Chapter Ten – Painting a Blank Canvas
"You never could abandon your Blood."
Laine felt a prickly sense of unease bloom inside at the words, his mind scrabbling for some kind of understanding which he suddenly knew that his heart had been hiding from him. It was like trying to hold onto a dream that quickly slipped away but left behind traces of pure emotion to choke him, and it was a disconcerting thought. Something was . . . something was about to happen . . . Everything was about to change.
"My Blood?" he echoed slowly, heart pounding in his throat, nauseating. And Kyrie's eerie words were now all too loud in his ears, exploding painfully against his brain.
"You all share the same holy blood."
"You really don't remember," that colourless, ethereal creature whispered, and they were beckoning him silently, their willowy veiled figures no longer distanced and distressingly omniscient but now completely accepting of him. Laine swallowed hard and closed his eyes and pushed away the overwhelming feeling. Beneath his skin he could feel his blood burning, pulsing in rhythm to their shared energy, his consciousness suddenly too heavy and slipping slowly beneath the physicality of his body and aching to run his fingers through that ribbon of sheer power that joined every living thing together. And then −
"Brennan is your Blood, Laine − he was made from you so long ago. He's . . . he's your descendant."
Silence followed; long, heavy calm.
Oh . . .
Oh . . . that's right. That's right.
He'd expected pain, turmoil, confusion, but instead a strange tranquillity descended over him. It felt as though all of his life he'd been holding his breath without realising it, his lungs burning more and more every day until the dizziness overwhelmed him and now, finally, finally he could breathe again and the heaviness on his chest was gone. In one long exhalation the confusion that tainted him was fading but was being replaced with something else, something more deep-rooted, and Laine could only bite his bottom lip to stop himself from sobbing. Was it relief or horror that he felt, or a strange mixture of both? He wasn't sure – they felt the same – and the realisation that started digging away at him was sickening.
"My Blood," he echoed again, this time with detached solemnity in his voice. "Mine."
"Yes. Do you remember now, Laine?"
It was strange hearing his own name again, realising that through all this he was still Laine, that the word was still part of him, that his mind still recognised the name he had been given. He looked up to face the 'man' again, the only creature here with a voice he could understand, weightless and shapeless and white-washed but with those violet-blue eyes burning intensely with understanding and making something inside of him race. He didn't know what to say, what to do but clutch at his own arms helplessly and realise that he was still horrifically painted with the blood of every person he had ever touched. His skin was sticky with it, coating him completely.
"I . . . remember him. Please −" But what was he begging for? He could barely understand. This was all too surreal.
The man beside him smiled softly in pained understanding, and Laine felt the overwhelming grief well up almost impossibly quickly in his chest and throat, suffocating, trying to drown him. One moment he had been calmed by the slowly growing truth, now it was dragging him down and making everything ache. It was too much for him, much bigger than his mortal brain could comprehend – only flashes of the truth existed there, unbound and free floating and not making much sense. All Laine could breathe again was, "He's my Blood. Mine?"
Something like pity flashed across the other's face, but Laine didn't notice. His head and his heart were too heavy with the feelings infesting him: the half-remembered truth gnawed away at his heart, and it was too painful, but his mind was aching desperately for it. Choking back a cry, Laine looked up slowly and realised that there was no running anymore, that time was over: emerald and staurolite and zircon couldn't protect him now, if they ever had.
"Why is everyone so blind to what you are?"
"Tell me," he breathed. And then, still covered in that sticky artificial blood, heart racing, lungs burning, he said, "Tell me," again with real strength in his voice. Brennan was in danger, possibly suffering, and if for no other reason he needed . . . needed . . .
Swoosh. Suddenly the calm was mercilessly shattered in one fatal moment as the ground seemed to give way beneath him; heart in his throat and an intense wind-like power was buffeting him harshly, drowning him in invisible light. Adrenaline rushing, body on edge, Laine pushed back the silver-blonde hair from his eyes desperately and saw those figures standing there still in all their otherworldliness, inhuman shapes formed from whiteness and immortality, faceless, emotionless and almost threatening in their unearthliness, but he knew them. He couldn't deny it.
