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Prayer By Blood

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Chris sees him first in the woods.


He’s taking a walk through the forest, breathing in the cool, fresh air, running his fingertips across the rough bark of the massive, ancient trees.  He loves it outside, even if his life keeps him locked up tight most of his days.  Time seems to stretch out before him as he wanders and the sun is slipping low, casting long shadows, when Chris feels the subtle brush of another’s magic.  Chris turns.


He’s smaller than most of the men in the area tend to be.  And he’s completely naked.  Chris stops and stares.  Utterly entranced.  The other man’s skin is melted caramel in the fading, rosy light; unblemished and smooth save for the dark, coarse hair at his chest, legs, and groin.  Chris’ fingers twitch, his stomach flips and twists.  He’s like nothing Chris has ever seen before.


The other man is moving slowly between the trees - his thick, corded muscles shifting enticingly under his taut skin.  He is perfect.  Tight.  Compact.  Heavy ass a sweet curve from his lower back to his thick thighs.  Hips cutting a deep groove down to his groin, where he’s half-hard and bigger than any man his size has the right to be.  His profile is gorgeous.  Small ears (not an elf, then).  Plump cheeks.  Full lips.  Clean jaw.  Chris can count the man’s eyelashes from where he’s standing.  The man is utterly focused, staring ahead at something.  Chris follows his gaze.  There’s a deer in his sight line, grazing unaware near a sapling.  A werewolf? Chris wonders.  But the man doesn’t have the silvered scars of territory and mating fights that most wolves have.  The man approaches the deer with silent steps.  He seems almost to flow, so fluid are his movements, and the deer doesn’t notice him at all.  Chris watches, enraptured, as the man’s lips draw back in a feral grin, exposing his wicked fangs, glinting bright in the dying rays of the sun.


Oh.  A vampire.  Chris shivers, feeling his heart quicken and his pulse pound in his throat.


A cool wisp of breeze brushes by, catching in Chris’ clothes and ruffling his hair.  The man’s nostrils flare and he freezes.  His powerful muscles stand out in stark relief.  Chris holds his breath and thinks about running.  He’s fast, but he can’t seem to move.  The vampire’s nose twitches again, as though he’s caught a scent, and his head turns in Chris’ direction.


Chris almost gasps.  The man’s eyes are a deep whiskey gold and too bright.  Chris watches the way his pupils blow wide when the vampire spots him.  He feels caught in that gaze, held fast and rooted down to the earth.  He tries not to think about how he’s suddenly hard, or the way he can feel his pulse in his wrists and throat and groin.  He’s never been more acutely aware of his own blood.  He knows the vampire is aware of it too.


The man’s red lips draw back again, exposing those white teeth, but this time it’s in a smile.  The fear - unaccustomed and strange - loosens in Chris’ chest.  The smile changes the man’s whole face.  Where once was a predator - fierce, dangerous - now stands a gorgeous creature with wild, dark hair and a grin so big it makes his eyes almost disappear.  Chris swallows past the sudden dryness in his throat and can’t help but see the way the man watches the movement in his neck.  He can’t help by think of how delicate the skin there is, how easily the man could break through to the blood running just below.


The vampire turns away from the deer and starts towards Chris.  Chris struggles to keep his eyes above the man’s waist, above where his cock - long, thick, flushed a dusky pink - is bobbing between his heavily muscled thighs.


“Hi,” the man says.  His voice is low, but bright.  Smooth and rich and it shivers across Chris’ skin.  He’s glad he’s naturally resistant to compulsion; even so, he wants.  He can feel it tugging in his gut, a need for something he’s never really wanted before.  This man is a stranger, and Chris somehow feels like he knows him.  Like he’s been waiting for him forever.




“I’m Darren.”  He sticks his hand out in an easy greeting.  Chris looks at it - the broad knuckles, the tracery of veins, the long fingers - and wishes touch, contact, wasn’t so forbidden among his people.


“Chris.”  He nods his head sharply in a more appropriate greeting for his kind, hoping Darren will understand.  He must, because Darren pulls his hand away without looking put out by it.  Chris is relieved.  Not everyone understands the differences among the cultures and he doesn’t want to offend this man before he can figure out more about him.  He doesn’t want Darren to disappear into the forest before he can decide if the thrumming in his veins means more than just base desire.


“You’re not like me.”  Darren says.  He is completely unashamed of his nakedness and Chris’ eyes keep flickering to Darren’s nipples - tiny and light brown - and the solid curve of his collarbone.  He wants to dance his fingers along the bone and scratch his nails through Darren’s chest hair.  The magic inside him is rising up, lapping closer to the surface, drawn by Darren.


“Nope.”  Now that the fear of a hungry vampire is gone, Chris feels more like himself again.  Heat is growing in his belly, heavy and new.  Every moment with Darren tells him the want in his veins is more than just the improper appreciation of Darren’s naked form.  There’s something about Darren that Chris’ very being wants - he can feel the power radiating from Darren.  And that’s going to be a problem.  Darren isn’t something that’s allowed for Chris.


“But you’re something.”  Darren bounces a little on his feet, eager.  Chris has almost forgotten the dangerous creature he was just minutes before, but the flash of sharp teeth as Darren grins again reminds him.  He’s not afraid, not of Darren, but perhaps of what Darren means.


Chris shrugs. “We’re all something.”


“But you’re something special.  I can - I can smell it.”  Darren takes a step forward, right into Chris’ space.  Chris’ eyes flutter; his pulse jumps.  This close, Darren smells of leaves and wood smoke and naked skin.  His eyes are darkening to melted gold.  “It’s, it’s magic.  You’re magic.”


“I’m not a mage.”  Chris would be surprised if Darren doesn’t know what he is, but Darren seems like such a wild thing, untamed.  Maybe he’s the first of his kind Darren has ever met.


“No.”  Darren presses closer.  Chris gasps at the slightest brush of Darren’s nose against his neck, skin to skin.  He shudders and his cock jumps.  Darren is breaking so many boundaries of propriety and law and Chris wants him to break the rest.  “Not a mage.  Something more.  But what?”


“You’re just going to have to work to find out.”


“Mmm,” Darren mumbles and Chris’ eyes squeeze shut as Darren nuzzles into his throat.  He’s not worried about Darren biting him, but Chris wants him to.  The thought of it burns down his spine.  He knows, even if Darren doesn’t, what it would mean for them both if he were to break the skin and taste Chris’ blood.  It’s been just minutes since they met, but he wants it.  Wants Darren.  Chris can feel his own magic, his life’s very essence, sparking under his skin, reaching out for this near stranger.  Chris would be shocked and worried that he’s calling out for a vampire, of all creatures, but it feels right.  It feels as though it should have been centuries before.


“You were watching me,” Darren says.  His breath is hot against Chris’ throat.  He’s never quite understood how vampires work, how they have breath and life and body heat.


“You’re naked in the woods.”


“I was hunting.”  Darren finally pulls back a bit and Chris clenches his fists to keep from reaching out to pull him close again.




“Sometimes I get messy.  And it’s hard to get blood out of clothing.”  Darren shrugs and Chris watches the shifting of his muscles and bones, the way his collarbone hollows and shadows before settling smooth again.  His chest is so broad and his waist so narrow.  Chris aches to touch and knows he can’t.  He can’t break that boundary before he’s absolutely sure.  But his magic is telling him what his soul needs; he can’t - won’t - deny it.


“Sorry I made you lose your dinner,” Chris says instead of the words he wants to.


“Huh?  Oh.”  Darren glances briefly over his shoulder.  “She’s still out there.  I can hear her heart beating.”  He turns back and his eyes find Chris’ - they’ve gone even darker, threads of black bleeding into the gold.  The intensity from before is back, sharpening Darren’s features.  He’s sliding into back into a predator and Chris is drawn to the seductive nature of him.  “It doesn’t sound as good as yours though.”


Oh.  The heat flares low in Chris’ belly.  He feels as naked as Darren is.


You’re going to be mine, he thinks suddenly.  His heart pounds with it and Darren’s nostrils flare.  He inhales sharply.  Chris knows Darren can smell the copper and salt of his blood and he wants him to have it.


“But, unless you’re offering here, I do actually need to eat.”


Chris blinks.  The fierceness has faded from Darren’s face once more, smoothing the sharper edges.  He’s handsome; stunning as a man, ferociously gorgeous as a vampire. “Oh, I-”


“I’m kidding.”  Darren reaches out as though to touch him again, brush his neck with long fingers, but stops.  Chris sways on his feet, leaning into the aborted gesture.  “I’ll see you again, yeah?  I’ve got your scent, now.  I’ll be able to find you.”


The thought should be terrifying, but it’s not.  Chris wants Darren to come to him again, wants to stare in those eyes and be close to the power that thrums just under Darren’s honey-warm skin.  He doesn’t bother to tell Darren that he’s mapped the subtle magic of Darren’s very life, his essence.  He’ll be able to find Darren, too.


