Ten


Enter Angelus.



It turned out that the larger bag was full of clothes—coarse linen shirts and jackets, and some trousers, one set of which turned out to fit Will fairly well. He changed quickly, directly in front of the fire, as soon as the boy had made it up again. It was a relief to get out of the fetid traveling-clothes, though the new ones itched.

He took a quick stock of himself while he had the firelight to do it by, and discovered that he was still a sight. The marks on his chest and stomach had faded incompletely, leaving dark whorled stains that looked as if something were pressing up from beneath his skin. The knock to his forehead was still a little raw. Worst of all was the hard white egg above his left knee, and the dark blue ring around it. He reminded himself again to kill the horse, as soon as he was sure they wouldn’t need it anymore.

When he was dressed again he felt a little better. He strolled over to the table, where the boy was nervously laying out the clothes.

“These your father’s?” he asked idly, sliding into the chair next to the boy. The smell of young frightened life was a pure pleasure.

The boy shook his head without looking up.

“What’s your name?”

“Henry, sir.”

Hearing the sir put him in an even better mood. He grinned and leaned back with his hands behind his head.

“Henry—that’s a good name. How old are you, Henry?”

“Fourteen,” Henry said. He looked up at Caitlin, who’d moved over to the fireplace as soon as Will had left it. “Try these, sir? I think they’re close to your size.” He held up a pair of trousers in trembling fingers.

Caitlin looked round and shook her head. “Leave them,” she said. “I’ll change later.” She made her voice a little lower, and while she still sounded female to Will, he supposed she could pass for a young man. At least, Henry didn’t seem to question it.

“I understand this place is called Purwall,” Will prompted, turning back to Henry. “It’s very interesting.”

The boy gave him the weakest of smiles. “Surely not, sir.”

“Oh, I think so. I’ve never seen anywhere like it. Have you?” He raised his voice and directed the question to Caitlin, who shook her head. “Tell me, Henry—what do you know of our Lady?”

Henry blinked. “She’s—well, she’s very old,” he said quietly. “She came to us a long time ago, and saved us.”

“Saved you from what?” Will asked, leaning forward.

The boy opened his mouth, then looked up at something over Will’s shoulder. His eyes widened.

“I thought I heard a knock,” Angelus said. “Will, don’t pester the boy when he’s working.”

Will turned and saw him standing by the door to the stairs, half in the pool of lamplight. “You never told me not to talk to him.”

“I’m telling you now.” Angelus walked forward and surveyed the clothes Henry had laid out, a furrow of distaste in his brow. “Well, we’ll make do. You set a very rustic example, Will.”

“Better than a stock sawing my neck,” Will said, winking at Henry.

Angelus ignored him, fingering one of the shirts and then dropping it. “Is there a well or pump?” he asked.

“Aye, sir. Round back—the men broke the ice before.”

“Good. We’ll need hot water for bathing. There will be basins in the kitchen.” He nodded at the back of the room, where there was another shadowed door. Henry looked at it with wide eyes, then nodded and hurried to light a candle and get out.

Will watched him go, then put his feet up on the table and pushed his chair back on two legs. “Why can’t I talk to him, then?”

Angelus frowned. “You may talk to him, of course. But you aren’t to pry into Darla’s business. And when did you become so much at ease, addressing me?” He tapped Will’s boots, and Will lowered them with a grimace.

“Dru coming down, sir?” he asked, glancing back at the staircase doorway. Angelus shook his head.

“The women are still sleeping. But I have business with our visitor.”

There was a silence.

Angelus settled against the table and crossed his arms over his chest, his head cocked and his eyes on Caitlin. He was smiling very slightly. Will looked at her. She was facing them, her hands behind her back, her eyes fixed on the floor.

He smelled fear, and for a moment mistook it for an air that Henry had left behind. Then he realized it was coming from her.

“Well,” Angelus said, “we won’t do it here, we’d stop the boy’s heart. It’s too bad—I enjoy having a fire at hand.”

Caitlin shifted, but didn’t look up.

“Come on then,” Angelus said, pushing himself up and wiping dust off his palms. “Follow me.”

He started back across the way he’d come, not looking back to see if she obeyed. Caitlin stood for a moment, actually wavering on her feet, as if urging her legs to move without result. Then she followed him. She didn’t look at Will as she went by.

As he was almost out the door, Angelus stopped and patted his trouser pocket. He turned and looked back.

“Will—find my coat, and bring me my strap out of the pocket. We’ll be in one of the rooms at the end, upstairs.”

Will nodded and then, when Angelus raised his eyebrow, said, “Yes sir.”

Then they went out, and their footsteps disappeared up the stairs into silence.

He sat there for a moment, frowning at the table, running his fingers absently over the scrape on his forehead. Henry came back with a basin in his arms, and passed out toward the front door without a word. A faint fresh breeze came down the hall after him, smelling of snow.

At last Will stood up and sorted through the bundles on the table, finding Angelus’s coat in a wet twist inside one of the satchels. He pawed through the pockets—cigars, knife, several shillings, a pair of Darla’s earrings—and found the strap. It was in a neat heavy cool roll, like a snake. He weighed it a moment in his palm, then hung the coat over a chair to dry and went upstairs.

