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What Gets the Blood Going

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“I don’t understand,” John said softly, confused.  “How could my blood be rejected?  I mean, I know that this is a high-class vampire club, but I doubt that you have people with A3 blood waltzing through your door every day.”

The secretary looked at him and offered a sympathetic smile.  “Even so, sir, I’m afraid that your blood is… well, to be perfectly frank, tainted.”

“Tainted?” John echoed.  Involuntarily, his hand shifted up to his injured shoulder.  Of course.

She nodded.  “I’m afraid the shrapnel still left in your shoulder will change the taste of your blood.  It is therefore doubtful that any vampire would find your blood appetising.”  With that, she closed his file and slipped it into a drawer.  “I’m very sorry, sir, but it is unlikely that you will be accepted at any vampire club as a donor.”

John said nothing.  He still couldn’t believe this was happening.  After returning from overseas, he had found it impossible to thrive in London.  There was no excitement here – nothing to keep John on his toes and make his blood rush.  After his therapist tried and failed on several occasions to help him acclimate to civilian life, John ran into an old army buddy, Toby.  Over a cup of coffee, Toby told John about how he managed to get out of his rut by becoming a blood donor for vampires.  It was paid well.  Better still, though, it was exciting.  John, who had a rare subset of A+ blood called A3, decided that he would give it a shot.  After all, what did he have to lose?  And if it was as great as Toby said it was, he would wind up regaining a bit of his old self back.  Except now this hope had been dashed to pieces by the same bloody thing that had flipped his world upside-down before.

“Sir?” the secretary called out, catching John’s attention.  “Your hand.  I need to stamp your hand.”

Giving her his left hand, he inquired, “Why?”

She seemed rather exasperated as he asked.  “As I said before, all rejected donors are allowed to stay one night for free.  Drinks on the house.  Enjoy yourself.”  With that, she stamped his hand.  “The door to the club is just down the hall and to the left.  Have a lovely night, Mr Watson, and once again, our sincerest apologies.”

“Yeah, that’s a fucking brilliant idea,” John muttered as soon as he left the office.  “Why don’t we make it up to the rejected donors by allowing them into the place for one night?  ‘Ooh, look, this is everything that you could have had if you weren’t shot in your bloody shoulder!’  Morons.”  He was planning to just leave – pretend like none of this had ever happened and lick his wounds over a pint at a pub – when he recalled that the drinks were on the house.  Although he tried not to be so petty, John couldn’t help himself.  He turned left and entered the club.

John walked in and found that the club wasn’t at all what he thought it would be.  He had guessed a vampire club – even an elite one – would be dark in both atmosphere and clothing.  More gothic in a sense.  He figured there would be mostly delinquents there – teens who were old enough to do what they wanted legally but young enough to still want to rebel against their parents.  He assumed that there would be loud, awful music with people clustered together, grinding upon each other as humans desperately tried to get vampires to feed from them.

But what he found was more like a posh pub.  Glancing around, he could see everyone there was either in something that could be considered business casual or formal.  The music that was playing was almost like background noise to his ears.  There were nice, black leather booths lined up along two walls.  On the left-hand side was the bar, which was directly next to the toilets and a door that was marked ‘VIPs ONLY.’  In the middle was the dance floor where a couple of people danced with one another.  Other than that, everything was remarkably low-key.  It didn’t seem like a vampire club.  John rebuked himself the moment he thought that.  After all, he had applied at one of the most elite clubs in all of London, where vampires came in order to get away from the world.  It was only natural that they wouldn't go for the general vampire stereotypes.

Walking up to the bar, John placed his hands down.  Before he said anything, the bartender whirled around and flashed a black light onto John’s hands.  “Sorry to hear that, mate,” he commented before putting the light away.  “What can I get for you?”  The Irish lilt to his voice surprised John just a bit.  Irish vampires.  As if the Irish didn’t have enough issues burning in the sun.

“A pint of your most expensive beer,” John said.  He knew that he could go for the higher end alcohols, but he could never hold his liquor very well.  Beer was just fine, and he knew his tolerance for it already.  “By the way, how did you know?”

Nodding, the bartender grabbed a glass and began to fill it.  “There are three different stamps used in the club.  One for thralls, one for donors, and one for declined donors.  It’s so we know who to charge for the drinks.”

“What the difference between a thrall and a donor?” John inquired, a bit lost.