“You’ll see me again,” Chris says, and then Darren’s gone, sprinting light-footed and silent through the woods.  Chris catches a glimpse of his ass, round and the same rich color as the rest of him, before he disappears between the huge trees.  Chris waits just long enough, eyes closed and tendrils of magic reaching out from him, to feel it when the deer surrenders to Darren’s teeth.  He shudders.


The second time Darren sees Chris is at the spring, bathing in the clear water, looking every bit the nymph Darren’s pretty sure he isn’t.


Darren had caught the scent on the wind - delicate, clean, with an enticing layer of musk, of male, underneath.   All blood was unique - the scent and taste different for each person - but Chris' blood called to him.  Tugged at him.  It was heady and powerful.  Saliva dripped from Darren’s fangs for a taste.


Darren wasn’t going to lie to himself and say he hadn’t been looking for Chris in the days since they’d parted in the forest.  The very next morning, after waking from a restless dream of pale skin under his hands and a long, beautiful throat under his teeth, he’d gone hunting for Chris.  But he couldn’t do what werewolves could - he couldn’t track the same way.  But he had the notes of Chris’ blood now - fainter than he’d like, since it was pulled from the air and the skin of his neck and not right from the vein - but it was enough to lead him out of the woods and into the city.


The scent of Chris was stronger there - along the cobbled streets, gathered in the doorway of a bakery, the windowsill of a lovely little shop.  It grew thicker the closer Darren came to the grand palace, but Darren wasn’t going to risk the guards who stood watch.  But there was no sign of Chris, and Darren didn’t want to linger.  And he didn’t want to ask if anyone knew of a pale, beautiful boy with a voice like crystal water on a scorching day and eyes brighter than starlight.  Darren didn’t want to draw too much attention to himself.


He wasn’t used to towns, to crowds of people he couldn’t bite.  There were mages around and wolves.  A little elfin girl with long braided hair and a basket of fresh picked flowers.  Everything was clean, almost sterile, stark and too civilized.  Darren was the woods – wild, untamed.  Leaves under his bare feet and hot blood in his mouth whenever he wanted it.  There were rules in towns, boundaries.  Laws.  Things he wasn’t supposed to do.  Ways he had to act.  It chafed at his skin and made him want to bare his teeth at the next well-dressed person who glanced twice at his eyes and turned their nose up at the scent of him.


Darren slipped out of town without having found Chris, but knowing that he was close by.  It was enough.


Darren is out in the woods near his home, gathering up firewood, when the scent hits him.  His whole body freezes, going rigid with tension.  His skin prickles.  Hair stands on end.  Chris.  It’s faint, but it’s there, carried along the breeze.  And it’s utterly delicious, light on his tongue due to the distance, but mouth-watering nevertheless.  Darren tilts his head to the side, hoping to catch the sound of Chris’ beating heart, but he’s too far away.  He drops the wood and squares his shoulders, taking a deep breath.  He is old and powerful and he’ll be able to find Chris, wherever he is.


He hears the gentle thump of Chris’ heart before he hears the water.


Chris is bathing in the spring, thigh-deep in the clear water and gloriously nude.  His back is turned and Darren is transfixed, rooted to the spot.  Chris is exquisite.  And there’s so much of him.  Broad, rounded shoulders tapering to his waist.  Thick arms and lean thighs.  His back is smoothly muscled; a long, sweet curve down his high, tight ass.  His skin is so pale, peaches and cream with constellations of freckles, and Darren’s mouth waters to mark him.  He wants to drag his tongue up the sensuous dip of Chris’ spine.  Suck a deep bruise into his hip.  Bury his teeth into the tempting curve of Chris’ throat and find out if he tastes half as good as he smells.


Darren doesn’t know what Chris is.  He doesn’t smell like an elf, though his ears have a subtle point to them that Darren wants to run his fingers along.  And he’s not a vampire.  He already denied being a mage, but even Darren - savage and wild as he is - knows there’s magic in Chris’ veins, in every inch of him.  Powerful, ancient magic.  It sparks along his skin and glows in his eyes.  He is nothing that Darren has ever met before, and Darren already knows he’s never going to rid himself of the scent of Chris’ blood, even if he never gets a true taste of it.


“Hello, lovely,” Darren calls out.  Chris startles and turns, the water swirling around his thighs.  Darren grins and Chris’ cheeks flush red with blood.  Darren can hear the way Chris’ heart beats faster, but not in fear, and the scent of him grows stronger.  He feels his fangs elongate and he touches his tongue to the deadly sharp tip.


“Darren!” Chris exclaims.  His chest is subtly defined, dusted with light hair, and his nipples are pink and peaked with the slight chill of the water.  Or because of Darren’s heated gaze.  Or both.  His waist is thicker than Darren’s own and his belly flat.  He is gorgeous.  Darren drops his gaze, following the trail of darker, coarser hair from his belly button down.  Chris’ cock is long and pink, nestled between his pale thighs.  He’s not hard, but that’s changing.  Darren’s already half-hard, has been since he first scented Chris in the woods.


“I told you I’d find you.”  Darren quickly pulls off his own clothes.  Chris’ eyes widen and Darren wants to laugh triumphantly at the obvious rush of blood to Chris’ cock.  He watches it flush a darker red and begin to harden.  Darren steps into the water; it’s cool, but he hardly feels it.  Chris’ arresting eyes - the color of the sea at sunrise - roam over his body as Darren wades closer and closer to him.  He can see the working of Chris’ long neck as he swallows and the flutter of Chris’ pulse in the sweet notch of his throat.


“I’m a little busy here.”  Chris gestures at his naked body.  Beads of water are clinging to his skin and Darren aches to tongue them away.


“Need help?”  Darren steps closer.  The water swirls around the tip of his cock.  The scent of Chris’ blood is so fucking enticing.  There are notes of sugar and spice, of deep, old power, and Darren doesn’t know how he hasn’t pounced yet.  There’s something about Chris, about his bearing, the noble tilt of his chin, that keeps Darren in check.  “I can wash your hair for you,” he offers.


Chris’ eyebrow lifts.  His face is angular where Darren’s is soft; high cheekbones and sharp jaw.  His nose is refined, almost delicate.  Darren sort of wants to lick his cheek.  “Really?  Can you reach that high?”


Darren grins.  “Funny.”  Darren pushes closer until he doesn’t need to focus to count the splash of Chris’ freckles across the bridge of his nose.  “Then maybe you should kneel down for me.”


Chris inhales harshly.  There’s a sharp flare of something between them, something Darren doesn’t understand.  It isn’t just the pulse of Chris’ arousal, though that was there too, salt-wet and tantalizing.  Darren thinks it might be a wave of errant magic and he wishes he knew just what Chris is.  He wonders if he’s pushed too hard, said the wrong thing.  But Chris isn’t backing away from him.  And whatever it was is gone now.


“What do you want, Darren?” Chris’ voice is lower than it was, his pupils blown wide.  The blue nearly subsumed by black.




Chris gasps softly and Darren watches with too-keen eyes as a flood of emotions flit across Chris’ fine, beautiful features.  He catches heated desire in his eyes and worry in the corners of his mouth.  He sees want and defiance and something frustratingly indefinable that tells him there’s so much more at stake here, in this moment, than he understands.  Darren is a wild thing.  He wants what he wants and he takes it.  He bites.  He fucks.  He owns.  But Chris isn’t like him.  And he isn’t Darren’s.  Yet.


“And what do you want?”


Chris swallows.  Darren can smell that he’s not afraid, even if he’s holding back.  And he doesn’t need his heightened senses to tell him that he’s aroused; he can see the evidence of it plain as anything.  Chris’ cock is nearly fully hard, grown thicker and flushed darker, and Darren aches to wrap his hand, his mouth, his everything around it.


“Chris.  Tell me.”  Darren aches to touch him.  “I might only be a vampire, and you’re - well, I don’t know what the fuck you are - but I’m not wild enough to not realize there’s something going on here.  So tell me what it is.  Because fuck, Chris.  I want you.  So here’s the savage part of me - I want you.  I want to kiss you.  Fuck you.  Mark you.”  Chris’ breath shivers in his chest and triumph burns hot and pleasing in Darren’s belly.  “Bite you.  Make you mine.”  The word ends on a growl and blood rushes pink and tempting to Chris’ cheeks, spreading down his chest.  The smell of it, even through his skin, pulls so strongly at Darren.  This is unlike any hunt he’s even been on.


He tries to take a step forward, the last step until he’s pressed right up against Chris, right where he wants to be, but Chris’ arm lifts between them.  Darren gasps when Chris’ hand lands on his bare chest, right over his heart.  His palm is warm and feels huge, spread wide across the side of Darren’s chest.  Darren leans into it and Chris’ fingers flex, nails digging ever so slightly into Darren’s skin.  Darren wants to bare his teeth to the sky.


“Your heart beats.”  Chris says, voice full of abstract wonder.  He’s staring at Darren’s chest and Darren is watching his mouth, the tempting red curve.  The flicker of his tongue as he wets his lips.