The door to the room where Darla and Drusilla slept was closed, and he went past without a sound. As soon as it was behind him he had a strange, craven urge to double back and go inside—just crawl back into bed and lie quietly with his head on Dru’s shoulder. He played a moment with the loose end of the strap, and kept going.

The corridor was long and black, lined with empty sconces. He passed half a dozen closed and silent doors with just the faintest hint of daylight showing beneath. Somewhere up ahead, Angelus was speaking in a low, indistinct voice. Then he stopped speaking and there was the unmistakable dull thump of his fists hitting something.

The final door on the left was slightly ajar, but by the time he got there the hitting had stopped and Angelus was speaking again. His voice was quiet and rational. Will stood still and listened silently, passing the strap from hand to hand.

“—very little reason not to. You see my point?”

There was a muffled assent.

“Yes. You’re not stupid—just young and frightened and, I’m afraid to say, spoiled. She was particularly fond of you, I think?”

Silence, and then the sound of his fist hitting something, followed by a tiny gasp. Will shifted but couldn’t see anything through the inch of open doorway.

“…Yes sir—“ she gasped.

“It shows. You came on very bold indeed, at first. Less so now, but still you don’t have a minion’s carriage.”

She whispered something Will didn’t catch. Angelus didn’t either, apparently.

“What?”

“I’m not a minion, sir.”

Will raised his eyebrows, expecting to hear a volley of blows. Instead, Angelus chuckled.

“No, you’re not. You’re not my minion and you’re not my childe. You’re no relation or undertaking of mine whatsoever, which means I can do with you as I please. You’ll remember that the next time you play at semantics.”

There were a few sharp slaps, and then Angelus walked away from her.

“Why did Rebecca send you?” he asked, and from the sound of his voice he’d gone to the far side of the room.

“I don’t know, sir.”

“You’re lying.”

“No, sir.”

“Why did she save you? She had other childer. Older, smarter, stronger ones. Jewel would have been able to reach London without leading the Slayer right to my doorstep. Or the one from Ulster—what was his name?”

“Colin, sir.”

“Yes, Colin. He was fairly clever, I thought. Killed a Watcher when he was only four. Why didn’t she save one of them?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Why are you lying?”

“I’m not, sir.”

“You are. And it’s a funny thing—I can’t abide lying, and I’m prepared to stake you for it, and you know that. And still you lie.” He walked back across the floor, and she gave a quiet involuntary moan. “It must be something very important. Or else you’re very stupid. Which is it?”

She was silent, and he slapped her a few more times.

“Sir,” she said when he stopped, “I don’t know.” It came out almost in a sob, and she paused a moment to gather herself, then went on in a rush. “I truly don’t, sir. I’m not lying, she only told me to come and I came as well as I could. I didn’t mean to lead the Slayer, I didn’t know any way to come without leading her—“

She broke off with a gurgle.

“Yes, that’s very interesting,” Angelus said. “But my family is in mortal danger because of you. My boy was half-drowned. The Slayer is coming and here we are, waiting for her. When she finds us, this place will likely be lost to us too.” He paused as if for reflection, and there was a tiny strangled sound in the silence. “You attacked my Sire and my childe both, and I told you I’d kill you for it. But first I want to know why you were saved, and why you were sent. And if you lie to me again, I will pull your guts out of your mouth.”

There was a rustle, and then she hit the floor and lay gasping. The air coming from the room was rank with fear.

Will stood listening to her pick herself up, and then the door opened suddenly and Angelus was standing there. He looked at Will with a pleasant smile.

“Eavesdropping,” he said. “I thought I’d broken you of that habit.”

Will swallowed and held the strap up. He couldn’t see Caitlin in the room behind Angelus; she must be behind the door, or by the near wall.

“Brought this,” he said. Angelus just looked at him. “You wanted it, remember?”

“Yes, I remember. I’ve changed my mind, I won’t need it after all.” He glanced sideways, at an angle of the room Will couldn’t see. In profile, he looked oddly tired.

He turned back and ran his gaze appraisingly over Will, then shook his head. “Those clothes—“ He sighed and put a hand across his eyes.

Will looked down at himself in surprise. “What? They’re the only ones that fit. Sir.”

“I know. It’s not important. Go down and help the boy with the water. Get him to make up one of the other bedrooms— a fire and clean bedding. And have a wash, yourself.”

Will realized he was still proffering the strap, and put it in his pocket self-consciously. “All right.” He leaned a little to the left and tried to peer past Angelus’s shoulder without looking like he was peering. “Anything else?“

“See that he’s fed the horses. And go to sleep.”

“You going to be a while, then? Sir?” Even leaning as he was, he couldn’t see anything. He looked back at Angelus, and saw that Angelus knew exactly what he was doing. Of course he did. He didn’t look annoyed, though.

“Yes, I expect I will be.” Angelus closed the door firmly, and Will stood for a second, then turned and walked quickly away down the corridor. He got almost all the way down the stairs before the sound of fists started up again.





