by Les GS
Who and What: Nicholas and Lacroix, explicit male/male sex.
The scent of blood oranges slipped in through the lattices of the villa's shutters, the garden volatile in the torrid heat of high summer. Nicholas ambled barefoot down the cool dimness of the corridor toward the library. With no great enthusiasm, he thought perhaps to delve further into More's new work, 'Utopia.' Though it was late in the afternoon, still too many hours loomed before twilight would set him free for his night's diversions.
As Nicholas neared the library door, Lacroix emerged, book in hand. Like his protégé he was dressed in a robe which covered him from neck to ankle, though his was dark gray while Nicholas's was blue. Seeing Nicholas approach, his maker paused at the library's threshold.
Nicholas greeted his master politely, although his own voice sounded flat to his own ears as he simply said, "Lacroix."
"You seem a bit ... out of sorts, Nicholas," the elder vampire commented, the weight of the cool gaze he fixed on his companion at odds with the lightness of his tone.
Nicholas frowned slightly, hoping this was not an opening for Lacroix to make any plainer his growing impatience that the ache of Janette's abandonment smoldered yet in his heart. A few of their conversations had turned this way as of late. His maker no doubt thought that this past season in Rome should have allowed enough time for that wound to heal. Yes, he'd busied himself, enjoying the company of musicians and artists, particularly the master Raphael, while he and Lacroix had ranged across hunting grounds from luxurious palaces to the stinking alleys of Roman slums. But his heart did not "move on" as easily as the fickle Janette's or the icy Lacroix's. His maker had made it clear that he considered this inability a foolish weakness.
"The day is over long," Nicholas said curtly, determined to deflect a further harangue on the subject by giving his maker an excuse for his sour mood.
"Do you find it so?" Lacroix replied, one brow lifting as if in mild astonishment. "Well, we can't have that." He smiled then, pale eyes glinting in the dimness. Nicholas realized that, by choosing to accept him at his word, his maker had decided to devote himself to diverting him. He opened his mouth to assure him somehow that this wasn't necessary, but Lacroix spoke first.
"Have you read this?" Nicholas shook his head dumbly as Lacroix held up the volume in his hand, 'Orlando Furioso' by Ariosto. "No?" he continued, still smiling easily. "Come with me and I'll read to you what the good poet has penned."
The elder vampire started past him, down the hallway. Nicholas stood a moment, eyeing the form striding away from him, the shoulders squared with arrogant assurance. Then, with a slight shake of his head, he followed uneasily.
Lacroix's rooms, cool and dark behind heavy shades, ranged around a central atrium. Nicholas trailed him through the sitting room to the bedroom beyond. He felt a slight tightening in the pit of his stomach, which the sweet fragrance of roses and the musical splashing of the fountain from the courtyard outside did nothing to alleviate.
He reminded himself that his maker's choice of room really told him nothing of his intentions. Lacroix's habit was to make where he slept the most comfortable of dens, setting his favorite reading chair there. As he went deeper into the apartment, Nicholas carefully did not examine the cause of his growing tension.
Drawing in a slow breath, the young vampire stepped into Lacroix's bedroom. Perhaps all that he planned was to read a lovely poem in his most engaging manner, and discuss it afterward. They had idled away many pleasant afternoon hours this way over the last three centuries. It was just that his maker had so many other, more complicated, ways of thwarting ennui.
The solid wooden shutters of the large arched window set high in the wall opposite the door were securely bolted, and the only light in the room came from a single candle set on a low square table between two armchairs. Settling in one of these chairs, Lacroix looked up. "Come. Sit," he said, indicating the other chair with a tilt of his head.
Nicholas's bare feet padded across the cool, dark red tile. He angled away from the large bed set against the wall to his right, with its intricately carved headboard and four thick corner posts. He sat, crossing his legs and arranging his robe comfortably around him, shrugging off a faint sense of disappointment. Lacroix began to read.
Nicholas's eyes wandered unseeing over the room as Lacroix's deep, lithe voice ensnared him in the tangled tale of love, war and chivalry. As Orlando discovered the inconstancy of his lady-love, his heart clenched in his breast, these echoes too close to his own raw, recent suffering."I am not -- am not what I seem to sight:
What Roland was is dead and under ground,
Slain by that most ungrateful lady's spite,
Whose faithlessness inflicted such a wound.
