Chapter One - No Prayer For The Dying
It was the hawk again. Barred soft grey with a harsher brown back and fierce yellow eyes she twisted through the branches of a winter bare tree, her prey darting desperately in an attempt to outfly Death.
The hawk snatched the wren, crushing the life out of her with a single twitch of her powerful talons, driving them into the tiny bird’s body and splashing her blood across his eyes.
She banked her flight, and pierced him with her eyes as surely as the talons had pierced the heart of the wren still clutched tight in one foot. Her message was clear; she knew him, and she called -
Steve jerked upright, throat tight with fear, sheet wrapped sweat tight with damp around his hips where he must have been thrashing to escape the nightmare.
He leaned on his arms, dropped his head back and sighed, feeling the cold air from the room’s air-conditioner flow across his chest, curl around his ribs and begin to dry the terror induced wetness that ran from him in tiny rivulets. The dreams, again…he thought he’d be free of them now. Hadn’t had one for months so he’d thought, he’d hoped -
Ah. He’d forgotten about her; the little blonde with the big tits who wouldn’t leave him alone after the show. She’d trailed along back onto the bus, into the hotel, the bar…and no-one else would do for her, apparently. So he’d given in, brought her to his room, fucked her and rolled over to sleep with barely a word, hoping she’d be nothing more than a fading scent of cheap perfume on his sheets come the morning.
He closed his eyes, concentrated on keeping his breathing low and even, driving the fear away until he could think clearly. Her voice was suddenly irritating; she made his name sound like ‘Aaargh-eeeee?’
She touched his side and he flinched from her questing fingers; throwing the sheet back he stalked to the bathroom, ignoring the nervous twittering spilling random from her red-smeared mouth. He slammed the door behind him, turned on the light and stared at himself in the mirror; haunted eyes stared back, ringed with shadows and with the beginning of worry lines creasing the thinner skin at the corners. Dammit!
He opened the bathroom door, looked for the girl; she was still sitting on the edge of the bed, looking vacant.
“I need some time alone. Get your shit and clear off, alright?”
She opened her mouth to shriek and he simply shut the door on her, locking it securely and sitting on the lid of the toilet seat, waiting for the sound of the room door closing. He could sit here all night if he had to; had done so in the past, in fact.
He could hear banging and some high pitched cursing, the odd sob and whine, but eventually it all went quiet. He waited some more, trying to count the thin tracery of the veins on the back of his eyelids, lit as they were by the harsh overhead light; it wouldn’t be the first time one of the faceless groupies who hovered about the band had decided to try and wait him out.
They didn’t have the patience.
So when he finally cracked the bathroom door open and peered around, he wasn’t surprised - but was still relieved - to find the room empty. He just hoped that she hadn’t thought to empty his wallet on the way out; wouldn’t be the first time that had happened, either.
He couldn’t be bothered to check right now, just made his way back to the bed and rolled himself up in the sheets, burying his face in the pillow that smelt of sweat, sex, and groupie. He sighed, curling his body in an attempt to get comfortable but his mind wouldn’t be quiet. Why now? He’d told them he wasn’t interested…they’d fucked his life up quite enough, ta very much, and he wasn’t having anything to do with them anymore.
Since then there had been no more dreams, no more strange coincidences, no more of the sort of shit that had driven H away from them all. H, one of his oldest friends who’d sworn more than once whatever it is, Harry, we’ll get through it together…
And now they were back. Well, he’d warn the others in the morning; that is, unless they knew already, in which case he would be wasting his breath and they would all grouch at him over breakfast. When the dreams were this strong it was rare indeed that he was the only one to be touched by their effects.
He rolled over again, shoved his head under the pillow and fell into an uneasy, troubled sleep.
Bruce was happy.
Blinding show, everyone on a high, fans happy, crew happy, venue happy, band happy.
He sighed. And to make the evening absolutely perfect he’d picked up a nice young fan in the hotel bar. Harry had drawn the short straw, eventually - and rather grumpily, it had to be said - retiring to bed with the big breasted blonde groupie that had been dogging him all night. Janick had found himself a nice young lady and Davey had also retired rather cheerfully, having been seduced by an older redhead; Nicko had strolled off with a small group - God alone knew how he managed it - leaving Bruce with quite the most beautiful boy he’d seen in a long time.