The bartender’s chocolate brown eyes widened, and he leaned forward with a grin.  His fangs descended a touch, causing John to take a half-step back.  Adrenaline rushed through his veins, and he sucked in a couple short, small breaths.  “Oh, a newbie, hm?” the bartender commented.  “Interesting that someone so green would try to start at a place like this.”

“Are you going to answer my question or not?”

The bartender chuckled as he heard this.  “Donors pay for their own drinks unless they find a vampire who wants to feed from them that night.  Then it’s just common courtesy for that vampire to pay for the donor’s drinks.  Thralls, on the other hand, are spoken for.  Think of them as the vampire version of being in a relationship.  They’re exclusively with one vampire, so either that vampire or the thrall pays for the drinks.  Just depends on their relationship.”

“Oh,” John commented, absorbing the information.  He paused a moment and gauged the bartender.  He seemed like a nice enough bloke, and John doubted he would get another opportunity to ask.  “Alright, I just have to know.  It’s been something I’ve been wondering for forever now.  Is it considered rude to ask a vampire for his or her age?”

The bartender laughed as he heard the question.  “Hold that thought,” he sang out, something that struck John as strange.  A blonde, tall woman sauntered up to the bar and clearly said something, although John didn’t catch what she said.  In a flash, he had her drink – a Kamikaze, John noted – in front of her.  Accepting her tip, he turned his attention back to John.  “No, vampires aren’t as sensitive about their ages as humans are.  But the older a vampire is, the more respected they are.  Vampires who are only 50 to 100 years old are nothing compared to a vampire who has lived more than 1000 years.”

“How old are you then?” John pressed, leaning in a touch as they spoke.

Grinning, the bartender ran a hand through his dark brown hair.  His eyes glinted mischievously as he leaned back down to John’s height, as he was 5 centimetres taller than John.  “Old enough to not count anymore,” he finally commented, amusement colouring his tone.  He shifted away a second to get two more people drinks.  John waited patiently for him to return.  When he did, he asked, “What?  Aren’t you going to try to hook in a vampire anyway?  That’s what all the other rejected donors attempt to do.”

John shrugged.  “I thought I had pretty good company where I was,” he replied softly.  “Unless I’m bothering you, of course.  Just say the word, and I’ll leave.”

The bartender blinked a few times, clearly surprised by John’s response.  “My apologies.  People generally don’t stay around to talk to the bartender.  Jim Moriarty,” he said, reaching out to shake John’s hand.

John smiled and shook it firmly.  “John Watson.”

“Do you mind if I…?”  Jim’s voice trailed as his eyes flickered down to John’s wrist.

John’s pulse sped up.  “Really?  Don’t you think that’s a bit fast?  I just introduced myself, after all.”

“Smell you, newbie,” Jim clarified, amusement reflected in his voice.

Flushing in embarrassment, John muttered an, “Oh.”  He gave a small nod.

Jim flipped his hand over before bringing it up to his nose.  He closed his eyes for a moment as he took a long breath in.  “Smells like O-positive – but just a little off…” he murmured before his eyebrows crinkled with concentration.  “No.  A-positive.  A subset...  A3?  But still not correct.”  Brushing his nose against John’s skin, he inhaled through his mouth.

John shivered as he caught a flash of fangs.  His heart raced in his chest as his body begged him to flee.  This was a predator, after all, and he could kill John in mere seconds if he decided to.

“Oh, now that is interesting.”

The comment grounded him.  “What is?” John pressed, finally finding his voice.

“You served in the army.  Overseas.  Iraq,” Jim stated, looking up at John  His dark eyes seemed to see directly through him.  Then he frowned.  “No, Afghanistan.”

Breathing out, John stared at him in awe.  “How did you know?”

“I read people in my spare time,” Jim answered, giving a small shrug.  Three people walked over to the bar.  Looking over, he said, “One moment, John.”  Before he left, though, he replaced John’s half-full beer with a new one.

John leaned against the bar, patiently waiting for Jim to return to him, when someone suddenly appeared at his side.  The abrupt invasion of his personal space caused his military instincts to emerge.  Without thinking, he lashed out, attempting to strike the man’s Adam’s apple.  His hand was intercepted by another.

“Slow down there, mate.  Didn’t mean to scare you,” the bloke said with a laugh.  He made a face and then brought John’s hand in close to his nose and mouth.  John tried to yank his hand away, but the man had a firm grip on it.  “You smell different,” he noted, flashing a smile.  The fangs were the only thing John could focus on.