Henry’s terror of Angelus had spurred him to haul an enormous amount of water in; he’d scavenged a great number of vessels from the kitchen and they now stood in various spots around the hearth, brimming with near-frozen well water. He’d built the fire up, and hung two kettles from iron hooks inside the hearth. The bottoms of both were just starting to blacken when Will came down.

Henry himself was nowhere in sight, though a clanking noise from the direction of the kitchen announced his presence there. Will surveyed the assortment of pots, bowls, basins, and bottles, as well as the lavish puddles where Henry had spilled. The air smelled of slightly panicked human activity.

Will’s stomach growled.

He stood for a moment tapping the strap absently against his leg; he’d taken it out on the way down, without realizing it. Strangely, it felt good in his hand. It was familiar—that was it. He rubbed his finger along the cool leather, then gave a slight shudder of disgust and dropped it back into the pocket of Angelus’s coat.

As he did so, his hand brushed something soft, and he drew it out without thinking. It was a lock of hair, dark blonde, tied with a ribbon. It took him a moment to recognize it as his own. Angelus had cut it more than a year before, on an afternoon Will hardly remembered anymore, except that it was Michaelmas and all the bells were tolling.

He turned it in his fingers, testing the curl. They’d spent the day in bed—Angelus wanton and obscene, Will resistless and delighted—while outside the world observed the day of All Angels. Thinking of it now gave him a funny ache in his stomach. The sheets had smelled of cigars and blood and come, and he’d spent a lot of time with his face buried in the pillow. Angelus didn’t get tired. Not of that, anyway.

Towards evening Darla had come in for a trinket from her wardrobe, and made some cursory disapproving comment that caused them both to start giggling, and then they couldn’t stop. They’d lain draped over each other, Angelus’s face buried in Will’s shoulder and his hand squeezing Will’s arm painfully, and laughed like girls. It was ridiculous. Darla found whatever she’d come for and swept out, but they kept laughing. They laughed themselves to tears. When they stopped, it was only to start fucking again.

At the end of it all, while Will was sprawled dazed and half-asleep, Angelus had cut a lock of his hair with Darla’s manicure scissors. Will had watched him wind it in ribbon, and had made some foolish joke about a keepsake locket.

“Only a keepsake,” Angelus had said. “In case I forget how pretty you can be.”

Then they’d both gone to sleep, and there hadn't been a day like that since.

Will picked a little at the end of the ribbon, then frowned and put the curl in his own pocket. At the same time, Henry came back from the kitchen, coal-streaked and carrying an armload of pots. He jumped when he saw Will.

“O—I was only lighting a second fire in the kitchen, to heat the water faster—“

Will waved that aside, and picked up one of the chairs. He limped carefully through the maze of vessels, set it beside the fireplace, and sat down. He’d be just as happy with the hearth, but it didn’t seem quite right to sit on the stone in front of the boy.

“You’ve got bedclothes in there?” he asked, pointing at the bag on the table. Henry nodded. “Good. You’re to make up one of the rooms upstairs, and lay a fire.”

Henry cast a horrified look at the door to the staircase, and Will realized for the first time that the sounds of a beating were faintly audible even down here. Not much—just a few thumps and bumps, and the occasional yelp—but enough to terrify the boy. Will considered making some explanation, then found he couldn’t be bothered.

“Get the clothes out, then, and leave them on the table. Did you look after the horses?” Henry nodded, and flinched as something upstairs was tipped over with a bang. Will sighed.

“There’s enough water for the moment, Henry. Lay out the clothes and bring in some coal. We could stand a few more fires in this ruin.”

Henry hurried to obey, and in a minute was out of the room and then out of the door. It shut with a boom behind him, and Will was left alone.

He curled up with his bad leg closest to the fire, his knees pulled almost to his chest. The sounds continued to drift down from upstairs. He dozed a bit with one hand in his pocket, resting on the curl.

When the great door opened again he shot upright and realized he hadn't gone to set the bolt. He was instantly ashamed and furious with himself. If Angelus were there, he’d get a thrashing—and for once, he couldn’t argue that it wasn’t deserved.

Henry staggered in bearing a yoke with two blackened bags, which he dropped beside the hearth. Still fuming, Will picked up the half-empty scuttle and the bedclothes, then went back upstairs without a word.

There were no sounds of violence from the end of the hallway, although when he stopped and listened he could still hear Angelus speaking in the same low, controlled tone. He wasn’t tempted to go and listen. Instead, he went directly into one of the empty rooms on the right side of the corridor, and started making up the bed.

He laid and lit a fire, then looked at his coal-grimy hands and remembered that Angelus had told him to wash. He’d forgotten that too, and he was angry with himself all over again. Much of the time he couldn’t give a fig about Angelus’s opinion, but just now things were different. Just now he felt young and stupid and painfully incapable of doing right.

He went back downstairs and had Henry mix a basin of hot water, then pulled his clothes off and scrubbed himself with a spare pillowslip. Henry had brought some kind of foul fatty soap that smelled of woodsmoke, so Will ducked his head in the basin and soaped his scalp. He ran his fingers through his hair, then came up and watched clouds of silt settle through the water. He handed the basin off to Henry and poured a clean one.