“It does.”


“How?”  Chris’ thumb strokes across Darren’s tight, peaked nipple and he shudders.  His cock is hard, curving up towards his belly, just from the nearness of Chris, his scent.  The singular press of his hand.


“I don’t know.”  Darren no longer remembers the night his heart stopped and then restarted.  It beats, that’s all he knows, and right now, it’s beating for Chris.  “Chris.”


“I shouldn’t want this.  You.  I’m not supposed to.  But,” Chris swallows.  Darren can smell his assent and his teeth burn for Chris’ soft, pale throat.  “But I do.”


Darren lunges, grabs Chris’ face in both hands, and finds his mouth unerringly.  Chris gasps, high and shocked, hands flailing, before he grips one hand at Darren’s hip and the other at the back of his neck.  Darren breathes in sharply and Chris’ scent slips down the back of his throat.  Darren groans as Chris’ lips part for him, opening willingly, and he slides his tongue inside the wet heat of Chris’ mouth.  Chris tastes like he smells - clean like spring water; deep and dark like male.  Darren growls and licks deeper into Chris mouth, chasing the taste of him.  But it’s not enough; he needs Chris closer.  Darren slides one hand down Chris’ smooth, wet back and grips at his ass, hauling him against his body with his preternatural strength.  Chris moans, the sound vibrating against Darren’s lips, and his blood surges at the light scratch of Chris’ nails against his neck.  Chris’ skin is wet and flushed with need, the blood so close to the surface it aches; Darren wants to crawl inside him.


Suddenly, Chris shivers hard in his arms, body spasming, and Darren gasps his shock into Chris’ mouth.  It feels like something is washing over him, heated and electric, sliding inside him - through his pores, his ears, his mouth.  Deep under his skin and into his blood.  He doesn’t know what it is, but it feels good.


“Fuck,” Darren groans.  Chris is hard against his thigh, skin hot and silky.  Darren shifts, rubs sinuously against him, and grins into the kiss when Chris moans eagerly.  The sound is almost breathless; need catching in the back of Chris’ throat.  Darren can feel the heavy throb of Chris’ cock, pressed against his own.  He can smell the precome gathering at the tip, saltier even than his blood.  He’s dying for a true taste.  Darren ruts up against him, sliding his cock against Chris’ and he grins into their kiss as Chris thrusts back.  Chris’ hand slides up his neck and his fingers tangle tightly in his curls.  He tugs, angling their mouths just that little bit better.


Darren doesn’t mean to do it, would never intentionally bite Chris without his permission, but it happens anyway in his eagerness.  It’s his very nature, after all.  He slips, loses control for an instant, and Chris jerks in his grip.  Darren scents the blood, salty sweet and irresistible, almost the moment his wickedly sharp fang nicks Chris’ kiss-swollen lower lip.


Chris pulls away from him on a gasp, hand flying to his mouth.  His eyes are wide, panicked, pupils blown with arousal, though the scent of fear spikes, sharp and bitter, from him.  Darren knows he must look like a wild thing - hair a mess from Chris’ fingers, chest heaving, and eyes gone completely gold with black bleeding through.  He must look savage.  But somehow he knows that he alone is not what Chris is suddenly fearful of.  There’s something else going on, the same fear or worry that had passed across Chris’ features earlier.


“I - Chris, I...”


Chris draws his fingers away from his mouth and they’re stained bright red with his own blood.  Darren is panting, struggling to catch his breath, fighting to keep from lunging at Chris and sucking the blood from his lip, his fingers.


Darren tries to take a step forward, but Chris steps back.  It hurts, the rejection.  He’d been so close.


“Don’t,” Chris says.  His eyes are pleading and Darren is held fast.  “Please, just.  Stay back.”  He’s pressing at his lip, trying to stop the bleeding.


“I’m sorry,” Darren offers.  He’s never apologized for who he is before, but it feels necessary.


“It’s fine.  It’s just, you can’t-” Chris looks at his fingers again and tentatively touches his tongue to his tender lip.  His brow furrows and Darren can scent disappointment bitter in the air.  “I have to go.”  Chris’ eyes are huge with unspoken apology as he heads for the shore, giving Darren a wide berth as he passes.


Darren is left standing in the cool spring water, cock still hard, heart beating heavy in his chest with the taste of Chris’ tongue thick in his mouth.


Chris doesn’t see Darren for three days.


He hides in the city, tucked away in the palace where he’s supposed to be anyway.  It’s not like he’s perpetually confined to a boring, chafing courtly life of state affairs and long dinner parties.  Of marble floors and silk sheets and nothing at all that could be considered even remotely dangerous or exciting.  He’s allowed out, of course he is; his movements aren’t restricted, despite his status.  But he’s supposed to take his attendants with him when he leaves the stale safety of the palace grounds and ventures beyond the city walls.  The fact that he’d ditched them twice in the same week means they’re watching him a little more closely these days.


Chris finds himself hating it all.  Every moment he’s under a high, arched roof, clad in tight, restrictive clothing is a moment too long.  He suddenly aches to be outside, under the sky with his skin bared to the sun, his feet in the dirt, and a vampire’s strong hands on his naked hips.


Chris has spent his whole life in the city - performing his duties, learning his manners, becoming the man he was born to be.  He’s done it all perfectly for so long.  And now, now it’s not enough.  It was never enough, not really, but the heavy desire for more is so clearly defined in a way it never was before.  He knows what he wants.  And what he wants is Darren.  But Darren isn’t for him.  Chris is meant for another of his kind - another tall, pale man, with royal blood and ancient magic in his veins.  It’s not supposed to be a vampire.  But it is.


He wasn’t supposed to be in the woods that day, the first time he laid eyes on Darren, wild and naked.  He was supposed to be at the palace dealing with one boring affair or the other.  Something had happened between a mage and a pixie that needed the attention of the Council.  But he’d slipped past the watchful eyes of his attendants and into the cool dark of the forest that spread out vast and ancient from the borders of the city.  He was always so much more comfortable out in nature, where the air tasted like life and the water sluiced cool and refreshing over his body.  When he was little, he used to pretend that he was a nymph, sleek and wild.  He’d hide from his parents in the tended gardens of the palace for hours, darting between the tall rose bushes, getting dirt on his clothes, and leaves in his hair, staying out until his fair skin freckled.  Chris is convinced that the circumstances of his birth are all wrong.  He belongs outside; he belongs with Darren.


Grant, Riker, and Curt, his attendants, corner him on the second day after his encounter with Darren.  He’d successfully avoided them by staying in his quarters with his books and his own writing.  The distraction helped keep him from dwelling too long on the faded heat of Darren’s hands and tongue; the lingering electricity of his savage magic.


Chris sees them approaching from the other end of the grand hallway, all three beautiful in their own way, and he sighs deeply.  He wants to turn on his heel and disappear again.


“Don’t run, Christopher,” Grant says, laughter on the edges of his voice.  Grant always had a way of knowing exactly what Chris was thinking.


“Grant.  Gentlemen.”  Chris nods curtly at them, which is ridiculous, because they’re his best friends.


“You’ve been hiding from us,” Grant folds his arms across his chest.  He’s even taller than Chris.


“I’ve been busy.”


“Busy avoiding us,” Riker says.  He’s the youngest of them, but bright, effervescent.  So filled with joy it’s impossible to stay angry around him.  His magic reaches out and lifts others’ moods.


“What’s going on, Chris?” Curt asks.  He’s always been the one to dig at a perceived problem.  “Where were you the other day?  We know you went out into the forest, and when you came back you  You felt off.  What happened?”


Chris thinks about lying, telling them some story about being surprised by a pack of werewolves or something, but the werewolves in the area are all registered, and they’d know if there were any outsiders nearby.  And beyond that, he knows his friends can sense the subtle change in his magic; a thread of energy that’s not his own.  An energy that’s so clearly not like theirs.


“I - I met someone,” Chris hedges, even though that statement alone is grounds for worry on their parts.


“Who?” Riker asks.  He sounds excited about the prospect.


“A man.”


“You interacted with a man unsupervised?”  There’s shock around Curt’s mouth, disapproval in his voice.


Grant’s eyes are bright and keen on his face and Chris knows that he can tell there’s more.  “He isn’t just a man, is he?”


Chris swallows, meeting Grant’s gaze.  “He’s a vampire.”


“Gods, Chris!” Curt exclains.  Grant presses his lips together like he’s trying not to smile.  Riker’s jaw drops; Chris knows the younger boy has never met a vampire before, but he wants to.


“Well then,” Grant says.  “What’s his name?”


“Darren.”  Chris’ belly squirms happily at the thought of him and he’s glad his friends can’t scent his body chemistry the way other creatures can, the way Darren does.


“You were with a vampire.  Alone.  Chris.  You know that’s not allowed,” Curt chastises, as if Chris doesn’t know it.