Well, he said boy; the lad claimed to be twenty one and hey, if that was so then Bruce wasn’t going to question it. But there was a certain…agelessness about the boy’s face; it was as though depending on how the light fell across those enchantingly dark eyes he could have been anywhere between a very young fifteen or a well preserved fifty. His short hair curled close like the fleece of a young goat, a brown so dark it was almost black, and his skin had the olive cast of the Mediterranean; he’d tan beautifully.
Bruce grinned at himself in the mirror. One of the things he liked about visiting Paris: the locals were all gorgeous.
He was still chuckling to himself about this when he returned to the bedroom, pausing for a moment on the threshold to enjoy the view. Robin (that was his name, apparently) stretched on his stomach across the white bedsheets, nice round ass presented to Bruce’s view over long legs, not too hairy. Just…nice.
Bruce began to crawl up the bed between those legs, pausing to kiss his way across the dimples this muscular youth had above his buttocks.
“Jesus, you’re magnificent…”
Robin hooded his eyes and reached for the ice bucket next to the bed, passing back a bottle of champagne to Bruce. He sat up and stared at it for a moment before an idea struck him; easing the cork from the bottle - no wasteful bang - he slopped a little along the smooth, firm back and passed the bottle back even as Robin giggled and squirmed.
“Hold still.” Bruce grinned, then lay back down and began to lap the champagne from the warm skin beneath him. Robin wriggled and squealed, and Bruce felt his cock practically vibrate as he sucked the bubbles from the boy’s back.
He crawled up to kiss him on the mouth, and they passed the bottle of champagne back and forth between them a few times, not bothering with a glass. Robin began to nip and kiss his way down Bruce’s throat, murmuring sweet nothings as he did so; Bruce shoved the bottle back into its bucket with a splash of melting ice and collapsed back onto the bed, moaning quietly.
He felt the head of his cock brush against a thick mat of curly hair, and frowned. Robin hadn’t had that hairy a chest, surely? He opened his eyes, looking down to where the young man was kissing and lapping at his nipples. Their eyes met, and the boy grinned; Bruce relaxed, reassured that he was right and must have been imagining things. Not that much hair, just an even sprinkle of dark curls outlining the muscles and petering away into a deliciously mysterious trail that caressed the full, heavy balls and very erect penis.
Another point nagged at him as soon as he closed his eyes. Teeth.
What of it? muttered another part of his mind, the bit that was just trying to enjoy itself.
They didn’t look right.
Look, the kid’s a metal fan and he’s gay; blimey, if he doesn’t have some fucking Issues then I don’t know who has - he’s probably had something weird done to them…no big deal…
That unsettling sensation of hair was joined by a whiff of body odour that was decidedly more barnyard than boudoir - but it was gone as soon as identified. Trying to relax, get back into the mood, Bruce reached down and smoothed his fingers through Robin’s thick curls. The boy licked along his shaft and swallowed down the head; Bruce gasped and pushed his other hand into the hair, using his grip to steady himself as Robin fucked him with his mouth. He was good, too, taking it all down, sucking and licking, caressing his balls…
He was almost lost to the sensation when his fingers - rubbing through the thick, curly hair - encountered something hard on the boy’s skull.
Robin did something spectacular with his tongue, applied pressure with his long fingernails just behind Bruce’s balls and the familiar sensation of orgasm began to twist along his body. He just had time to think before the white haze blanked all thought --
-- and he was gone, convulsing as he spent into the greedy warmth of Robin’s mouth. Blinking his eyes open as the glorious earthquake subsided to mere aftershock, he got the surprise of his life, and would have leapt from the bed in panic were it not for two factors.
One, his muscles were still twitching from the power of his orgasm and were thus useless; two - and most important - Robin was now holding the head of his still erect cock between gleaming…sharp…teeth. Through the grin he applied pressure with those teeth, and Bruce appreciated that they were indeed sharp enough that, should Robin or whoever he was wanted to, he could bite the top of his cock clean off. Not a very happy thought, and one that brought sweat of a quite different kind surging to the surface of his skin in a cold rush.
He rubbed his thumbs once more across the suspicious lumps under the mop of hair, almost unsurprised now to discover that they were unfolding into curled goat’s horns under his touch. The eyes that held him were still that marvellous dark brown, but were now flecked with gold and green and horizontally slotted like those of a goat or horse.