The river dousing had left its mark on him—there was dirt under his fingernails, between his toes, in his ears. The pillowslip turned grey, and he poured a smaller tub to rinse it in. It took four fresh basins before he felt presentable.

He dried off with another pillowslip, then hung them both over a chair and dressed while Henry emptied the basins outside. There had been a few more thumps from upstairs while he was washing, but now they’d stopped. Henry seemed a little calmer, perhaps because heating the water gave him something to do.

Will’s stomach was empty again, and his leg ached. He sat by the fire watching Henry with a speculative eye until the boy started trembling and almost spilled a full basin across the floor. Then Will heaved himself up and started for the door to the stairs.

“See if you can’t find some nicer soap for the women,” he said on his way out, and heard Henry give a quiet Yes sir, and decamp with haste. Will stopped, retraced his steps, and went down the hall to set the bolt. He was young, and sometimes he was stupid, but he wasn’t going to make that mistake twice.

He was starting to feel sleepy again, and planned to curl up on the bedroom hearth until Angelus called for him, but when he reached the top of the stairs he saw that the door to the room was ajar. He walked down quietly and put his head round.

It was dim—the only light was from the fire and a couple of loopholes. Angelus was standing in his shirtsleeves in front of the hearth, staring at the flames and working his hands absently as if to clean them. His face was long and tired. After a moment he turned his head to Will, and his expression was strangely sad.

“Bring me some water, Will,” he said quietly. “I can’t go down like this.”

He held out his hands, and Will noticed that they were bloody. There were streaks and spatters on his face and shirtfront, too. Will paused.

“Did you kill her?”

Angelus shook his head. “Go on, don’t make me tell you twice.”

His tone was mechanical rather than dire, and that made Will move all the faster. He limped back down the stairs and came up with a few fresh linens and a deep basin of hot water.

Angelus had pulled a chair over to the fireplace and was sitting with his hands in his lap, staring at the grate. He didn’t look up as Will came in.

“Shut the door.”

Will shut it, and brought the water over. He put it down beside Angelus’s chair and then wasn’t sure what to do.

Angelus held out his hand and Will dipped a pillowslip in the basin and gave it to him. Angelus looked at it briefly, then shook his head and started cleaning his hands with a small smile.

“Where’s the boy?”

“I sent him for more soap, if he can find any. The last batch was mostly pig fat.”

Angelus chuckled. “You’re surprisingly refined at times, Will.” He dropped the bloody slip into the water and put his hands in after it. Then he just sat there, letting them soak.

Will stood there uncertainly for a moment, then squatted down by Angelus’s feet. “Did she say why she’s come?” he asked.

Angelus closed his eyes and shook his head. “She did not.”

“Perhaps she doesn’t know.”

“Perhaps.”

Will stared at the fire for a bit, then wetted one of the slips and rubbed at a spot of blood on Angelus’s boot. Angelus opened his eyes and watched him.

“How long until the Slayer comes?” Will asked, concentrating on the boot.

Angelus sighed and took his hands out of the water.

“A few days, I should think.” He rubbed his hands over his face, smearing a splash of blood across his cheek.

Will looked up at him. “You’ve got—here.” He pulled the first slip out of the basin, reached up, and wiped Angelus’s cheek.

Angelus tipped his head back and closed his eyes, so Will cleaned the rest of his face, then his neck. When it got awkward reaching up from the floor, he got up and sat on Angelus’s knee. Angelus’s eyes flickered open, then closed again. His arm came around and encircled Will’s waist loosely.

They sat like that for a while, Will soaking the cloth and running it over Angelus’s face and neck well after he was clean. The fire shifted and settled. After a bit Will leaned in and licked Angelus’s jaw, then buried his face in the collar of Angelus’s shirt and breathed in. The hand holding the cloth fell to his side.

Angelus gave a little shudder, as if he were waking up. He grasped the back of Will’s neck and pulled his head away, and Will stared at him dazedly, afraid he was going to be flung off. But Angelus’s face was fierce and tender.

“You never cease to surprise me, Will,” he said, and then smiled as if at some private joke.

Will smiled too, though he didn’t follow. Angelus ran his hand down Will’s cheek, then pulled him close and kissed him. Will smiled throughout; he couldn’t stop smiling. Angelus’s mouth tasted of blood and smoke and darkness. Things he could never have enough of; things he could be buried in. He opened his lips and let Angelus’s tongue move freely over his own.

Angelus pulled him gently away by the back of his neck, and Will let himself be pulled. He sat with his hands dangling at his sides, a drunken grin on his face.

Angelus regarded him for a moment, then shook his head and grinned back.

“My God, boy—“ He ran his fingers through Will’s hair and seemed amazed. “Why are you always such a trial, when you know how to be a delight?”

Will shrugged and leaned in for another kiss, but Angelus caught his face. His smile was gone, and he studied Will with an expression so intent it might have been anger.