“Release me,” John demanded, his voice low and authoritative.  Even though he wasn’t in the army anymore, he could still whip out the strict voice needed to give orders.  Orders that had to be obeyed under any circumstances.

The vampire frowned as he heard this.  “Or what?  What are you going to do?  You’re no thrall, which means you’re a donor.  That means that you have to give your blood to me even if you don’t like me.  Part of the contact, buddy.  You should read the fine lines better.”

“You honestly think I’m going to let you have one drop of my blood?” John snarled.  His heart accelerated as his body thrummed with energy.  Fight, his mind screamed at him.  That had always been his natural response, but it was magnified by his military training.  By then, his mind also triggered that could merely explain that he was a rejected donor.  Thus, the vampire would have no claim on his blood whatsoever.   Even so, his adrenaline pushed John to fight this vampire just to prove a point.

“I honestly think that you’re not going to have any other choice,” the vampire growled.

What happened next all passed by in a flash.  John saw the vampire go to bite his wrist only to disappear a second later.  A booming thud sounded out almost simultaneously, and he looked over to find Jim pinning the other vampire to the back wall.  “You so much as look at him again, and I’ll rip your fangs out and make them into earrings.  Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” the vampire choked out.

Jim released him, letting him slide down the wall.  “Now get out of here.  I don’t want to see your ugly mug in this establishment ever again.”

The vampire said nothing as he rose to his feet and left, his form blurring as he raced out the door.  It was only then that John realised how silent the club had become.  All eyes were on them, and he suddenly felt incredibly self-conscious.

Slowly, Jim approached John.  “You’re alright,” he stated.

As if coming out of a trance, John looked up at Jim and blinked.  There was a glint there – something primal.  Possessiveness.  Anger.  Jealousy.  It was a dark look.  One that John had seen several times before in his line of work.  It was the look of a man who could kill and not think twice about it.

Eventually, John processed the words and nodded.  “Yeah, fine.  Sorry about all that.”

“It was nothing,” Jim answered as he passed by.  “Some vampires need to learn their place in the world.  That’s all.”

John nodded and slid back to the bar.  People started talking again – the low humming of voices complementing the background music.  His adrenaline was still coursing through his system, his heart slamming against his rib cage.  Swallowing, he took another drink of beer in hopes of calming himself down.  Jim made three more drinks, but he stayed closer to John than before.  Once the customers were sent away, he shifted back over and stood there.  Neither said a word for a long moment as John drank his beer and Jim watched.

“I suppose I should thank you for that,” John finally managed to say.  His nerves had calmed down enough for him to think rationally.

“All in a night’s work,” Jim answered, leaning forward.  Another moment of silence passed between them before he continued, “Do you see that woman over there?  In the black dress?”  He nodded behind John, making him casually glance behind in order to see who he was talking about.

She was a pretty woman – long, red hair that curled and looped down her shoulders.  Her black dress emphasized very curve that she had in all the right ways, and the low back revealed plenty of skin in order to get someone’s imagination running.  She was thin with a nice, supple arse, John noted.  It was no wonder that a woman like her was here.  She mustn’t have any issue at all finding a vampire.

After John gave him a confirming nod, Jim explained, “She’s been looking for a vampire to make her a thrall for a year now.  Comes in every weekend in order to throw herself at anyone handsome enough for her tastes.  No personality, though.  Dumb as a rock.  And she’s been fed from so many times that no vampire would ever lust for her blood again.”

John quirked an eyebrow.  “I don’t understand.  How does being fed from change one’s – I don’t know what word to use here – attractiveness, I suppose?”

“When a vampire feeds from a human, trace amounts of their venom winds up in their veins.”  John’s eyes widened, and Jim rolled his in response.  “Oh, don’t look so startled.  It doesn’t do anything medically to the human.  What it does do, however, is make the experience more enjoyable for both parties.  Vampires are territorial by nature.  We like to know that something has been marked as ours.  But when a human, such as a donor, has had multiple vampires feeding from him or her, they have multiple venoms in their body.  It dilutes their blood and takes away from the vampire’s pleasure of drinking.  We taste every vampire who ever drank from that human,” Jim explained.

“The venom never fades or gets cleaned out of the blood?” John asked, baffled.

