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Heartkiller

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“Arthur. Arthur. Arthur.

A very familiar voice was rousing him from slumber. He had slept, deeply, dreamlessly, and waking up was like wading through honey.

Arthur, wake up, Arthur. S’il te plait. Do you know what time it is, mon amour?” It was the way that Francis rasped his Rs as opposed to rolling them, it made something twist a little in Arthur’s stomach.

“You’re whining. I don’t want to wake up, leave me be.” He was more than semi-lucid, but he refused to open his eyes. He turned on his back and threw an arm over his eyes as a form of protest. Whatever Francis wanted, he wasn’t about to get it from Arthur.

The only thing Arthur wanted to do was sleep. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to sleep, forever. Burrow under the blankets and never get out from under there. Francis, however, seemed to have another sort of plan and he wasn’t content with letting Arthur rest. It was the only explanation, because a second later Francis grabbed Arthur’s wrist and pulled his arm away from his face.

“Arthur, please. This is important.” And his voice was serious and compelling, and it made Arthur groan, because it wasn’t fair, it  wasn’t fair to use that voice so early in the morning. Nonetheless, he tried blinking away his sleep and focus on something that wasn’t the sweet promises whispered by his pillow.

Arthur yawned and he started rubbing his eyes. He ventured to look at Francis, saw him sitting on the bed, dressed in these fancy silk pajamas that probably cost a small fortune just to sleep in. They were deep blue and made his eyes look brighter. The sight of Francis smiling and looking warm and pink cheeked and sleep rumbled made Arthur’s chest seize painfully, uncomfortable and unable to name the why.

“Right.” He cleared his throat, suddenly aware of all the ways in which his clothes were sticking to his body, how the blankets weighted on him, how the mattress molded to his back, “What’s so important?” He sat up, not wanting to feel even more vulnerable than he was.

Can you be more vulnerable that when you’re sleeping with someone in the same bed?

There was a ring on Arthur’s finger that had no business being there and when he noticed it, he stared at it. For a second the world tipped of its axis, but he didn’t even have time to process it all before Francis grabbed his hand and started pulling him out of bed, towards the door.

“We need to go, come on. I want to see it.”

Francis had the same level of excitement that was usually reserved for kids before Christmas – he looked happy and young and he held Arthur’s hand and he was warm. That made something tick in Arthur head, but then he was too busy getting rushed out of the bedroom and down the stairs. Through the house.

The house.

The house that Arthur knew, because it felt so familiar, but bigger somehow, just a little bit bigger.

Emptier?

He didn’t have time to mule it over.

Francis threw open the door and ran outside in the garden. The sky was just starting to turn pink and violet, the first rays of sunrise shining over the horizon

“Arthur, come here, come here.” Francis urged him, called out to him. “Come to me.”

But Arthur didn’t hear him, Arthur didn’t want to go to him, he was too busy staring at the blooming red roses that lined the garden. They were so beautiful, they were the kind of roses you bought at a florist, offered them to a new lover to charm them. They weren’t the kind of roses that grew in someone’s garden.

It made Arthur step outside and walk towards the flowers, hand moving on its own accord, running his finger over the petals, bending forward slightly to take a better look at them. Rose bushes, beautiful rose bushes, and all of them were perfect.

Arthur’s late mother had been a traditional middle class English housewife – she kept the house spotless, the silverware polished, ironed shirts and took care of her sons while her husband was at work. She knitted and she sighed longingly while reading Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. She had a respectable garden and she struggled to grow rose buses.

Every year she struggled with those damn rose bushes, but they were never quite right.

It didn’t matter – Arthur had been fourteen when his mother had died and her sorry excuses for rose bushes suddenly became the most beautiful roses he’d ever seen.

“Arthur, what are you doing there?” Francis called out to him and that made him straighten his back, square his shoulders. He approached Francis, cautiously, not wanting to take his eyes off him.

The rising sun made Francis’s hair glow, it made his skin luminous, made him look so ethereal and golden and enticing, Arthur’s fingers wanted to touch him and Arthur wanted…

Tsk.

Arthur stole a look over his shoulder, looked back at the Georgian townhouse that was exactly like his childhood home. The knot in his stomach tightened still, a sinking feeling overcoming him when Francis’s arms came around his middle pulled him into a hug.

Out of instinct more than anything else, he returned the hug. They bodies were pressed together too tightly, and he felt heat radiate from the other man. Arthur’s bare toes wiggled in the grass, and he was suddenly, painfully aware that he didn’t feel them being cold, he didn’t feel them being wet from dew. He didn’t.

Arthur swallowed thickly and cupped Francis’s cheeks in his palm, ran his thumbs over the thin skin below his eyes. Francis’s skin felt warm and soft to the touch and if Arthur looked closely, he could see – blue veins running underneath his skin. He could imagine blood running through them, blue blood fit for his elegant features.

“Arthur?” Francis asked, leaned forward and touched their foreheads together. His eyes bore into Arthur’s and he sighed, huffed a laugh and Arthur felt it rush across his lips, warm and real and alive. In that moment, he desperately wanted to let himself get fooled.

“Come watch the sunrise with me,” Francis said with a grin, and then he bent forward and nuzzled against Arthur’s throat, inhaled and then breathed across his skin. Arthur felt it then, the tension and the restraint in Francis’s body, how his arms tightened, tighter, tighter, around Arthur’s middle.

“It didn’t look like that,” He said, his voice low and angry, trying to sound menacing while Francis’s breathed him in, ghosted his lips over Arthur’s pulse point. “I grew up in that house, Francis, this isn’t how the skyline looked, and we never had sunrises like that.”

Not that vibrant, not that lovely, not like someone spilled watercolors over London’s skies and decided they liked the effect. Real life was a great deal more boring and the constructed fantasy that Francis put on for Arthur was too pretty to be anything other than fake. 

“This is what I love about you, mon coeur. Most people get lost for years in these illusions.” Francis told him, whispering the words against Arthur’s throat.  

“Most people are too stupid to know what to look for.” Arthur’s better judgement was screaming at him, but he tilted his head to the side and allowed Francis more access to his throat.

“No, I think most people simply want to be fooled.” Francis’s tongue darted out to taste Arthur’s skin, barely touching him and leaving small wet marks as he went. It made Arthur shudder in his arms, skin hypersensitive and hair standing on the back of his throat.

Arthur raised his hands to grab a fistful of Francis’s golden curls. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to pull Francis towards his or shove him away.

“They’re willfully stupid, then.” That made Francis chuckle darkly.

“Between a painful truth and a beautiful lie, most people will still prefer to hide behind the beauty of illusion.” Arthur felt Francis’s lips open against his throat, felt a mouthful of razor-sharp fangs gently teasing the surface of his skin.

“What painful truth are you hiding behind his illusion?” Arthur asked him, struggling to keep the breathlessness out of his voice and failing spectacularly.

“Do you ever think about how it would feel if you let me bite you?” Francis countered. “It wouldn’t hurt, Arthur, I promise, it would feel better than anything else.” There was a sharp intake of air and Francis’s fangs pressed just a little harder – it wasn’t enough to pierce skin, but it was enough to make all of cells in Arthur’s body hum in excitement and anticipation.

“Francis…” His voice sounded raw and pained, but there was still enough of a warning there for Francis to take note of it. He pressed a close-mouthed kiss against Arthur’s throat, where his skin was pulsing in time with the beats of his heart.

“Sometimes I think about how wonderful it would be to have you clinging to me while I feed from you.” Francis whispered the words right over Arthur’s mouth, forced Arthur to stare right into his eyes while he was saying it.

The bastard probably took great pleasure to see Arthur’s face turn bright red at the suggestion, but he was proud enough to keep his dignity despite unorthodox circumstances he found himself in. He frowned at Francis and pulled sharply at blond locks,  a movement that Arthur had learned twenty something years ago, while he was in primary and pulling on pigtails.

“That won’t happen,” He protested, because if he had been the kind to let such things happen, he would have given into Francis’s more vampiric advances years ago. Over time, he liked to think that his self-control and his moral compass wouldn’t fail him.

“You’d open your veins for me and beg me to come to your bed.” Francis continued, with a smirk on his lips, rubbing his nose against Arthur’s, “I’d make sure you lost yourself in pleasure, Arthur, until you wouldn’t even be able to remember your name.”

“Then what would I be able to remember?” Arthur asked, feeling himself on slippery ground but refusing to back down.

“That you’re mine.” Francis hissed between clenched fangs, possessiveness and desire radiating off him in waves, arms tightening around Arthur middle and stealing the breath from his lungs.

“Let me go.” Arthur said conviction. Whether he felt it or not, whether Francis was willing to believe it or not, Arthur needed to put space between the two of them.

Francis let go of him instantly and took three steps behind. Arthur’s body wanted to protest and follow after him, chasing the illusion of warmth that he promised. However, Arthur only had to remind himself that this wasn’t real, that flush on Francis’s skin was an illusion and no matter how human he looked and felt, Francis hadn’t been human for centuries.

That steeled him, and Arthur forced himself to remember his vampire hunter training. He took a deep breath, felt his lungs expanding and started looking around. Now that he was completely aware of it, he saw all the places in which the dream fantasy started to unravel.

The noises of the city weren’t there, that was the first big tell. The skyline was all wrong. The air was too warm. The sun seemed to be permanently stuck in the watercolor sunrise and that made Arthur scoff – he was sure it was because Francis knew how pretty his hair looked in this sort of glow.

Francis himself has his hands crossed over his chest, looking at Arthur as if he didn’t know if he should shake him and shout at him or give him the cold shoulder.   

“You’re no fun.”

“So you’ve said. Multiple times before.”

Francis huffed and shook his head as a reply, his hair bouncing around his head and Arthur had to smirk to himself. Arthur took great pride in his dubious talent of exasperating Francis enough to elicit huffs and puffs – not like every casual mortal man had the ability to make a vampire as old as Francis pout.

“A lesser man would have given up on pursuing you years ago, Arthur.” Francis announced. He was all flair and drama, sounding as if he was expecting Arthur to be grateful for his prolonged attention, “Luckily, I have all the time in the world to wait for you.”

Arthur’s luck was the sort of thing that made children cry and mothers shake their heads in disappointment, but he had learnt to accept his fate. He could deal with the sometimes overwhelming amount of lemons that got thrown at him, but it was downright hilarious to claim that being on the receiving end of persistent and troublesome vampire courtship counted as luck.

“What’s going on here, Francis?” He asked, pointing as his surroundings. “It’s been some time since you invited yourself in my dreams. I can’t say I appreciate your company.”

The last time Francis sneaked inside of Arthur’s dreams, he had done so under the guise of a female body. The glamour had been so real to the touch, it had taken weeks afterwards to get the memory of it out of his head. Sometimes, Arthur had brief moments in which he mourned the fact that the soft, pillowy breasts were simply fantasy and couldn’t be made into the occasional reality.  

Francis straightened his shoulders and looked at Arthur with a much too serious expression on his face – that put him on edge, because if Francis was being serious, then Arthur was most likely in deep shit that he didn’t want to remember. Panic washed over him and he tried to think about the last thing that happened.

“Arthur, I didn’t mean any harm. I thought it might be better to….”

Think think think.

What was the last thing he had been doing? Francis was saying something but Arthur was too focus on raking his memories for something tangible –

He had been in Italy, with Alfred. It should have been a very simple mission of going there, dealing with a nest of newborn vampires that were terrorizing tourists in Rome, come back. Chat a bit with Feliciano and Lovino, as the Italian Hunters had specifically asked for their help. Enjoy some pasta. Drink some wine.

It all went pear shaped though – Arthur remembered bits and pieces of a struggled, remembered getting thrown to the ground, remembered yelling at Lovino to shoot the damn vampire already and then a loud bang.

