if she had not dreamt while under Szilard's control, she could dream while linked with Firo (at least he would let her).
"Hmm. Now that you ask me, I find it difficult to describe. Various things, I suppose."
"I dreamt about taking a walk in Central Park with you, Ennis," Firo piped up (butted in, Czeslaw thought), "It made me think that it would be an absolutely lovely thing to do today! It would be better than in the dream, of course, because the sky will be blue, not pink, and I doubt that the park will be taken over by three-foot slugs Luck expects me to exterminate."
"You dreamed all of that? Perhaps at some point in the future my dreams will also be that involved. ...And freewheeling."
"It might just be Firo," Czeslaw suggested a bit wryly. He did not fail to notice that, while his one hand gripped his coffee cup, Firo's other hand slipped around the back of Ennis' chair to rest just behind her shoulder.
"Well, you're the one bringing up dreams in the first place, Czes. What kind of dreams do you have? Why do you want to talk about them? Wait," Firo's face toughened as he remembered something he had seen before the move here while they were still living together at Maiza's place. "You're not still having those nightmares, are you?"
"Th-that's... That is, it's not something for you to worry about, even if I am. They're just dreams." Czeslaw wasn't sure he had handled that as well as he could have, but he didn't feel comfortable enough with Firo at this point to have that kind of conversation with him. He hadn't been immortal very long. ...That he had Szilard inside him, and with Szilard all the others that cruel and crafty man had devoured, did not do much to ease their opportunity at friendship either.
"...Uh, if you ever do feel like talking about it, I'm definitely willing." Firo shrugged. "...Now I'm sort of hoping that I didn't come with a negative recommendation."
"From Maiza?" Despite his misgivings, this comment caused Czeslaw to crack a smile. "You don't have any reason to think he's saying anything less-than-complimentary about you. You're practically a younger brother to him." Czeslaw hopped down from his seat and pushed the chair into the table, ready to leave. "You two enjoy your walk through Central Park. Right now I think I'd prefer to be alone."
"Czeslaw often prefers to be alone, doesn't he?" Ennis observed.
"He's still getting the hang of being around us. Don't take it personally."
Firo had been right about the dreams he was having, although Czeslaw wasn't even sure anymore that he would rightly dub them nightmares- they were frightening, certainly, but he couldn't claim that there wasn't something about them that appealed to him. To a greater or lesser degree, he was in control of his dreams, wasn't he? Of what he did in his dreams? If that was the case, some dark part of himself was to blame for resuming playing out these shocking fantasies over and over.
He summoned Fermet himself, he was beginning to feel sure of it (though if the man were alive, Czeslaw would swear he was inserting himself into his student's dreams all through his own horrifying power- it was hardly something he would put past Fermet). ...But was that desire his desire, or was it the desire of Fermet that had been absorbed into him? The murkiness of the divisions within his mind was bothersome. ...perhaps someday...someday he could ask Firo what it was like for him... But not yet, not today.
For now he would revel in the horror of his bloody dreams (and ignore the question of who exactly was enjoying them) and only hope that he did not trouble the rest of the household by waking up screaming.
"I'm here, Czeslaw."
"I've missed you."
"Don't let yourself be pained by such worries. I will always return. I am always ready for another day with you; another experiment or two."
It didn't seem anything but real- Fermet's luxurious hair falling down to stroke Czeslaw's cheeks as he leaned over his young student, pressing him back against the bookcase. The flush and flow of blood as Fermet plied his roughest kisses, biting and drawing blood that hastened back to its source (Had Fermet ever really kissed him? Why couldn't he remember?).
Sometimes Czeslaw dreamt of blood that didn't flow backwards (he had rarely seen his own back in those days; had never suffered anything more serious than scrapes). Sometimes he dreamt of blood that never stopped, an endless rush of his immortal life pouring out onto the ground. Sometimes when he was cut he didn't bleed at all.
The pain he felt in the dream seemed real enough, though there had to be something different about it, otherwise why did he find himself all but clamoring for more?
When it was too much, he would awake, wouldn't he?
The spines of the well-used alchemical texts were digging into his lower back. Fermet pulled away a little, scanning the room for whatever tools of torture he might be inclined to ply this time. "F-Fermet, don't stop," Czeslaw begged awkwardly, "T-touch me."
"Oh, but I will," Fermet grinned. He was always smiling, and he usually grinned. His teeth were practically luminous. "Though I'll be doing it according to my schedule, not yours."
And he did not stray from his promise. Tied down to the bed, lying on his stomach, Czeslaw had managed to make some small detours to the land of sleep with his face pressed into the pillow (Sleep? Wasn't he sleeping already? Was this or wasn't this a dream?).
He awoke to the chill of Fermet's hands and the warmth of his breath and was quickly overwhelmed by all that followed. He didn't breathe; he didn't need to. Fermet's determined pace turned overwhelming; caresses turned to blades and hammers; the world went blinded black, overlaid with scorching sears of white-hot pain. He wasn't just holding his breath anymore. He couldn't breath. He couldn't scream. His tattered heart beat (frightened, aroused, flushed with love) beneath Fermet's hands.
He awoke next, sweat sticking his bangs to his forehead and his sleeping clothes to his body, to Firo's grin and Ennis' silent warmth, smiling only through her eyes. "How about some breakfast in bed?" asked Firo, holding up a tray.
They didn't know what he'd been dreaming, did they? They couldn't tell... Czeslaw hesitated.
"Surprise?" Ennis chimed in belatedly.