Jim hummed and squinted a bit, cocking his head to the side.  “It does.  However, length of time depends on how old the vampire is.  So a week to a year, normally about a month, though.  But you see, when you’re a donor, you’re being fed on quite often.  You lose one vampire’s venom only to gain another.  She usually gets fed from at least twice a month.  That is two more vampires than a vampire would prefer.  And that’s not even counting all the other vampires who have fed from her.”  He paused a moment.  “Think of it this way – wouldn’t you prefer a delicacy over a typical meal?  After existing for as long as we have, we desire things that few others get to experience.  Feeding from someone who has never been fed from before will always be more enjoyable than feeding from a donor who offers their neck to any vampire walking by.”

Taking another swig of beer, John nodded in acknowledgement as he mentally noted this.  “So why are you telling me this?” he inquired, looking back at Jim.  Jim seemed somewhat surprised by the reaction.  “Oh, come on.  I’m not a moron.  You never offered information like this before without me pressing for it.  You have an agenda.”

Jim grinned.  “Indeed.”  With that, he leaned forward and whispered, “I would like to be your first.  And only, if tonight winds up heading the way I plan for it to.”

Surprised, John stared at Jim for a long moment.  “You want me to be your – what were they called again?”

“Thrall.  And that is only assuming your blood tastes as good as it smells, yes,” Jim answered.

John frowned as he heard this.  “You think my blood smells good?” he clarified.  “I thought that – well, since it was tainted and all – no one would want to drink it.”

“All they know up there is numbers on a machine.  If the numbers are between two variables, the blood is good.  If not, don’t risk it.  It doesn’t actually decide if any vampire would or would not enjoy your blood.”  He smiled softly at John.  “Besides, it’s also about what that represents.”

John wasn’t sure about how he felt in that regard.  It represented violence, pain, and death.  Nothing that could really be romanticised.  “Bit fast, don’t you think?  We met just over an hour ago,” he pointed out, still indecisive.

“Taking thralls is a fast business.  We might have all the time in the world, but you are mortal, John.  You’re running on a countdown that could expire at any minute,” Jim explained.

Shaking his head, John answered, “I don’t feel comfortable with this.  We don’t even know each other.”

“That’s not true,” Jim responded.

“How so?”

Jim grinned and propped his head on an arm.  “I already told you that you’re a former soldier returned from Afghanistan.  You were shot in the left shoulder and honourably discharged from your service in the Army.  Upon return, you found it impossible to acclimate to civilian life.  You came to realise that what you were missing in your life was excitement.  Then you heard about being a donor at a vampire club.  Probably from a friend who also donates here or is a thrall to a regular.  You decided that that sounded pretty bloody exciting, so you tried it out.  Only you were denied because of the aforementioned wound, which is really the part of you that has made me so damn intrigued.”

John gaped at him, unable to understand how he knew so much, and how he managed to find such a grotesque wound so fascinating.  He breathed out, “How-?”

If he heard John, Jim disregarded him and contiued, “Now here you are with a beautiful offer on the table – an offer that people like that red-head over there would kill for.  And despite your need for a good, adrenaline-rushing thrill, you’re hesitant.”

“As I said before – I know nothing about you,” John replied, leaning forward as well.

Jim smirked.  “That’s not true.  You know I bartend here,” he pointed out.

Despite himself, John chuckled.  “You know what I mean.”

“I’m over a thousand years old, Johnny.  If you’re lucky, you still won’t even scratch the surface of who I am during our acquaintance,” Jim informed him.

John smiled as he heard that.  “I’d still want to try.”

“You’re stubborn,” Jim noted.  “I like that in a partner.”  Glancing back, he smirked before standing up straight.  “I’m off the clock.  It’s now or never.  Do you want to become my thrall or not?”

John took another long swig before he put his drink down.  “How about I make you a deal?” he pressed.  “You tell me ten facts about yourself – things I don’t know – and I’ll come with you.  But by no means does this guarantee that I will become your thrall.  It’ll just give you a proper chance to convince me.”  When Jim gave him a disgruntled look, he teased, “What?  I thought you liked me for my stubbornness.”

“I can already tell that I’m going to regret saying that,” Jim noted as he walked out from behind the bar.  Another vampire slipped in moments later.  Walking over to John, Jim backed him against the wall and placed a hand on either side of him, trapping him there.  John felt his heartbeat surge as Jim swooped down and inhaled deeply at his neck.  “Are you ready?  Listen closely, Johnny, because I’m not about to repeat myself.”


