Author: : Gairid
Fandom: : VampChron
Pairing: : Louis/Lestat
Rating: : NC-17
Warning: : M/M relationship, Sexual refs, angst
Summary: : Takes place after Lestat's awakening from the Memnoch nightmare.
Obligatory Disclaimer: : Lestat, Louis and the other vampires mentioned are the property of Anne Rice and her publishers. Written for love, not money.
The Quality of Pain
I awaken to find him curled closely around me. The deathsleep no longer grips him but his slumber is deep. His face is pressed into the hollow of my shoulder, his scent fills my head, beloved and familiar.
How often had he left me behind?
In the old days it would be days, sometimes weeks. The constant pull and drag of heat and coldness, anger and tenderness tormented me until he nearly drove me mad. An old story, now, and one that I had more than enough time to dwell upon in the long years we were apart. The sweetness of reunion dashed to pieces when he went to Akasha and after her he wrapped himself in grief and guilt and he tried to take his own life by flinging himself into the face of the sun.
He forgets, perhaps, that he outshines even that.
Leaving me again and again. Trying to find -- what? I didn't know. His attempt to die and not take me with him hurt me most of all, more than Akasha, or David or even my poor, doomed Claudia. How could he think to leave me forever without him?
The months I spent watching him on the floor of that place, locked in some hell of his own devising, or perhaps that of some other, sharpened my pain into an acute and focused band of anguish that often left me struggling for breath in a way I had not known since I was a mortal man. It was scant comfort that he would suffer only me to sit close by him, to touch his cold flesh and look into his staring eyes, glazed, yet somehow aware.
He shifts against me and his flesh is not cold, not now. Pressed together we have always found our own heat. I pull the quilt up to cover his bare shoulder and I find myself captured by the glint of the lone flickering pillar candle on his golden hair.
I have not spoken to him of pain, for I see it reflected in his blue eyes when he looks at me, mute and troubled. Instead, I am focused now on reaffirming our bond, frayed and worn, but still in place. We have been in this bed more than out of it since I brought him back here and the hunger that I had deliberately pushed from my mind has grown now into a ravening creature unto itself. I have not fed in nearly two weeks, unwilling to leave him alone at St. Elizabeth's and now afraid that I will come back and find him gone from me once again, his eyes blank and wide.
The phone still rings and they come to the door each evening, sometimes singly and sometimes together, Marius and Armand and David and even Maharet. Brian manages to keep them away from us, his natural fear of them submerged beneath his concern and the absolute assurance he has that I will back up his words should the need arise. He understands that I will brook no interference from them. This evening has been quiet thus far.
I would have taken Lestat away from here if he had asked it of me, but he wished to be nowhere but in our own home, this place we have shared on and off since he first brought me to him.
He moves, his hand gripping my arm with sudden, bruising panic.
"C'est moi, Lestat." I tell him softly. The quality of physical pain is distant and unreal. "C'est moi et nous sommes ensemble à la maison, mon amour."
He raises his head to look at me and my heart is wrenched when I hear the how lost he sounds and when I see the confusion in his eyes. After a moment the confusion clears and his relief is a palpable thing. I move to gather him in but he resists slightly, his eyes trained on mine. I feel his fingers caressing the bruised place on my biceps.
"You're thirsting, Louis." He says, "And if you will not yet take from me, will you go and hunt?"
There is no hint of reproach or upset in his voice. I have not yet taken his blood, nor has he taken mine in the few days since I have brought him home. His tentativeness also causes me pain, much more intense than the nearly bone-snapping grip he used upon his abrupt awakening.
There is so much that lies between us, no matter how close our bodies are in this bed, no matter how he trembled to have me within him at long last before we were claimed by the deathsleep this morning.
"I don't like to leave you alone." I say to him and in his eyes I see understanding. He knows in that moment my fear that he will lapse somehow back into the state he had been in.
"I'll stay awake." He says with a hint of his devil-be-damned smile. It fled as quickly as it had arrived and his blue eyes went distant. "And I got away from him, Louis, so there's no need to worry."
"Got away from who?"
He looks questioningly at me.
"You said you got away from him. Who did you get away from?"
"I don't know. The Devil, I suppose. The one in the dream I was having." He rose from the bed and looked at me where I still sat, swathed in silk. "I'll dress, Louis and wait for you in the parlour. Or I'll stay right here in the bed, only you must hunt. I know you need to drink, and there is no use in you denying it."
"The others will leave me alone. Brian will turn them away as he has been doing. Please, mon chéri. I know it's been much longer than the few days since you brought me home."