“This—“ He stroked a finger over the welt on Will’s forehead, and Will flinched and wrinkled his brow.

“’s not bad—“ To Will’s surprise, Angelus pulled him close and ran his tongue over the bruise. It felt good, and he closed his eyes, murmuring as you like…

After a moment Angelus pushed him away again, and pulled at the collar of his shirt. “Take your clothes off.”

Will blinked, then stood up and wriggled out of his clothes. He was hard, and it was slightly embarrassing to stand about naked like that, but Angelus didn’t seem to notice.

“Well—?” He resisted the impulse to cover himself with his hands; he’d learned that Angelus despised that kind of modesty. He stood there pretending that his cock had nothing to do with him, while Angelus sat and stared at him with that odd, angry expression.

After it had gone on for almost a minute, Will began to wonder uneasily if he were going to be thrashed. Was he owed a beating? He couldn’t remember. He swallowed and shifted, and tried not to look startled when Angelus stood up suddenly and took him by both arms.

“What—“

Angelus didn’t say anything, but hauled him bodily to the bed and pushed him down onto it. Will lay unmoving and watched warily as Angelus paced back to the fire and stood with his shoulders up and his hands in fists at his side. There was a low acrid smell in the air, a smell that Will only noticed when Angelus was in a real rage. He shifted uncomfortably and glanced toward the door. When he smelled that, he generally tried to be elsewhere. But it was strange; besides the smell of fury, there was something that, if he had smelled it on anyone but Angelus, he would have called fear.

He lay silently, his cock subdued now, wondering what was going to happen next. In a minute Angelus turned and gave him a tight smile.

“Tell me,” he said, “whose you are.”

”Yours,” Will said immediately.

Angelus walked over to the bed and Will lay motionless, staring up at him.

“You’re mine,” Angelus said absently. His eyes traveled the length of Will’s body, from his feet to his face. The smell of rage seemed to increase, and Will tried a weak smile. Angelus’s eyes caught on it, and he stared at Will in a kind of fury.

Will found he was pressing himself flat against the bed, and hated himself for it. He couldn’t think how he’d gone from being sweetly kissed, to lying here waiting to be thumped.

Angelus moved abruptly to put his hand on the bedpost, and Will flinched. Angelus stared at him in sudden confusion.

“It’s not you I’m angry at,” he said. “Did you think—?” He sat down on the edge of the bed and ran his hand gently up Will’s neck.

Will smiled a little shakily, and Angelus gave him a savage look and kissed him hard. Will’s head was pressed into the bed, and his tongue was caught between Angelus’s teeth. He brought one hand up blindly and curved it round the back of Angelus’s head, holding him closer.

Angelus pulled away in a minute regardless, and sat up to stare at him again. Will sighed with irritation.

“Who’re you angry at?” he asked. “Let’s sort it out quick and get back to—“

“Shut up,” Angelus said. He ran his hands through Will’s hair, then over his face, skirting the bruise on his forehead. Will smiled and snapped his teeth as the fingers went by.

Angelus ignored that, and ran his hands lower, over Will’s chest and belly. He paused where the marks from the horse’s hooves still showed. Again, his face showed rage. He touched one of the bruises lightly, and Will propped his head up and smiled.

“Still have to disassemble that nag,” he said. Angelus glanced up, then went back to running his hands over Will’s body without a word.

His hands were cool and gentle, and he touched every inch of Will’s skin, from the soles of his feet to his scalp. He turned him over and felt his back and shoulders, and when he found bruises he brushed them so lightly Will almost didn’t feel it. Every time he found a mark, the smell of his rage grew stronger.

He saved Will’s left leg for last, and Will gave a quiet, involuntary sigh as Angelus’s fingers traced the ache. Angelus looked up sharply and took his hand away.

“Not broken,” he said after a moment. His voice was rough and controlled.

Will gave a little smile and shifted his leg away from Angelus’s hand. “No,” he said. “Be fine in a week.”

Angelus stared at him while the smell of fear and anger built in the air. Will shifted uneasily, then reached out and grabbed hold of Angelus’s hand.

“Stop fussing. I’ve had plenty worse.” He laced his fingers through Angelus’s and tugged.

Angelus resisted for a moment, then allowed himself to be pulled down so that he was lying overtop of Will, his cool weight pressed along Will’s body. Will was hard again, and he squirmed so that his cock pushed against Angelus’s leg. He grinned. There was no feeling in the world so good as lying under his Sire.

“Boots off,” he said, and laughed when Angelus rolled his eyes and toed them off. He pushed his hips up and felt Angelus’s cock, hard as his own.

“Mm—what’s that?” he asked, dropping his hand and starting on Angelus’s trousers. Angelus answered by kissing him, driving his head back into the ticking, biting at his tongue and chasing his mouth when Will tried to break off to tease him.

One of Angelus’s hands was on the bed, taking some of his weight—the other was round the back of Will’s neck, clamped in the spot that made Will’s belly ache and his hips buck. He bit back at Angelus’s mouth and they clashed teeth, which made Will grin with delight. Angelus caught his tongue and pulled it into his own mouth, and Will groaned and clung to Angelus’s neck.