“I hail from what is now known as Dublin, Ireland.  I was turned into a vampire at the human age of 33 by a vampire who was looking to gain wealth and power.  After serving him for a century, I turned on him and killed him in order to gain my freedom.  I then travelled around the world, wanting to see everything I possibly could since I had no concept of immortality.  It has been at least 500 years since I last thought about taking a thrall.”  John perked up as he heard that last bit.  It was astounding to him to hear such numbers – 100, 500, 1000 – thrown out so carelessly.  Especially since John himself would be lucky to be 90.  “I normally don’t work at this club, but the usual bartender called in sick, as humans do have this tendency to catch illnesses far too easily, and there was no one who could take her shift.  Normally, I spend my nights immersing myself in books and plans and schemes.  I let people hire my services in order to help them with special problems.  I’ve been doing that for the better part of a century now.  It’s how I gained my fortune.  And let me assure you, John, I am incredibly rich.”  He paused a moment before smirking.  “Ample enough information for you?”

“Then why are you bartending?” John pressed, cocking his head to the side.  “If you’re so rich, I mean.”

Laughing, Jim responded, “Because I own this place, and my regular bartender took the night off, so I figured I would take the responsibility on myself and work tonight.  Besides, since no one besides my employees know I own the place, it lets me see if everything is running more-or-less smoothly or if changes need to be made.”  Then, he gave a small shrug and added, “And as I told you before, I read people.  I like to observe them and see what their flaws are – their insecurities – their needs and wants – their dreams.  I like to see how they interact with others, with people they do like and people they don’t.  I find it all incredibly educational.”

John nodded as he listened.  It certainly explained how Jim managed to know so much about him.  And he would be lying if he said he wasn’t the least bit interested in the vampire.  Besides, this could be one of the few chances he had.  “Lead the way,” he finally responded.

Grinning, Jim lowered his hands, took a step back, and pressed a hand into John’s lower back.  He guided John towards the “VIPs Only” door.  Even though it was two metres away, John still caught enough jealous glances and astounded looks to know that this wasn’t something normal for Jim Moriarty to do.  Jim held the door open as John stepped into the hall.  There were doors lined up along the hall before reaching an exit door at the back.  Immediately, John knew exactly what these rooms were reserved for.

“What exactly makes someone a VIP?” John jested as Jim began to lead him down the hall.

“First of all, you have to be a vampire in order to reserve one of these rooms.  They can rent one for 24 hours.  Every room is sound proof and light proof, so there’s no need for a vampire to worry about daytime.  Each also possesses a separate bathroom and kitchen.  It was required after we received complaints from humans,” Jim explained.  “Obviously, first come, first serve.”

Cocking his head to the side, John asked, “Why didn’t the humans just leave?”

“Oh, they did.  But most of them are thralls, and they would prefer to be able to stay with their vampire instead of having to leave to get something to eat,” Jim replied as they stopped at Room 7.  He pulled out a card from his pocket and slid it through the card reader on the door.  Once it unlocked, he opened the door to allow John inside.  “Take it all in.”

John didn’t understand what Jim meant until he walked through the door.   The room was spacious, all things considered, with two beds in the room and a television across from one of them.  There were two closed doors, both bound to lead into the bathroom and kitchen that Jim spoke about earlier.  One of the beds looked incredibly plush, as if John would just sink into it and be engulfed.  It also had nice, fluffy pillows.  The other bed was firmer.  Although it didn’t look quite as cosy, it didn’t seem uncomfortable either.

“Two beds?  For orgies or something?” John joked.

Jim smirked as he closed the door and locked it.  “Vampires are territorial, remember?” he prompted as he turned around.  “One’s for sex and the other is for sleep.”

“Oh,” John noted, looking back.  Now that he knew that, he noticed the holes in the headboard of the firmer bed.  There was no doubt in his mind what those were for.  And for the first time, John wondered what he had gotten himself into.  Suddenly, he felt arms wrap around his waist and a kiss pressed into his neck.  John tilted his head in order to give Jim better access.  “Not much of one for wooing, are you?”

“I’ll woo you enough once I have you as my thrall,” Jim responded, his arms tightening around John’s body.  His lips pressed into a pulse point, and he hummed softly as John’s blood rushed through his veins.

John smirked as he heard this.  “Isn’t that a bit backwards?”

“I told you before – taking a thrall is quick for any vampire.  When you see a human you want, you try to claim them as soon as possible.  Before anyone else can lay a claim.  I want you, Johnny,” Jim explained, his voice deepening and becoming powerful.  “I want you.”