“Seems like the list of things I’m not allowed to do far exceeds the few things I am allowed,” Chris snipes.  He’s so tired of all of the constraints of his life.


“Why don’t you tell us what happened,” Grant prompts.


“I went out into the forest last week.  I was bored, restless.  He was there - he was, hunting.  We talked.”  Chris doesn’t want to tell his friends about the hunger in Darren’s eyes that first meeting, the way he somehow knew not to touch Chris.  He doesn’t tell his friends the vampire was naked.  “And then, a couple days ago, I was out again, at the spring.  He approached me.”  Chris doesn’t tell them he was bathing, or that Darren joined him.


“We - we had a moment.”  Chris swallows heavily and remembers the way his magic felt pushing up against Darren’s, the way his cock felt against another’s.


Grant’s eyebrow lifts.  Riker looks like he can’t wait to hear the rest.  Curt is beginning to look furious.


“What kind of moment?”  Grant asks.


“We exchanged magic.”  Chris says simply.  There’s no other way to put it.  So many rules have already been broken between him and Darren.  Boundaries crossed, laws violated.  No point in obfuscating now.  There’s a long beat of silence that echoes along the hallway.


“What?” Curt’s voice is low.  Chris can feel the dark-haired man’s magic spiking.


“Magic.  He - his magic, it reached out to me.  And mine answered.  It covered me.  We, we linked.”  Chris closes his eyes briefly.  Breathes in.  Darren’s wild magic is a low thrum along his own, an easy harmony.


“Shit.”  Grant says.  He almost sounds impressed.  Grant’s never been one to cling to the old ways and social norms.


“Does he know?” Riker asks.


“Of course not.  He’s a vampire.  They can’t, they’re not magical enough to sense something like that.  But I did.  I know.”  Chris presses his hand to his belly.  He can still feel the traces of Darren’s essence inside him, dancing along his nerves, mingling with his own power.  They’re not bonded - there’s so much more to it than an exchange - but they’re linked now.  It’s not strong, but it’s there.  The fact that it happened at all, that a vampire had enough power to exchange with Chris tells him the choice he’s going to make is the right one.  If he holds on to it, it’s going to be inside him forever.  He smiles a little.


“Oh, you’re fucked,” Grant laughs.


“The Council is going to know, too.  They’re going to sense that you’re...” Curt trails off, like he doesn’t want to finish the sentence.


“What?  That I’m tainted?  Tainted with vampire?” Chris stares into Curt’s eyes until the other man blinks.


“Hey, man.”  Curt holds his hands up between them.  “I don’t mean to imply that-”


“You don’t like vampires, we get it.  But this is Chris we’re talking about, show some respect.”  Grant chimes in and Chris is thankful.  He’s happy to know that he’s at least got Grant on his side.


“There’s more.”  Chris says, because there’s no point in keeping anything else secret.  The exchange of magic isn’t controllable; Darren won’t be held accountable for that, even if it happened with someone as important and untouchable as Chris.




“He kissed me.  We kissed.”  Chris shudders to remember it, the heady taste of Darren’s tongue.  The softness of his lips and the way he cradled Chris’ face in both hands with a gentleness that belied the eagerness of his kiss and the power in his body.  Chris remembers the way those hands pulled him close and angled him just right, just the way Darren wanted him.  The bright burst of pain when Darren’s fang nicked his lower lip.  And then the panic as he pulled away before Darren could take any of his blood inside himself.  The kiss is bad enough.  The sheer impropriety of it, not to mention the illegality.  The exchange of spit, of bodily essence with someone like Chris, someone he’s not bonded to.  It’s enough to get Darren banished if anyone brings charges against him.


“Fuck.” Curt breathes out.




“He bite you?” Riker asks, disbelief clear in his tone.  He sounds shocked, but not upset.


“Not exactly.  He...accidentally cut my lip.”  Chris touches his tongue to the healed wound.  He doesn’t think he’ll ever forget where Darren first marked him.


“Gods, Chris.  Did he-” Curt trails off.


“No,” Chris shakes his head.  “He didn’t take any.”  If Darren had, if he’d taken any of Chris’ blood, and not just his saliva, then this conversation would be so very different.  Chris sort of wishes it was.


Grant’s eyes narrow.  “But you would let him, wouldn’t you.”  It’s not a question.


“I want him to,” Chris agrees.  There.  It’s done.  It’s said.  Silence follows.


“Chris, you can’t possibly want that.”  Curt says, scandalized.  “You know you’re meant for more than someone like him.”


“Hey,” Riker says, shrugging.  “The man wants a vamp.  Let him have a vamp.”  Chris laughs, high and relieved.  He kind of wants to hug Riker.


“It’s not that easy,” Curt protests. “The Council will never allow you to bond with a vampire.  You’re too important.  You know that.  I mean, you’ve already rejected two potential suitors-”


“Three,” Chris interrupts.


“Three men of proper birth and standing.  You can’t possibly think that the Council, that your father, will let you sign your life and magic over to a vampire.”


“And if I do it without their consent?”  Chris lifts his chin defiantly.  He doesn’t need to hear this from Curt; he already knows.  He already knows how deep this problem is.  He doesn’t care.  His magic decided; his heart is following.


“They could banish you both.”  Riker offers softly.


Chris blinks slowly.  The thought of banishment, of being exiled out of the city and the country, isn’t frightening the way it would have been before he met Darren.  It’s been less than a week, but his soul knows, his magic knows.  That’s all that matters to him.


“So, let me just sum this mess up,” Grant says.  He makes a placating gesture with his hands between Curt and Chris.  “Darren, this vampire, was with you unsupervised.  Twice.  He kissed you.  I’m assuming he touched you elsewhere.  And he cut you.”


“I was also naked,” Chris adds, because he can.  The three other men groan simultaneously.  Riker drags his hand through his hair and Curt briefly turns away.


Grant nods.  He once again looks like he’s trying not to grin.  “And you were naked.  Right.  What are you going to do?  What do you want to do?”


Chris feels some of the tension leave his body.  “I want him.”  He knows Darren wants him too.




“That’s about how long I’ll live.”  Chris doesn’t need to say that Darren will live just as long.


“You want to bond with him.”


Chris takes a deep breath.  He closes his eyes, reaching down within himself to where Darren’s magic is coiling around his own.  It feels comfortable, familiar.  Like a part of him he never knew was missing has begun to click into place.  He wishes it were already inexorably linked with his.


“I do.”


Curt swears softly and Riker rocks excitedly on his toes.  Grant just smiles wider and shakes his head.


“Well, then we’re just going to have to come up with a plan then, aren’t we?”


Chris grins.  He’s always been a fan of Grant’s plans.


It’s not that Darren has forgotten about Chris.  He’ll never, ever forget about him.  But in the long days since he last saw him, since he took those kisses and touches from Chris, he’s tried to resign himself to never seeing the tall, pale man with the sea-deep eyes again.  Chris had run off, without explanation, not that Darren was owed any explanations at all.  Darren knows he’s just a vampire and Chris, well, Chris is something extraordinary.


He spends the days hunting, gorging on more blood than he needs until his belly is swollen and his limbs feel heavy.  He chases the deer for longer than he needs to, just to stretch his legs and fill his lungs with fresh air.  He gathers more firewood than he’ll need for the winter, more than his brother and parents will need too.  They just shake their heads at him when he drops off another armload; they can smell the lingering traces of Chris on him and know what he’s waiting for.


Darren tries to keep busy.  He’s lived for centuries, but the days have never felt so long.  He checks his roof for leaks (none, of course), makes sure there’s plenty of frozen blood in storage, and digs up the old dirt around the rose bushes and folds in fresh soil with his bare hands.  The roses have always been there, even before Darren settled in his little cabin of a home.  The ragged bushes aren’t much to look at in the winter, gnarled and twisted.  But in the spring, the blooms are a rich red.  Save for the one bush tucked in, nearly hidden, whose buds are as yellow as the sun.  Darren drags his thumb across a thick, sharp thorn, drawing a line of blood.  He brings it to his lips and sucks gently.  His own blood never tastes very good to him; it contains the traces of those he’s fed from and right now it’s a flat mix of deer and a faint hint of a cougar he stalked for almost an hour.  He hasn’t fed from a human since he first saw Chris.


The nights are even longer.  Darren lays awake well into the hour of the wolf, listening to the familiar sounds of the forest all around.  The rustling of the leaves in the wind, the padding of paws in the loam.  The breath of the other creatures scurrying along in the dark.  He reaches out as far as his hearing will take him, searching for the thump of Chris’ heart.  But he’s too far away, wherever he is, probably locked away in the city.  Darren’s body warms to think of Chris.  He can recall the taste of his mouth, bittersweet now in his absence, and the heat of his skin under his fingertips.  The heavy beat of his heart.  Darren thinks about running a hand down the anxious length of his body, as he’s done so many times since he met Chris.  He’d been denied release in the spring water and every orgasm he’s pulled from himself since has felt lacking.  Not enough.  He wonders how long it will be, how many decades it will take, until something feels as real, as good, as those few moments with Chris.