“The bastard shot me!” Arthur yelled, enraged and frustrated, wishing the Italian was close by so he could give him a good, proper scolding. “That damn bastard shot me! How could he shoot me?”

“Arthur, calm down, please. You’re getting agitated and it will wake you up.”

“Getting agitated – of course I’m getting agitated! I’ve been shot! Am I….?”

Dead, he wanted to ask. No, of course he wasn’t dead, not dead-dead but hopefully not in the process of turning into a vampire either.

He couldn’t be, could he. Francis wouldn’t have been playing this sort of game with him if something like that would be happening to him, but then. What if he wasn’t dead, just – dying?

What was happening to him, what was happening to his body? He wasn’t even aware of it, wasn’t aware of any real feelings, all he had in this moment were these artificial sensations brought forth by dreams and beautiful illusions.

Panic build up like a knot in his throat until Francis stepped forward and put both hands on Arthur’s  cheeks.

“Arthur. Arthur. Look at me, look at me.” When he didn’t want to listen, Francis pressed his palms with slightly more force against Arthur’s face and made sure their eyes met. “You’re alright. You’re safe. Do you think I’d ever let anything happen to you?”

And he said it a certain way, full of undistinguishable emotion that Arthur didn’t want to name, but it had a very particular effect on Arthur: it made the mess of anxiety and panic in his stomach loosen.

Everything he knew about vampires painted them as treacherous, lying demons that should never be trusted. However, the problem with Francis was that he was so bloody earnest when he said things, when he looked into Arthur as if he really, truly, genuinely believed the devotion he was promising to offer.

Arthur knew Francis, or at least as much as you can know blood sucking monster that’s centuries old – and in this laid another problem. Arthur was mortal and mortals had this tendency of trusting things, if they knew them for a long enough time.

His mouth was dry and he was still looking at Francis, feeling lighter, feeling heat bloom across his cheeks, feeling like he wanted to be anywhere but next to him.

“I want to wake up.” Arthur announced, voice shaking slightly.

“It will probably hurt if you wake up now, my love.”  Francis used the same voice you would when convincing a stubborn cat to get out of the tree, but ultimately he would obey whatever Arthur wanted from him.

“I want to wake up, now.

“As you wish.” Francis let go of him and took a step back, looking at Arthur with concern written plainly on his features. He was going to honor Arthur’s wish though and he wouldn’t complain about it.

Arthur felt himself slipping out of the dream and into his body, piece by piece and cell by cell. As a result, it gave him time to feel every bit of pain, to feel himself submerge in it bit by bit. Pain that was heavy and hot, pressing against his insides, making want to curl on his himself, pain that made it impossible to breathe.

But it was most definitely real.

 

 


 

 

Arthur woke up with a gasp, feeling like everything from his chest to his groin was full of hot coals. His instinct was to curl in on himself and try alleviating some of the pain, but he started moving and found it even more uncomfortable. There were stiches on his stomach, and he felt them pulling whenever he moved.

Arthur was not a stranger to stiches and wounds, and he knew firsthand how nasty it was when they pulled and reopened. He closed his eyes and took deep breathes, remembered the Pain Management Meditation Techniques Honda-senpai had thought him.

The Japanese Vampire Hunter had been Arthur’s mentor for a long time, and he was a devout believer in Mind-over-Body and Meditation as a Cure-all for Pain. Arthur didn’t have the right sort of personality for meditation, he’d always been too angry and impulsive. However, some of the things Kiku thought him were still useful from time to time.

He felt himself start relaxing, his body getting used to the sensations and the intensity of the burn. Then, when he was finally able to breathe without it hurting, he opened his eyes and took note of his surroundings.

First thing to notice – drapes.

There were heavy drapes that hung around the windows and they blocked out every bit of light that might have come from outside.

When you’re a vampire hunter, you’re taught early on to always look for sources of natural light which might help you defeat the undead. Most vampires did have an intensely adverse reaction to sunlight. It was a bit like throwing boiling oil over human skin, to expose the regular vampire to sunlight. Naturally, they would all like to avoid that.

Of course, they developed a gradual resistance to it. Older vampires still didn’t like it, but it wasn’t going to cause them direct harm to the same extent. The older the vampire got, the more resistant they were to it, until even sunlight little more than a mild annoyance.

For a vampire hunter, it was common practice to pull the drapes whenever they walked into a room. In a lot of cases it was little more than precaution, but it was still good etiquette to do so. Arthur’s fingers were itching to pull those damn drapes away and inundate the room in sunlight.  

Second thing he noticed was directly related to the first – he wasn’t in a hospital.

The heavy drapes, the too-comfortable bed, the lack of hospital smell, all of them pointed to a conclusion that Arthur wasn’t fond of.

He was supposed to be, presumably, in a hospital in Rome and while he knew Rome was nice and classy and all, but he doubted that they had hospitals quite this nice.

The bed he was lying in was much nicer and more comfortable than the bed he had at home, and he had splurged on that matters.

Arthur sighed raised his hand to his eyes, wanting to rub away the headache that was already starting to form. This was a stress headache and it had nothing to do with getting accidentally shot by a fellow hunter, and everything to do with amorous vampire that had decided to bestow his affections upon Arthur’s occasionally bewildered self.

There was an IV drip connected to his arm, though, and a heart monitor, beeping away next to him. The whole thing was as if someone decided that the hospital wasn’t fancy enough for him, so he got whisked away to hang out at the damn Ritz and hospital was brought to him instead.

Arthur groaned to himself, because it was most likely exactly what happened. Someone had been stupid enough to inform Francis that he got shot. Which meant that there was a hospital in Rome right now full of traumatized doctors and nurses because they had to deal with Francis, or worse yet – they had to deal with Vash.

A lot of times, Francis was hard to deal with because he was melodramatic, overdramatic and a picky perfectionist as well. When you live for hundreds and hundreds of years, you’re bound to develop some quirks, and Francis’s personality was definitely geared towards drama and artifice. Arthur could deal with Francis. At this point, he was so used to the panache that he had no idea how he would react if it disappeared.

However, while Arthur was a brave man, Vash scared him. Vash was Francis’s hired….bodyguard? Personal assistant? Friend? Arthur wasn’t exactly sure what Vash’s actual role was, but he certainly answered phone calls, threatened to shoot people and dealt with Francis’s finances.  He was so frighteningly competent and efficient that Arthur sometimes entertained the idea that Vash was actually a machine underneath it all.

The image of Francis yelling in rapid fire French at some poor Italian nurse while Vash was silently looming and threatening people with his stoic, silent presence was currently embedded into his mind. He imagined the sort of godawful fuss and ruckus this whole thing probably created, and it made him want to hide his head in the disgustingly decadent pillows and stay there forever.

A thought crept into his head, that Lovino, Feliciano and Alfred where probably in the hospital with him when Francis and Vash came to collect him like some sort of prized stallion. Arthur felt a wave of embarrassment  wash over him again.

Lovino, Feliciano and Alfred. He tried to imagine the three of them dealing with Francis and Vash, explain the situation to him. Then he tried to remember if Alfred knew who Francis was, if Alfred knew about Francis and Arthur’s frankly bizarre relationship agreement. Arthur most certainly hadn’t told him yet.

His young American protégé had a lot of potential and he also had very clear ideas about right and wrong. Alfred’s mind was fascinating, but also very simple in the way he viewed morality.

Human Vampire hunter = good.

Vampire = Bad

Francis was definitely a vampire, and Vash might have been a robot underneath, but still claimed vampirism, despite suspicious. He suddenly imagined Alfred trying to do something stupid like shoot then in the name of justice and freedom and humankind.

The headache intensified.

There was no doubt in his mind that Alfred, poor dear, tried to defend him against the pair of vampires that really only threatened Arthur’s sanity. He was sure of that. He was reasonably sure that Francis knew better than to feast upon Alfred’s blood or let Vash shoot him – mostly because Arthur would never forgive him if he hurt his brand-new trainee.

Then he remembered how annoyingly self-righteous Alfred could be and how trigger-happy Vash was on occasion, and really, really hope that Francis was the reasonable one there.

A frightening thought.

He was left to his own devices for much too long, his mind stewing in pain and overthinking all the possible gloom and doom scenarios that might have occurred between getting shot and now, when the doors to his room were opened and very prim and posh Doctor came to talk to him.

Bonjour, Monsieur Kirkland. So glad to see you finally woke up. I’m Doctor Rochette, and you’ve been in my care ever since you came out of your operation. Can you please tell me how you’re feeling?”

“Like I got shot” Arthur answered he, taking note of her fine jewelry and perfectly coiffed hair. She looked like a Hollywood Version of a doctor, not like someone that actually did any of the nasty business of treating patients and getting involved with blood and puss and urine. “Can you please pull the drapes?”

She gave him a look, likes she understood why his request might seem controversial. However, she walked over to the windows and pulled the drapes. Light streamed inside the room like it was overflowing. Arthur was grateful because while he was English and generally unaccustomed to such a sunny day, he didn’t feel any uncomfortable burn on his skin. 

The doctor checked his blood pressure, checked his stiches, gave him painkillers. It was the standard fare when you’re shot, but still surreal to experience it while both of them were in a room fit for Louis XIV himself. No one had taught Francis about restraint when it came to interior decorations and it showed everywhere.

“You know, Monsieur Kirkland, I’ve been working for Monsieur Bonnefoy for 6 years now,” Doctor Rochette said jotting down something on her clipboard. “During that time, I’ve had to work on the occasional young man or woman that…erm…” there was a pause here, “….visits….him.” he really didn’t want to know about this.

“Most often than not, it’s the general things that are associated with rapidly losing blood – hypotension, hypoglycemia, confusion and disorientation, weakness and fatigue. That sort of thing.”

There was a bit of silence between them, as Doctor Rochette and Arthur looked at each other and had an unspoken understanding. The woman was calm and composed when she was discussing what was basically her employer’s eating habits and Arthur was sure that she had been hired exactly for this type of attitude.

“I give them the occasional blood transfusion and put them on IV drips, when they feel better they are on their way. I know Monsieur Bonnefoy is very interested making sure they all leave here feeling happy and secure about the experience, but I have to admit that I sometimes miss more challenging cases.”

“Doctor, are you telling me you’re happy I got shot?” That made her laugh.

Oui, you could say that. It was also nice to see…” She paused and started worrying her lower lip.

“Go on.” He urged her. “I understand it’s not a comfortable position to be in. That your employer is the cause of your patients.”

“He’s very old, isn’t he? I try not to think about all the people throughout the years that didn’t have the luxury to be treated by a doctor after he finished with….” She didn’t say anything and just motioned towards the general area of her neck.

“How’s that working out for you, doctor?”

“It has various levels of success. However, I think for the first time I saw him looking….frazzled. I think he might have been genuinely scared for you, which was….” Doctor Rochette swallowed and looked down at her feet, before adding, “It made him seem more human.”

He was still thinking about what she said long after the doctor left. Francis looking human, wasn’t that a strange thought? Sometimes Francis worked especially hard to show off a human veneer, even though it had various levels of success. He might pass a human at a glance, but if you spent a little bit of time with him, you would quickly realize that something was off about him.

It was in the way he spoke, the way he moved, how he carried himself and the way in which his eyes glowed. How the hair on the back of your neck stood when he was around, how your stomach twisted because you sensed the danger.

 

 


 

 

Arthur realized he had fallen asleep only when he woke up, heart hammering in his chest and blood rushing to his ears. The room was dark, that brand of darkness that only came when it was close to midnight and there were no lightbulbs glowing around you.

“Did you know I can hear your heart beating from the other side of the house?” Francis’s voice was a smooth, velvety thing with this raspy, breathy accent that had the tendency to send shivers over Arthur’s spine if he was caught off guard.