He was working right-handed on Angelus’s trousers and making little headway, so he gave up for a moment and just rubbed him through the fabric. Angelus stopped moving and hung trembling over him, his eyes closed and an expression of pure concentration on his face. The sight made Will groan again, and without opening his eyes Angelus pushed Will’s head to the side and buried his face in Will’s neck.

Will tensed, expecting to feel fangs, but it was only Angelus’s blunt human teeth that closed gently on his skin. Will closed his eyes and tugged Angelus’s cock.

“Go on,” he whispered. “I want it.”

Angelus tensed against him and for a moment the bite was painful—but it was still just the pinch of human teeth. Then Angelus raised his head and looked at him with bright lustful eyes.

“Not now,” he said. “You’re half-starved already.”

“Then don’t take much—“

“Not now,” Angelus repeated, and sat up abruptly. He was straddling Will’s body on his knees, pinning him to the bed. He surveyed Will with a proprietorial eye, then quickly ran his hand up and down Will’s cock. Will gasped and bucked, then gasped again as his bad leg flared.

“Ow—fuck—“

Angelus’s face went dark again, and he got off and sat on the mattress beside Will. Will rolled over at once and reached for him.

“Come on, don’t be such an old woman.”

“Will, you mayn’t speak to me like that.” But his tone was absent, and even as he said the words he ran his fingers through Will’s hair.

Will twisted and caught the hand in his mouth, biting gently to keep hold when Angelus tried to pull it away. Angelus relented and Will ran his tongue between Angelus’s fingers and over his palm. Angelus watched him do it, and the front of his trousers moved.

“Come on,” Will said again, smiling. “I’m yours, remember? You’re my Sire.” He paused, and then—because he’d never said it quite so baldly before—lost hold of the smile and murmured to the mattress: “Fuck me.”

Angelus’s face went fierce again, and he pulled Will up on one elbow and kissed him. This time Will felt the prick of fangs in it. He twined his body around Angelus’s and got his left hand on the trouser buttons this time, so that in a few seconds his fingers were around Angelus’s cock. It was hard and cool as stone, and it jerked in his hand.

He only had a moment to feel it before Angelus knocked him down and flipped him onto his belly, with his cock pressing into the coarse sheets. He closed his eyes and let his legs fall open, and waited in a state of mingled excitement and fear. He wasn’t wholly sure why he’d asked for this.

He heard Angelus take his trousers off and tensed, expecting to feel rough hands raise his hips. Instead, he got Angelus’s naked body on top of his, pressing him firmly into the mattress.

He opened his eyes and smiled, and Angelus kissed the side of his neck.

“Who am I?” he asked.

“Sire. My Sire.”

Angelus kissed him again.

“Whose are you?” he asked.

“Yours. Only yours.”

Angelus blew lightly in his ear, then disappeared down his back. Will tensed when he felt Angelus’s fingers between his legs, then up between his buttocks. He swallowed and held still for the exploration, then jerked again and squeaked when Angelus licked him there.

Angelus paused.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked.

“Nothing,” Will said into the mattress.

Angelus went back to licking him, and Will held still and tried not to raise his hips or push his cock into the sheet. After a while Angelus put a finger inside him and started to slowly fuck him, and Will pushed his forehead into the mattress and gave up trying to be stoic. He lifted his hips and moaned, and Angelus put another finger in him and took hold of his waist, guiding him easily back and forth.

“You can be such a delight, Will,” he said softly, and Will whimpered as another finger went in. He was stretched tight now; it burnt and ached and felt like heaven, and his cock was weeping into the sheets. He wanted to be fucked, drained, pinned down and raped. He pushed his face into the mattress, curled his arms over the back of his head and clenched his hands into fists.

Angelus ran a hand up his spine, all the way to the base of his skull, and pressed. For a moment Will saw stars, and thought he was going to come.

“Please—“ he gasped. He was immediately ashamed to be begging, but somehow the shame made him even harder. Angelus’s hand smoothed his hair and retreated.

“All right, darling,” he said, and took his fingers away. For just a second Will was alone and exposed; then Angelus was lying full-length on top of him, one hand braced to take part of his weight, the other guiding his cock between Will’s legs. Will closed his eyes tight and buried his face in the sheets.

It hurt, of course—it always hurt, even after a tongue and fingers—and for the first few seconds he thought he couldn’t do it, couldn’t take it, even though he’d done it and taken it many times before. It felt like he was being split in two. Angelus’s weight on him wasn’t a pleasure anymore, but a trap. He was seized with a terrible claustrophobic fear and wanted to strike out blindly, just turn and slash and scramble out from underneath the pain. The only thing that stopped him was the remote, academic knowledge that it was always like this at first, and that it got better.

He gripped the sheets and locked his jaw while Angelus worked in deeper, a little at a time. His hand was on the back of Will’s neck, but Will could hardly feel it. It was like being burnt inside. Angelus withdrew slightly, then pushed farther in, and Will bit the sheet.

“That’s all right,” Angelus said in a ragged voice. “Just a minute, Will, you’ll be all right.”