Divided from the flesh, I am his sprite,
Which in this hell, tormented, walks its round,
To be, but in its shadow left above,
A warning to all such as trust in love."
Nicholas's vision seemed to swim, the fresco of interlaced patterns on the wall flickering strangely. He blinked rapidly, his disorientation a disturbing semblance of Charlemagne's knight's burgeoning madness, and he turned to Lacroix, discomfited.
Lacroix continued to read, eyes on the page before him. Both elbows rested on the arms of his chair, his far hand holding the book. The fingers of the other passed idly back and forth through the flame of the candle between them, its fluttering creating the illusion of writhing ribbons on the wall. Nicholas made a small noise and the other man stopped reading, turning to meet his protégé's gaze in the sudden silence.
Lacroix's mouth turned up at its corners as he closed the book in one hand while the fingers of the other continued to run through the bright tongue flickering on the candle's wick.
"Didn't you ever play this game as a boy, Nicholas?" he inquired lightly. "Perhaps with the other squires, while you were in training. Boys like such games, vying to see which is bravest in the face of pain. Usually when bored, of course," he finished dryly.
"I'm not bored," Nicholas said steadily, unsure of his maker's intent, but not particularly interested in singed fingers. Fire was one of the few things that could kill him now, so he had become more wary of it than when he'd been mortal.
"No, of course not," Lacroix replied with an agreeable smile. His eyes moved to follow the smoky curls the steady passage of his fingertips teased from the disturbed flame. "Even so, occasionally the simple pastimes of our youth can be welcome, refreshing diversions."
The image of Lacroix as a boy, with simple pastimes, eluded Nicholas. He did, however, remember the contests he and his fellow squires had goaded one another into. Fingers in a candle flame would have been among the milder.
"Ah, but this is not interesting," Lacroix declared abruptly, pulling his hand back. "Too simple." He rose, tossing the book on the seat of his chair, and with Nicholas's widened eyes upon him, strode across the room toward the window. Two straight backed, armless chairs stood against the wall beneath it. Lacroix gripped them both by the top rungs across their backs and lifted them, swinging them before the bed, into the center of the room. He set them there, facing each other about four feet apart, and then stepped back, inspecting them. Stepping over to one, he adjusted it, sliding it a few inches away from the other, then nodded in satisfaction.
He then looked over at Nicholas, his smile including his protégé in the proceedings, as though the younger vampire understood what he was about. "That should do. Bring the candle," he directed.
Brow furrowing, Nicholas rose slowly, taking up the silver candle holder by the ring affixed to its saucer-like base. As he approached Lacroix, candle flame wavering in the breeze of his movement, his maker reached up to the collar of his own robe and unfastened the frog holding it shut. With a fluttering rush of heavy silk fabric, Lacroix pulled the garment over his head and tossed it onto the bed behind them. Like Nicholas, he was nude beneath it.
"All right, set it there." Lacroix pointed to a spot on the floor midway between the two chairs. Nicholas, only a bit nonplused by Lacroix's sudden nakedness, complied, crouching down to put the candle where Lacroix wanted it. Turning his openly puzzled look upon his maker, he stood again, stepping back from this odd arrangement of furniture.
"I suppose we could do this clothed," Lacroix said, lips quirking with that humor peculiar to himself. "But that would get more exciting than even I prefer." With that, he bent, placing his hands on the seat of one chair, then lifted his feet one at a time onto the other. As Nicholas watched, he lowered himself, shifting his arms and lower legs on the chairs, until, from knee to elbow, his body formed a straight bridge between the chairs, his face framed between his knotting biceps, genitals dangling awkwardly.
The flame of the candle flickered beneath Lacroix's navel, perhaps a mere six inches underneath him, the light glowing pale gold on his pallid skin. He grunted speculatively, then said, "The sensation of heat builds." His brow furrowed. "But still, not much of a challenge." He raised his head, fixing the other vampire with his lambent gaze. "Get up on my back, Nicholas. Perhaps that will make this more difficult."