The pulsing of his blood was growing stronger, more severe, more painful as the veins vibrated rhythmically beneath his skin like violin strings being plucked, humming to the tune of a song so ancient that people had forgotten how to hear it. And it hurt, intense agony shooting through his body, ripping at the physicality that shouldn't have existed, twisting around his organs and sending the same pulsing rhythm through them. Somehow he was down on the floor, somehow his chest was rising and falling quickly as he attempted to breathe, tried not to retch, eyes squeezed shut as beads of sweat exploded across his body, something inside of him twisting and blooming and trying to claw its way out of the fleshy prison formed by skin.
"What . . ." he gasped, panting, clutching at his throat as though it would help him breathe again. "What . . . what are you . . .?"
And Laine remembered being down on the ground with soil pressed against his mouth and nose, connecting.
Seconds later his aching body plunged beneath the surface again, stomach in his mouth and panic exploding in his mind as he was dragged away, plummeting down into the hot, ancient currents that seemed to set his nerves on fire as his fingers flexed desperately, trying to hold onto something and balance himself. But just as his panicked thoughts arrived, they began to swim away, as though his skull was no longer solid and his memories and thoughts could simply disperse through bone into the energy thrumming around him.
It was like slipping out of his own skin, losing all physical feeling, nerves and senses numbed entirely even as his heart continued to pound deafeningly in his ears. And all that was left were the emotions that echoed inside of him that were neither tangible nor incorporeal but still a part of him, anxiety and acceptance meshed by the nameless strings that held him together, and even without flesh and bones and skin this was still him – this was Laine. The feeling was the strangest thing he had ever experienced before: the weightlessness and ethereality of the moment spreading thoughts of death through his mind. Was this the end? Was this how it felt to die, to shed a body no longer needed?
He couldn't die, not yet. There was something . . . Something he had to do . . .
But then his ghostly form was suddenly bathed in a hot, pulsing wave that engulfed him completely, comforting and accepting around him, embracing as though wanting to swallow him up to keep him safe and protected. The formless warmth was all around him, brushing invisible fingers against every exposed emotion, slipping into them and planting their connecting roots, washing through his unprotected and vulnerable body and cocooning him in something that Laine suddenly realised he could curl up into and finally be at peace, like an abnormal womb, like slipping from death back into life again.
The warmth and beautiful promise of rest were beyond tempting, but there was something gnawing away inside of Laine that pushed away the temptation. One name rested in his mind and refused to be uprooted, pulsing as though alive, trickling into every part of him and awakening his drowsy senses. This was the place he had longed for, the energy that connected every life deep beneath the surface, the place of his conception and, when the time came, his death, but now desperate thoughts began to slip out of him and slowly poison his soft cocoon.
Oh . . .
No, there was no time for rest. He couldn't afford to close his mind and forget.
Smiling gently to himself, eyes closed as though he didn't need physical senses, not anymore, not here, Laine reached out. He knew somehow that it wasn't just warmth and comfort wrapped around him – beneath it burnt time and knowledge and memory that spread into infinity. All he needed to do was brush his fingers against it, to push away the sparks of heat against him and search, to open his empty heart up to the promise of fulfilment.
Tell me, he pleaded wordlessly, no longer able to understand the movement of mouth and tongue to form words when he could feel them in his head. Please tell me. Remember me; pity me. I need to know.
And then, suddenly, he knew.
In over twenty years of living an ageless life alone, Haden couldn't remember ever seeing anything so beautiful.
It was as though someone, some higher power, had ripped open his head and brought out all of his deepest desires and lovingly moulded them into living flesh for him, and it was breathtaking. If he had known years ago that all of his long and agonising waiting would have led to this most perfect of moments, he would have been more patient.
