Falls Like Rain

"Listen! Do you know what you hear? A flurry of rain thrown against your window by me, Ondine, spirit of the water." The drops trail down the glass each carrying a point of moonlight for a heart.
-Ondine, "The Two Genii"


Northern Italy, 1522

He huddled against the tree trunk, staring about him through the mists and shadows. The cold wind distracted him as it bit his face- he usually had to work hard to notice such things, nowadays. Usually he forgot- except for those rare moments when it crept upon him and the cold air or soaking wetness of a summer storm caught him when he was already feeling tired and miserable. Then, for a moment, he would feel the weakness as if mortal again and he would spare a breath to curse the weather. The moment would pass quickly, and he'd be off again, searching... for whatever it was for which he was searching, at the time.

It seemed like he was always searching for something.

Tonight he was searching for shelter. The sun was nearing the horizon, already the false dawn was beginning to lighten the sky. He had little time, and out here in the middle of the farm country and vineyards there were few safe places he could go. He'd foolishly thought he could travel tonight, but after procuring coin of the realm and food to satisfy that hunger, he'd had less time than he'd imagined. Barely enough time to bury a body under a fallen log and clean himself up, before the sun began pulling at his spirit.

He realised, in a sudden, bitter flash, that he'd have to return. He glanced over his shoulder, at the house he knew stood waiting though even his vampiric eyesight could not see it at this distance. It was the only safe place he could reach before the sun rose; safe, that was a funny word. To think that returning to *him* was safety...

But the sun was on its way, he had to go now. With a soft muttered curse at whatever had brought him here and let him go no further, he took to the air. He didn't think about the words, the expression which would be waiting to greet him. Didn't think about the part of him that wanted to go, hoping for something which Nicholas could not name.

His soft boots did not rattle the wooden slats of the entryway, but somehow he knew his arrival had shouted itself to the very ends of the abode. Without another glance behind, knowing that the sun was almost peeking over the top of a mountain ridge of which he had still not learned the name, he stepped inside the darkened house. After closing the door firmly, he removed his cloak and hung it on a nail set into the wall. For a moment, all was perfectly normal. A visitor, a guest, a long-lost child returning home.

He heard him enter the room- that in itself was unusual. "Nicholas... a bit late, aren't you? The sun is up. I was worried." The soft, tender tones reached out in the darkness and caressed him, chucking him under the chin like a small boy greeted by disfavored aunts. Nicholas made no reply. "Don't just stand there, Nicholas... come upstairs. Get out of those wet clothes."

With a start he realised that his clothes *were* wet. It hadn't been raining for some time; he must have gotten thoroughly soaked earlier on. He looked down at himself, saying absently, "Yes, I should get changed." He moved forward, heading for the stairs, hoping somehow that he would pass by without another word. That nothing would be said of the aborted attempt at freedom; how many was it, this year? Or had it been a decade?

"Have you fed, at least?"

His master's light tones followed him up to his room, sounding so sincere in his concern for Nicholas' well-being. Only one who had heard it before, who knew about the fights behind those words could understand the bitter whip of victory the master wielded in the simple question. Or the agony with which it was answered. "I have."

"Good... I hate to see you going hungry. Really, Nicholas, why don't you-" Lacroix stopped in his motion to take the removed shirt from Nicholas' hand as he'd been about to drop it on the floor.

Nicholas turned only his head, wondering at the silence. When he saw the light in his master's eyes he hurriedly turned away again. He quickly finished undressing and reached for a nightshirt.

"Nicholas..."

He cringed. He knew that voice, he knew the hand that touched his shoulder now, briefly brushing his skin. He didn't want this, today. Not today.

The voice purred at him, this time. Soothing, delightful. "I imagine you don't need to hear my lecture again this morning."

Lacroix was standing at his shoulder, not quite touching but pressing his presence upon Nicholas with an air of smothering possession."No, I don't need to hear it." Nicholas felt the words choking him. He wanted to fling them at his master, tell him that he didn't need the elder's guidance- control, didn't need to be held and pushed and forced... He kept his head down and said none of it.

"Good..." Lacroix touched his cheek, tracing one finger down the face which stayed averted. "Nicholas... my foolish boy... what ever shall I do with you?" Lacroix sounded indulgent- kind and amused at seeing his errant protege in from the rain. His hand gripped Nicholas' arm tightly.

Nicholas felt miserable.

"But don't you see, Nicholas," and the voice reminded him that not even his thoughts were safe from his master's invasion. "It's only when you disobey me. It's only when you leave me, that you make mistakes and find things going so terribly wrong. When you stay with me... I take care of you." Now he was whispering, mouth so close to Nicholas' ear, body so close behind him that Nicholas could feel the pressure of his skin. He wanted to run.

He wanted to turn and let that voice caress him, hands following onto every inch of his body. He knew the fire that burned inside would flare with his master's touch. He hated himself for it, and tried to escape it. He wished he could say it revolted him, that he feared it, loathed it, never wanted it again and so that was why he must leave. What he hated was the truth, and he cursed himself as he raised his lips to the mouth which was waiting for him.

If was as if the battle had never been fought, never even been conceived. Nicholas met Lacroix' hungry kiss with equal intensity, grabbing at the man before him and pulling him closer, feeling himself being pulled as well. Hands caressed his back, the bare skin shivering at the touch which was at once delicate and demanding. Nicholas let himself be pushed down, onto the bed, and he waited patiently as Lacroix undressed.