Sure he did not wish to engage in any contest involving fire, Nicholas still felt the subtle thrill that any challenge sparked in him. Almost without conscious decision, he found himself moving toward Lacroix, fists grasping the fabric swirling around his thighs, hiking his robes as he leapt up nimbly, feet landing squarely in the small of his maker's back.
Lacroix grunted loudly, his body flexing beneath the other man, abdomen forced down toward the singeing flame. That his penis swung forward, placing its tip in the focus of the most intense heat for an instant, may have had something to do with the speed with which he straightened his back, lifting himself under Nicholas's weight.
Nicholas laughed softly, balancing easily upon the undulating surface beneath his feet. He flexed his knees, bobbing up and down, pushing Lacroix toward the scorching flame, small as it might be. It was strange, feeling the muscles along Lacroix's spine grow rigid under his soles, as though he stood on stone thinly overlaid with resilient flesh.
A burst of breath sounded from beneath him, then Lacroix said, "While it's gratifying that your boredom's abated, don't get so enthused as to break the chairs, Nicholas. They're not as sturdy as my back."
"We didn't set any limits, Lacroix," Nicholas countered, grinning, shifting his feet so that he stood directly upon the other's shoulder blades. "Neither time nor actions." He could feel sinews tighten as his maker's shoulders and upper arms took up the strain.
"Eventually the candle will burn out," Lacroix noted wryly. Nicholas felt a slightly irked admiration that he spoke with no sign of effort.
"Or will get snuffed out... somehow," Nicholas said, stepping backwards onto the other man's bare buttocks, bouncing lightly upon the tensed mounds. He heard Lacroix's soft hiss as his body bent, but slightly, it was true. Still, his sensitive belly was shoved closer to the heat's center. And even more exciting, his phallus probably swung forward into the seared air just above the flame. But Nicholas knew he was simply goading the other man. Yes, Lacroix would tire at some point, even with his formidable strength. Long before that, however, the candle would have extinguished itself.
"All right," the younger man drawled, trying his footing along the backs of Lacroix's thighs, "the time shall be the length it takes you to recite, say, the 'Chanson de Roland,' from his leaving the Gate 'til the tempests rise in France. Meanwhile, I believe I will attempt a jig."
"Recite..?" Lacroix's rising tone was somewhere between amusement and umbrage.
"I could do the recitation, of course," Nicholas assured him. "But I'd be inclined to insert long pauses. For dramatic emphasis. But if you'd prefer..."
His maker's back quivered beneath him and Nicholas realized he was laughing. Then Lacroix's ribs flared as he took a breath and began, "'Through Gate of Spain Roland goes riding past On Veillantif, his swiftly running barb...'"
Grinning wickedly, Nicholas commenced his dance. His agile steps sure on the irregular, flexing surface beneath him, he double-timed the rhythm of Lacroix's steady chant of Roland's original story, this version free of romantic entanglements. He even joined in on the shouted refrain proper at the end of certain verses. And though he could not discern it in his maker's supple voice, Nicholas could feel the effort required to sustain his cavorting in the taut muscles under his feet. He found himself laughing as Lacroix wound through the last stanza:
"'And many say: "It is the latter time, The world is ending, and the Great Doom is nigh." They speak not true, they cannot read the signs: 'Tis Roland's death calls forth this mighty cry.'"
On that final word, Nicholas sprang from Lacroix's back with one last forceful downward thrust. As his feet touched silently on the red tiles, Lacroix dismounted from the chairs, shoving away from them, landing upright beside the candle. Nicholas's eyes flitted searchingly over him, drawn to the angry red splotch, rapidly fading, on his abdomen, then back up to his face. Lacroix, meanwhile, placidly studied the candle, brows furrowed over his clear, measuring gaze.
"Fine beeswax," the elder vampire mused. "It burns long and hot. Though shorter than when we began, the candle should serve you well enough."