Every body and face that had been used to try and fill the hollowness inside was suddenly meaningless, disgusting almost, so far removed from the hot pain of desire and completeness that wrenched at his lungs and his stomach. More patient? Hell, he would have spent the years walking over burning coals and suffering gladly just to get a glimpse of the creature that was now so completely in his possession.
He felt the word, breathed it in: meant it down to the last scrap of humanity that was suffocating under the weight of his dark obsessions but refused to be extinguished. Mine. Such a beautiful word, so encompassing, and the pure elation that filled him was glorious, sinking right through the entirety of his being. Finally. Finally. The word and the feeling of relief and triumph and blessed, warm agony filled him completely until it felt like it could spill out of his mouth and wash over him, and he laughed at the thought like a delighted child, wanting to press their mouths together again so that Tarin could savour it too.
For so long he had been denied, had suffered those haunting blood-soaked dreams, had been forced to be content with tasting other people's bodies and longing for Tarin's. And in surrendering to his lust, seeing Tarin watching him with those ethereal eyes over their shoulders as though judging his lover's carnal sins and silently condemning them. And Haden could only angrily smother out the face beneath him even as he shuddered and filled their bodies, and Tarin drowned his mind.
But now, finally, the long wait was over.
"Raven," he breathed against soft skin, worshipping it with his mouth and fingers, completely enthralled with what he could finally touch, his lover's unconsciousness only making it all the more sensual. "Here," he murmured, pushing up the soft material of the sweater and revealing more delightful, shadow-stained skin. "Here, raven, this is where I hurt you, sweetness."
His voice barely penetrated the stillness, but Haden knew that Tarin could hear him somehow, and with slow, remorseful fingers he traced the curve of the body beneath him, over collarbone and ribs and navel and it was all so smooth, so flawless, so perfect. Haden had taken the descendant's dagger and slammed it into Tarin's neck and chest and stomach again and again, ripping skin and muscle and flesh, bruising and breaking and bloodying completely and furiously, tearing him apart dementedly and now there wasn't even one single scar to lay testament to that truth. This new body had been wiped clean, and Haden wanted only to mark it all over again with his perfect, loving scars, because Tarin was his. But there was time.
Slowly he traced patterns over the unmarked skin with his fingers, barely able to believe that it was all so new and fresh, a beautiful blank canvas for him to paint all of his overwhelming desires onto so that Tarin would understand. It felt like nothing had changed, that they were back twenty years in the past when they first knew each other, both hiding the same secret, both tainted but trying hard not to be because of the other. "I told you I'd wait," he breathed against gently parted lips, tasting him. "And I meant it. Every word."
"Get . . . off me."
Inhaling sharply, Haden murmured, "What?"
"I said . . . get off me, you sick bastard."
The shock and confusion quickly faded, and Haden's face lit up into a delighted smile. Those defiant words from the lips beneath his had been breathed quietly into Haden's own open mouth, and the realisation as he swallowed them down was intensely erotic. He wanted to claim the words again, to take them from Tarin's lips, to bite them off savagely so that perfect mouth could never say anything so vile to him again because it would be lost in the pit of Haden's rotting stomach. He wanted to, but he didn't, because now that those eyes were fluttering open he was entranced, anticipating with baited breath the otherworldly gold-rust colour he saw in his dreams. Those eyes had watched him in agony with each thrust of the knife, and each thrust into a body that wasn't his.
The mouth parted in silent denial, the body slowly stirred, and it was like watching the sunset for the first time. With each passing moment more life and radiance slowly poured into each sleep-heavy limb until eventually those eyes were blinking away the grogginess and the fingers were clutching weakly at the table beneath him, and Haden felt his racing heart leap into his throat. It was an awakening in so many senses, and the elation from before was overpowering now as Tarin's eyes and muggy brain slowly began to focus as the weight of sleep and death were shrugged away like an unneeded cocoon, leaving behind only the confusion of consciousness, and glorious recognition in those eyes.
