It's been a tease for days, the costumes, the open top button on James's shirts, the sweaters. Michael can smell James's blood when they're close; James apologized for that, early on, but it didn't help.
"I, ah--oh, God, this is awkward, and I don't mean to treat you like you can't keep your fangs off people just because they happen to be donors, but--"
"Please tell me there's a point, and you're nearing it," Michael said, dropping to one knee and retying a shoe that was not, in fact, untied.
"Right! The point. Well, the point is, I'm in a high-blood cycle, and my regular and I--well, we parted ways recently, so I'm going to be a bit--that is to say, I'm going to--well, you know what it's like, right? When a donor isn't..." James gestured at his throat; Michael, who had already been trying very hard not to look, gave it a cursory glance and then looked away. "Bleeding," James finished softly. "I just wanted to apologize if I'm making things difficult for you."
"It isn't difficult," Michael said. "It's a job." He clapped James on the arm as he headed off, and James exhaled softly, watching him go--Michael could feel James's eyes on him until he was around the corner and out of sight.
It was a lie, of course. It's been difficult. It's been very, very difficult. James smells, sometimes, like beer, and sometimes like aftershave, and sometimes like sweat, but always, always, underneath the other smells, he smells like blood. Hot. Metallic. Coppery. Michael's always associated the smell of blood with lust and sin and the decadent feel of sitting down to a really excellent meal, and he's sure James would be one of the better things he's tasted in years. Michael wonders if he has a smoky taste, if the hot shock of James's blood on his tongue would be rough or smooth, if James gives up all his flavors in the initial burst from the bite or if it takes drinking for a while to find out all his secrets. He wonders if James's blood feels thick or silky or harsh on the tongue.
But he manages to keep his fangs to himself, and he's proud of himself for that. For the most part, until they put everyone in those goddamned black-and-yellow jumpsuits, it isn't even killing him.
The jumpsuits are hell. James can't wear his zipped all the way up; Christ, no, that would be too easy. The zipper hangs open just enough to make Michael want to jerk at it, push the leather collar aside and sink his teeth in. If James is in a high-blood cycle, it won't even bruise, not really; Michael can bite and drink and James will be all healed up in a matter of hours.
"Michael? Oi--Fassbender. Get over here."
He shakes his head, tries to get his thoughts off James's blood and onto the upcoming scene. He's got more motions than lines, more physicality and timing than words. He's fairly sure he'll remember his lines when they come up, but if James needs rehearsal time, there's--
--there's no one here, is what there is; James has managed to drag him into an empty corner, where no one's here to see anything.
"If I'm wrong, pop me one. I'll back off." James raises his eyebrows, and Michael swallows convulsively and nods--in close quarters like this, he can smell everything. Leather, sweat, makeup, hair gel, blood--oh, God, blood. He can hear James's heartbeat, and not just the thudding rhythm of the heart itself but the beat and pulse of James's blood moving through his veins. The soft flowing rush of it beneath his skin.
James lets his zipper down and tugs his collar aside, and Michael sinks his fangs into his own lower lip, trying not to pounce.
"Come on," James says softly. "You think Erik would've held back, if he'd been a V and Charles had been a donor? Or do you think there would've been blood in the water, that first night?"
Michael is so fucked.
He lunges forward and grabs James, shoving him back against the wall. James grins, and he tilts his head to the side, letting Michael press his face to James's neck and take a long, deep breath. There's smoke and cigarettes and candy, a little bit of licorice, a hint of oak or maybe cedar. Michael opens his mouth, drags his teeth along James's skin, moves back and forth as he waits for James's heartbeat to settle down. Waiting isn't easy, but now that Michael's got his mouth on James, he can bear it a little better. He leaves kisses across James's neck, breathes out softly against his throat. James's blood is so close he can taste it, and Michael's so desperate his cock's aching, his balls drawn up tight, his whole body needing to drink or fuck or both.
He shoves his hips against James's, and James moans, rubbing up shamelessly. He's hard, too, and he swallows, his throat working under Michael's lips.
There. Michael sinks his teeth in, breaks skin, feels James's blood rushing over his mouth, coating his fangs and the rest of his teeth and his tongue, too. It's almost more than he can drink--he can feel a trail of it running down his chin--but he swallows, laps at the blood and swallows more, and his eyes close as he sinks into James's taste.
Smoky, dark, a lot of spice... the taste is rich, velvet-soft and somehow deeper than most of the donors Michael's tasted over the years. It never occured to him to ask how old James was, because James looks about thirty and acts about seventeen, unless it's time to get serious about the job. But the only donors Michael's tasted who have been anything like this are the ones who are over a hundred years old, ones who've been donating to Vs for decades.
He swallows down a mouthful of blood and keeps drinking, both his hands coming up to pin James's arms to the wall. James is whispering at him, yes yes yes, and Michael groans in relief before licking another trail of blood off James's neck and taking his next mouthful of warm, flowing blood.
He can taste more with every swallow, every lick. This time, he gets the latte James drank this afternoon and the hot zip of caffeine under it. He can taste the leather, from the way it's rubbing up all over James's body, and the multivitamins James takes, and--God, yes--lust, desire, wanting. He can taste James's arousal, the hazy-textured flavor of need.
With no small amount of reluctance, Michael licks James's neck clean and draws back. He drags the back of his hand across his mouth and licks the blood off his hand and his fingers.
James is mostly dazed, but he takes a few deep breaths and then looks up at Michael, confusion all over his face. "You stopped."
That's stating the obvious; Michael licks his thumb and wipes a spot of blood off his chin, sucking it off the tip of his thumb afterwards. "Yes... well. I--"
"You didn't have to. That was nothing. Four ounces, maybe. I'll have that back in fifteen minutes."
Michael closes his eyes, trying very hard not to think about it. "You'll need some water."
"Well, yes, but--I just thought--" James reaches out and catches Michael's wrist in his hand. "It wasn't good?"
"It was good," Michael says. "But it was stop now or fuck you in the corner, and I don't trust myself not to wreck both our costumes if I do that."
James grins, ear-to-ear. "I wouldn't mind, myself, but you're right, we'd catch hell. So... later?"
"Later." Michael can hear someone calling out for them; they've been gone long enough. "As soon as we can manage."
"You're on." James slaps Michael on the arm, and he heads back onto the set. Michael gives him a few minutes, and then he follows, licking his lips. He'll have the leftover taste of James on his tongue for the rest of the day, the velvet feel of James's blood in his mouth for hours yet. The evening really can't come quickly enough.