The moon is peeking between the trees, glowing through the open window, heavy in the sky though not quite full.  Darren knows the werewolves must be feeling its inescapable pull tonight.  It’s got to be itching under their skin, pulling at their bones.  He doesn’t pity them, but he understands.  The need in the blood, the ache in the soul.  He knows what it’s like to be controlled by something so primal.


His skin prickles and Darren freezes with his hand around his filling cock.  There’s a heartbeat approaching, slipping between the trees.  Darren shivers and his gut twists up hotly in recognition – Chris’ heart.  He’s up and out of the bed and at the front door in moments.  He can smell Chris through the heavy woods, can hear the rushing of his blood through his veins.  Darren’s whole body aches.  He presses his palm to the door.


Darren waits for what feels like forever for the knock before he pulls the door open.  Chris is standing on his doorstep.  He looks as wild as Darren feels.  Breathless, cheeks flushed with exertion and excitement.  Anticipation.  His heart is already thumping fast and hard in his chest and Darren can scent his arousal.  He is ethereal – shades of moonlight and rose.  Skin pale and unmarked, save for a thin scar on the side of his long neck that Darren doesn’t let himself linger on.


"Hi," Chris offers.  His eyes flicker down Darren’s body, naked and exposed, and then he bites softly at his own lip.  Darren shudders.  He remembers splitting that flesh with his tooth.  He wants to again.


"What are you doing here?"  Darren digs his fingernails into the doorframe to keep himself from lunging at Chris and dragging him inside his house where he won’t ever let him leave.


"I needed to see you."


Darren can hear the heavy importance of the words, even if he doesn’t quite understand it.  “How did you find me?”  Darren asks.


“I,” Chris pauses like he’s not quite sure how much to reveal.  He runs a hand through his hair; Darren catches the light fragrance of his shampoo and wood smoke from the forest.  “I sent scouts.”




“I needed to find you, but I couldn’t-” Chris swallows the words he’s struggling with.  “Darren.”  Chris takes half a step towards him and he shudders.  He can feel something heated and electric sliding across his skin, curling around his wrists and thighs, and he closes his eyes briefly.  It feels like magic; it feels like Chris.


“You ran off,” Darren says.  “The other day.  Just - left.  I thought you didn’t want to see me again.”  He feels a spike of regret from Chris and a brush of something warm across his chest.


“It’s more complicated than that."


"Tell me."


"I can't.  Not yet.  I want to.  I will.  I'll explain everything.”  Chris shifts on his feet.  “But first, I need to know something."


"Anything."  Darren thinks he’d lay himself out and offer up his throat to Chris, if he asked.  If he even hinted.


"I need to know that you want me,” Chris breathes out.  It’s more than a confession.


"Fuck, Chris.  So badly.  You have no idea."  Darren stares hungrily at the flutter of Chris’ pulse in the base of his throat.  His fangs ache.  Every muscle in his body is tense, strung tight.


"No, I - not just like that,” Chris’ hands flutter uselessly, like he wants to touch Darren, but can’t.  Not yet.  “I need to know if you want to be with me.  To be mine.  As I would be yours."  He touches his own hand to his chest, over his heart.


Darren shudders once, hard, and then pounces.  He can’t wait any longer.  He grabs Chris' face in his hands and seals their lips together.  Chris moans against his mouth and stumbles backwards with the force of it, hands finding purchase at Darren’s naked waist.  It’s better than Darren remembers.  Chris’ mouth is hot, his lips soft, and his tongue tastes like cool water and delicate spice.  Darren slides his tongue inside for a deeper, better taste.  Chris is taller than him, and Darren stretches up on his toes to angle their mouths together just right.


Darren pushes closer, rubs the aching length of his naked cock against Chris’ hip and heat twists up in his belly.  He moans as Chris thrusts back, thick and hard and so tempting.  Everything in him is telling him to bite, to take, to feed.  Everything tells him Chris wants him too.  The rising heat of him, the pounding of his heart, the slick of precome Darren can scent and wants to taste.  Chris’ hands clench at Darren’s waist, thumbs tracing the dips and deep lines of his hips, digging into the sensitive tendons and making Darren moan.  His nipples are hard, aching where they brush against Chris’ shirt, and Darren growls into the kiss and grips Chris even tighter.


Chris gasps into his mouth suddenly, high and shocked.  Darren tears himself away to realize that he’s somehow walked them a few steps away from his door and pushed Chris up against a tree.  The bark must be rough against Chris’ soft skin, even through his light clothes.  Darren wants to soothe the hurt with his tongue.


“Chris,” Darren pants.  Chris is gorgeous like this, red lips swollen from Darren’s kisses, cheeks pink, chest heaving with every breath, and cock hard in his pants.  His pupils are blown wide, the remaining blue so dark it’s almost black, and Darren can smell the sweat breaking out all over Chris’ body.  Darren can’t help himself - he leans in and licks a wide, hot stripe up Chris’ long, beautiful neck.  He groans; Chris tastes of salt and desire and expensive soap.  The blood is so close and Darren’s dying to sink his teeth in deep.


“Please,” Chris whimpers, breathless.  Chris’ thighs part and Darren settles between them.  He shifts sinuously against Darren, hands scrabbling at Darren’s broad, naked back, nails raking across his skin.  It stings and Darren opens his mouth against Chris’ neck.  The thick jugular lies just below the shivering skin; it wouldn’t take much to break through and take what should belong to him.  He breathes out, hot and damp, and Chris’ cock jerks against his hip.


“Darren, come on.”  Chris’ nails dig into the meat of Darren’s ass, as though he’s trying to drag him closer still.


Darren pulls back just enough to get Chris’ clothes off.  It takes less than a second and Darren’s pretty sure he doesn’t rip anything.  Not that he cares if he does.  He doesn’t stop to think about the rich fabric, the silver thread.  Darren rakes his eyes over Chris’ body, drinking in the entirety of him.  His long, powerful legs that are going to feel so good wrapped around Darren’s waist.  The sweet curve of his waist, the flatness of his firm stomach.  The breadth of his shoulders and the light dusting of hair in the center of his subtly muscled chest.  The thickness of the strong arms that Darren wants locked tight around him.  The heavy length of his cock with a bead of precome leaking from the tip.  He is stunning and Darren almost can’t breathe.


“Are you just going to stare or what?” Chris asks, tilting his head and putting his hands on his hips.  He’s got a sly little smile on his face and Darren wants to kiss it away.


Darren lunges, gathers Chris in his arms, and takes him down to the ground, down to the earth.  The breath leaves Chris – half a grunt, half a laugh – as they tumble down.  Darren props himself up over Chris and soaks up the sight of him.  He is utterly breathtaking, stretched out prone beneath him in the dirt, smiling and flushed with arousal.  About to be his.  Darren will never see anything half as beautiful for the rest of his days.  He dips down and peppers kisses across Chris’ chest, his nipples, the base of his neck, drawing little sighs and whimpers from Chris that make Darren’s heart pound in delight and victory.  He licks a stripe up Chris’ flat belly; the light hairs tickle his tongue and lips and he grins.  Darren wants to spend a year marking every inch of Chris’ supple flesh.


“What in the gods’ names are you?”  Darren wonders aloud, nosing at Chris’ throat.  He wants to suck a bruise into the pale skin, but doesn’t yet know if he’s quite allowed.


Chris reaches out for him, one hand settling on his waist, the other wrapping around the back of his neck.  “Yours,” he whispers before tugging their lips together.


Darren moans into the kiss and lowers himself down.  Chris’ legs spread wide and his knees draw up, cradling Darren between his strong thighs.  Darren thrusts, cock sliding against Chris’ and he wants to cry out with how good it feels.  It’s so much more than skin against skin.  Chris’ body is so hot - heat and life and power radiating off him.  It feels like Chris’ very energy is reaching out for him, caressing his body, enveloping him.  And Darren hasn’t even gotten inside him yet.


Chris’ hips tilt and rock in an obvious demand and Darren runs a soothing hand down the length of Chris’ twisting torso to his hard cock.  Chris whines, high and breathy.  Darren can feel the blood pulsing, the way the skin shifts with every twitch, like silk under his eager fingers.


“Have you ever-?”  Darren asks, squeezing gently just under the tip.  Chris’ whole body jerks and his cock throbs in Darren’s hand.  The blood is like fire under the thin skin.


“Of course not,” Chris pants, rocking his hips up into Darren’s slow-moving grip.  Possessiveness twists, heated and dark, in Darren’s belly.  Chris gasps as though he somehow can feel it too.  He’d known - somehow Darren had known that Chris was completely untouched, that his is the first of another’s touch that Chris has ever known.  Fluid has gathered at the tip and Darren smears it down Chris’ hard length.  Chris shivers and his hips arch; muscles in his abdomen flex.