"Oh . . . God," Brennan choked, wincing in physical pain and disgust.
Haden grinned again as though in understanding, still fighting the urge to simply bite the words from Tarin's lips, if only to feel that mouth again. Still sprawled across the living, breathing body beneath him, Haden slowly pushed himself up onto his elbows so that he could look down and take everything in with greedy eyes, the descendant's warm skin shivering beneath his touch as though it both excited and repulsed him. "Welcome back, love," he breathed softly with such awe in his voice. "My little raven."
"Don't call me that," Brennan whispered, as harshly as he could when everything was spinning dangerously before his eyes. "I'm not Tarin, you sick freak."
But it was Tarin lying there. With that mop of wild dark hair across his forehead, that loving boyish face and those gold-rust eyes he could be no one else, absolutely no one, and Tarin's fierce denial of himself only made him sound like a defiant child, and Haden laughed lightly in amusement. "Raven," he breathed again, and now his eyes were narrowed, eyelashes casting pale shadows on his cheeks, and his lips were slightly pursed in seduction, his dark beauty beckoning in its siren-like sombreness. "A fitting name for such a dark creature: ravens are the messengers of death."
"I wonder if you saw your own death, sweetness," he breathed, half to himself in a demented monologue, gently brushing his fingers across Tarin's clothed thighs. "I wonder . . . if you knew it would be me, if you knew I loved you so much I'd kill you. Did you know it and still come to me anyway, willing to sacrifice yourself, knowing I was strong enough to wrap you up like a jewel and keep you locked away inside where you'd be perfect?" He pressed a slow, open-mouthed kiss to Tarin's stomach, savouring the taste of the skin and the words in his mouth, excitement beginning to trickle into his veins. "Did you know that you were too weak back then to accept what you really wanted, that this body would be stronger than yours, that I would save you from your cursed existence?"
"No," Brennan moaned, but he felt intoxicated, his body drugged, heavy and blurry and not entirely real. He tried to move but the fingers attached to his hands didn't seem to be his really, because he could barely even bend them. His eyelids were too achingly heavy and his mouth barely formed the right words and it felt like he was dying, that he was losing control of his own body and that someone else was slipping inside with him.
He detested the thought and he tried desperately to push it away, but his limbs were so heavy and his mind was slowly detaching, and he felt his eyes stinging as he became more and more aware of the presence. It was diluting him, surging up and replacing parts of him with itself, forming a strange hybrid creature within a body that could barely even move, was useless but beautiful, especially to the greedy grey eyes above him.
"Did you know?" Haden breathed, and the unrestrained lust in his voice was undeniable. It sent a wave of pure disgust through the part of Brennan that was still Brennan, but the rest of him was suddenly flooded with a warmth that was overpowering, dizzying, that made everything inside of him tingle in pure delight and excitement, that made his heart race so fast that it was actually painful, and that realisation was all the more vile. Every new feeling was drowning him out, using pieces of him and something else to create some kind of monster in his body.
He couldn't move, he couldn't, and it was so damn frustrating and humiliating and he couldn't move, but . . . now . . . he didn't want to.
And then Haden started to unbutton Brennan's jeans and the fire that burst beneath those fingers smothered the last resisting part of him. Another discarded lover was suffocated to make way for Tarin's face, but this time that face was real, the lips soft and unresisting against Haden's ravenous mouth, the body firm as it pushed up slightly against Haden's own, no longer content to simply watch. Arms reached up to gently embrace a forbidden lover, fingers twined possessively in Haden's black hair, remembering and relishing in the feel of real flesh, real heat and engulfing pleasure that pooled at every point of contact between them and ached for blissful release.