John let out a groan as he felt Jim lick his neck.  Something about the tenor of Jim’s voice aroused him.  He felt more alive now than he had since returning from the war.  “Jim,” he moaned.

Jim’s lips pressed against his throat again, and he could feel the words on his lips – “I’m yours” – so close to being spoken.  If he could have this for an indefinite period of time, why wouldn’t he take it?  He hadn’t remembered what it felt like to be wanted by someone.  Cherished.  Desired.  And the fact that someone so powerful wanted him, an all but broken former army doctor, was astounding in John’s mind.

“John,” Jim called out softly, his lips still against John’s neck.  “I want you to become my thrall.  It’s not as intimidating as you think.  The equivalent to a boyfriend, remember?  But it will ensure that no other vampire will lay a hand on you again.”

John felt the vibrations of every syllable, and he froze a moment as he thought about it.  “And if it doesn’t work out between us?”

“Then I’ll release you as my thrall.”

“And the procedure needed to become a thrall?” John pressed.

Jim’s fangs grazed against John’s skin, causing him to tense up.  “One bite is all it takes.  I’ll administer a larger amount of venom than a normal bite requires.  It’ll make this entire experience better and leave a marker in your body that tells every other vampire that you’re mine.”

John knew what logic was telling him to do.  After all, he met this vampire not even 24 hours ago.  Not even 12.  Hell, not even 3.  But he was fascinating.  Something drew John in.  Something spoke to a part of him that he had thought was lost after returning from Afghanistan.  This vampire made his blood race and his adrenaline pump.  He made John feel alive.  Even if it was only for a few weeks, John wanted to retain this feeling.  He was just selfish that way, he supposed.

Thus, he offered his neck.  “I’ll be your thrall.”

Jim groaned before sinking his teeth into the presented flesh.  A sharp stabbing pain assaulted him for only a few moments before his neck went numb.  He could still feel the suction, though, as Jim drew the blood out of his body and the warm, wet tongue that lapped at the marks on his neck.

“All done.  Wasn’t too painful, now was it?”

Turning around, John responded with a soft kiss.  His tongue slipped eagerly inside Jim’s mouth.  Having forgotten the fangs, he wound up accidentally slicing his tongue open.  As John went to break the kiss, Jim’s arms fastened around him in a vice grip to keep their lips locked.  He sucked greedily on John’s tongue, drawing out more blood, before letting his tongue swipe across the wound.  At first, John thought that he was just trying to get a better taste.  When he felt his tongue begin to itch, he wiggled and pushed back far enough to break the kiss.  He quickly brought his thumb up to rub across where the cut should be.

“It’s gone…” he noticed in amazement.

“My saliva does have some healing properties.  Enough to clot the bleeding for a bite or to heal a small scratch like that,” Jim murmured as he began to gently shove John backwards.

Shaking his head, John muttered, “You’re amazing.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Jim stated just before John’s legs crashed into something.

John looked back to find the bed directly behind him.  Sitting down, he allowed himself to be shoved back onto the bed.  Jim’s lips crashed into his again, the kiss needy.  However, he was careful to not accidentally cut John’s tongue again.  Eventually, their kisses softened into something sweet.  Jim’s hands tugged up on John’s shirt, and John pulled back in order to let it be removed.  As soon as it hit the floor, John went back in for another kiss only to be shoved back.  Blinking, John wondered if he did something wrong only to find that Jim’s eyes weren’t latched onto his face, but his shoulder.  Immediately, John felt self-conscious about his wound, and he reached up to cover it.  Jim intercepted his hand and turned his gaze up to John’s face.

“What’s wrong?” he pressed.

John shifted uncomfortably.  “I don’t like for people to touch or stare at it.  It’s hideous... and it marks my ultimate failure.”

Blinking, Jim cocked his head slightly.  A long moment passed before he noted, “You were shot while tending to someone.  They died because you couldn’t help them anymore.  But you survived.”

John felt vulnerable as Jim deduced everything.  He was an open book, it seemed, and he didn’t feel comfortable that he couldn’t keep any secrets from Jim.  Averting his eyes, John swallowed hard as he recalled that day.  The heat of the Afghan sun was never something that one could forget, and it had been beating against his back.  Blood was gushing from the wound, red staining the sand.  Shaking his head, John tried to jostle the memory from his mind.

“You weren’t ready for that.”