There was no artful tease to his undressing, clothes were quickly dropped into a pile on the floor- well away from the sodden mass Nicholas had left. Then he walked forward, eyes on Nicholas, already devouring. Nicholas was staring as well, fascinated by the body which would soon possess him. He felt a tremor run through the length of his body and he looked up, pleading with his eyes. Lacroix smiled.

Lacroix knelt on the bed before him, hands on either side of Nicholas' head. Holding him still, Lacroix began to bite at his face. Here gently nibbling, there cutting with the slash of his teeth. He began at the peak of Nicholas' jawline, and slowly proceeded down to the spot below his lower lip. Nicholas closed his eyes, listening to the throb of his almost nonexistent heart beat. He heard a voice inside him asking if this was enough, worth the pain of the nights. Then Lacroix was licking his neck, and one hand was winding its way down to stroke him.

His body silenced any thoughts his mind might have had. Nicholas felt himself arching into the hand that held him, pushing against the fisted palm and feeling a spark of delight as the hand tightened, then released, in sounding rhythm. The mouth was still busy, licking a path down his chest, teasing already hard nipples with a soft tongue and the needle thin points of his fangs. Lacroix had let his hunger out, but was well in control, to enjoy his ecstasy for as long as he desired.

Nicholas was not so adept, his eyes were golden, seeking out the mass of heat which would signal his prey. His hands gripped wildly at the body on top of him, trying to push it around so that he might grab ahold of it and feed. Arms and legs prevented him, holding him down as he was taken higher into passion. His pushing became a focused thrusting, and the hand upon him began to alternate, hard strokes with feather light touches; the sensations nearly drove him over. Two demonically strong hands rested on his chest, holding him down. Just as he would have screamed he felt the warmth engulf him and the light inside his mind exploded.

He came inside Lacroix' mouth, and the knowledge that it was only the first thing he would take made Nicholas want to come again. For the moment, though, he was satiated and could take some time to turn himself to his master's pleasure. He did, quite literally, as without thinking he rolled over and let Lacroix invade him. Lacroix' deep moans in his ear stirred him, as he gave himself up again. The thrusting was steady and deep, Lacroix' control extending even to this. Lacroix did not try to fight it off this time, immersing himself in the touch of Nicholas' buttocks against his groin, the clenched encasement around him, the sight of his back as he lay still, allowing his master to do and take whatever he wanted... Lacroix pushed himself again, and let the orgasm overtake him.

When it faded he gently laid himself on top of Nicholas, easing himself down with a facsimile of care. In truth he simply did not want to rush himself, preferring to enjoy the day as long as he could before he had to let his young one sleep. He kissed the shoulder beneath his cheek, and felt a quiver in response.

Nicholas shivered again, still in need of something more. Lacroix chuckled, low in his throat. "Still hungry, Nicholas?"

Nicholas heard the mockery in the tone but could not be bothered with it, not when every nerve in his body was screaming for more. He tried to turn, so that he could place his mouth against the skin which was only inches away. Lacroix held him down, watched him strain. Nicholas' struggles became more intense, and the motions began to stir fires anew in Lacroix. This time he let them free of his control, and he bent down to bite at his chattel.

He did not sink his teeth into Nicholas immediately; content at first to trace a line with his fangs, making Nicholas writhe in frustration that he might be fed upon, and not feed. Lacroix waited a moment more, then he leaned away just enough for Nicholas to feel himself free. Nicholas turned under him quickly, and was grasping Lacroix to him and sinking his fangs into his master's skin.

The blood was sweet, sweeter than any he'd tasted in the long nights he'd hunted mortal quarry. He sucked as if swallowing the wine of life, for indeed he was, the blood of his master a truer sustenance than any. It was this for which he returned, this for which he let himself be bedded by the one who owned him. The taste of the blood nourished every particle of his being.

Lacroix let him feed, holding himself still until he felt the pull at him grow too strong. Then he lowered his mouth and took Nicholas in his own vampires' embrace. The taste of blood was sweet for him, too, the rich strength of a young man of his own get. It was uniquely Nicholas, as well, and that made him hold on tightly, intent on draining every last drop that he could wring.

For several moments there was nothing but two vampires locked, motionless but for the swallowing of precious blood. Lacroix felt Nicolas begin to weaken, drunk of his fill and passion finally satisifed. He drank a moment more, leaving Nicholas with less than he'd begun. He watched as Nicholas lay back, eyes closing, falling into a deep exhausted sleep. Lacroix licked his lips of the remaining drops of his dear one's blood, then slowly stood up and moved away.

Nicholas woke just as the sun was setting. It was raining again, the patter on the roof was clearly heard. The bed was cold, as always, and the quilts had been left bundled underneath him as he slept. He turned onto his side, wondering if he should bother crawling beneath them. They would not bring him warmth, he knew that. It would be time to get up soon, so there was little point in snuggling deeper into his bedclothes. If he stayed here, Lacroix would be up to see him, ask him why he was remaining in bed.

His hand gripped the soft cloth, and for a moment he stared up at the unseen sky, and listened to the falling rain. He imagined the world outside, washed clean and clear again, mud washed away and rocks worn imperceptibly smoother. He wondered if his clothes were dry, that he might put them on and go outside, wrapped in a traveling cloak to try again.