He left the bedroom, assuring me that he would not stay away long. I heard him speaking to Brian in the office followed by Brian's answering murmur and then, a moment later, the door closing downstairs His hunger had to have been one of long weeks, because he went in spite of the anxiousness I saw in his eyes.
Months lying on the floor, he had told me when I asked him.
Louis was right there when I came back to myself, right at my side. His green eyes were opaque at first and then he realized that I could see him and the flat distance dissolved into a blaze of fierce love that made me gasp. My first wondering thought was that he loved me still after all that had happened, all I had done to him. When I moved to sit up, he caught my arm to assist me as though I were an invalid. Shaky as I felt, I knew the strength was still there, I could feel it, monstrous as ever. How much better to feel his hand on my arm, to take the support he offered.
Confusion set in when I began to notice the others around me, the room thick with a sort of hungry anticipation. There was Maharet and I lifted my lips in an instinctive and threatening snarl to see her. David and Marius and Armand. Others. Someone was racketing thunderously away on a piano, out of sight and I wondered if it was that noise that had finally awakened me from the nightmare I'd felt so trapped in.
They gathered around me, cautiously at first, and then the questions, in my head and out loud. I had no answers for them...indeed I could barely speak, and the tone of the words took on the inflection of adults talking to a pitiable idiot child. Beside me, Louis had gone stiff and wooden, and I wondered that none of them seemed to notice his anger.
"Louis, I want to leave." I said.
Such a furor my words caused, the type of dissension I would have reveled in not so long ago, I thought. The Vampire Lestat. A wash of revulsion swept over me.
"Louis, s'il te plait..." I muttered.
"Be easy Lestat. We will leave soon." He said. I'd risen to my feet and some of the strangers, vampires I did not recognize, backed away a little.
"Louis, surely you can't think to take him away tonight. He could be dangerous."
"Why not stay here with him for a while longer."
"Not safe." "...ill-advised...you are stubborn..."
The talk flowed past me, water over stone and I was hard-pressed to listen or to make sense of it. How long had I been here? A week? Louis smelled hungry and tired when I'd awakened.
"We do not even know what happened, Louis, what caused it. Let me at least come back with you."
David's clipped accent was followed by Louis' adamant refusal.
"What will you do if he becomes unmanageable? Forgive me, Louis, but your strength--" David persisted.
"And pardon me, David, if I tell you I don't need you to tell me how to take care of him or myself. I seem have managed this far without your help." Louis said coolly.
One of the young ones took advantage of Louis' momentary distraction to approach me. I was unable to muster up any curiosity; I only knew that for once in my life I was entirely sick of being looked at. I raised my head as he took a step closer. He stopped when he heard Louis' low snarl.
"You." Louis said to him, stepping up beside me. "Leave this city. Tonight. If I see you again I will kill you."
The young one uttered a laugh, but he was at least smart enough to back away and there was fear in his eyes.
Louis took my hand and I went with him past all of them, a literal gauntlet of vampires, their mind voices raising a tumult that I had some trouble blocking. From somewhere else in that place, the piano still thundered.
We were only a block away when he spoke.
"Shall we leave the city, Lestat? Get away for a while?"
"I want to go home."
There was so much more I wanted to say to him, but it was so difficult to think and there was a vague fear in me that I had not yet escaped whatever had held me down. He seemed to know this, as he always knows things about me, and he only nodded. We walked home silently, and that silence was good, it was welcome.
I walk to the dressing room, glancing into the looking glass and just as quickly I look away. I don't want to see the Devil that haunted me. I don't want to see myself. There are two hooks on the wall and hanging upon each one a silken robe. No scent of Louis on either of them, only the faint smell of laundry soap. I take one and slip it on, belting it snugly around my waist.
Back in the bedroom I look at the bed where we've lain together since Louis brought me back. The room is dim, only the one candle flickering on the mantle, but I can see things quite clearly. The rumpled sheets and Louis' scent mingled with mine.
He has very obviously not been staying here since I have been away from him. The strongest scent in the house is Brian's and that centered in the office where he has apparently been doggedly trying to keep up with all the things I have been neglecting. He can do that, keep things running smoothly and what was I doing thinking about things running smoothly? There is nothing smooth about the way I have handled things since I woke up nearly a decade ago.
The phone rings and Brian picks it immediately and at that same moment there is a sudden and aggressive assault in my head, a sort of battering at the clumsy shielding I have been attempting since I woke up. I hear myself growling and something falls, crashing to the floor and then the battering is gone. Disoriented, I take a step toward the chairs near the hearth.