“Fuck.  Let me-” Darren pulls away to slide down Chris’ body.  His mouth is watering for a taste.  There’s so much he wants to give to Chris, so much he wants to make him feel, but Chris’ grasping hand on his shoulder stops him.


“No,” he says, shaking his head.  Damp strands of hair are lying across his forehead.   “I”  He bites his lip softly as though he doesn’t know how to say it.   “I - we can do more later.”  Darren’s stomach clenches up tight at just the thought of all the things he can do to Chris, if Chris will let him.  “But right now, right now I just need you.”


Darren surges up and kisses him again, deep and messy.  Chris’ mouth opens so easily to him, tongue sliding along his, teeth nipping delicately at his lower lip, drawing it in and sucking on it.  Darren lets his hand trail back down, behind Chris’ drawn-up balls.  His searching fingers brush lightly against the tight curve of Chris’ ass, close to his center, but not quite touching.  His skin is smooth, soft – so warm.  Deceptively delicate.


“Ah, fuck, I don’t - I don’t have any,” Darren breaks off on a groan, dropping his forehead to Chris’ chest.  His cock throbs painfully where it’s pressed up against the heated strength of Chris’ thigh.


“My pants,” Chris whimpers.  “In my pocket.  I brought-”


Darren reaches blindly for Chris’ discarded clothing.  In a pocket is a little cut-glass vial of clear, viscous liquid.  Darren almost laughs in relief.  He slides back up Chris’ body and captures his mouth in a deep kiss.  Chris’ tongue brushes against his own, slow and sensual, as his mouth opens eagerly.


“You’re kind of fucking incredible, you know that?” Darren murmurs against Chris’ lips.  A spike of something that feels like delight and pleasure washes over him from Chris.


Darren licks his way back down Chris’ body, pausing at his peaked nipples because he can’t pass them by, no matter how urgently Chris is twisting underneath him.  He drags the flat of his tongue across the tight flesh and is rewarded with a low moan and Chris’ hips pushing up against his abdomen.  Darren pulls himself away from Chris’ chest and settles between his wide spread thighs and leans back to get a good look.  Chris looks like a wild thing – leaves in his hair, dirt smeared across his pale skin, rosy where he’s flushed with pleasure underneath Darren.  He is breathtaking, impossibly gorgeous.  He looks like he belongs there.  Out of the city and in the forest.  With Darren.


“Tell me again,” Darren says.  He unstoppers the vial and spreads the clear, lightly scented liquid across his fingers.


“I want this.”  Chris’ legs part further, heels digging into the cool earth for purchase.  “I want you.”


Darren circles a finger around Chris’ center, spreading lubricant, getting Chris used to the gentle touch.  Chris’ hips twitch and a flush races down Darren’s back.  The heat is already rising in him, fast and wild.  It’s curling in his groin and sparkling along his nerves; he can feel the sweat beginning to break out across his body.  He swallows down the rampant urge to just take.  Chris isn’t just another body; he’s so much more.  Darren rests his thumb against Chris’ hole and applies just a bit of pressure.  It gives, just a little, and Darren’s cock throbs.  He wishes Chris would give him time to push his legs back and work his tongue inside.  Chris’ hands close on his shoulders, holding on.


“If you don’t get on with it, I swear to the gods...” Chris breaks off on a breathy gasp as Darren eases his slick finger inside.  “Oh, fuck,” he whimpers.


“Fuck,” Darren echoes.  Chris is so tight, even just around his one finger.  He’s going to be the death of Darren, or the life.


The smooth walls of him pulse as Darren slowly works his finger inside, struggling not to go too fast.  Too rough.  Chris isn’t a delicate creature, isn’t some waifish pixie, but Darren isn’t going to hurt him.  He smears more of the thick lube onto his fingers and presses back inside Chris with two.  He knows his fingers are long and he pushes in deep, feeling the give of Chris opening up around him.  Heat flares in his belly at the soft, mewling little sound that escapes Chris’ throat, making him dizzy and anxious.  He’s used more than enough lube and it’s dripping down the cleft of Chris’ ass to the ground below.  The tantalizing sweet smell of it mingles with the thick, heady scent of Chris - of his sweat, his blood, his arousal.  Darren wants to drown in that scent, roll in it like a werewolf taking a mate.


“Come on,” Chris pants, canting his hips up.


“Soon.”  Darren draws his fingers back, swallowing the pitiful moan that leaves Chris’ mouth with a kiss.  Chris’ slickened hole spasms like he’s trying to keep Darren inside.  “Just let me-” Darren wets his fingers again and eases back inside with three, slow as he can.  He twists his wrist.


Chris whimpers, probably from the stretch, and his nails dig into Darren’s shoulders.  It stings and Darren hopes he leaves marks.  Darren pauses, holding as still as he can while Chris adjusts around the thickness of his fingers.  His whole body is thrumming, aching for touch, and his cock twitches with every pulse of Chris’ body around his fingers.  He can feel it when Chris’ body gives way, loosens enough for Darren to move, thrust in deep, stretch Chris open as gently as possible.  He pushes in further, searching.  Finding.  He crooks his fingers forward and Chris arches up on a high gasp, back bowed tight.  Darren grins, baring his teeth.


“Good?”  Darren leans down and laps at Chris’ throat, feeling his blood pounding under his tongue.  He is so close.




Chris’ cock is still hard, resting flushed dark and gorgeous against his belly, precome slicking clear down the side of the head.  Darren can’t help it.  He shifts down and dips low, licks a long, slow stripe up the underside of his cock, sucks in the bitter heat of him.  Chris shudders hard and tightens around his fingers.  Darren wonders how many times he can make Chris come before they need rest, how loud he can make him scream before his voice is wrecked.


“Ok, ok.  Please.” Chris’ hand slides from his shoulder, up his neck, and into his hair.  “Gods, Darren.  Please.”  He tugs.  Darren knows what he’s asking for.


Darren slides up Chris’ body, dropping kisses along his shivering inner thighs, belly, and chest.  So careful not to bite him the way he wants to, to keep his teeth from scraping along that perfect flesh.  Chris’ arms wind around his shoulders, pulling him down into a wet, biting kiss as Darren’s hips settle against his groin.  Darren’s cock nestles up behind Chris’ balls, the head pressing against his stretched hole, slipping in the slick lube.  He feels the rising of Chris’ belly as he takes a deep breath.  He reaches down, grasps the base of his cock with trembling fingers, and lines up.


“Chris, look at me.”


Chris’ eyes flutter open.  Darren sucks in a quick breath.  The blue is nearly completely taken over by his blown-wide pupils and the moonlight shines in them.  His lips are red, swollen, wet from Darren’s kisses, and his cheeks are darkly flushed.  Something that feels like magic brushes against Darren’s throat and trails down his chest.  It leaves gooseflesh in its wake even though Darren feels too warm already.  It feels like it slips inside him, through his pores, and into his blood.


“I need you to say it again.”  Darren noses behind Chris’ ear and licks over the scar lower on his neck, pushes down the surge of protectiveness and jealously that rises in him and the raised edges of it against his tongue.  He wants to latch onto that neck and never let go.  “Tell me you want this.”  He has to be absolutely certain.


Chris’ fingers tighten in his hair; heat flares low in Darren’s belly.  “I want you,” Chris whispers before he tugs Darren down into a messy kiss.  He nips sharply at Darren’s lower lip.  “Make me yours.”


Darren pushes Chris’ thigh up and nudges forward. The head of his cock slips inside and Darren groans from deep in his throat.  It’s so hot – too hot – and Chris is almost painfully tight around him.  Darren can’t breathe and sweat trickles down his hairline.  Chris lets out a strained moan and his head tips back into the dirt, chin lifting, baring his white throat.


Untouched, Darren’s mind, his whole being, shouts.  Now mine.  It burns triumphant in his chest.


He pushes in as slowly as he can, as deep as he dares, keeping one hand on Chris’ hip to steady him, the other on the ground to brace himself.  Chris’ hips cant up with every thrust, meeting him with impossible timing.  Darren draws back gently, careful to keep the head of his cock from slipping out.  Chris tightens around him as his nails dig into Darren’s back.  Breathy moans slip from his lips and sweat trails down his neck, breaks out across his chest.  Darren wants to keep Chris looking like this forever.  He dips his head to lick the sweat from Chris’ skin; the tang bursts brightly across his tongue.


Darren shifts on his knees, angling up and getting as deep as he can, and Chris gasps loudly at the change.  His back curves sharply and Darren growls as Chris bites down into the meat of his shoulder.  It aches and Darren shudders; his next thrust is hard, maybe too hard.   Chris gasps and twitches underneath him, body clenching down tight around Darren’s cock.


“Ah, fuck, Chris, I’m sorry.  I-” Darren’s fingers dig into the earth near Chris’ head, struggling for purchase.


“Don’t stop.” Chris hitches his legs around Darren’s, tilts his ass up, and the change forces Darren that much deeper.  He bottoms out, balls resting against the sweet curve of Chris’ ass. “Gods, don’t ever stop.”