"Did you know?" Haden breathed again, grey eyes darkened by lust. He bit savagely into Tarin's shoulder, feeling the tender flesh bruise prettily against his teeth, knowing that with his love he could make the blank canvas unbearably beautiful. Their time apart had only strengthened every feeling he had inside for Tarin, and his teeth tightened around the flesh they savagely held onto. "Did you know?" he said a third time, against marked skin, a note of desperation creeping into his voice. "Tell me you knew."
And then Brennan, Tarin, whatever the person was beneath him, aching for his touch, moving into the pain, looked up at Haden with the most innocent sincerity in his eyes.
The memories sank through his transparent skull and kissed his brain, finally blooming. Being without them, Laine had barely noticed their absence, but now that he knew again, now that every missing piece had been slotted back into place, his body was overcome with an intense and overwhelming feeling that fizzled in his blood, neither pleasure nor pain but a strange and confusing ache.
Now he knew.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this."
Laine was still wrapped up in the warm, safe cocoon of energy, but the words easily penetrated him and, despite the foreign tongue, made sense. He recognised the voice; it belonged to the beautiful whitewashed man with those burning eyes, and he instinctively tried to move towards it, searching despite his disembodied form.
"This wasn't supposed to happen, Laine."
"I know," he breathed.
"You weren't supposed to be this tainted."
"I know," he whispered again, eyes closed, surrendering to the blissful warmth that pressed all around him like a snug duvet that he didn't want to emerge from: he wasn't ready yet. "It doesn't matter. Please just . . ." He remembered, but his brain and his body were so calm, so at peace, that he was slipping away on a wave of sleep, barely able to comprehend what he was saying, finally able to rest after running for so long, and his eyes were stinging painfully in sheer relief. "Please . . . just tell me. I . . . I need to know that it's true. I can't . . . can't . . ."
And he wasn't sure if he was just imagining it, but Laine felt soft fingers gently running through his hair, and he sank further into the comforting warmth, finding it all too easy to lose himself, to embrace his lost memories and forget his new ones.
"Laine, you're one of us," was breathed gently to his drowsy form. "You were born here with us, lived here, watched over the mortals like we did, but you felt for them. When they were hurt, your heart ached. You couldn't stand to see them suffer – you wanted to help them. But we can't create life from nothing, so you . . . so you took a part of yourself and moulded it into a soul and a living body, and put him down on Earth."
"My descendant," Laine murmured. Hearing this story, remembering it, knowing that he was one of the higher beings Brennan had talked of, was so surreal. And not just any one of the beings, but Brennan's actual ancestor: the origin of his blood. It didn't seem possible.
"Yes," the voice continued softly, sadly. "You made him to help the mortals, to protect them from the dark creatures that hunted them. But . . . but you'd made him, Laine, from your own blood, your own formless flesh, and you couldn't help loving him. You watched him and ached for him and mourned every death and it was hard to see. None of us could understand what you must have felt – we weren't meant to feel, just to watch and guide, but you . . ."
He broke off as though his next words were too painful to speak, and Laine felt his heart wrenching in his chest; it was still there, still strongly beating, pumping, he wasn't fading away. And that knowledge quickly bloomed inside and sent waves of relief and adrenaline coursing through him, slowly awakening his heavy, comatose body. He was real.
"Oh God," he choked, finding it hard to speak, as though his tongue and lips were numb and every syllable was a struggle. "I didn't . . . I didn't mean to . . ." The warmth around him was comforting, but slowly he was pushing away, swimming through the contentment to try and reach the stinging pain that he knew he couldn't afford to forget because it made him alive, and it made him care.
But the story continued over his anguish, and Laine drank it all down, matching the words to the pictures and emotions in his head, unable to push back the agony that he had felt in watching his descendant grow and live and die before him. He suddenly felt so ancient and weary, no longer a barely sixteen year old boy but something that had lived through all of Brennan's lifetimes, something almost beyond his own comprehension.
"And then Tarin was born," Laine said softly, regret and pain laced in his voice.
"The same holy blood."