A quick breath slipped in between Nicholas's parted lips. Then he shut them firmly as his fingers twisted open the frog holding his robe closed at his throat. As he pulled the garment over his head, Lacroix, belly once more alabaster white, disappeared from view. Wrapped in momentary silken darkness, Nicholas allowed himself a quick, rueful grin. He had known he would take his turn suspended between the chairs the instant he had leapt onto his maker's back. He had simply not worked through the details of what that would actually entail. Yet again he found himself facing the consequence of a decision he had not been aware of actually making.
The hem of his robe skinned over his head, and he tossed it, along with this flash of reflection, to one side. Lacroix held the back of a chair, sliding it forward a few inches to accommodate Nicholas's slighter stature. Mouth curving roguishly, he looked to his now nude companion, then indicated the chairs and candle with a sweep of his hand.
"Does it suit?"
Nicholas quirked an ironic eyebrow, replying, "No doubt the fit is exquisite. But if you'll give me just a moment to try it for size..."
Lacroix's ice blue eyes widened as he made a silent, expansive gesture with both hands, inviting his protégé to please himself. Nicholas stepped forward as he looked from one chair to the other, measuring their placement judiciously. Bending at the waist, he placed his palms on the heavy silk brocade upholstery, aware of its slick coolness. He lifted one foot then the other onto the second chair, their tops and then his shins gliding back over the sleek fabric as he lowered himself to his elbows on the first. Ducking his head between his bunched biceps, he folded his forearms together along the front edge of the seat. Sinews tightened in his armpits as cords of muscle along his spine and across his chest and belly easily took up his weight. He felt a flush of animal delight at the fluid power of his own body.
Then warmth washed across his belly, mild at first, the intensity of the burn growing slowly. He glanced uneasily below him, at the tiny flame dancing on the tip of the creamy beeswax shaft. There seemed almost a wicked gleefulness in its movements, the way it flickered and leapt, straining up to reach the flesh suspended above it. And while the candle's placement brought most of the heat to his lower abdomen, he could certainly feel it on his genitals as well, dangling vulnerably beneath him.
"Yes?" Lacroix inquired, his voice breaking through Nicholas's sensations.
Nicholas collected himself mentally and physically, then said clearly, "Yes, ready." He saw the other man take a swift stride toward him, and braced himself for Lacroix's leap up onto his back. But the jolting landing never occurred. Instead, Lacroix stepped over him, straddling his legs. Then he lowered himself, sitting astride Nicholas's upper thighs. His movements stirred the air, causing the flame to waver, lessening the heat for a moment. So, even though Nicholas sagged a trifle as his maker's weight settled on him, nothing distracted him from the sensation of Lacroix stretching out upon him. Hard hands gripped his hips, giving Lacroix a balance point as his lifted his legs, laying them along Nicholas's, his feet joining Nicholas's on the chair cushion. Lacroix hitched forward a bit, fitting his loins snugly against Nicholas's tensed buttocks, then lowered his chest to his back. His lips moved against his protégé's nape as his spoke.
"With my weight evenly distributed, you should be able to support both of us for quite some time, don't you think?" The grip of his hands on Nicholas's hips loosened, becoming a caress sliding slowly over his ribs.
"Lacroix..." Heat flared, centered on his navel as the candle flame steadied. He arched his back, lifting both himself and Lacroix, the twinge in his groin perhaps no more than constricting muscles.
"No limits, Nicholas. You said so yourself," the elder vampire reminded him, low voice resonant with amusement, fingers lingering on Nicholas's chest, exploring the tightened muscles there. "You set those for my... challenge. So I shall set them for yours." He chuckled. "It is fair, you must agree." His palms, resting lightly, cupped Nicholas's solid pectorals.
"Fair... yes." His assent was echoed in his flesh, in the twitching of his thickening penis.
"Sweet concord," Lacroix murmured, his palms now gently brushing over his protégé's nipples. The tiny buds clenched with the attention, their delight inducing another pang in Nicholas's groin. The heat ebbed away for a moment, then bloomed, hotter than ever, and with a small grunt Nicholas shoved upward, his firm buttocks jamming tighter against Lacroix's groin.
"Mm." Lacroix's rumble of pleasure vibrated through Nicholas's back, and one of his maker's hands left his chest to sweep slowly down his side. That palm slid over Nicholas's hip bone, fingers running along the crease where thigh met loin. Fingertips nestled behind his testicles while thumb and finger on the other hand delicately pinched a nipple. With a certain dismay, Nicholas realized that as his cock stiffened and lifted, it would only be brought closer to the glowing hot air above the candle flame.