“Never,” Darren pants.  He captures another kiss from Chris; the taste of him is intoxicating.  Chris’ body is so willing, eager beneath and around him.  Writhing against the leaf-strewn forest bed as he takes his pleasure from Darren.


Darren knows he’s getting close, balls drawing up and aching, and he can scent that Chris is too.  Chris’ cock is trapped between them, throbbing in time with his heartbeat and leaving smears of precome across both of their stomachs.  Heat is gathering in Darren’s belly, racing along his limbs.  Everything feels too good, too perfect.  He wants it to last forever, wants to stay buried deep inside Chris while the moon washes over their skin and the forest murmurs around them.  He wants to offer up his very life to Chris; he’s pretty sure Chris will take it.


“Oh, you-” Chris says suddenly.  His voice is tight, strained.  Pitched lower than usual and not just from the blunt thickness of Darren’s cock dragging inside him.


“What is it?  Is something wrong?  I can-” Darren doesn’t want to pull out, isn’t sure he can.  But if Chris needs him to...


“Your teeth,” Chris whispers.  “They’re-” Chris reaches up and gingerly touches his mouth, pushing his lips back.  Darren’s heart lurches; his hips stutter out of rhythm.


“Gods, I’m sorry.  I can’t control them.  I-” Darren knows his fangs are fully extended.  Wicked sharp and deadly dangerous, dripping with saliva.  They must be glinting bright white in the moonlight.  He tries to close his lips back over them, but can’t.


“Don’t be.  They’re, oh!” Chris moans, eyes fluttering shut, on a hard thrust of Darren’s cock inside him.  His hand falls from Darren’s face and rakes through his hair.  “They’re you.”


“Chris, I-” Darren breaks off.  He knows what people think of vampires; how they’re undead and inhuman.  How they’re merely vicious, base animals unworthy of anyone.  Darren is what he is - he can’t change anything.  And he’s not ashamed of how he lives.  But he doesn’t know how to explain the aching need for more, for blood.  He’d been trying to ignore it, the impulse to feed while fucking.  Chris deserves more than the animal of him, even if he seems to want exactly that.


“I, I need-” Darren hunches lower, digs his elbows into the earth for purchase, and tangles his fingers in Chris’ hair.  He dips his head and laps at a patch of Chris’ neck.  His fangs touch the vulnerable skin of Chris’ throat.  It will only take the slightest bit of pressure to break through the skin into the flesh below.  He can feel saliva dripping from his mouth, wetting Chris’ skin.  He knows, somehow he knows, that if he bites Chris while buried bare inside him, it will mean something more than he can comprehend.  It will mean everything.


“Please, I want you to.”  Chris’ hand slides up his neck to tangle in his curls, holding him in place.   “Gods, please.”  The desire, the permission, is thick and obvious in Chris’ breathless voice.  He tips his head farther to the side, cheek rubbing against the soil, and the thick tendon in his neck stands out in stark relief.


Darren can’t resist that invitation, won’t say no.  He bites.  His wicked fangs slide deep into the tender flesh with terrifying ease.  Chris shudders underneath him, his body clenching down around Darren’s cock so tightly it almost hurts.  Hot, salty sweet blood floods Darren’s mouth and his hips jerk forward, thrusting harshly into Chris’ body.  It feels like his whole body takes an electric shock the moment Chris’ blood touches his teeth; like something heated reaches down into him and takes a hold of his very soul.  Darren moans into it, lets the blood wash down his throat.  Chris tastes like sunshine, like ancient worlds.  Like power and magic.  Pure, unsullied by anything.  He tastes like every dream Darren has ever had.  He thinks that they both might be glowing in the moonlight.  Something more than blood and sex has happened, even if he doesn’t know what.  He’d known Chris wasn’t human, now he knows for sure that Chris is so much more.


He’s got Chris pinned down, taken and owned by his teeth and cock.  He’s got him where he’s wanted him since he first saw the gorgeous man, warily watching him through the trees.  Darren growls and thrusts up sharply, angling right where he knows it will send nearly violent shocks of pleasure through Chris.  Chris whimpers and shakes underneath him, cock hard between their bodies and ass pulsing around Darren’s cock.  Chris reaches down and grasps Darren’s thigh, holding on; his nails bite deep.  Darren grunts low in his throat and thinks Chris might be drawing blood.  The thought of it, of Chris leaving his own marks on him, makes Darren’s cock throb painfully in the wet heat of Chris’ body.  His teeth sink a little deeper into Chris’ willing throat. 


Darren has to be careful not to take too much, doesn’t want to hurt him, but the taste is spellbinding.  The heat of Chris’ blood washing over his tongue, sliding down his throat, and settling hot in his belly is making Darren’s every wild instinct rise up inside.  It’s brighter, richer than any blood he’s ever tasted and Darren knows that nothing else will ever satisfy him ever again.  Chris makes a strangled noise that might be Darren’s name if he could speak, and Darren feels that now-familiar brush of magic curl around his wrists and thighs again.  The touch is so like the easy slide of Chris’ hands and Darren takes a last, long pull of blood from his throat.


Chris comes unexpectedly, body arching taut and high, voice crying out into the stillness of the early morning darkness.  His body clenches around Darren’s cock with painful intensity, pulsing rhythmically.  His cock jerks and thick ropes of hot come splash across his belly and chest.  The bitter-salt scent of it hits Darren and it smells like a claim staked.


Chris’ orgasm pulls Darren down into his own.  The tight cording of liquid pleasure inside him snaps and he comes, releasing deep inside of Chris’ panting, shivering body.  Pleasure washes over him again and again.  When Darren comes, it’s unlike anything he’s ever felt before.  It’s so much more; it’s beyond indescribable.  Blood rushes in his ears and his heart is pounding so harshly he thinks it might burst.  It’s more than just his body; it’s every piece of his being falling apart and coming back together again.  Only there are extra pieces now.  He can feel them settling into his soul, his heart, his very blood.  Making him more than what he was.  Making him part of Chris.


Darren collapses down onto Chris’ heaving chest, boneless and shivering in the aftershocks of his orgasm that are more powerful than anything he’s ever felt before.  There’s something more than pleasure burning through him.  Chris’ strong arms wrap tight around his body, holding him close as his legs slide from around his waist to rest alongside his own.  Darren can feel Chris’ heart still pounding wildly as his hands stroke up and down Darren’s sweat-slick back.  He murmurs soft, low words that Darren can’t quite make out, but they soothe him, gentling him down from their orgasms.  The scent of sex is all around them - sweat and come and blood.  And something brighter that must be magic.


Darren only pulls out when the pleasure dissolves into oversensitivity.  Chris moans softly in protest and his ass grips at Darren’s cock as he slips out, as though to keep him inside.  Darren tucks his damp face into the curve of Chris’ neck, where sweat is mingling with the blood that trails from the tiny wounds in his throat.  He licks tiredly at the punctures, laving his saliva over them.  The sweat is drying on their skin and they shiver as the forest air washes over them, cool against their heated bodies.


“Chris,” Darren murmurs, when he can speak again.  “That was-” he breaks off, not knowing what to say.  “What are you?”


Chris pets his fingers through Darren’s sweat-damp hair, stroking through the messy curls, scratching at his scalp.   Darren shivers at every point of contact, bits of energy sparking between them.  Chris’ body is languid under his, loose-limbed and sated.


“I suppose I should tell you something,” Chris says.  “About who I am.”  His thumb brushes lightly across Darren’s cheekbone.


“You.  Little.  Nymph.”


“Close,” Chris touches the back of Darren’s neck.  Heat races down his spine.  “Fae.”


Oh.  Darren groans weakly, disbelievingly.  He shifts off Chris’ prone body, moving to lay next to him in the dirt and leaves.  The knowledge, the realization hits him like a punch to the gut.  He knows he’s in so much fucking trouble.  It’s forbidden, illegal, to drink from a fae unless they’re your bonded partner.  To even touch them is a crime.  And now Darren has Chris’ bright, sparkling blood burning through his veins and his come drying on his belly.  He is in such deep shit.


Darren covers his eyes with his arm.  He’s going to get called up in front of the Council, shackled in iron and ash.  They’re going to hand down some horrible punishment to him.  His mind races with the terrible possibilities.  They’ll brand him an outlaw, a raised mark on his shoulder that will last until death.  The Council will forbid him from drinking human blood.  Exile him to gods know where.  Darren loves his little territory in the forest.  He doesn’t want to leave, but he’ll go wherever Chris will take him.


“There’s more,” Chris says.  His voice is light, amused, and he presses up close to Darren’s side, throwing a leg across his thighs.


“Oh, gods, what?”  Darren can’t possibly imagine how this can get worse. His cock is still hard, wet and sticky against his thigh.  Despite himself, he wants more.


“I’m - well, I live in the palace.”  Chris’ hand settles on his belly, splayed wide.  Darren feels waves of energy pulse through him, seeming to come from Chris’ palm.  “I’m sort of royalty.”