“Good evening to you too, Francis. So happy to see you still have a knack for creeping on people.” Arthur sat up in bed, forced his eyes to adjust to the darkness. The only light in the room came from outside, moonlight and the soft glow of streetlights that made it easier to see.

Francis was sitting draped on the chaise-longue that was most likely some ludicrously overpriced antique. He was half shadowed by the darkness and looking at Arthur from across the room like he was calculating the distance it would take to pounce in one single movement.

“I so wish you wouldn’t be afraid of me still, Arthur.” He said, voice sounding so maudlin and pathetic, Arthur felt his eyelid starting to twitch already.

“Afraid? How did you come to the conclusion that I’m afraid of you?”

“It’s your heart that told me, Arthur. Poor dear is beating so fast.” Francis got up from he was sitting, unfolded his legs like it was a great burden to pull himself up. He was graceful even when he was lazy, wasn’t that unfair?

“It’s not because I’m afraid of you, Francis.” Arthur countered. He was following every movement  the vampire made, stared openly at his hands and ran his gaze over his body as the other took slow steps towards Arthur’s bed.

As a vampire hunter, Arthur was always supposed to take note of Vampires and their every movement. It was only his natural hunter instinct that made it impossible to pull his eyes away from Francis. A bad habit brought about his profession.

 “If you aren’t afraid, what are you, hmm?” Francis asked him, with a quirk of his lips and the tone of a smug aristocrat. “Nervous? Excited?”

Startled.” Arthur rolled his eyes much they hurt.

“There’s no shame in admitting to feelings, Arthur. God forbid you accept that you feel some sort of positive sentiment towards me.” Francis crossed his arms over his chest and cocked his hip to the side, convincing Arthur once again that he was learning all this mannerism by watching badly acted soap operas.

“Francis, I think the simple fact that I’m not throwing Holy Water in your face when I see you speaks of positive sentiments.”  Arthur countered, though maybe he should have looked for another phrasing because this one seemed to trigger a rather unfortunate reaction.

“Holy Water, yes, funny you should mention that. Do you know what happened to me recently?” Francis said, while he started walking around the room – anyone else, and Arthur would have used the word pacing, but Francis was too….Francis to pace.

Prowl?

“I assume you’re going to tell me.”

“I got a call, imagine. I got a call from one of those cute Italian Hunters, you know, Feliciano? Nice boy, Feliciano – oh don’t make that face at me Arthur, I barely started telling you this story….”

“Feliciano called you? The damn little traitor, I should…”

“Feliciano knows what’s good for him and his brother, Arthur, he has a good spirit of self-preservation. Imagine if I heard you got shot from someone else, days later?” Francis frowned and his mouth twisted, revealing a mouthful of sharp fangs. Arthur would have preferred that Francis would have never found out about it, but that was wistful thinking.

“I take it that they are fine, though, aren’t they?”

“Of course they are, I didn’t drain either of them, and I didn’t let Vash shoot them either.  I told them, though, they were lucky you were alive, and they should pray for you to recover. I wouldn’t want to be forced to drain their whole bloodline in retaliation for your death, mon amour.”

“You utter ass, it’s completely inappropriate to threaten them over something like this.” Arthur yelled, mortified at the thought of Francis swooping in like a bad rendition of a white knight, threatening bloody murder for Arthur’s sake. “I’m perfectly capable of dealing with things on my own.”

“You got shot!”

“It was an accident!”

“You got shot, Arthur, and you wouldn’t have told me about it, would you?” Arthur winced at that accusation, unable to deny it was the truth.

“I would have avoided a situation in which you would feel entitled to threaten my coworkers with bodily harm.” Arthur tried to counter.

“You would have me sit aside while someone steals you away from me in such a brutal manner?” Francis yelled at him. That made Arthur stop and stare at him, already feeling his cheeks starting to burn.

“I’m not dead, Francis.” He said seriously, trying to change tactics.

Now. You aren’t dead now.” Francis walked over to the bed and sat right next to Arthur. He put both hands besides him and leaned forward, started into Arthur’s eyes. There was some sort of emotion on his face that really had no business being there, something that looked entirely too soft and human for Arthur’s liking.

“I’m not planning on dying soon, Francis.” He said, feeling all too much like he was comforting the other man, which was absolutely insane. Francis was an undead monster that spent his time lurking in shadows and sucking the blood of virgins, you’re not supposed to comfort monsters.

Tsk, Arthur, you don’t understand.” Francis huffed as if Arthur was some sort of simpleton that didn’t understand basic human language.

He wanted to protest, but before he had the change to say anything, Francis pressed his fingers exactly where his stiches were and he pressed hard. Arthur felt pain shoot through his whole body, and he let out a high-pitched yelp.

“Bloody hell, what was that for?” Arthur complained, glaring daggers at Francis.

“I was making a point. You’re so squishy.” 

“I’m human, Francis.”

“I could heal you in a second, if you’d let me.” Francis offered, like he always offered.

No.” And Arthur always refused.

This exchange was so familiar. Francis kept offering to turn Arthur, he offered to let Arthur drink from him and heal his wounds, make him stronger and sharper, make him immortal. Arthur kept refusing.

There were as many flavors of vampires as you had humans, and all of them had different quirks and personalities. Obviously, many of them were the standard fare of “Suck Blood from Innocents”, but you also had the vampires that fed only with animal blood, the ones bought their blood from the blood bank and then there was someone like Francis. Arthur thought the best way to describe him was an Ethical Consumer, that took great pride in making you enjoy the experience.

Francis had once described the process of biting and feeding very simply and frankly as, “like sex, but much, much better” which made Arthur not want to talk to him for a few months. He didn’t like to think about all the people that Francis had those “like sex, but much, much better” moments. But it also wasn’t something he was willing to indulge in. Francis always asked him, and Arthur kept refusing.

Francis sighed and slumped forward, let his forehead rest against Arthur’s shoulder. Silence settled, because there was so many things tangible between them. Accusations and confessions and shouts and yells, they fought whenever they saw each other and usually they fought about the same things – Arthur’s dangerous job, Francis’s special condition, Arthur’s constant refusal to let Francis feed from him, his absolute disgust at the idea of being turned.

They were constantly having this argument, it was old and rehashed and reheated so many times it lost any luster. Arthur started running his fingers through Francis’s hair as a way for both of them to relax.

“You scared me.” Francis told him plainly, and it made Arthur’s heart squeeze painfully in this chest for no discernable reason.


“I didn’t think you had the capacity to be scared anymore.” He was absolutely refusing to think about further implications about that specific confession.

“Neither did I.” Francis said with a laugh. He sounded about as old as he was, but genuinely surprised and happy with the realization.

It was easy for him to throw around pretty words and court Arthur like some he was some Charming Aristocrat wooing a Blushing Dame, but it seemed like he was just as surprised that he actually cared about Arthur?

Arthur himself was usually caught in a state of perpetual confusion when it came to Francis. How were you genuinely supposed to react to an immortal undead bloodsucker’s flirtations? Arthur was awkward around humans that tried to flirt with him, at the only reason he tolerated Francis was because at least half the time, he was so damn sure that the other man was playing with him.

There was no real chance for actual feelings and emotional intimacy to develop between the two of them, so in that regard, Francis was a safer option than most humans.

Right? Right.

Francis pulled away from Arthur and took off his shoes. Arthur was confused about the whole endeavor and wanted to ask why, but then Francis crawled into bed next to him and settled on the pillows.

“This bed is big enough for me too, Arthur, you can stop glaring at me” Francis said with his face buried in the pillows.

“You can’t possibly be tired, surely you haven’t been up for long.” Arthur told him. While the bed was large and yes, Francis had more than enough space to lay next to Arthur, it still seemed like an unusual situation.

Mon coeur, have you considered that I’m not interested in resting?” Francis turned to look at Arthur from beneath his  eyelashes and smirk at him.

“I got shot.” Arthur told him plainly, his mouth curling in a sneer and his ears feeling tingly, “I’m not exactly able to perform.”

The comment made Francis laugh, mouth open and lips pulled back. Arthur’s eyes focused on the fangs, porcelain white and straight and perfect as they were. Sometimes it was tempting to push his forefinger against the pointy end of those fangs, just to check how much pressure it would take until the skin broke.

“Lay down next to me, Arthur”, Francis urged him, patting the pillow which Arthur had slept on. “I promise your virtue is completely safe with me.”

Arthur frowned at him, but in the end,  he capitulated and laid down stiffly. Green eyes were firmly glued to the ceiling above, while Francis shuffled closer to him and put his head on Arthur’s shoulder, his open palm against Arthur’s chest.

Arthur thought it was fascinating, still, how Francis was always needy for physical affection, how he couldn’t keep his hands away from Arthur whenever they were close. He was always pressing his thumb against the inside of Arthur’s wrist or caressed his neck with his fingers, splayed hand over Arthur’s chest. He searched for all those points on Arthur’s body where he could feel the thump thump thump of blood and heartbeats close to the surface.

That American threw Holy Water at me.” Francis said, in French, because what other language could you use to properly express annoyance and disgust? Some things were better said in one’s mother tongue.

“Did he ruin your hair?” Arthur asked, tried to sound as mean as he could but the laughter in his voice ruined it.

Worse.”

How worse?”

He ruined my suit, the bastard. It was custom Celine.”

“Tsk, how terrible, love.” Arthur said. One of his fingers was running over the buttons of Francis’s shirt. “I hope you will be able to get over this terrible shock.”

“I stopped Vash from shooting him and he threw Holy Water in my face. Please explain that he is expected to have manners when he’s around me.”

The tip of Arthur’s finger found an opening between buttons, and he toyed with the edge of the material. He pushed a bit against and found Francis’s cool skin underneath, absentmindedly rubbing circles and swirls.

Francis was only ever warm after he fed, and he didn’t always feed before seeing Arthur. There was a pro vs con list between them, constantly getting updated.

Pro of being freshly fed and warm –

Maintain the illusion of humanity

Not constantly craving blood

Feel less like a corpse

Better cuddling

Make Arthur feel less guilty about on-going vampiric relations

Cons of being freshly fed and warm –

Arthur’s constant, ongoing jealousy over the nameless, faceless blood donor.

Arthur’s tendency to express that jealousy though violence

Arthur’s tendency to give Francis the “cold shoulder” for weeks and months after

It was truly a mystery for both of the them which side of the coin would activate at whatever moment in time. Arthur technically understood that blood was a necessity for Francis, but the idea of him drinking from anyone left Arthur with a rotten feeling in his stomach, which needed time to settle afterwards.

“They were Damask roses.” Arthur said all of a sudden, the words spilling from his mouth before he thought about them. “My mother grew Damask roses. They’re supposed to be very easy to grow and they’re apparently very resilient, but my mother had terrible gardening skills.” There was something tight and painful in his chest whenever he got to think too much about his mother.

It was a sharp knot of emotion that he never truly felt comfortable picking apart – too many layers to it. Despite the painkillers, he was presently too sober to even poke at it.

Francis’s hand pressed a little harder against his chest and he kissed Arthur’s bony shoulder through the fabric of this shirt. He wasn’t sure if it was a talent that came with being a vampire or with being Francis, this ability to always detect when Arthur’s thoughts too darker turn.

“Damask Roses.” Francis said thoughtfully, while his eyes got a glazed look that spoke of relived memories, “I remember how those taste.” He said with a laugh. “They were sweet and fruity. You crushed together almonds and sugar and poured rose water over it – it tasted like lovesick kisses.”

The wistful way in which he said it would have been poetic and beautiful, if it wasn’t for the sheer pompousness of the words. Arthur’s very English sensibilities made it hard to take such language seriously.