"Limits," Lacroix sighed, apparently finding something distasteful about the word. "If we must, then... Time -- as long as the candle stays lit. Actions... -- whatever might serve to extinguish it." Fingers left Nicholas's breast to trail along his collarbone as the other hand cradled his dangling testicles.
Nicholas, silent, bit at the inside of his lower lip, struggling to quell his body's reaction to that touch creeping toward his throat, the cunning fingertips skimming his scrotum. Recalcitrant, his cock continued to swell, the burn building along its tip more stimulating than deterring, at least at the moment. He'd learned too much of too many kinds of pleasure under these hands, along with myriad other lessons. That, and his inborn response of confronting any challenge, kept him from flying upward, away from the pain that nipped at his belly, and tossing Lacroix from him. Though the more sensible part of his mind insisted this entire contest was folly, he was not about to quit so soon, not before he'd endured as long as Lacroix had.
Even with every muscle rigid with effort, Nicholas knew that Lacroix's body covering his own so evenly made this easier for him than his jig had been for Lacroix. And though the fire stirred a certain uneasiness in him, if he needed to, he could lift himself away, even with Lacroix on his back, using his power of flight. However, as Lacroix had exercised only his physical strength, doing so would cost Nicholas their game. He peered downward at the candle, at the merry, flickering light, how it licked at his belly, painting the ivory of his flesh with a golden luminescence. He wondered, for a fleeting moment, what Raphael would do with this image, his taut abdomen and his cock, lavender-tipped and lifting itself into harm's way. Sweetness suddenly pulsed from the root of his shaft upward, astonishingly sharp. Taken unawares, his breath escaped him in a burst. The head of his lengthening penis, foreskin stretching over the swelling glans, entered the scorched air above the candle. Eyes and lips clamping shut, he lifted himself higher, ass pressing hard into Lacroix's groin above him. His maker's low chuckle reached his ears, the shaft stiffening along the crevice of his buttocks informing him that Lacroix was aroused as well as amused.
The tips of Lacroix's fingers trailed upward, over his throat, each point of pressure leaving behind it a tingling trail. His cock jerked in response, up toward his belly into slightly cooler air, then wavering downward again with the continuing hot bite along the underside of his shaft. Muscles in his shoulders and thighs quivered, sagging with this distraction. He growled softly at himself - he didn't want to lose this contest.
Lacroix cupped his testicles, then tugged down on them, momentarily diverting Nicholas with the pleasant near-ache of that stretch. Then a prickling burn peaked again over his belly and cock. Nicholas squirmed fretfully beneath Lacroix's weight, wanting to rub away the fierce, scorching itch.
"Let me help, Nicholas," Lacroix said softly, lips nuzzling the curls at the nape of his neck. Then his large hand grasped Nicholas's shaft, skimming upward, then down again.
"Oh." Nicholas shuddered, pleasure-laced relief washing through him as that cool palm soothed away the building piquancy of the candle's burn. A number of slow strokes and the pleasure provided usurped the primacy of the relief. He closed his eyes, rigid stomach muscles trembling. Within him, he felt the deeper craving stir, more than simple sexual lust becoming aroused. Lacroix's deft caresses combined with the tight draw of the sinews in his belly, groin and thighs sent a piercing delight shooting through his loins. A delicious echoing ache throbbed in his upper jaw, beneath his canine teeth. Just a few more...
Lacroix took away his hand, setting it now on the hot skin of his protégé's quivering abdomen. Nicholas gasped, eyes flying wide as the other's shielding hand left his cock. The shaft's underside, now even more sensitive with his peaking sexual excitement, endured an abrupt gust of scalding air. A low snarl escaped him as he arched upward, shoving back at the mass pressing him down toward that smoldering assault. He found no escape. Though the cool, lightly rubbing palm eased his scorched belly, the fire's ferocious bite seemed concentrated on his stiff cock. His erection faltered, his penis drooping even closer to the flame. Breath hissed through the keen feeding teeth that jutted abruptly into his mouth.