“Who…?” Bruce began, then swallowed hard before trying again. “What are you…please?”
The creature released his cock and sat up on its knees, pinning him with its strange gaze.
“You try and seduce Robin Goodfellow, and you know not who I am?”
Bruce’s brain spun frantically, suddenly realising that he did know that name. Should have recognised it as soon as the lovely boy spoke it in such a shy way, looking at him from under impossibly long lashes. Should have known it, but too blinded by lust for caution.
Robin Goodfellow, informed a small part of his mind from the back of his skull, behind all the bits gibbering with fear, is the old English name for Pan, God of the forest. Shakespeare, yes? You remember, all those dull lessons that you spent staring out of the classroom window. Should have paid attention.
Gives his name to the word panic…from the dissolute, insane revelry of his festivals, and the way those who attended them - or even saw him - were prone to losing their minds. Very old, capricious, dangerous. Shit.
Pan smiled, showing sharp white teeth.
“You know me now?”
Bruce nodded carefully.
“I’m supposed to give you a message. I was just going to scare you and pass it on, but you intrigue me, little man…”
The creature leaned forward and kissed him, gently at first then becoming more insistent. Despite himself, Bruce couldn’t help but respond; Pan really was one hell of a kisser, that was for sure, and the blowjob he’d just got was still soaking his system in lusty hormones.
Even so, when Pan drew back he had to stifle a scream. His body had changed; glossy little horns projected through his hair and his whole visage was far more…saturnine. A small goatee beard gleamed around that sensuous mouth, and his body had become far more heavy set and hairy. Not revoltingly hairy, simply more hair on his chest and abdomen, patterning the swarthy skin with tight dark curls.
And he had the hind legs of a goat. Well, probably not exactly like a goat, if you wanted to go into the strictest details of comparative anatomy, but close enough. Where he had one leg dropped behind him Bruce could just see over Pan’s hip to spy a small tail flicking to and fro - presumably in amusement, if the expression on his face was anything to go by.
But when Bruce’s gaze reluctantly travelled down the length of that muscular body, he realised that he could be in for a very bad night. He’d thought the lad was well hung but this…
It was going to split him in two.
Pan leaned in again, flicked his tongue across Bruce’s collarbone; he made a crooning, rumbling noise in his throat and nuzzled against Bruce’s shoulder, almost appearing affectionate. Bruce began to respond in kind, tentatively smoothing his hand across the dark skin, searching his fingertips through the curls and even - although only briefly - exploring the altered textures of Pan’s bestial half.
The God sighed and rolled over on his flank, watching as Bruce made his discoveries by touch. He reached out one large hand, stroked gently through Bruce’s hair; his eyes were hooded, and he appeared to be relaxed and enjoying himself immensely.
Bruce made his move.
He grabbed Pan’s testicles and twisted, hard. As the creature roared and curled up Bruce sprang from the bed and made for the door. Once he was out he was sure he would be fine - all he had to do was get to one of the other rooms on his floor. When the noise started people would come out of their rooms and after all the trouble he’d gone to to hide his identity, Pan was hardly likely to come after him, was he?
He had just got a grip on the door when a huge fist punched it out of his grasp, slamming it shut the bare inch it had begun to open and splitting the frame.
Pan glared for a moment, then backhanded Bruce hard enough to send him spinning across the room.
“Stupid, stupid little man. I could have made it enjoyable for you…once, long ago, women and men used to come to the greenwood, searching out Robin Goodfellow to beg him to - as you would say - rock their world. And do you know what, stupid man?”
Pan picked a stunned Bruce up by the scruff of the neck and threw him across the room to bounce from the opposite wall, scattering possessions and smashing a picture on the way.
“If they asked me nicely enough, I would indulge them. And some went mad, after, because the pleasure I gave them could never, ever be found again in the mortal realm.”
Bruce tried to rise, only succeeded in scrabbling hands and feet uselessly against the floor while his blurred vision watched the cloven hooves approach across the carpet. Shiny, they were; neat, like the foot of a deer, not splayed like those of a cow. The feet stopped, and Pan kicked him - hard - over toward the bed, then reached down and wrapped Bruce’s hair around his fist, lifting him up by it and ignoring his captive’s yelp of pain.