Darren flinches, groaning loudly,  “Ah, fuck.”


It’s worse; he is so very fucked.  He drank from a member of the fae royalty he’s not bonded to.  He’s not even supposed to be alone with Chris; never mind lying naked, fed, and freshly fucked in the woods outside of the city with him.  The Council isn’t even going to bother with a trial.  They’re going to stake, dismember, and burn him.  Publicly.  Gleefully.  And then they’re going to let a feral werewolf piss on his smoldering ashes for good measure.


“Darren.” Chris props his chin on Darren’s chest.  He brushes his thumb across Darren’s tight nipple and Darren shivers under his touch.  He’s still so sensitive all over.  He looks down the length of his body at Chris.  His little fae is grinning at him, all bright eyes and flushed cheeks.  There’s still a smear of blood along his neck, mingling with streaks of dirt and grime.  Darren wants to touch the marks that will begin to heal as his saliva sinks in.


“You let me.  We just - I.”  Darren rakes his hands through his hair.  His whole body is burning hot with pleasure.  And magic.  He can feel it deep inside, riding along his sore muscles.  Chris’ blood is on the back of his tongue, warm in his belly, seeping into his veins, distilling throughout his being.  “Oh gods.”


“Darren, dear heart,” Chris murmurs and Darren closes his eyes against the sobriquet.  “I told you, I want this.”


“Oh, so you want me killed by the Council?”


“Never,” Chris protests and it comes out almost a growl.  The low rumble of it resonates through Darren.  “I don’t think you quite understand - I want to be yours.  I want you to be mine.” Chris rests his palm over Darren’s heart, right where he first touched him.  “Forever.”


Darren sucks in a harsh breath, at the words and the pulse of heat and energy that comes from Chris.  His heart stutters.  “ want to bond with me?”


Chris grins, his eyes crinkling.  Dimples crease in the corners of his mouth.  He is so beautiful.  “I do.”


“Why?  I’m just - just me, just a vampire.  And you - gods, Chris.  You’re-” Darren doesn’t know how to describe Chris.  The moonlight is glinting in his eyes, glowing off his naked skin.  He is ethereal.


“Just Chris,” he counters.  “You said you wanted me too.”  He pouts a little, stroking his fingers across Darren’s still-peaked nipple.


“Aw, fuck, Chris.  I do.”  Darren reaches out and clasps Chris’ face in his hands again, drawing him up so he can take his mouth in a kiss.  He licks inside, chasing the taste of him.  He wonders if Chris can taste his own blood on his lips and possessiveness burns hot through his veins.


“Of course I do,” Darren murmurs when he draws back for breath.  “I’ll share my blood, my life - what little there is of it - and drink from your cup.  Anything.  Everything.”  He kisses him again, touching his fingers to Chris’ cheeks, his jaw.  The words are different in every culture, but the meaning is just the same.


“Oh good,” Chris says.  He brushes his lips across Darren’s, light as a bird feather, soft as silk. “Because that’s exactly what I want from you.  Forever.”


“I’m yours.”  Darren affirms.  His body feels light with it, but grounded to the earth in a way he’s never been before.  He thinks he’s found the home for his soul that he didn’t even know he was searching for.  Darren catches Chris’ mouth in a slow, deep kiss.  He nips sharply at Chris’ lower lip, drawing a bright drop of blood, and he licks it away.  Chris shivers on top of him.  Chris’ blood is his now, his to take and drink, and the thought makes Darren ache with pleasure.


“I should probably tell you something else,” Chris says.  There’s something teasing in his voice, and Darren is sort of in love with him.


“You can’t get pregnant, can you?” Darren asks, grinning.  His heart is lighter than it has been in centuries, fluttering in his chest with happiness.  “Because I don’t think I can take anything else right now.”


“No,” Chris laughs, pressing another soft kiss to Darren’s mouth.  Darren’s belly clenches to think of Chris tasting his own blood off his lips.  “But this was sort of a set-up.”  Chris shifts on top of Darren, hips rubbing lazily against Darren’s, and he’s reminded that he’s still mostly hard, that if he wanted, he could roll them over and bury himself back inside.


“What?”  Darren’s voice cracks a little.


“I knew I would never be allowed to Court you, or you me.  But I knew from the moment I first saw you in the woods that you were meant for me.  Only me.  Even if you’re-” Chris breaks off on a shrug.


“Just a lowly vampire?”  Darren asks, lifting his eyebrow and drawing his thumb across Chris’ cheekbone.


“Not a fae of proper birth, rank, and social status,” Chris corrects, pinching Darren’s nipple.  “The Council, my parents, never would have allowed this.  You.  I’m not even supposed to be near you, let alone with you.”


“They could have me exiled for touching you.  Killed for drinking from you.”  Darren runs his hand down Chris’ back.  The sweat has mostly dried and his skin is slightly sticky.  “That’s to say nothing of – of this.  Of taking you.”  Darren sucks in a breath at the shift of Chris’ hips against his.  Chris’ cock is getting hard again, filling against Darren’s body.  “It’s within their right.  It is the law.”


“Not anymore.  My magic consented to you.  The Council will know that it wasn’t force, it wasn’t coercion.  To hurt you would be to hurt me.  They would have to banish me too.  This way the Council can’t keep me from you.  I’m half yours already.  You have my blood, my...” Chris gestures between them to where his come is dry and tacky on Darren’s skin.  “I have your magic and your, well-” he blushes prettily and shifts his hips, feeling it where Darren knows his own come is still inside him.  “There’s nothing they can do now.  My magic knows you; I won’t let anyone hurt you or take you from me.  Nor me from you.  All that’s left is to finish the bond.  We can do that immediately.”


“You little minx,” Darren says, voice thick with wonder.


“I keep telling you, I’m a fae.”  Chris’ teeth close over his lower lip and he bats his eyelashes.  Heat sparks down Darren’s spine.


“You’re wicked and clever,” he says, delighted.  “I’m going to have my hands full with you, aren’t I?”


“Well.”  Chris’ cheeks flush a pretty pink and Darren is completely in love with him.  “I certainly hope so.”


Darren runs his hands along Chris’ back, memorizing the shifting of strong muscles, the curves of bones, and the softness of his skin.  He can scent the arousal building in him and he wonders how Chris would react if Darren turned over onto his belly and presented himself to him.  The heated length of Chris’ cock against his hip tells him it probably wouldn’t be unwelcome.


“So, you have my magic.  What little of it lives in me.”  Darren doesn’t care that vampires aren’t the most magical of creatures.  He has his own strengths.  Chris seems to be content with whatever he is.  “Do I have yours?”


“Not yet,” Chris drops a kiss to the base of Darren’s throat, touching the soft skin with his tongue.  “But you will once we bond.  I’ll give it to you freely, willingly.  Our magic  Permanently.  Inextricably.”  Chris’ eyes go soft, the blue darkening.  A pleased look settles on his face, something deeper than contentment.  “You’ll be able to feel me, and I you.  We’ll share power.  Life.”  He draws his finger in an intricate pattern across Darren’s chest, scratching through the hair.  “We linked before, you know,” he muses, voice dreamy.


“We did?”


“In the spring water.  When we kissed.  You - your magic, your life’s essence - it reached out to me.  Mine answered.  You probably felt it, but didn’t know what it was.”  Chris closes his eyes and presses his hand down over Darren’s heart.  “Here, can you feel-”


Darren gasps.  Heat floods through him, reaching out along his limbs.  It’s the same energy he’s felt every time they’ve met, only so much more powerful than ever.  It feels like Chris’ power is inside him, melting into him.  “Oh, gods,” he moans.  “That’s you.  Your magic.”


“It is.”


“I felt it,” Darren twists restlessly.  “Before.  When we met.  And in the water.  I felt it.  Felt this.”


A low noise rumbles from Chris’ chest and he claims Darren’s mouth in a deep, wet kiss.  “Because you are meant for me, and I you.   When we are bonded, it will be like this, no matter how far away from each other we are.  We’ll bind our magic and our lives together.  Our souls will know each other’s.”


Darren wraps his arms tight around Chris and rolls them over.  “I think I’ve always known you.”


“It just took us a little while to find each other.”  Chris’ grin is so wide his teeth show and he brushes Darren’s cheek with the tips of his fingers.  Darren feels the touch all the way down to his bones.


“Stay with me, don’t go back to the city today,” Darren whispers.  He kisses Chris’ forehead, his cheeks, and the delicate hollow of his throat.  The sweetest, serene smile Darren has ever seen curves Chris’ mouth.


“Oh, dear heart.  I’m with you always.”


Darren closes his eyes and breathes in deep.  Feels contentment in his marrow.  The moon has given way to the first rays of pink morning light.  All around them are the sounds of the forest waking up - the rustle of the trees, the padding of feet on damp leaves, the first notes of birdsong.  And beneath it all, the steady rhythm of their two hearts beating as one.