Lacroix's low, supple voice slipped through the red mist beginning to simmer in his brain. "Perhaps we can do something to eliminate the source of your discomfort, Nicholas."
Lacroix's hand slid up Nicholas's belly, fingertips running through the golden fuzz in the center of his chest before finding a nipple. His other hand - oh, blessedly cold - curled around his protégé's flagging shaft. A deep groan welled up from deep inside Nicholas as cool comfort engulfed his cock.
Lacroix's hand began skimming up and down over the smooth, taut skin of Nicholas's shaft, slowly at first. Renewed pleasure coiled at the base of Nicholas's cock, drawing his testicles up tight against his body. As his maker's hand on him sped up, the candle's heat became swift searing kisses between the encircling chill of his spread fingers. Another groan bubbled up from Nicholas's chest, his surging blood-lust roughening it with a metallic rasp.
Bliss shoved its way with slow inevitability up his shaft, compelled by Lacroix's skilled fingers, the rapid, excruciating flutter of burn and cold on this so responsive flesh. He shook, the power of that violent vibration passing through the chairs he hung upon, wooden legs rattling on the hard tile. He moaned again, yielding as ecstasy conquered him at last, the tension of his suspended body driving his explosive climax to a sharpness that approached agony.
He heard Lacroix's laugh as his aim proved true, the sputter of the drowning candle rising with the steam of singed blood-mixed semen. Orgasm racked him again as Lacroix's fist, now slippery with ejaculate, continued to pump his cock. Every spasm only inflamed him further, inciting him to assuage his now savage blood-lust.
And with the extinguishing of the candle, he could, free now that he had met Lacroix's challenge. He lunged upward, using both physical and mental powers to launch himself high from the chairs, his maker riding still upon his back. In the brief moment they were airborne, Lacroix released him. As they separated, Nicholas twisted so that when their feet thudded upon the tile, they faced one another.
They stood, poised and silent, bright stares locked, blue-white and burning topaz. Then Lacroix smiled, upper lip pulling back to reveal his long canines, spreading his arms, welcoming Nicholas to him. As Nicholas stepped into his embrace, the fierce ice of Lacroix's eyes mutated to lucent gold.
Lacroix gathered him in, the hand slick with Nicholas's come sliding over the base of his spine, then down, the wet palm settling on one buttock, pulling their groins together. Lacroix's iron hard shaft ground painfully against Nicholas's belly. Rumbling deep in his chest, the younger vampire's arms tightened, crushing his maker closer to him. Twisting his neck, he opened his mouth wide as he struck, viper-like, for Lacroix's throat. Razored fangs pierced resilient flesh, penetrating the carotid beneath Lacroix's ear. Blood gouted into his mouth, feral and pungent on his tongue. He swallowed greedily, black flame igniting in his guts then racing along his veins, saturating him with an excruciating bliss. He writhed inwardly, the sensation almost too much to bear, his deepest needs assuaged by a chaos which threatened to devour him. Only Lacroix's blood did this to him, scourging him from within at the same time as it drove him to these rapturous peaks.
He tasted Lacroix's savage hungers, as yet unsatisfied, a discord jarringly unresolved with the dark exhilaration that sang along his own nerves. Acting to remove the disturbing dissonance, he jammed a hand between them to grab Lacroix's cock. He jerked roughly, feeling the jolt in his own body, hearing his maker's low snarl of mingled protest and pleasure.
Lacroix's fangs sank deep into his throat, triggering another spasm of bliss, a bright, searing flash shimmering behind his eyes, throughout his flesh. Lacroix's blood, thick in his mouth, brought him the sensation of hanging still on the verge of orgasm, the feeling of being suspended on that gloriously torturous peak twisting weirdly within his own continuing climax.
Then Lacroix came in his fist, the sweet eruption smashing through them both, shoving them to the final pinnacle of exaltation. Nicholas succumbed to the pleasure consuming him, awareness dissolving into it, into the blood flowing into him, his and Lacroix's, joined.