“However,” and the voice had dropped from a snarl to a dangerous croon, “those that displeased me…well.”
Bruce felt himself being turned over, and a hard hand urged him up on to his knees. He tried to wriggle, to escape, but Pan had beaten him so soundly his head was still spinning. He knew what was coming now, and quietly cursed himself; he couldn’t just have taken it, could he? Oh no, he had to fight…
Damn Harry! Him and his bloody dreams!
“Brace for impact, Bruce,” chuckled a deep voice in his ear, and there was pain.
He was back in the forest, lost in a wilderness of briar and scrub, tripped and hampered by saplings as he tried to find the path again amongst the ancient oaks. Deer scattered, nameless tiny things scuttled away in the undergrowth and once he thought he even caught a glimpse of a boar; wild things from long ago.
Primeval forest, then, but undeniably English.
He fought his way through to a glade with a small pond; a stag lifted his head, watched the intruder warily but without fear. Steve dropped to his knees, panting with exertion and fright, and when he blinked to clear the sweat from his eyes the stag was gone.
The figure that had replaced it was a strange amalgam of man and beast: broad chest, with a deerskin thrown loosely across titanic shoulders, narrow hips that shaded into the powerful haunches and strong hind legs of the noble stag. The head lifted. Eyes as deep as the ancient forest regarded him closely. The magnificent antlers flashed in the moonlight, and he caught his breath in fear: a warning.
Cernunnos only ever appeared as a warning…
Steve jerked awake with a cry, drenched in cold sweat for the second time in one night. This time he didn’t take the time to catch his breath. He shot out of bed - stumbling across the bunched sheets - and flung on a robe. He didn’t even slow to grab his room key, just hurled himself into the corridor, allowing the door to his room to swing loosely behind him. He was sure that once his eyes had adjusted to the harsh glare of the overheads he would see who -
Ah, shit. Bruce’s door hung at a slight angle, frame cracked and subtly splintered as though it had been slammed several times with inhuman force. Which, he reflected gloomily as he carefully approached it, was probably the case.
Dammit! The fucking Fae always did this to him! Did they think that by intimidating and frightening his friends they were going to get him on their side? He’d been through this again and again and…
“Come in, Harry,” mumbled Bruce from inside the room. Steve winced. His friend sounded…pained, at best.
Dreading what he was going to see Steve inched the door open and slipped inside.
The room was a half-lit mess, smashed furniture and dented walls illuminated only by a single lamp which had lost its shade but not, incredibly, its bulb. Quite how this much destruction could have been achieved without waking the whole hotel would have been a bit of a mystery had it not, of course, happened before. They had a habit of keeping things secret until after their departure, then leaving Harry and the others to try and explain as best they could.
This had been a doozy, though.
“Who was it?” he asked, finally catching sight of Bruce perched uncomfortably on the edge of the bed, keeping his weight forward. Oh no…
His face was a mass of bruises, one eye almost swollen shut. There was blood on the bed, and a smell of sex in the air; from what he could see Steve could guess what had happened here. Well, pretty much. The hoofprints in the carpet and on the walls were something unusual; normally they kept physical evidence of themselves to an absolute minimum. It was possible that Bruce had enraged one, of course, in which case he was lucky to be alive. Steve winced. Damn.
Bruce swallowed hard, poking gingerly at some badly bruised scratches around his throat that were starting to swell.
“He said he was called Pan.”
“He also said,” added Bruce, still not looking at his friend, “that he had a message for you. He said: ‘tell the Prophet that we are tired of waiting.’”
Steve hissed out a long breath and leaned on the cracked doorframe. Tired of waiting. Oh, fucking marvellous.
Bruce looked up, and there was defeat in his expression. “No more, Harry. I’ll finish this tour, and that’s it. I can’t do this anymore, never knowing what nightmares are going to come crashing through the door from some fucking hyperspace junction inside that fucked up head of yours.”
“No. No more, Harry. Go away, now; I’ll get Rod to call the lawyers in the morning. You’ve got me for this tour and then…” he huffed out a long stream of air, shook his head and turned to stare vacantly out of the window at the vista of streetlights.
“Then, mate, you’re on your bloody own.”