That helped a bit. Angelus lay still while Will waited it out, and when they moved again it was because Will raised his hips and pushed back. He could feel Angelus’s grip on his neck now, and it was sweet and strong. His own cock was pushed into the sheet with every move Angelus made, and he could feel the cold damp spot he was creating.

After a while Angelus was fully in him, and they lay pressed together head to toe, Angelus’s mouth moving lazily over Will’s neck. Will lay with his eyes closed, weighing the pleasure and the pain, and wanting more of both. He braced his elbows and lifted his hips, pushing back sharply so that Angelus hissed in surprise and grabbed his waist.

Then he was afraid he’d gone too far, because Angelus pulled out and pushed back in so hard he was driven face-first into the sheet. He struggled to brace himself, but Angelus thrust into him again, holding him down with one hand on his shoulder and another on his hip. It hurt like hell, but at the same time he found himself bucking helplessly into the bed.

Angelus gave a low growl, and Will knew without looking that he was in demon face. He felt his own face shift too, and snapped at the mattress. It felt completely right, savage and right, to leave his weak human face behind, and his only thought was that he should have done it sooner.

Angelus yanked his hips up and pushed in even deeper, and Will let out a snarl that changed to a yip as Angelus flattened him under his body. He was pinned again. Then Angelus’s fangs came down on the back of his neck, and he froze. Suddenly he was very aware of the heavy, animal smell in the room, and of the deep growl Angelus was making.

The fangs closed on his neck, light pinpricks at the base of his skull, and pressed. He felt his skin dimple, and a bright jolt ran straight through his heart to his cock. At the same time, Angelus put a palm on his shoulder and his hip and forced him into the mattress. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t have breathed if he’d wanted to. He lay still while Angelus bit his neck and fucked him, and finally came with a violent wrench and a snarl.

For a minute or two they simply lay like that, Angelus still inside him, not pushing him down anymore but not taking much of his own weight. He dragged his fangs over the back of Will’s neck, mauled him gently, then fell to licking him. When he bit down again his teeth were blunt and human. Will shivered and rolled him off. Angelus propped himself up on one elbow and regarded Will indulgently.

“Whose are you?” he asked.

“Y-yours,” Will said. He swallowed and reached around to touch the back of his neck. “I thought you said no biting.”

“You’re all right,” Angelus said. “I didn’t make you bleed.”

It was true, Will found, when he looked at his fingers. He thought again of the fangs closing over his spine, and his cock jumped.

“Drop this,” Angelus said, reaching out and flicking Will’s forehead. For a moment Will was confused; then he realized he was still in demon face. He dropped it, and Angelus kissed him.

“Go on and finish,” he said, and Will lay back and silently brought himself off while Angelus kissed him. When he came he gasped into Angelus’s open mouth.

“Very pretty,” Angelus said softly, and kissed his bottom lip.

They lay there side by side in the firelight, until Will began to get sleepy again. He turned and burrowed his head under Angelus’s arm, and Angelus stroked the back of his neck.

Eventually Angelus sighed and pushed him away. Will sat up blinking—he’d been in and out of sleep—and saw that the fire had almost gone out.

“Make that up,” Angelus said, sitting up and reaching for his bloodied shirt. “And give this a wash. I can’t walk around looking like a barber.”

“Henry might have one that fits you,” Will said, examining the stains.

“Henry? Oh—I doubt it. The average workingman in these parts is half a foot shorter than you are.”

“They’re like dwarves,” Will said absently, shifting and then grimacing at the wetness between his legs. “Christ, I’m a mess.”

Angelus looked him over with a slight smile. “I think you look very fetching.” He got up and walked to the basin by the fire, fished a wet pillowslip out, and wiped his cock and legs. “Use this,” he said, tossing it at Will.

“What—your dirty laundry?” Will snapped, catching it neatly. “I don’t rate a clean slip, even?”

“You’ll rate a thrashing if you don’t show respect,” Angelus said. “I won’t have anyone else hurt you, Will, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it myself.”

Will swabbed between his legs and said nothing. When he was done he balled the slip up and threw it into a corner with a shudder. Angelus watched him with amusement.

“It must be the inbreeding,” Will said.

“What must be?”

“The reason they’re all dwarves. They’ve married each other too many times.”

Angelus was wiping his arms and chest with a fresh slip, and nodded idly. “I expect so. That, and poverty.”

“I’ve never heard of Purwall before,” Will said carefully. “Never noticed it on a map.”

“You wouldn’t,” Angelus said. “You saw how small it is.”

“How old is it?”

Angelus stopped wiping and dropped the slip back into the basin with a sigh. “You’re back to being a trial again, I see. I told you before, you’re not to pry into Darla’s affairs.”

“I’m not prying. I just want to know how old this tower is.” Angelus gave him a heavy-lidded stare, and he tried to look innocent. “It mightn’t be safe. Might come crashing down on us tomorrow, while we sleep.”

Angelus gazed at him a moment longer, then shook his head and chuckled. “It’s very old, Will. It’s from the border wars—you recall learning about those, I hope?”