~ ~ ~
He roused, opening his eyes to discover himself sprawled across Lacroix's bed. A cool breeze, tender with the scent of bedewed roses, wafted over his skin. The high wide window's open shutters framed a clear sky, deep black studded with pinprick stars. He turned his head to Lacroix, stretched at his ease beside him; back propped upon pillows set against the headboard, ankles loosely crossed, Ariosto draped across his naked lap. He raised his eyes from his book as Nicholas stirred.
"That was amusing," he remarked, the softness of his voice welcome to Nicholas's still humming nerves. "If a bit... adolescent."
"Your idea," Nicholas replied thickly, reaching up to run his hand over his face, finger and thumb rubbing his eyes to chase the grogginess away.
A low snort of amusement escaped Lacroix. "I wasn't complaining, Nicholas. I enjoy the simpler pleasures. On occasion."
Fingers trailing from his face down his chest to his belly, Nicholas searched for any residual tenderness. He found none, the smooth skin again without blemish. He let his hand fall limply, shutting his eyes and sighing softly with the pleasure of the heavy, liquid looseness in his muscles and joints.
"I suppose this is one solution."
Nicholas opened his eyes, turning his head on his pillow to look up quizzically at his maker.
"Though, in the long run, you'll no doubt find it the more... wearing of your options." Lacroix snapped the book shut, setting it to one side and swinging his legs off the bed. "Not that I mind. It offers an intriguing challenge."
"What?" Nicholas frowned, Lacroix's opaque utterance only puzzling him further.
The elder vampire turned his head to gaze down at his protégé, brows quirking in mild surprise. "Why, conceiving of pastimes that engage you so profoundly that your melancholia is utterly expunged. At least briefly." Lacroix stood, plucking his robe from the bed and pulling it over his head.
Nicholas blinked as he realized that he had, for a short time, not endured the sorrow of missing Janette or the hurt of her rejection. That his present bone-deep contentment sprang not only from his physical satiation. His heart had been eased, temporarily, by his thoughts and senses being completely absorbed in the experience his maker had created for him.
Lacroix shrugged to settle the slippery silk around his shoulders, then went on, fingers twisting the fastenings closed at his throat. "As you have not, even after a season's worth of distractions, freed yourself from this slavery to yearning for what is gone, making your life tedious - to us both - we'll simply have to use more direct methods. Methods in which you'll live from moment to moment, rather than in recollection of time past."
Lacroix smiled down at him, a wicked glint in his eye, running his hands down his chest, smoothing the slick fabric of his robe. "I'm going to bathe before going out. Join me?"
Nicholas nodded slowly, though he did not otherwise stir. "Yes, I'll be there in a moment."
Lacroix's smile broadened, though he glided from the room with no further comment.
Nicholas's gaze wandered to the window, to the wide, clear sky beyond it. He probed the empty space Janette's leaving had ripped within him. Still sore, despite Lacroix's best efforts, sore in a way that his maker, in the iciness of his nature, was incapable of understanding. Though it was not quite as tender as when she'd first left him or even a month ago. Did he cling too hard and too long to his feelings, to his past? Janette claimed he clung too close to her, smothering her.
He dismissed this with a snort, sitting up and rolling off the bed, ready now for that hot bath. He couldn't be shaken so easily from the constancy of his heart. Not even by Lacroix's promises of more extreme "methods" of distraction if Nicholas could not find his own cure for heartbreak.
He scooped his robe up off the floor as he followed Lacroix. As he flipped it over one shoulder, a reckless grin slanted across his mouth. Besides, he never could resist a challenge.
Table of Contents
- Content -- LoosCanN
- Scapel Work -- Julia Kocich
- Nick Check -- Kathy Whelton
- Orlando Furioso of Ludovico Ariosto, translated by William Stewart Rose (London, 1910) is in the public domain and can be found on The Online Medieval & Classical Library at: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/
(Note: I have changed the word "thrust" to "trust" in the final line of this stanza, feeling it must be a typo. "Trust" is a more apt translation of the original Italian "speranza.")
- The Penguin Classic edition of The Song of Roland was translated by Dorothy L. Sayers, copyright 1957.
This page was created Saturday, October 14, 2000
Most recent revision Saturday, October 14, 2000