“How do you come up with some of the things you say? ‘tasted like lovesick kisses’? Surely you think these up before and reuse them, it’s impossible to come up with such melodrama on the spot.”

“I haven’t given up hope yet, Arthur. I’m sure there must be a way for you to eventually learn to appreciate romance.”

With that, Francis grabbed Arthur’s wrist and raised it to his face. He pressed his nose against the thin skin there and inhaled deeply, then he peppered kisses over Arthur’s knuckles. Arthur felt a whole wave of heat run through his body and cursed his current physical condition.

“I should think it becomes tiresome after a while.”

Francis has laughter shining in his eyes and straining at his voice.

“My dear, but I have all the time in the world to try.”

 

 


 

 

When Arthur’s mother had died, it felt like the whole world fell to bits around them their family. His father fell down into this deep dark hole of grief and he never managed to climb back out of it. His brothers had no idea how to talk about it, Arthur had no idea to talk about it either. They were English men, English men don’t do that.   

Grief was a strange thing – crept everywhere in their lives and suffocated them, until it burst out with shouts and yells and fists.

His mother had always quieted things, got between them when the yelling got too bad. She used to separate them and put herself between her sons, giving them disapproving glares and telling them she raised them better than be become hooligans. Usually, that was enough to shame them into behaving.

After mother died, there was no one doing that anymore. She died and she took all of their father with her to the grave. From the happy, active  family man that he had been before, he suddenly did little more than sit around listlessly and eat whenever one of them asked him to “please come for dinner”.

 Arthur hadn’t been the type to pick fights before – sure, he grew up surrounded by brothers, so some level of aggression was normal. Boys will be boys and all, but after his mother  died there was a point that tipped things from “it happens from time to time” to “it happens all the time”.

It also wasn’t restricted to their home, Arthur started picking up fights with his schoolmates and soon enough he was coming home every week with bruises and scrapes.

One day, he picked up a fight with one of the older boys and got punched over the face harder than he had expected. It resulted in a split lip and he was taken to the nurses’ office to get cleaned up and bandaged. He remembered them being nice and understanding over his situation, and sent him home early.

Arthur, however, he really didn’t want to go home. Home wasn’t a good place anymore, he dreaded every minute spent there because the grief was there, and the pain and the gaping, open chasm left by his mother’s death.

Instead of going home, he took off in the opposite direction and started walking around aimlessly, until he got lost surrounded by people, until it turned dark. Arthur was so lost in the whirlwind of emotions inside his head, he didn’t even notice he was being followed until it was too late.

The things that kidnapped him hadn’t been vampires; they had been boring old humans. Boring old humans with too much ambition, boring old humans that heard whispers about vampires, and ghouls and black magic, about immortality and power and wanted to try it out.

Later on his career as a Vampire Hunter, Arthur would go on to meet too many men like that, men that were willing to do just about anything for power and immortality.

However, at the point, Arthur had been fourteen and grieving and scared out of his mind. Up to do this day, he wasn’t sure why they picked him in particular.

They took Arthur out in the countryside, in one of those big Victorian country houses that oozed of great fortune and vague ties to royalty. They kept him imprisoned until they prepared themselves for the ritual.

These practitioners of Dark Magic needed a human sacrifice – another human sacrifice. They had been trying – unsuccessfully – to awaken some old, powerful vampire Lord from his slumber.

When they took Arthur away from the cell in which he was being held in, they dragged him away and took him to a large room that might have been a ballroom at some point. It was now being used for magic and ritualistic sacrifice, it seemed. A lot of men and women in dark cloaks holding candles and in the middle of the room there was an ornate casket with a body inside.

The body looked like one of the mummies in the British Museum, with what looked like dried blood spilled all over the bones.

“We’ve been trying to awaken the old one for such a long time. May your blood be accepted as a sacrifice!”

Two men kept hold of his wrists and forced him to lean over the casket, staring into the sunken holes that had once been eyes. An older woman was leading some sort of chant or prayer, seemingly blessing a wide variety of chalices and knives.

In retrospect, it had all been very pompous and dramatic, and they knew next to nothing about vampires and magic. They were just stupid, cruel people with too much money and too afraid of death. Still, in that moment, they were determined to sacrifice him for magic’s sake, and Arthur had been absolutely terrified. He had shouted himself hoarse and cried as many tears as he had inside him.

One thing to note – between the moment Arthur had been snatched from the street and moment of the sacrifice, roughly 18 hours had passed. While they seemed like an eternity for him, it wasn’t really that much time. Certain not enough time for his split lip to heal, or even crust over properly. Every time Arthur shouted and yelled; whatever little crust formed over the wound was pulled apart.

When he was hunched over the mummy, staring at the dead skin, he couldn’t shout, his vocal cords wouldn’t allow it. Arthur was, however, biting and worrying at that split lip mindlessly, without thinking about it, without feeling the pain.

The people around him were all chanting, paying attention to each other and their sermon.

Arthur’s wounded lip was already bleeding sluggishly, but when he started biting at it and chewing on the flesh of it….blood started oozing. Dripping. It mixed with saliva and dripped down his chin, into the casket, over the dead body.

Drip, drip, drip. One drop of blood, then two, then three.

Then Arthur saw it with his own eyes, before anyone else even noticed what was happening – how the skin plumped, the voids filled, the fingers twitched and the hair grew and curled.

Then he wasn’t looking at a mummy body anymore, he was looking at a man that was waking up from a deep slumber. If the cultists saw the change, if the chanting stopped – Arthur didn’t realize. He was caught and transfixed, staring at the man while his eyes blinked open.

Blue met green and Francis smiled to him for the first time, lips pulling back and showing off his fangs.

The men that had been holding him promptly let go, startled by the unexpected turn of events. They had already sacrificed many others in an attempt to wake this particular vampire, but none of those tries had been successful.

Vampires, much like humans, have different palettes and tastes.

Would you eat absolutely anything? Would you get out of bed on a Saturday morning for breakfast you don’t like? Have you ever tasted something absolutely delicious, only to find that no one else likes it?

Well, as it stands, Arthur might not have been the most appealing thing in the world for any other vampire, but he was exactly the flavor that Francis craved.

As the men holding him in place startled by Francis’s sudden awakening, they let go of Arthur and he found himself falling forward. Arthur’s luck was debatable, because the action caused him to fall into the vampire’s arms.

Arthur was sure that there must have been commotion around them, agitation and dread and excitement, unexpected fright and wonder that finally their vampire had woken up from his slumber. However, in his memories of that night, there was no noise, there was no commotion.

The room, the house, the country, the world, it was all small and narrow and unnaturally blue, as Francis leaned forward and licked the blood off his chin, off the lips. He moaned in delight and embraced Arthur tightly.

“Your blood is the first I tasted in almost one hundred years, and the best I’ve ever had.”

And the rest was, as they say, history.

 


 

 

When Arthur felt like he had the mental strength to deal with his job and his co-workers, he asked Vash for a phone and called Alfred. He was greeted with a high-pitched screech and Alfred started yelling at him before he even had the chance to ask him what was wrong.

“A vampire? A vampire? Really? You’re sleeping with a vampire.”

“You’re overrea...-”

I’m not overreacting.” Alfred said, definitely overreacting.“I threw Holy Water at him and nothing happened.”  There was an edge of desperation that could be heard over the phone.

“Yes, well, Francis is very old, he’s actually…”

He’s fucking vampire royalty, yes, thank you, I know about it now.”  

Alfred was in one piece, it seemed, and assured Arthur that he should take as much time as he needed to recover. While saying so, Arthur could almost hear Alfred’s eyebrows wiggling. Alfred was 6 feet tall and could lift a tiny cow if he was challenged to do it, but he was actually a twelve year old sometimes when it came making jokes.

Alfred assured him that everything was fine and he was splitting the hunting workload between himself and Ludwig. That made Arthur feel better – Ludwig was just about the best person ever to call in if you wanted efficient cleaning of rogue vampire nests. Arthur actually trusted Ludwig to be highly competent, even though he wasn’t particularly fond of the man.

“Say Artie, do you let him bite you?”

Alfred wouldn’t be Alfred if he didn’t ask wildly inappropriate questions, so Arthur should have been expecting that. He was, however, very annoyed and hung up on him after that. It was, after all, absolutely none of his business.

However, if Alfred was fine teaming up with Ludwig and letting him rest and recover, Arthur didn’t have much to do while he was recovering.

 He called his brothers.  Alistair told him he was an asshole for not calling earlier to say “Happy Birthday” to his niece, while Dylan promptly freaked out and assumed Arthur had an incurable disease – why else would you be calling, then? Sean didn’t pick up and didn’t call back, basically meaning that he was still not inclined to speak to Arthur.

That was basically the extent of his social relations. What else did he have going on?

Well.

He had Francis.

At least the vampire took it upon himself to entertain Arthur. Francis fancied himself an excellent host, so he wasn’t going to leave Arthur alone and bored and possibly lonely while he was healing from his wounds. 

During the day, Francis kept the drapes shut and dozed off next to Arthur. While sunlight was generally little more than a minor annoyance for Francis, it was still an annoyance and the drapes were still kept firmly pulled. He got sleepy during the day, there was no helping that – vampire biology meant that he needed to rest more often, especially if he wasn’t drinking as much blood as he needed to.

As a result, Arthur tended to nap along with him. It was just easier, to keep similar hours. Arthur woke up late in the evening – sometimes he found Francis already looking at him fondly, and that made his chest knot. Sometimes he woke up before Francis did and then he stared at the vampire.

Exceptionally handsome, yes, Arthur knew that, but handsome in the same way paintings and statues  looked handsome – cold and pale and unreal, sometimes Arthur wanted to hit pinch his cheeks, muse him up, do something to break that unnatural stillness. It was still a mystery for him why, out of everyone else in the world, he was apparently human catnip for Francis.

He never thought about it much, tried not to dwell on it. There was no point – Arthur was human, and Francis was something else.

 “Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath” Hearing English Poetry getting recited in Francis’s accented voice was the sort of experience that confused Arthur. He was never sure how he was supposed to feel about it. “And so live ever—or else swoon to death.”

“Reading Keats for me is not going to give you any sort of special points, you know.”

“How dare you? Did you ever consider that I might enjoy it?” Francis said with mock outrage, setting the book on the nightstand and turning towards Arthur to poke his side. “I will have you know that I was reading Keats since before you were born, Arthur.”

Arthur didn’t say anything and regarded Francis in the soft glow of the bedroom. There was a bit of light coming from a small lamp – it was throwing shadows over Francis’s face and made him look sharp and dark, like you’d cut your fingers on him if you touched.

“How old are you? You never told me.”

Arthur had asked before, when he himself had been younger. However, Francis was always evasive about it and he never had any real answer.

“I’m old, my dear. Much older than you are.” That was always the answer he got.

“How much older, though?”

Arthur wasn’t even sure if you wanted to have an exact number. It was too daunting to think about.

“Why does it matter? Many of those years were like sand in the desert or rain in the ocean – they blended together without meaning or flavor.” Francis told him, reaching out a hand and running cold fingers over Arthur’s cheekbones, over his lashes. They were laying in bed, looking at each other and breathing the same air.

Arthur repeated the words in his head, hearing them echo across his mind – years like sand, no meaning or flavor. He swallowed against the thickness in his throat.

“Sometimes I think the years I spent as human were something I made up.” Francis told him, then he moved his head closer to Arthur. Too close, too intimate in a way that had nothing to do with sex. Sex he could deal with, whatever this was – he had no idea what to do with it.

“They were real, though. Vampires are turned, they aren’t born.” Francis spread his palm over Arthur’s jaw, pulled him closer, touching their foreheads and rubbing their noses together.