“No.  I wasn’t,” John conceded.

Jim nodded slowly.  “Those were not my intentions.  You must understand, I read people for a living.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to un-see something, so to say.  And once I observe it, I normally state it in order to confirm my suspicions.”

Nodding, John muttered, “I understand, but that doesn’t mean you should.  I don’t appreciate such sensitive parts of my past being shoved back in my face.  Anything that has to do with my military career is off limits.”

“Very well,” Jim said slowly.  “But you will eventually talk to me about them?”

“Probably.  You’re bound to be here when I have a nightmare,” John answered.  By now, the mood had died for him, and he frowned.

Carefully, Jim pried John’s hand away from his shoulder.  John hadn’t even realised that he was covering it.  “I won’t say anything about it, but you cannot continue to hide it while we’re being intimate.  You’re my thrall now.  There is no need to fear any rejection or condemnation from me.”

“Could you try not looking at it either?” John pressed.

Nodding, Jim responded, “Whatever you need.”

John rested back against the bed and looked up at Jim.  “Bit of a mood killer, that one,” he noted, trying to be jesting about it.

“Indeed,” Jim concurred.  “Luckily, that was all I needed to do in order to claim you as my thrall.  Anything else would have simply been a bonus.”

With a sigh, John commented, “I was looking forward to that bonus, though.”

Jim’s eyes flickered, scanning down John’s body.  John could see the calculations and deductions happen with every movement Jim’s eyes made.  Suddenly, Jim sucked in a deep breath, and his eyes snapped back up to John’s face.  John could see the words threatening to spill from Jim’s lips.  However, Jim simply gave John a chaste kiss instead.  John, surprised, kissed back.  When Jim pulled back, though, John could see the tenseness of his lips.  Jim pressed his lips firmly together, and John couldn’t help himself any longer.  He began to laugh.

“You look like you’re in such pain!” he managed to get out in between his laughs.  “Jesus Christ.  You’re going to burst if I make you keep it in, aren’t you?”

Scowling, Jim replied, “I am trying to respect your wishes.”

“And it’s adorable,” John answered before running his fingers through Jim’s hair.  “So adorable, in fact, I’ll let you get away with it just this once.  What did you deduce about me?”

Jim hesitated, clearly trying to figure out how to phrase it.  “You have not had an orgasm since returning to civilian life,” he finally stated.

“Correct,” John answered.  He wasn’t going to get into the specifics of “since I was shot in the shoulder.”  From the look on Jim’s face, he knew that it was before then but was trying to respect John’s previous request.  “It’s alright.  I’ve waited this lon-”

With that, John’s words were cut off by Jim’s mouth.  Light nibbles to his bottom lip and an invading tongue quickly diverted John’s attention.  Jim’s hands roamed John’s across John’s chest, remaining distant from his wound.  Carefully, he kneaded John’s nipples and watched John’s sharp reaction.  John arched into the touch, moaning softly.  When was the last time someone had touched him like this?  He couldn’t even recall.  Suddenly, Jim’s lips were against his own, coaxing him to respond.  John groaned and submitted to the affections.  Gradually, Jim’s fingers slid from his nipples and down his chest and stomach.  When John felt a tug at his belt, he bucked in excitement.  Jim placed open-mouthed kisses down John’s neck before sliding down and tugging off his trousers.  By now, John was fully hard and aching for Jim’s touch.

“I’m not going to take you tonight,” Jim stated matter-of-factly as he freed John’s cock.  John let out a whimper of complaint.  His body felt like it was on fire, and only Jim’s cool touch seemed to soothe him.  Grabbing some lube out of the nightstand, he slicked his hand as he continued, “We’ll get to that some other night.  We have plenty of time.”

John let out a moan as he felt Jim’s hand wrap around his cock.  “I want you to take me,” he managed to say, hoping to convince Jim otherwise.

“It’s just the venom running through your system,” Jim softly explained as he slid down in between John’s legs.  He looked up at John from where he was and grinned happily as their eyes met.  Relaxing, John widened his legs to give Jim plenty of room.  Gently, he pressed his other hand underneath John’s knee and pushed up, causing John to comply and bend his leg slightly.  “It’s nice to see you so submissive – to see that you’re mine – but if I took you now, you would be overwhelmed with the sensations.  Some thralls lose their minds.  That’s something I’m not willing to risk with you.”