There is a hurried knock on the door and Brian sticks his head in, eyes wide as he stares into the dark room.
"Are you all right?" He asks anxiously, flicking the lights on. I have somehow overturned a vase of flowers and the little table it had been standing on. The carpet is soaked and the scent of lilies is intense.
"A little clumsy, I'm afraid." I say, staring at the vase which is cracked into several pieces.
He gapes at me for a moment and then swallows.
"I'll take care of it."
And he does, moving quietly and efficiently, as though noise would somehow hurt me...as though, I realize, he is in a sickroom.
"Who was on the phone?" I ask him, as he lays a thick towel on the soaked carpet.
"Marius." he says, glancing up to meet my eyes. He holds my gaze for a long moment, his eyes filled with questions. He starts when he hears the front door open and close. "Louis is back." he says unnecessarily. He nearly crashes into Louis as he is leaving the room with the shards of the vase in one hand and the remains of the flowers in a plastic bag.
"Just a little accident." Brian says to Louis, backing into the hall. Louis ignores him and comes to where I am standing.
"Lestat, what has happened?"
"Someone trying to get in. In my head." I mumble, leaning against him gratefully. He smells deliriously of salt and blood and some faint perfume, whatever his victim had worn, and my fingers seek the heat of his flesh. "I knocked the flowers over, that's all."
His body responds to mine and he presses close, running his fingers through my hair.
"Who tried to get in?"
"I don't know. " I say, frustrated. "I couldn't tell, and it was difficult to keep resisting." I feel off-balance and, absurdly, on the brink of tears.
"Never mind, Angel." He says and he is undulating sinuously against me. His hands caress my shoulder blades and I can hear the minute whisper of his nails on the silk. The movement is sensual and comforting at the same time, and I lay my head on his shoulder.
Holding him still has the unreality of the dreams I had every day since he left and I cannot stop myself from moving against him, stroking him and cupping the angles of the bones beneath his golden flesh.
'Someone trying to get in. In my head,' he'd said. To my knowledge, Lestat has never had any trouble keeping his thoughts shielded. He is literally a master at keeping things hidden, and no one knows this better than I do. I push the bitterness aside, for there is no place for it here.
We are moving together, the slip and glide of fabric adding an element of restriction that seems as distracting to Lestat as it is to me. His body was no longer tense and resistant as it had been when I had first taken him into my arms and so I lay aside my worry about what had happened in my absence.
I push him back and untie the belt at his waist. He stands very still, his hands at his sides, fingers curled slightly. The silk parts and reveals him to me, and the feeling of unreality is dashed to pieces when I look at him. He stays my hand when I reach to slide the robe from his shoulders.
"You, Louis." he whispers, and I understand him immediately, for we have always been supremely in tune with one another physically. There is a low urgency between us now and I remove my clothes and put them aside.
"Have I said, mon amour, how deeply grateful I am that I have you?"
The words pierce me, though he does not mean them to; he has ever spoken of me possessively. In his eyes and voice there is no hint of manipulation. He has used words and seduction to keep me with him more times than I can count, and time after time I have succumbed to him. This is not one of those times, though perhaps only because I have brought him here.
The pain of these things does nothing to douse the heat that dances around us, between us...inside of us. He shrugs his shoulders and the robe falls to the floor. We move together to the bed and he comes into my arms, trembling once again.
"There is nothing to fear," I whisper, "I have you."
I touch his mouth with mine and he breathes my name. The kiss is a gradual thing, the lightest meeting of parted lips, moist and warm, a mingling of sighed breath. I push him onto his back, sucking on his tender lower lip. His foot curves around my calf as I settle my body atop his, aligning myself to the swell of his muscled thighs, the sweet hollow just below his ribs.
The nights following his awakening had been spent wordlessly cocooned, mending the frayed ends of our strained bond, learning how to be together again. Our joining the night before had been frantic, his need a wordless huge thing sprouted from the long time we had been apart, the gradual drift away from one another that widened from days to months to over a year. Following that, the months he'd spent lost and wandering while his body lay motionless on a marble floor.
The kiss deepens and he is relaxed and pliant beneath me. The heated recess of his mouth is mine to roam, and my tongue is eager, exploring the slick velvet of his inner cheek, the arch of his palate, the shapes of his teeth and fangs. He sucks on my tongue and I know he is resisting the urge to bite down. To taste me.