Arthur shuddered, feeling his a low, coiling warmth filling him inside. His skin was tingling, and his fingers were itching to bury themselves in Francis’s hair and pull him in for a kiss.

There were moments in which Arthur’s brain decided to play tricks on him, moments in which he thought that he was seeing something more in Francis’s actions, where he though the other could process feelings the same way Arthur did, felt the same way Arthur did. Wanted the same way.

Sometimes maybe Arthur even indulged himself in it a little bit, because it was intoxicating to be on the receiving end of Francis’s affection.

“Let me kiss you,” Francis whispered against his mouth, somewhere between a need and want, “I’ve missed kissing you, Arthur. Please let me kiss you.” Their lips were brushing against each other, but Arthur didn’t want kisses.

“Open your mouth for me,” he said, with his voice choked up and tight, and Francis obeyed him wordlessly.

Arthur raised his hand and ran his finger over Francis’s lips, dipped it inside his mouth and pressed the pad of his fingertip up against a fang.

“Don’t bite.” He ordered, and pressed his finger slowly up into the sharp point of the tooth. Francis moaned and grabbed a handful of sheets when Arthur felt the fang pierce his skin and blood starting to ooze from the wound.

He pressed his finger against Francis’s tongue and let him suck against it. He had to admit that there was something thrilling about seeing Francis’s eyes glaze over whenever Arthur allowed him to suck and lick small beads of blood off his fingers.

Stop.” Arthur told him, and Francis’s mouth turned lax around his finger. He let Arthur’s hand go and looked at him at him patiently, waited for Arthur’s next move. “Lay on your back.”

There was a scar against Arthur’s lip, where his lip had been split several times over. It was the  one spot he kept worrying and biting into, where he knew exactly how much pressure he was supposed to put on his own flesh before he started tasting blood in his mouth.

Francis’s pupils were all blown up already, looking at Arthur as if he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to even touch him.

Arthur had seen many, many vampires fall into blood lust over paper cuts before, but he never once saw any glimmer of  that in Francis. There was a frenzied sort of rawness sometimes when he looked at Arthur, like now, like he wanted to do all manners of wicked things to him. Sometimes it was hungry, sometimes it was desperate, but it was never frightening, which probably said more about Arthur himself than anything else.

Arthur leaned over him and kissed him with his mouth full of blood, he let Francis taste him and run his tongue over the bleeding wound on the side of his lip.

Don’t bite me was the general rule between the two of them.

These small exchanges were permitted every once in a while, when Arthur felt like being generous and allowed Francis a taste of his blood. However, it was only under Arthur’s own terms, with him being firmly in control of the situation.

Arthur never let Francis feed from him – it was too intimate, too exposed, too much information, too much everything.

He’d seen so many humans bled dry from their vampire lovers and they had  this blissed look of pleasure of on their faces. Arthur didn’t know how he felt about something that was apparently good enough to die for.

Francis whined low in his throat when Arthur pulled away from the kiss. The sound of it made Arthur smile, and he burrowed back into the pillows beside Francis. The other man wasn’t looking at him, he had his blue eyes closed and hand pressed over his forehead. He was breathing heavily and licking at his lips to chase the taste of Arthur’s blood.

“Why must you give me morsels of what I want, only to take it away? How can you be such a cruel lover that you still refuse to give yourself to me?”

It made Arthur laugh to hear the sheer and utter melodrama in his voice.

“Can’t give you too much of a good thing, I suppose.” He added, with a grin.

“That is not how good things function, mon amour. You never get tired of them.” Francis took Arthur’s hand in this and kissed the inside of his wrist, then pressed his cheek against Arthur’s open palm.

There was stray thought going through Arthur’s head then – There was  someone you liked best before me. What happened to them.

Did you get bored of them? Are they dead? Did you kill them? What happened to them?

Did you forget about them?

Will you forget about me?

This rabbit hole was one that he kept running down on when he was feeling self-loathing and wanted to torture himself as much as humanly possible. He never knew the answer to those questions. Francis never volunteered the information and Arthur never asked him about it.

 


 

It took about two weeks for his stitches to come out and by that point, he was already walking around and wondering how much longer he was supposed to be here. Being in France was nice, he couldn’t complain about the kind of care he was getting in Francis’s house – he was actually in danger of gaining weight with everything he was eating.

While Francis didn’t eat, the house he lived in had a beautiful kitchen. It had a rose marble countertops and oak cabinets, and it looked expensive and warm and stylish. Arthur sat on the lacquered barstools and watched Francis as he was busying him around the kitchen. He was wearing a white linen chef’s apron and the sleeves of his shirt were rolled over his elbows. Arthur was starting the movement of forearms, how the muscles under his skin tensed while he was beating egg whites for meringues.

As ordinary and boring as it was to stare at some as they were preparing sweets for you, Arthur couldn’t deny there was something mesmerizing about the way Francis’s hands moved. Some sort of  elegance that was either vampiric or French or a combination of both, it made it so that Arthur couldn’t keep his eyes off him for long.

“I have no idea how you can be such a good cook even though you don’t eat.” Arthur said, while Francis was pouring pink and fragrant rosewater in the meringue. Francis dipped a finger in the mixture and held it out to Arthur.

“Please tell me if this is alright?” Arthur swirled his tongue around Francis’s finger and tasted the perfumed sweetness of the rose water.

“They’ll do, yeah. Not bad.”

Francis  started pipping pink little meringue kisses on a tray, while Arthur wondered how his life would be like if he were to go through this every day.

“What happens if you do eat food?”

“I’m going to be violently sick and puke it out, of course.” Francis explained to him, “but it would bring me no pleasure to try. Food doesn’t taste like anything to me. It all tastes like sand. But I like cooking – there’s a practical chemistry to it that I find fascinating, and kneading dough is always a relaxing experience.”

Francis put the tray of meringues in the pre-heated oven and took a bag of blood out of the fridge. He poured the contents of in a glass and clinked it against Arthur’s wine glass. After he took a sip of it, though, he made a face.

“There’s nothing satisfying or pleasant about drinking blood from a glass or a blood bag, mon chéri. I do hope you appreciate the sacrifices I’m making for you.”

“Let me guess. Please, please, don’t tell me – I could be offering you my blood.” Arthur said with a mean edge in his voice.

“Oui, bien sure. You could. It’s been more two weeks since I’ve drank from someone’s vein. I’ve been living off blood bags. This is not ideal for me.”

“How often do you have to drink from someone?” Arthur asked, and raised his wine glass to his lips to drain it. This was a conversation he had avoided having for years, but this was the first time he spent so much time with Francis in one go.

He’d seen Francis get a just a little bit crankier with every passing day, saw how he was developing circles under his eyes.

Francis was analyzing him as if he was judging whether or not he should answer or change the subject. In the end though, the other man simply sighed and gulped down his glass of blood. Arthur thought maybe this was a bit like the liquid courage he had given himself before.

“Usually three times a week. There’s the odd week in which I’m craving something special, so then it might be four times.”

Arthur started at him, not really knowing how he was supposed to react to this.

“I thought vampires fed once a week, or once every two weeks, not….” Multiple times a week was crazy to think about. How many people did Francis have on rotation for this?

“Those timelines only work for vampires that completely drain their victims. I don’t drink enough from one person to last me that long.”

“Does that mean you’re constantly hungry?” Arthur asked, pouring himself another glass of wine. Three to four times a week, all those women and men….

“No, not hungry. That’s not the word. It’s….” Francis bit his lip, showing his fangs at Arthur, “Craving. Constantly craving, that’s how I would describe it.”

“Craving for what?” Arthur kept pushing the question.

“Why are you suddenly asking, Arthur? It’s not that I don’t appreciate the interest, but I find it rather odd since you always avoided it before.” Francis’s voice was deceptively casual. He came next to Arthur and sat close to him, and if he were human, Arthur would have been able to feel the heat coming off his body. There was no heat, just a sudden closeness that made Arthur’s skin light up with anticipation.

He mulled Francis’s question over in his head, struggling to figure out if he had any sort of an answer to the question. Something to offer to Francis? No, definitely not. Some answer for himself?

“I think I was wondering….” Arthur’s throat felt dry and his tongue heavy in his mouth. He didn’t want to ask Francis things he could use to hurt himself with, but whatever masochistic streak he had, it had gone on long enough. “…why me? Out of all the other humans, the ones that you drink from, the ones that…Why do you keep coming back to me?”

“Is it that hard to believe I love you?”

“Yes.”

Francis rolled his eyes, and that frustrated Arthur to no avail. The other acted as if he thought Arthur wasn’t very bright. At the very least, not as well versed in understanding human emotions and where they came from.

Which was a criticism Arthur might have to reluctantly agree with.

“You overthink emotions, Arthur, and you fail to understand that they are irrational. Sometimes they just are.”

Arthur wasn’t baffled by the emotion or the love, he was baffled by the why.

Sometimes he was sure that the only reason Francis kept chasing after him was because Francis had a whole host of people that were willing to throw themselves at him, and Arthur kept telling him no. He hoped it was that, because he could at least understand where that was coming from.

Any other option seemed ludicrous.

“Make me understand then.” He threw back at Francis, completely serious.

What Arthur wanted was a reason to leave or a reason to stay. He ran his tongue over his lips and looked straight ahead, refusing to look at Francis. However, it seemed that if he was willing to push this conversation, Francis wasn’t going to let him have it from a safe distance.

A cool hand grabbed his chin and forced his head to the side. His refused to focus on Francis’s face, though, he didn’t feel like he was ready for any sort of conclusion to this dilemma. It had been going on too long, he was too used to it.

Arthur. Regarde-moi, s’il te plait.” That made Arthur close his eyes shut, eyebrow frowning and nose scrunching. He heard Francis laughing at him, soft and indulgent, before he put both his palms on the sides of Arthur’s throat and pulled him forward slightly.

Arthur’s face was nestled against the curve of Francis’s throat and his nose was with inundated with vetiver smell of his cologne. His eyes opened, his lips pressed to Francis’s cool skin, breathing in the scent of him.

“Tell me something real, Francis. It doesn’t have to be flattering or charming or…anything. It has to be real.”

He grabbed a handful of Francis’s shirt, pulled at the delicate fabric until he felt it strain against his hand.

“Years ago, when I was quite a bit younger than I am now, I met a young woman.” Francis was running his fingers through Arthur’s short hair, kept him close to his body with the other hand, “She was from the colonies and I thought she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I had never seen a woman that brought the sun with her in her smile and her smell. I thought – if I could have her and make her mine, then maybe part of the cravings would stop.” There was a laugh in his voice at that and he sounded sad and tired. “I’ve been told it’s harder to lose yourself in the cravings if you’re already lost in another person.”

“Did you want turn her?”

Badly. I wanted to steal her away and make her mine. Then she could be my harbor through the storm, and I would have someone that’s mine.” That made Arthur bite the inside of his cheek and pull away from Francis’s embrace.

“So what happened to her?” Arthur demanded, voice tense and eyes bearing into Francis’s with intensity. His spine was stiff now and he was waiting to jump of the barstool and storm out of the room.

“She got married, mon amour,”  Francis told him with a quirk of his lips, his voice understanding. “She was very in love with the man she was engaged to, and I never had the heart to pursue her. She was happy to love him and be loved by him. I would never attempt steal her away from the happiness she choose for herself.”

It wasn’t what Arthur expected to hear. He thought that maybe his momentary shock was written on his face – certainly he didn’t know how to answer this, so Francis took advantage of his momentary speechlessness and pressed on.

“I’ve been on this Earth too long to believe that soulmates exist. I do believe, however, that there people who are uniquely suited to match. You meet them and you know it’s inevitable for you to love them. Sometimes circumstances keep you apart, but sometimes, if the conditions are right, you can choose to be together.”