John groaned as he heard this.  At the very least, Jim’s hand had picked up speed.  It was tight and fast, a flick of his wrist up, a swipe of his thumb over the tip, and a rough pull down to the base.  Suddenly, he twisted abruptly, and John’s back arched as he felt a shock of pleasure shoot through his system.  Looking down, he found Jim feeding carefully from his inner thigh.  John moaned in reply, the sight before him making him even more aroused.  Why he found it erotic, he wasn’t sure, but he ran his fingers through Jim’s hair affectionately nonetheless.  Jim hummed, his mouth vibrating against John’s leg, as he continued to stroke him.  Slowly but surely, John felt himself getting closer to his climax.  Hiis body thrummed with need.  After going months without, he could sense just how incredible this was going to feel.  But a hand alone was not enough, even with the venom in his system.  He needed more.

“Jim,” he whimpered.

Jim pulled away from his leg, giving a couple final swipes of his tongue, before wetting a finger in his mouth and abruptly sliding it into John’s arse.  When John felt his prostate hit, he arched off the bed and let out a low moan, spreading his legs out further.  Jim’s finger nailed it a second time, causing John to curse.  He twisted, nearly pulling away from Jim in the process.  Jim, however, merely adjusted in order to hit John’s prostate a third time.  John began to spill out praise after praise as he felt the coil in his stomach begin to knot up painfully tight.  Eventually, his praises melted into incoherent moans and mewls as he felt himself brought to the edge.  He could feel his orgasm so close, threatening to overtake him, but it was just out of his reach.

Without warning, Jim slipped in a second finger and rammed both into John’s prostate.  John screamed, not expecting the sudden orgasm that overtook him.  His vision flashed white as his body tensed up.  Instinctively, he bucked and twisted, trying to ground himself as pleasure raced through his system.  Jim moved with him, continuing to play with his prostate and stroke him.  John keened as he felt his climax slowly subside.  He slumped back into the bed.  It was only then that he realised he hadn’t come on himself.  At some point, Jim had wrapped his lips around the tip of John’s cock, and he swallowed every last drop.

After taking a moment to collect himself, John sat up and pulled Jim into a kiss.  He could taste himself on Jim’s tongue, and he allowed his hand to slip down to touch Jim’s crotch as well.  When he felt Jim intercept his hand again, he broke the kiss and leaned back in confusion.  “Did I do something wrong?”

“Not at all,” Jim answered.  “I appreciate your interest as well, but I cannot allow you to touch me tonight.”

“W-why not?” John inquired, a bit baffled by the reaction.  He enjoyed giving as much as he did receiving, and it never boded well with him when he couldn’t give his partner an orgasm in return.

Jim gave John another chaste kiss.  “Because if you do, I won’t be able to control myself.  I’ll take you.  As I said before, I do not wish to risk it.”

Blinking, John sat back and examined Jim a moment.  “When will there not be a risk?” he finally asked.

“It takes a few hours for the venom to be introduced to your entire system,” Jim explained.  Without warning, he pulled John to his feet and navigated him to the other bed.  “It will definitely be alright once you wake up.”

John frowned but complied when he felt Jim’s hands push him down into the plush bed.  It sank underneath his weight, already hugging him from all sides.  “And what are we going to do until then?”

“Well, I am not sure yet what I am going to do, but you’ll be asleep soon enough.”

Confused, John answered, “But I don’t feel tired.”

“You will in a few.  And as you sleep, my scent will imprint on you as well,” Jim explained.  “I’ll be right here when you wake up, though.”

John hummed softly as he felt Jim’s arms wrap around him.  Pressing his face into Jim’s chest, John let out a contented sigh as his body was suddenly depleted of energy.  Jim hadn’t been joking.  Chuckling, John wrapped an arm around Jim’s waist in return.  His neck ached slightly as he drifted off, but he was happier then – with only Jim curled up around him – than he had been in all the time since returning from Afghanistan.

Suddenly, he stated, “Tomorrow, we find out everything about each other.”

Jim chuckled as he heard this.

“Every non-sexual thing,” John clarified, trying desperately to hold onto consciousness.

“Very well,” Jim murmured in response, planting a kiss on John’s forehead.  “Have it your way.”

With that, John slipped off into the most peaceful sleep had ever had since joining the army.  Unbeknownst to him, Jim kept a silent vigil, running a hand through John’s silky-soft, blond hair.

“My thrall,” Jim murmured possessively, his arm tightening around John.  “Mine now and forever.”