Same blood. It made sense, Laine realised, a strange nausea twisting his insides.
"Because you and Tarin and Brennan are all the same, aren't you?"
Haden had wanted all of them desperately, tormented by the gold-rust eyes of the descendant, in anguish from the taste of Laine's power that had exploded against his tongue. All he had wanted was to love them all and rip their bodies to pieces, reaching down past organs and bone to smother their very souls and stop the pain. Now the strange triangle of desire and uncontrollable lust and insanity began to make horrific sense: Tarin and Brennan and Laine shared the same blood. In a way, they were the same person, and each incarnation drew Haden to them like the pull of a moth to a flame, drove Haden mad with their purity. He ached for that blood: he ached for them.
"I know why you get under Haden's skin the same way Tarin did."
As though sensing his very thoughts, the voice continued. "They were destined for each other; you knew it, we all did. But Haden was weak and he sold his soul and . . . and you couldn't forgive him. Watching Tarin's murder tore you apart, and when Haden vowed to wait for the next descendant, you said that you couldn't bear to watch it again, that it would destroy you. So instead you −"
"Decided to become mortal," Laine whispered, his heart aching. "To protect him. To protect Brennan from Haden. Oh God," he choked, "I really messed up there, didn't I? I couldn't . . . couldn't even remember him and now . . ."
"It's not your fault."
"Stop it, Nuri," he cried, not even aware that he had named the vague creature. "You don't . . . you can't . . . how can you even pretend to understand how I feel? You don't even know what it means to ache for someone."
There was a short, awkward pause, and Laine realised that he was slowly slipping out of the hot current and that his body was solidifying around him, muscles and blood and bone reforming and he felt the fingers quickly slip out of his hair as though scalded. Regret immediately burst inside but he was breathless from the realisation of what he was, what he had been through, and it was hard to focus on any pain he might have caused. Past and present were mingling confusingly inside his head, as though he were two separate people, as though in learning about the higher being he used to be, he was actually being told about someone else entirely, and it was hard.
"I didn't mean −"
"No," Nuri said, shaking his head carefully, like it was fragile, or as though he wasn't entirely used to it. "Don't apologise, Laine. You're right; I can't understand how you feel. None of us can. This pain is your burden alone."
The words slammed into him and all Laine could choke was, "It hurts." But he wasn't sure if it was the pain of coming back into his own body or the knowledge of aching for Brennan that was the most hurtful. So many new truths were being piled up onto his shoulders that it seemed almost impossible that he wasn't plunging back down into the warmth from the sheer weight of them alone. "I forgot," he breathed in disbelief, something like awed disgust in his voice. "How . . . how could I do that? I wasn't supposed to forget him. I wasn't supposed to –"
"Become this tainted?" Nuri's face was coming back into focus, emotions and pulsing energy no longer bleeding into the whiteness but forming that familiar face again, and saying those familiar words again. Laine swallowed hard and looked up at him, fighting back the nausea that was raging as the guilt began to grow.
"I feel black inside. Like I'm rotting."
"This body . . . it's dying around me," Laine breathed. "I can't stand it, not anymore. It hurts."
Nuri smiled softly again, but there was something more vibrant in his eyes now that pushed away the quiet passivity for a moment. "You made the choice; you chose a life inside that body. Remember why. Tell me."
Laine knew. There was no denying that he knew, that beneath the layers of overwhelming guilt and pain and confusion that swallowed him up, his heart was constantly pounding in panic and fear at the knowledge. All he had desperately wanted was to help Brennan, but now those feelings had exploded into the most deeply rooted fears, entwined with every single atom of his being, wrapped around his nerves and his organs, no longer able to distinguish the difference between them, forming like lead in his stomach as he realised the most intense of truths.
He didn't just need to help Brennan: he loved him beyond comprehension.