“You make it sound very easy.” Francis shrugged his shoulders and smiled at Arthur.

“It is very easy, Arthur. If you want it to easy.”

“What in the bloody hell is that supposed to mean, Francis?” Arthur was itching for a fight, but Francis was too damn calm for it. Either he saw through Arthur’s intentions or he was simply not willing to engage. He was radiating this cool calmness that made Arthur’s already frayed nerves even more so.

“In the past, wherever I met someone I wanted and realized I couldn’t possibly pursue their affections, I always told myself that I should be patient. Surely one day I’ll find someone that is…” Francis trailed off, smile melting off his face and eyes looking off in the distance. He swallowed and Arthur saw it on his face, how he was ready to come up with another trail of thought, talk about something else.

The simple fact that he paused made Arthur angry beyond belief. He could never really trust a vampire with the truth, could he? There was always some sort of layer, some sort of charm – Francis had this notion that Arthur needed protection, but Arthur didn’t want to be treated with velvet gloves, Arthur wanted honesty from him.  

Maybe Francis saw it on his face before Arthur got to move, maybe he felt it in way his body tensed, how he wanted to jump off the chair and storm out of the room. He grabbed Arthur by the forearms and made him stand still.

“Lonely. I wanted to say lonely.” Arthur saw the wince that followed, the slight cringe at the confession which was pulled out of him, “Someone that was just as lonely as I was. And I tasted it on you that night they woke me up with your blood, underneath all the layers and layers of sweetness, you tasted like loneliness and anger. I thought it would pass – there was so much time for it to pass. You were so young when we first met so I left you alone and refused to think about it.”

There was a pause between them, and when Francis was sure that Arthur had calmed down enough, he let go of his grip and took a step back from him. Arthur’s gaze followed him as he was pacing back and forth, he could almost see the wheels turning in the other man’s mind as he was thinking of what to say. Maybe he realized how important this was for Arthur and how his input depended on it.

“But then, fate threw you back into my arms, years later. And you tasted the same, your loneliness tasted like mine, Arthur, and you wanted and craved in the same way I did.” Francis was looking at him with almost wonder on his face, like Arthur was a revelation. It made his stomach knot and his knees weak. “Those things you yearn for and that anger that courses through you…”

The vampire crowded into Arthur’s space, put his hands around Arthur’s middle and leaned his head forward, pressed his nose against Arthur’s throat. He inhaled the scent of him and sighed.

“I’ve waited for such a long time for you to come along.” Arthur felt the words across his skin, felt warm heat at the base of his spine.

“What if I say no?” His heart was beating so fast, and he knew Francis could hear it, feel his blood running through his veins.

“Then you will say no.” Francis said with a laugh, and he hugged Arthur closer to his body. “I will be very sad – but Arthur, I believe you also want to choose me.”

Arthur closed his eyes and tried to imagine. Going back home and living his life the way he was used to, occasionally visiting his brothers and fighting with them, hunting with Alfred. Staying away from Francis and Francis staying away from him. Growing old and retiring. Nieces and nephews from his brothers.

It might not be happy. Arthur wasn’t sure if he had the capacity to be happy.

Content.

It might be content.

But then a stray thought crossed his mind - Francis Bonnefoy pouring his heart and soul out to someone else.

Francis finding someone else, Francis falling in love with someone else, Francis tell them about Arthur as he was telling Arthur about the others that broke his heart before. Francis turning Arthur into a painful memory that he would move on from.

Arthur didn’t want Francis to move on from him.

 


 

 

Arthur Kirkland had been fourteen when he had been almost, unsuccessfully, sacrificed to a vampire.

After that, Arthur didn’t see Francis again for six years.

He would have convinced himself he was crazy – there were no cultists, no murders, no mummies turning into men in front of his eyes. There were no vampires. It was all fancy.

But there was a scar on Arthur’s lip that tingled when he touched it and he remembered that man, how he held Arthur and licked the blood of his chin, how smiled at him. And Arthur…

Arthur went through the rest of his teenage years hiding in dank libraries, with his nose in old books, reading about magic, and ghouls and vampires. He read and researched, he tried to found accounts of people that went through the same experience he did.

Most of the books he found were dead ends and they offered absolutely nothing substantial in terms of properly researching vampires. So he started to ask around for better books – and then he started getting shifty answers, he started getting told to mind his own business. Door started getting shut in his face.

It’s quite an experience to get kicked out of an old books store – most people can’t brag with every going through it.

One day, when he was sixteen and hiding in the corner of a small library where he found some books on the occult that he hadn’t seen before, a man approached him. He was tall, lean, had white hair and red eyes. He told Arthur he had taken notice of his rather peculiar interest – he heard from his network that Arthur was asking about things he had no business asking about.

“What are you looking for, kid?” The other man asked him, propping his chin in his hand and regarding Arthur with curiosity.

Arthur never talked about it with anyone else, never trusted anyone to tell them. People that knew him would think he was crazy. This man was an absolute stranger, knew absolutely nothing about who Arthur was, so if he thought Arthur was crazy? It would be no big deal.

“I’m looking for someone.” Arthur answered him truthfully, and the other man cackled a laugh that sounded echoed.

“Looking for someone. What if I told you I can help you with?”

“I don’t see how you could.” The man smirked challengingly at Arthur and held out his hand to introduce himself.

“I’m Gilbert Beilschmidt, kid, and I’m a vampire hunter.”

So Arthur met Gilbert Beilschmidt, vampire hunter extraordinaire. Gilbert was in the process of training his younger brother Ludwig to pick up  the vampire hunting trade, but if Arthur was interested in it, he knew people.

So Gilbert recruited Arthur in the trade, Gilbert introduced him to Kiku and so started the grueling process of training to become a vampire hunter.

There was a barrage of information to explore, books to read, things to learn. Slowly but surely he started to understand that there was a real world of magic and monsters and vampires lurking just behind the surface of the reality he knew.

It was fascinating and exhalating, it was like finally having something for himself – a skill, a secret, something that was apart from his brother. Arthur excelled in his training, though his performance in school started getting worse and worse, and his relationship with his brothers was becoming more and more strained.

Apart from that, there were also Arthur’s – preferences. Tastes. Desires, if you could call them that.

Arthur dreamt of him, Arthur dreamt of that night over and over, only this time, he wasn’t scared, he wasn’t fourteen either. Those dreams made him wake up breathless and aching, like he was left wanting something he wasn’t sure how to ask for.

His head turned after all the blue-eyed blondes that he passed on the street.

He remembered feelings helpless and powerless when he fell into the vampires arms – so in the dreams and fantasies, he always had the chance to be different. More confident. Stronger.

Arthur told himself that if he ever came face to face with that vampire again, he’d….

Well. He wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted.

But he wanted something from him.

Still, the more he learned about vampires, the more he saw the effects of their charms and bites – the more he became aware of how toxic his own desires were. He saw young women wasting away willingly for what they thought to be love, he saw the torn throats and the blood spilled and the senseless deaths.

Arthur remembered all the other nameless, faceless ghouls that he and Kiku had to face down. How hungry they were and how mindless they got when deep in bloodlust. How dangerous. How they looked at him like he was less than human, less sentient, like he was a hunk of meat that was meant to be devoured. It made his stomach turn and it made him feel ashamed of how much he wanted to pursue a creature that could rip him apart.

He finally, finally, finally managed to shove all those feeling away, hide them under lock and key.

There was always going to be a part of Arthur that wanted to toy with darkness, there was always the thrill of danger and the fantasy of it – but he made peace with, chalked it down to having a kinky side that liked the idea of fucking around with things that could hurt him. Many people had that. Quite common.

But then, one day, Arthur was in Paris hunting down a ghoul – a simple, straightforward mission that took no effort at all to complete. He should have been in and out of Paris in a day.

Fate, however, had other ideas.

Just as he put accepted that he had an unnatural attraction towards certain unhealthy things as a result of having his sexual awakening over a vampire that was supposed to kill him –

He went back to his hotel room and he realized something was wrong before he even stepped inside. Something made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, and had his hand on his gun before he stepped into the room.

Of course, when he saw blond hair and blue eyes and that smile – Arthur’s finger froze on the trigger.

“Well, look at you,” he said, crossing the room and ignoring Arthur’s gun completely. He circled Arthur and looked at him up and down, like he was inspecting a new sort of animal, “How much you changed since the last time we met.” He stopped in front of Arthur and leaned forward, smelling him, and really, Arthur did the only possible thing he could do in that situation.

He shot him.

 


 

The kitchen smelled sweet – rosewater and sugar from the meringue kisses, Arthur could feel the taste of them on his tongue already.

Francis had pulled them out of the oven a little while ago, and when he deemed them sufficiently cool to eat, he held one out to Arthur with a smile.

“I’m not a child, Francis. I can feed myself.” Arthur said with a frown, glaring at the little pink sweet.

“Allow me to be romantic, then,” Francis countered smoothly.

“There’s nothing romantic about being fed like ahhh…-” Because Francis was an absolute wanker, he took advantage of Arthur’s open mouth and shoved the meringue inside completely.

Arthur had been tempted to spit it out, but the he wasn’t an animal, so he settled for a scorching glare and to chew silently.

“I completely hate you sometimes,” but he crowded Francis against the cabinets and pressed their mouths together in a very purposeful kiss. The other man went with it immediately, arms going around Arthur’s body and pulling him in an embrace.

Kissing Francis was like licking a battery – it made his whole body tingle and sent a jolt down his spine. He ran his tongue over the fangs, gently, and Arthur’s hands grabbed at Francis’s hair and tightened, yanked at it painfully enough to make him moan low in his throat.

Suddenly they were kissing, kissing, kissing and ah, Arthur didn’t want to just kiss him anymore.

Arthur’s body was trained to reacted to Francis’s kisses in the same way Pavlov’s dogs were trained to drool over those rotten little bells – whenever they kissed, whenever Francis let him pull at his hair like that, whenever they bodies were pressed together as close as they were now, Arthur’s cock knew it was supposed to pay attention to the situation.

He had missed fucking Francis, though.

Proximity to someone you desired, combined with celibacy even though you slept in the same bed – they were a special brand of masochism that Arthur was familiar with. 

As much as he struggled to deny it, as much as he tried to stay away from Francis, as much as he promised that this time is the last time we fuck – His body didn’t know how to react to another lover, he never wanted someone else to make him come because no one else compared.

There were always these long periods of time in which Arthur denied any form of contact between the two them and then when the dam broke, he had no idea how he could have survived without Francis. Then he spent a couple of days gorging himself on love and pleasure and affection and Francis, until the fog cleared from his head and ran back to England, promising himself he’d never do it again.

“I wondered…” Francis whispered, peppering kisses over Arthur’s neck while unbuttoning his shirt.

“What were you wondering about” He had meant to sound exasperated, but all he sounded like was desperately turned on.

“How long it would take until you’d want to have sex.” Arthur groaned, annoyed beyond belief that this was what Francis chose waste his time doing when they could be doing far more interesting things in the time they had. “I have to say, it was more than I expected, considering how much time we spent together lately.”

“Why are you talking, Francis? I’ve done nothing but listen to you talk for weeks.” Arthur said, burying his face in Francis’s shoulder, inhaling him and feeling as if he was about to burst out of his skin. The vampire’s smooth chuckles  rang in the kitchen, and the sound made Arthur want him even more.

“What do you desire from me, mon amour?” Francis asked him, his voice teasing and warm. It made Arthur want to lick into his mouth again so he could make him stop talking, shove his cock down his throat so he could give him a better reason to shut up.

“I want to fuck you”, Arthur words were all rough with arousal, and it made Francis smirk at him, toothy and smug.