The quality of pain that wells up this time is a deep ache, nurtured over long years. He is holding back, for my sake this time, though he is unsure why I am not ready to share his blood. I want more from him than the same words of assurance and declarations of love. I know that he means these things when he says them, but I am determined that if he chooses to stay with me that I will have all of him.
Pain is submerged once again in a surging tide of desire, for his hands are moving over me and the uncertainty has fled from his touch. His fingers and palms move with knowing surety and I think -- I think -- how can he know what I want so easily yet not give to me what I need?
Ahh, but he is here and he has been gone for too long, in a place where I could do nothing to help him.
I break the kiss and raise myself up to look down into his face. There is still that confused vagueness in his eyes and I am frightened all over again that he will disappear, leaving only the shell of himself behind.
"I have you." I tell him again.
I lick at his face and his hands tighten at my waist.
When he takes his mouth from mine there is a moment when I am sure that I have imagined all of this and that I will turn my head to see the cold, featureless place that I had been trapped in. That place where I hear the voices of others of my kind, disembodied and far off; the place where I can smell Louis but I cannot see him, cannot hear him.
He hovers over me, the black veil of his hair falling forward in a motion that is deeply familiar, well loved. There is sorrow in his green eyes and I understand that he hurts. Levels of it, pain on pain and all of it can be laid at my feet.
"I have you." He says, and he leans to lick my face, just beneath my eye. It is a tenderness he has always given me. My hands are resting lightly at his waist and I tighten my grip and the heat coiled between us flicks out, lashing us both. He presses his erection into my belly, slick with the bloodsweat that streaks us. The scent of blood is maddening, and my mouth wells with saliva. I close my eyes and he continues his slow undulation, hips moving against me, building a delicious, maddening friction.
"Look at me, Lestat." he says softly. I do as he asks. "Whatever happened, wherever you were, you are back. It's over now."
He lowers himself and I slide my arms up his back, clinging tightly even as his mouth is crushed to mine in a fierce and bruising kiss. When he breaks from me again there is no fear that I am dreaming, not now with the bright taste of his blood on my tongue. His lips are stained with it.
"Strong." He whispers. "Powerful. These things have not changed. Show me, Lestat and this time take me with you."
There is the excruciating moment when he leaves his position on my body to lie back against the sheets, and I feel like there must be wounds where our flesh met and now he's not there. But then I am on him and his arms close around me. When I shudder now, it's with desire and lust, and a need that I had not let myself recognize in far too long. There is hole in me that only Louis has ever filled and all the outrageous and thoughtless things I have done won't change it.
Why had I wanted to change it? There is the question. I can't think, though, not with his hand closed around my cock, and he doesn't want me to think, no, because he doesn't want to think either, I know it from his urgency. From the kisses, turned bloody and rough, that he shares with me. Entering his body is bliss. He's tight, heated velvet, his long legs hooked over my shoulders. He does not take his eyes from mine, and his hot gaze remains steady, even though his body is wracked with shivering and his breath comes forth in little groans with each thrust of my hips.
Hours. Abandoned hours, with no more words necessary for he bared his throat to me at last and I drank from him, drank in his pain and his love and the savage ecstasy of his orgasms. Misted in crimson and through all of it I swim in the deep tide of his love.
He is dozing lightly, still atop me and to have his lovely, familiar weight on me fills me with unutterable peace. I feel like I could lie this way forever, listening to him breathe with the taste of him still rich in my mouth. I am wracked with shivers, ecstatic little jolts that make my skin twitch and my nerves sing.
He shifts and moves from me and I roll onto my side so that he can spoon against my back. I love to sleep this way, fitted together so naturally and as if in direct answer to this thought he moves into that position, pushing a leg between mine.
"Mon ange." he mumbles, sliding his hand under my arm and twining his fingers with mine. His somnolent, drowsy heat has melted away the remnants of my fear that he would slip away from me in his sleep, somehow.
"C'est moi." I tell hi, and he presses his lips to the nape of my neck before falling still again.
His blood pulses through my veins and it's potent. Powerful. Maddening, too, to feel it surging through me like electricity; dangerous, like liquid fire. It has been a long while since I have tasted him, felt his mind. He still keeps so much hidden; there are walls there and locked doors and the quality of that pain is keen, a shining razor's edge.
I have walked that edge for long years. There is little I could deny Lestat and if the love I bear for him is painful, it as also the truest part of me. He has my heart and if he has been ungentle with it, I have not been without my share of the blame.
To endure pain is one of the qualities of love. None of the pain matters now. None of it.