Tarin and Brennan and all of the descendants; they were like beautiful silver strings wrapped tightly around his heart and they thrummed together, sending their melodies vibrating through his body, painful but beautiful. With every single passing moment he was constantly aware of them, felt them tugging at his heart as only the most beloved people can do, felt his heart physically ache with each of their deaths; they were so deeply engrained in his mind and body. The descendants were made from him, they were a part of him, he had watched each birth, each life cycle, each death with hope and a heaviness inside, doomed to watch and ache and love from afar, not even able to offer comfort, just gentle guidance. In bringing life to them he consequently brought death, and in his immortality he was doomed to suffer.
But Brennan . . . He could help Brennan. It was what his whole life had been for.
Finally. Oh God, finally.
And with that revelation, Laine finally felt at peace. He looked at up Nuri with gratitude in his eyes, pushed away the clinging tendrils that wanted to coax him back into the connecting stream, somehow able to shed off the warmth completely. He was almost painfully aware of the veiled figures watching him emotionlessly, judging him with their inhuman hearts, and he belonged with them but he couldn't be tempted back, not yet.
Nuri had guided him to Brennan, he somehow knew. They had both been guided by higher powers. "Thank you," he said.
Nuri simply smiled.
His hands were everywhere, roaming over the pale body in silent worship, preparing the canvas lovingly for the beautiful brushstrokes that would follow. Lust and desire and love were twisted up with each touch, primal instincts exploding beneath the surface and making him long for blood and pain and fulfilment, needing to swallow Tarin down and own him completely. Each gentle sound from the mouth against his own sent sparks of desire and possessiveness through his veins, pooling into his destructive fingers.
It was more than need: this moment was vital. The person beneath him was irreplaceable, haunting and exquisite and setting his very nerves on fire. It was preordained: Destiny itself had been aching for this act, waiting with patient eyes to see the mating of light and dark, life and death, the ruin of their boundaries as flesh was violently torn apart and souls connected.
Kyrie heard the sound. Standing outside of the room with his back pressed against the door, fingers clutching loosely at the wood, it sent a chill of sheer icy dread through his body. The corridor was bathed in inky, relentless darkness that spread across his skin, slipped into his head to contaminate his mind, and the scream was all the more distressing for it; an echo of his own agony that reverberated inside, tearing and twisting but wouldn't pour forth. Brennan's scream was his own.
He hated, he vehemently detested. Every violated part of him still throbbed with remembrance that wanted to see Haden ripped apart and humiliated in the worst way if only to quench the anger inside of him. He wanted Haden to suffer, to scream, to become a victim of his own sadistic lust, to know just what it felt like to be mercilessly broken, but . . .
The fingers against the door curled into his palms, fingernails cutting into his own skin in uncertainty, teeth tearing at his bottom lip as the noises continued to bombard his brain. He wanted Haden hurt but still, despite everything, despite the agony and the long days of suffering, the poisoning of his mind and body, even now . . .
He wanted Haden to want him.
Laine's eyes fluttered open slowly, aching as the darkness replaced the sheer brilliance of the light he had become accustomed to. Blinking away the dots he simply laid on the ground for a long moment, breathing shallowly, soft puffs of white dancing before his eyes, his mind unable to grasp the sheer amount of information that had been forced upon it. Memories danced across his brain like wispy figures before sinking in and becoming real.
The silence and the emptiness of the abandoned place washed over him, and Laine felt as though he hadn't been here for years; an entire lifetime seemed to have passed in his absence and now he was curled up on the ground like a newborn, still wearing Brennan's oversized coat, swamped in it like he'd been swamped in the warmth of that place. For that moment he was content to lie there and feel the coat around and against him, memories of his mortal life pouring through his mind.
He could help Brennan. It was what his whole life had been for.
Smiling, Laine clutched the dagger to his chest. He couldn't let go, not yet.
A/N: OMG, such a long, long delay. Really sorry about that, and I promise the next (possibly final) part won't take so long. More revelations to follow. Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed the last chapter!