“Oh, but that’s so crude, Arthur, did I not teach you anything about seduction?”

“I will gag you, if you keep talking.” But he was laughing as well, because it was very hard not to enjoy the playfulness of the moment.

There had been a time when Arthur couldn’t even think about having sex with Francis without feeling a wave of self-loathing washing over him, but between then and now, Arthur at least learned accept that he was, most likely, never going to be attracted to anyone else with the same of ferocious intensity.

Arthur was doomed to spend the rest of his life making bad choices, it seemed, but it was in moments like this when he threw caution out the window and let himself get swept away under a tide of conflicting sentiments – possessiveness and belonging, the leap and the fall in his chest.

He kissed Francis again because he could, he swallowed his amused gasp and forced his head into a position that gave Arthur easier access. The sounds Francis were breathy and raspy and whiny, and they made Arthur greedy. He wanted more.

Arthur never let himself think too much about the taste of Francis’s mouth – he pressed his tongue against the roof of his mouth, he kissed him, kissed him until his jaw hurt from kissing and he never thought about how he tasted. If it was metallic and sharp, if it was blood, if it was Arthur imagining things. Francis tasted like all the kisses Arthur ever remembered wanting and that was better than anything else.

They stumbled over their feet to get into the bedroom. It was exceedingly hard to focus on coordinating your movements when all you wanted was to fall together into a tangled mess of mouths and tongues and fingers pressing into skin. Arthur knew Francis would be upset if he ripped any buttons from his lovely shirt, so he made a point to open them one by one.

Francis’s fingers on his skin felt cool, they left gooseflesh in their wake when they ran over Arthur’s chest, when they pressed against the new scar tissues that had formed from the bullet wound. It made him shudder, made him bite Francis’s lower lip with force.

There was an empty space inside his chest, in the core of him. Sometimes he felt it like an open chasm, this yearning and longing and need for some indiscernible thing that made him hungry and angry – but when he was with Francis like this, that want had purpose and drive and reality. Francis knew what Arthur needed and let him take it, or he offered it on a platter, so Arthur didn’t even need to vocalize it sometimes.

“I missed you,” Francis whined, pressing hard, sharp kisses to Arthur’s mouth, his cheeks, his jaw, his throat, “I missed you, I missed you.”

“How can you miss me? I’ve been here for weeks.” Arthur laughed, and it quickly turned into a sigh when Francis cupped him through the material of his trouser. He closed his eyes against the slight sensations and put his arms around Francis’s neck.

“Exactly, you’ve been here for weeks. How can you be such a cruel man?”  

“What in the bloody hell did I do now?” Arthur asked, pushing his hips forward, pushing them against Francis. It was like a switch in his head, now that Francis touched him - it seemed like his cock suddenly remembered it was there, achingly hard and desperately missing Francis’s touch.

“You let met wither away in misery. You let me miss you even when you were so close to me.”

And with that Francis pulled down the zipper on his pants, pushed them down over Arthur’s hips and left him bare. He put on hand on Arthur’s shoulder and urged him to sit on the bed, and then in the very next second, he dropped to his knees smoothly in front of Arthur.

Arthur’s hand found Francis’s head on instinct, like it was the most natural thing in the word to grab his hair and run his fingers through it while they were sitting like this. Francis pushed into his hand affectionately, then pressed his cheek against Arthur’s naked, pale thigh and closed his eyes.

His elegant fingers, they ran through the dark, course hairs at the base of Arthur’s cock, they tightened around his shaft and it made him gasp. Francis then surged forward, pressed his nose against the juncture of his thigh, breathed him in.

“There is a vein here,” Francis pressed the flat of his tongue against his skin of Arthur’s inner thigh. “I’ve been thinking about how I want to sink my fangs in it.” He rubbed his thumb against the head of Arthur’s cock while he was saying it.

“Can you feel my blood pumping there?” Arthur asked, curiosity and arousal spiking through him.

“It feels like you’re pressing sugar against my tongue and telling me not to taste it.”

“But do you deserve it?” Arthur sat back on his elbows, looked at Francis with a smirk on his face.

Francis didn’t answer him, but oh, his eyes were all blown up and dark, his pupils dilated. Sometimes Arthur wanted to let Francis feast on him, only because he refused to think that he looked at anyone else like that.

Francis had dusty pink lips that were soft and plump, Arthur pushed a finger between them and forced his mouth open.

“Stick your tongue out for me, love” he asked, eyes boring into one another, Francis gazing at him from between his eyelashes, mouth open, tongue out, “just like that, yeah.”

Arthur grabbed his own cock in his hand and pressed the wet head of it against Francis’s tongue, put it in his mouth so he could shove it against the inside of Francis’s cheek. There was something very satisfyingly animalic about seeing his dick push against Francis’s cheek, so he did it again, and again, and again. He pulled out only to rub the head of it over the pink, plump lips which he loved, smear them with saliva and precum.

There were things Arthur never felt completely comfortable doing – while he considered himself a brave man, he was not brave enough to ever let Francis have full control and suck him off. When your lover has fangs and a desire to drain you of blood, it might seem like self-preservation to abstain from it. However, fortunately  for Arthur, Francis enjoyed it when you grabbed his hair, he liked it when Arthur forced his head back and kept him immobilized while Arthur had his way with his mouth.

Arthur couldn’t tell you, at this point in his life – if he was an aggressive lover by nature, or if he was rough because Francis thought him to be rough? Because Francis could heal bruises on himself but he preferred to leave them there, because he liked pushing his fingers against them to feel a little bit of pain.

Arthur readily obliged.

There was a feeling of power that came from having Francis on his knees in front of him, it felt like his stomach was full of bubbling heat and he could do just about anything. Francis looked up at him with these beautiful blue eyes and his lips wet and licking the head of Arthur’s cock and Arthur was sure that a city of saints would turn their back on God at the lovely sight of him.

Arthur fisted a handful of Francis’s hair, moaned painfully at the torturous sensation of good-but-not-enough, not quite enough. What was enough, though?

“Francis, Francis – I want to fuck you, I want to be inside you.”

Francis was supposed to be his, Francis was supposed to belong to him – when they were like this, when things were blurry and hot and Arthur was burning and craving and hungry, Francis was supposed to belong to him during those moments and you can do whatever you want to the things that belong to you.

Francis surged up, he put his arms around Arthur and kissed him all wet and dirty and with too much tongue. Arthur wanted to cling to him, but it was unbecoming, Arthur wanted to chase after his mouth to keep kissing even when Francis pulled away to take off his own pants and underwear.

“Ah, mon amour, I’m here, I’m here.” Francis was kissing his face, kissing his cheeks, his eyelids. He poured lube over Arthur’s cock and took him in his hand, stroked him as he was talking, “Arthur, Arthur, I have you, I’m here,” it was the way he said it, how his voice was breathy and his accent thick and it sounded like honey and it made Arthur’s chest surge with want.

“I need you, I need you, I need you,” Arthur’s nails where digging into Francis’s shoulders. He refused to believe that the desperate voice belonged to him – when did he ever sound so gutted and torn?

Francis laughed against his open mouth, straddled his hips and positioned himself over the head of Arthur’s dick. There was a moment in which he took a deep breath, kept it in his lungs, relaxed his body and forced Arthur’s cock inside in one motion.

It knocked the air completely out of Arthur’s lungs – he shouted, strangled by the sensation of pleasure-pain and being inside Francis’s body all at once. Fuck. Fuck.

There was definitely not enough lube for that to be anything other than painful – he could see it on Francis’s face, on the tense features and clenched jaw, the way he forced himself to breathe slowly so he could get used to the stretch of his body around the length and thickness inside him.

Francis liked the pain and liked to impale himself on Arthur’s cock with complete disregard for his body’s protests. He set this punishing pace of grinding and arching, fucking himself on Arthur’s cock as if he was chasing the burn and hurt and overwhelming fullness more than the pleasure.

Francis was never kind to himself, and Arthur thought – if he were human, he would have done so much damage to himself already. But then, Francis let himself fall forward, molded their bodies together, and they were chest to chest and cheek to cheek, and Francis was moaning and sighing, and Arthur put his hands around him and hugged him close.

“You feel so good, you’re so good,” he was babbling things, he knew he was, all those things that he never babbled about, ever, they came pouring out when Francis was sharing his body with Arthur.

It made the other man chuckle, broken and raw, it made him grind down harder on Arthur’s dick, clench around him and squeeze him so tightly Arthur thought he saw stars on the bloody ceiling. Arthur fingers where drawing runes on Francis’s sweaty back. His own name and property of, because if Arthur were to disappear tomorrow, he wanted Francis to be marked on his skin and his flesh and his bones.

If Arthur was irrevocably his, if it had been written in his fate and stars to belong to Francis since the moment those men choose him to be a sacrifice for him, then Francis was meant to be his, his, his.

Arthur had absolutely no intention of ever letting anyone else have Francis the way he had him – it was only fair, because Arthur was never going to find someone to replace Francis and he refused to accept the possibility of Francis replacing him.

Francis’s hand was fisted over his own cock, jerking it roughly in time with his movements. Each rise and fall, each rotations of his hips, all of it made the scorching sensation in Arthur’s abdomen feel more and more immediate, impossible to control. His muscles were coiled, taunt, tight, his bones were vibrating, and his spine was arching, Arthur’s lungs were too full, swollen against his ribcage and his heart wanted to burst out of his chest and throw itself at Francis’s mercy.

 “Arthur, Arthur, Arthur” it was the way that Francis moaned his name, how desperate he sounded, much he needed him, how it made Arthur feel like he was at the very center of Francis’s world when he said it. Over and over and over, like he was praying, like Arthur could save him, like the whole expanse of years before and after didn’t matter and the universe was narrow and hot and glowing bright.

Arthur’s universe was – narrow and hot and glowing bright blue because Francis was staring into his eyes, and he was trapped and caught and he didn’t think he ever wanted to get out, because…because…

God, he was so beautiful, Francis was so beautiful when he came around Arthur’s cock, with his back arched and his throat bare and his head throw back, his sweaty hair sticking to his skin. Arthur thought he was the best thing he ever saw, and his body felt like a maddening bite of heaven, and he tightened magnificently around Arthur when he came. Francis rode the waves of his orgasm and pulled Arthur along with him, made him dive headfirst into it.

It was like lungs popping and heart bursting, throat burning and mouth needy, Francis kissed him and he was left with no choice but to breath him in.

Sometimes he felt like he needed Francis to be so close because he was going to melt away without him, that in all the spaces which Arthur inhabited, Francis was the only real, solid thing, the character in sharp technicolor when everything else was various boring shades of grey.

Arthur came back to himself in bits and pieces, a little bit here and a little bit there. Francis was still on top of him, his face nestled in the curve of Arthur’s shoulder, his fingers running over Arthur’s skin, sighing into his ear contentedly.

“Francis?” his voice was a soft croak.

There was a hum of acknowledgement, and Arthur struggled to wet his lips. His heart was beating too fast again, because he was nervous and he had no idea what sort of uncertain territory he was supposed to step out on, but he was willing to try.

“You can.” He said, voice stilled. “Bite me. If you want, ”

He felt Francis tense over him, which he had expected, but he didn’t expect him to pull away from Arthur completely. Suddenly, the lovely, soft afterglow between the two of them was ruined and Francis was sitting on his knees in bed, looking at Arthur was if he’d just been slapped.

“Don’t offer me something like that if you don’t want it, Arthur, I…” He sounded absolutely heartbroken and furious at the thought of it being anything other than genuine – really that made Arthur mad because it seemed Francis really thought he was stupid. “I couldn’t bare if you regretted it afterwards.”