“Yeh. So Darla didn’t build it, then?”

“No. And that is the end of this conversation. Get dressed and go launder that shirt. When you’re done that, you can have a go at cleaning up our visitor.”

Will started and looked again at the bloodstains on Angelus’s shirt. Somehow, he’d almost forgotten Caitlin existed. Stupid to let his mind wander that much. It was like forgetting to bolt the door, or to wash when he was told—stupid carelessness, and he couldn’t seem to shake it no matter how hard he tried.

He frowned, stood up stiffly, and limped across to the hearth, where his clothes lay in a heap. He hadn't taken any particular care for his leg—again, a stupid thing to do—and now it hurt worse than ever. He jerked his trousers on and shook his shirt to make the sleeves fall out.

“Come here a moment, Will.”

He looked up and saw that Angelus was watching him intently.

“Why?”

Angelus raised an eyebrow, and Will dropped his shirt and walked over. When he got close enough, Angelus reached out and collared him.

“Why are you so sullen these days, boy?”

“I’m not—“ Angelus’s grip tightened and he squirmed. “I’m not sullen. I’m just—“

He stopped and chewed his lip, and Angelus stared at him.

“You’re what?”

“I’m just… Nothing. It doesn’t matter, only—“ He looked up and met Angelus’s eyes directly. “I’m not sulking, I’m not being mulish. And I’m not spoiled.”

Angelus let go of his neck and waited.

“I just don’t like getting everything wrong,” Will muttered, staring at the floor.

Angelus walked around him, then came back with Will’s shirt in his hand. He held it out and Will took it.

“I never said you were spoiled,” Angelus said. “I don’t spoil my childer. As for mulish—well, you can be. So can I, and Darla. It seems to run in the family.”

Will pulled his shirt on and started to button it, listening with his eyes on his hands.

“You don’t get everything wrong,” Angelus said. “You forget things, and you often don’t pay attention, or do as you’re told. And there’s a great deal you don’t know, because you’re still very young.” He paused, and Will waited silently. “Your biggest problem, Will, is that you don’t know what you don’t know.”

“I know I can’t tell time,” Will said bitterly, still looking at the floor.

“True. And I will ask you again, so get Drusilla to teach you soon.” Angelus paused. “Now you’re sulking, Will.”

Will looked up and opened his mouth, then closed it again. Angelus put his head on one side and waited, but Will couldn’t think how to say it any more clearly than he already had.

I want to please you, he thought, staring at Angelus and thinking of the fangs closing on the back of his neck. I want it to be like that all the time. But he didn’t even know what that meant. That he wanted to be fucked all the time? That he wanted always to feel that pain and fear? No. But there was nothing else he could say.

Angelus might have seen some of it in his face, because his gaze softened and he reached out to fasten Will’s last button himself.

“You don’t get everything wrong,” he said again. “You’re four years old, Will. You’re not doing badly.”

Will smiled mechanically, then stepped back as soon as Angelus’s hands were off him, and went to make up the fire. Angelus stood behind him and watched.

“How’s your leg?” he asked. Will shrugged; he knew he was crouching awkwardly, but saw no point in discussing it.

“Fine, sir,” he said.

He emptied the scuttle, then picked it up and slung Angelus’s shirt over his shoulder. As he turned to leave, Angelus sighed.

“Fetch my trousers, Will.”

Will paused, then set the scuttle down and went round to pick Angelus’s trousers up from the floor on the far side of the bed. He brought them back and handed them to Angelus.

“Stay here,” Angelus said, when he turned to go. He turned back and watched Angelus search through the pockets of the trousers. In a moment he drew out his pocketknife.

Will’s eyebrows went up despite himself, and he glanced quickly at Angelus’s face. Angelus dropped the trousers, opened the knife, and cut a small nick in his wrist. He held it out.

“What—really?” Will asked foolishly. Angelus gave him a look, and he got hold of himself and latched on.

It was a very small cut, just enough to give him the taste, but Angelus let him work it for several minutes. His eyes fluttered shut and the world fell away, so that he was hardly aware of Angelus’s fingers in his hair. When the fingers finally moved to his neck and pulled him loose, he felt light and warm and happy.

“Better?” Angelus was watching him with a strange soft expression. Will smiled and nodded.

“Good. I think half the trouble is we’re not feeding enough. I’ll have to speak to Darla about that.”

Will wiped his mouth and tried to stop smiling, but couldn’t. Angelus gave a short laugh and cuffed the back of his head lightly.

“Go on, boy. Rinse your mouth when you get downstairs, and stay clear of Darla for a while. She doesn’t approve of fledglings being coddled.”

Will nodded and turned away to collect the scuttle.

“Oh, and Will—“ He turned back. Angelus was wringing one of the slips out of the basin. “Your sister is downstairs making a nuisance of herself, if I’m not mistaken. Send her up.”

Will paused; the lightness of his heart was halved in a moment. Angelus looked up and frowned.

“Don’t sulk,” he said calmly. “Or I’ll give you something to sulk about. You’re not my only childe, Will. You’re just my youngest.”



Eleven



Coquette

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