“I thought you promised me I wouldn’t regret it,” Arthur shot back at him, snarkier than he thought was possible given the circumstances, but he was also annoyed now. Why would he offer something like that if he didn’t mean it?

“It’s not a joke Arthur, and it’s not about how it feels, it’s about…” Francis trailed off and it seemed like he wanted to get out of bed. Well, this was definitely not working out how Arthur had envisioned it, so he grabbed Francis’s wrist to stop him.

“I know. Francis – I know, alright. I understand…”

“No, no you definitely don’t understand.”

 “Fine. You’re right.” Francis really hoped he realized how much it took for Arthur to say something like that. “I don’t understand what it’s like, but I want to understand. I want to understand, because I…”

What was it, that was the most he could say. Anything else was dead in his throat, and Arthur really hoped Francis understood what he meant, because he wasn’t sure he had any other words for this.

There was a moment in which Francis looked at him seriously, searched his face. He cupped Arthur’s face in his hand and forced their eyes to meet, looked at Arthur as if he was filtering out all the lies and the truths between them. Arthur let him, because he got his answers from Francis earlier, it was only fair to return the favor.

 “You’re serious. You mean it.” Francis said, completely shocked by the realization that Arthur was willing to let himself get bitten. 

“Bloody hell, Francis, of course I meant it. I’m not in the habit of offering things if I’m not interested in them. And I’m very aware of the consequences and potential ramifications, and…” Arthur started ranting, feeling slightly mad about everything.

Francis didn’t let him talk anymore, though, because he pressed his mouth against Arthur, mid-rant, cut him off from saying anything else. Privately Arthur himself was glad for the kiss – the mood wasn’t completely ruined; they could still save it with a little work.

He felt the tension in his muscles relaxing, sighed into the kiss and cradled the back of Francis’s head while his tongue was exploring Arthur’s mouth. The knot in his chest loosened and Francis pushed him back onto the pillow, ran his fingers over Arthur’s side in gentle, sweeping motions.

The kisses that followed were all in quick succession, one after the other, until he almost forgot what the end goal was, until he felt the warm, lazy fire of arousal filling his body once more. His breath hitched when Francis nuzzled against the underside of his jaw, his fingers trembled when the other man’s lips touched his throat.

“Arthur?” Francis asked, with concern in his voice and his breath ghosting over Arthur’s skin. “Are you still alright with this?”

“Stop asking stupid questions, Francis, I’m alright,” He protested half-heartedly, stretching out his neck out to give Francis easier access to the veins there.

“You have no idea how long I’ve been dreaming about this,” Francis licked at Arthur’s throat with the flat of his tongue. His mouth opened against Arthur’s pulse point, fangs scratching against his skin, pressing slightly. It wasn’t enough to break the skin yet, it made Arthur think that Francis was teasing himself with it, going this slow.

Arthur’s hand tightened around the vampire, pulled him closer, and that’s when he felt it too – the pierced skin, small moment of pain that made him gasp and arch, the immediate sweetening, the lightheaded dizzy-drunkenness that went to his head like liquor on and empty stomach.

He felt drunk and light and glowing inside and expanding from his skin, like he couldn’t be contained by it anymore. Francis drank from him and Arthur felt like the edges of where he ended and Francis started were blurred and soft, melted together. He wanted to crawl inside the space between Francis’s ribs, he wanted to never stop touching him, he wanted…he wanted…he wanted…

Arthur head was full of honey, warm and sticky and sweet, and Francis’s name was the only coherent thought inside of it. It felt like he was overflowing with feelings he couldn’t name, like his neurons were on fire and his chest was about to explode, like his dick was still hard and he couldn’t cum no matter  how much he tried, like there were no words to describe this and no feelings that were quite like this.

Like Francis opened him up and reached inside of Arthur’s chest, like Francis was holding Arthur’s beating heart in his hand to examine it.

He wanted to protest the loss of feeling when Francis finally pulled away, No, wait, don’t to, don’t let me go, he wanted to say it, but he wasn’t sure if he did.

His tongue was heavy in his mouth and he felt like he was floating outside his body – Francis licked at the wound on his throat, was it closed now? There was no blood coming out anymore, he didn’t feel it anymore, but all he could feel was cold and needy and don’t go, wait, stay.

Arthur struggled to keep his eyes opened, feeling himself ready to slip into exhaustion, but he couldn’t yet, not yet, because he wanted to look at Francis some more, he wanted to look at Francis looking at him. His eyes were drunk and hazy, Francis was looking at him, impassionate and feverish, lips stretched over his fangs.

“Tell me you love me,” Francis demanded of him, shiny blue eyes begging Arthur, “Tell me you love me. You love me, I know you do, but tell me, I want to hear you.” Francis’s fingers were digging into Arthur’s flesh, but Arthur’s flesh felt soft and Arthur thought he’d leave marks.

“Francis, stop asking for stupid things.” Arthur told him, words muddling together and dragging his throat.

“I can feel it, I can feel it in your blood flowing through me, I can feel it in my chest, you love me.” Francis said with this sheer, unaltered awe in his voice. “You love me. Tell me you love me, I want to hear you say it.”

“I have no idea if I do, I just…” Arthur trailed off, trying to gasp at the concept of love and what it was supposed to mean.

Love – he had no idea if he loved Francis or not. He was so used to him by now, he was such a steady, secure presence in Arthur’s life.

But love?

“Arthur. Arthur. Bon dieu tu es si stupide parfois.”

“I understood that, I feel insulted.” Arthur whined, but his heart really wasn’t into it – everything around him felt foggy and Francis kept him close, pressed their bodies together and all those places in which they were touching helped anchor him in the moment.

“Do you know how it feels like, to drink from someone that loves you like you love me?” Francis nuzzled Arthur’s jaw and took his earlobe between his teeth to bite at it gently. “I used to see people in Opium dens with their eyes glazed over and staring into nothingness, like they understood things I didn’t. I was jealous of them, how they could get so lost in something while I couldn’t.”

Francis leaned over him and Arthur embraced him. He was too drowsy and content to fuck, but it would feel nice, wouldn’t it? To push inside Francis’s body and fuck into him gently, slowly, to make his eyes roll in the back of his head and help him forget that there was ever anyone else before Arthur.

The thought of that alone sent a sharp stab of want through him, and he didn’t think it was possible to get hard again after but here he was. His hips were moving on their own accord, legs tightening and pressing against Francis, arching and stretching underneath him.

“I want you to bite me again.” Arthur offered, pushing Francis’s hair away from his face.

“Arthur, I…”

Francis looked at him euphoric and hungry and Arthur wanted to keep him like that, wanted to keep him in bed with his mouth occupied with anything other than talking. Francis talking meant he was going to say stupid things, ask for stupid things.

“You can bite me, I’ll allow you to.” He was breathing heavily – Francis was hard, Arthur could feel his cock hot and rigid against his own.

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll hurt you?” Francis’s voice was teasing, but there was an edge of frantic passion underneath the question. He might as well be drooling over Arthur’s neck, it was so obvious how much he wanted this. It made dark thoughts swim inside Arthur’s mind.

“You won’t.” Arthur said with conviction, “If you do, I won’t let you bite me again.” Francis made a sound that was very similar to a cat in heat, pained and torn and desperate. He kissed the skin Arthur’s throat, pressed against the puncture marks there. There was a stinging pain, sweet and slight, but it only served to entice Arthur further.

“Tell me you love me,” Francis asked him again.

“Are you going to bite me or not?” There was chuckle, warm and rich and inviting.

“Your wish is my command, my lord,”

Francis sank his fangs into Arthur’s vein without further warning – it took him by surprise, so he shouted; but it quickly changed into a moan when the dreamy languorous pleasure of the act settled over him. He felt Francis rutting against him and for a wild second, Arthur though he should let Francis fuck him like this next time.

The thought of his blood pumping through Francis’s heart, his veins, making him warm and flushed and hard – it sent a shiver down his spine, and he clung to Francis and let him have his fill of him, until he felt like he was going to pass out from the torturous, sweeping intensity of it.

When he wanted to ask Francis to stop, stop, I can’t anymore, you can’t take anymore of me – the vampire already seemed to know. He licked the wound on Arthur’s neck closed, and pressed himself against Arthur, foreheads touching, noses rubbing together gently,  

You aren’t allowed to leave me after this, I won’t let you to.” Francis had this delirious pitch in his voice, like he was breaking apart in front of Arthur. “You can’t leave me anymore, not after this.”

Arthur wanted to protest, but he couldn’t, because not even he was that cruel when it came to breaking people’s hearts. And Arthur was lightheaded, he was content and hypersensitive, and Francis felt warm and the spaces between them were humming and vibrating and Arthur wanted to give him whatever he wanted.

Francis was still on top of him, sweaty hair clinging to his face and grinding against Arthur, so hard that Arthur ached in sympathy.

I love you, I love you, I love you,” He  was babbling the words in the crooks of Arthur’s neck, against the shell of his ear, “I won’t let you leave me again.” His nails where pressing against Arthur skin and this euphoric laughter started bubbling out of Arthur’s throat.

“What if I don’t want to live in Paris?” He asked, hands roaming over Francis’s back. Arthur reached his fantastic backside and groped him roughly – one hand he used to spread his cheeks, with the other he pushed two fingers roughly inside of him.

It must have taken Francis by surprise, he arched and bucked against Arthur, yelled out. There was still semen inside him from when he fucked himself on Arthur cock, that made the whole thing more…dirty, in the best possible way.

“We’ll…” – a moan here, broken off and raw, “live wherever you want.”

“I’ll have to work, I have commitments do uphold.”

No, no, you don’t.” Francis was pushing back against his fingers and then grinding forward, chasing sensations and all but sobbing in Arthur’s arms, “I’m rich enough – oh, Arthur, I…”

“Do you want me to be some sort of housewife for you? Because I’m not, just to be clear.” He was having too much fun with this. Francis’s babbling, the mewling, needy sounds he was making, the frenzy of his movements...

Arthur, Arthur, Arthur – ”

“What do you want, love? Tell me, what do you want?” He pushed another finger inside Francis, used all three of them to mercilessly hit against his prostate.

I want you.”

“You have me,” Arthur voice was firm, he kissed the side of Francis’s wet mouth. He gave a hard slap against Francis’s ass. “What do you want from me? Do you want me to make you cum again?”

Yes, yes, yes, Arthur, yes.” 

And really, that was all Arthur wanted to hear. He kept pressing and crooking his fingers inside of Francis, and with his other hand he grabbed his lover’s cock, heavy and warm with blood as it was. He twisted his wrist, stroked Francis just the way he liked it.

He felt so overwhelming proud of himself - Arthur felt like he was absolutely the most important person alive in the moment, because who else made Francis tear himself apart for beautifully? Arthur wanted him to shatter in his arms so he could put him back together.

“Then come for me, love. Show me how much you need me.”

Francis shuddered and his voice broke over the shout of his release. Arthur felt semen splattering over his skin, over his groin and it was… – a very particular brand of satisfaction and pride burst inside of him. Francis collapsed onto the bed next to him and Arthur couldn’t take his eyes of off him.

Blue eyes closed and mouth open, panting, chest rising and falling and skin glistening with sweat – Arthur rolled on his side so he could look at him better, tucked a golden lock of hair behind his ear, looked at him and looked at him and looked him.

“Stay, stay with me.” Francis didn’t open his eyes, but he grabbed Arthur’s wrist and kissed it repeatedly.

Arthur didn’t think it was a good idea to promise anything – the reality was that he had no idea if he could stay. Should he?

But his head and his chest and his muscles and his bones – he felt like if he were to disappoint Francis now, he would cause himself so much pain he wouldn’t be able to endure it.

“Ask me again tomorrow, alright?”