A/N: Before I go anywhere with this, I would like to point out that this is a very old work for me. I wrote it (and finished it) back when I was about seventeen or so, but have since decided that it's at least worth reworking. I do not consider it up to par with my current writing, and would rather not have my writing ability judged off of it. I'm also not really looking for criticism on it; I'm well aware that it has issues still (many...issues).
That said, I hope you do still enjoy it, and take the time to give feedback if you do. It might encourage me to give it a better make-over. :)
Chapter One | Bait and Prey
Dangling inches above the horizon, a red sun glimmered far out in the distance, an omen of life, hope, and freedom far beyond the reach of the despairing figure now watching from his prison window. Sapphire eyes, almost black in comparison to the ivory skin they stood out against, reflected the last flickering gleams of red and gold as the shimmering orb sank slowly, like an amber stone through molasses, beneath the weary edge of the horizon, the day exhaling its final breath and reluctantly giving in to the call of night.
Teige watched the tedious progression of night with trepidation. His pale, graceful fingers gripped tight on the edge of the windowsill before him, as still and unmoving as the rest of him. Oranges faded to pink, pink to lilac, and lilac to purple and then grey, the sky darkening in its listless eternal cycle and each faint star timidly falling into place of its own accord until the entire navy blanket above was merely a scattering of the glittering lights.
Only when the very last sliver of grey faded from the sky, leaving only inky blackness and silver stars, did he first feel that dreaded shred of hope that always came unbidden at this very hour. Every morning and during each minute of every waking hour he ever spent, he promised himself not to feel it, to ignore the hope and resign himself to his fate before having his every dream and prayer crushed like too-stale bread and scattered to the winds all over again. And yet, he couldn't help it. No matter how he begged and pleaded with himself, always, whenever this moment came, this brief, fleeting moment, he always hoped. Hoped with his heart and soul and prayed for any god in existence to hear him.
Then, he felt it, and once again every ounce of hope abandoned him in a single deflated breath, his heart fluttering from his chest and deserting him like the last fleeting beats of a dove's wings till it took everything in him not to collapse then and there.
"Cyprien…" The tiny whisper of a name barely did the man justice, but his tormentor never seemed to mind, possibly even took pleasure in his frail, pitiable misery. He felt more than heard the chuckle against him: the breath on his neck, the deep, barely audible rumbling across his back, reminding him of every place their bodies touched, even if not skin to skin.
"You sound so dispirited, my dove," His captor's words teased though his hair, hot and alive, "…does my appearance each night truly give you such grief?" If anything, he sounded amused, not the least bit regretful, or, heaven forbid, apologetic, and Teige pit his lip, shutting his eyes against the onslaught.
Black lashes as inky as his hair painted soft, feathery stripes against his pallid cheeks. "Do you take such pleasure in taunting me with that title?" He kept his back to the other when he said it, savoring every precious moment until the inevitable occurred.
"What title?" The vampire spoke the question so innocently, his voice quiet but fluid with a musical purity that seeped directly into Teige's being, and it took him over, imprisoning him in cages far more impenetrable than the mere physical barriers that held him in the day.
"I watch the skies every day from this window," Teige forced the words out, making himself speak them with a steady determination greater than any he felt. "I watch the birds roaming the boundless heavens on wings of all shades, feathers of all types, but I watch them with eyes trapped within this prison you've constructed for me. But still, you term me after them. You label me with pet names, calling me everything I will forever wish and hope to be…but never become…"
"A bird in a gilded cage then, perhaps?" Cyprien amended, idly thoughtful. "Not all foul fly free…and perhaps not a dove, with wings and bodies so fair and white…" Teige felt the man's fingers shifting through his hair, tracing through the seemingly endless tresses and cupping parts occasionally as if to weigh them, compare their weight to gold or silver, silk or satin. "A raven," his captor suggested eventually, "…or a nightingale. Mm…" The vampire's hum was a pleasant, pleased sound, "…yes, a nightingale, I think – with its beautiful, sad songs of sorrow and loss…beautiful and pitiful…" His large hands crushed the inky locks in a death grip, as if to punish them for some foul deed, and Teige held his breath, his eyes shutting tighter by the minute as he sent up one last fleeting prayer. "A tragic siren of the night…"
"Please…" Teige never knew exactly what he begged for by this point, his tone desperate and helpless in that last instant before the other man whipped his body around forcibly, causing a silken rustle of satin and lace as Teige's dress twisted with the movement, clinging for a moment about his otherwise bare legs before falling down straight again like drapery from his waist to the floor.
With hair that hung nearly to his knees, thick, long lashes, and ghostly pale, petite features, he looked enough like a woman as it was, but with Cyprien's choice of clothing (the only wardrobe he provided to him), none but himself and the dark vampire would ever guess his sex unless he lay completely nude before the prospective audience. Today, the fine fabrics matched the navy shade of night so closely, it looked nearly indistinguishable from black in the darkness, and against his already fair skin, he looked as colorless as the vampire himself save for his two, brightly burning, apple red cheeks.
When Cyprien's gentle, but deceivingly powerful fingers brushed away the hair from the vulnerable expanse of his neck, Teige's eyes fluttered, and he felt his blood and pulse race anew. As the vampire's immortal grip crushed his frailer body close, Teige could only cling helplessly. Then, he heard the telltale hiss of warning and tensed in preparation as impossibly soft lips brushed his neck seconds before the ancient's fangs dug deep.
Only when Cyprien wished it did he feel pain, for the immortal could easily make the puncture without a brush of feeling, but on this night he felt it: scorching fire riddled with an aching need that spread through his blood like poison, polluting his mind and body with an erotic toxin he couldn't escape, the stinging hurt and ardent craving entwining so tightly he knew not one from the other. His fingers clutched for the other's support as his body arched up of its own free will, and a soft moan tumbled forth from his parted lips before he could stop it.
Finally, after an amount of time he couldn't begin to judge, the vampire's kiss sealed his wound, though not before letting several crimson droplets escape in a beaded trail down his neck. Instantly, he knew the immortal had taken greedily, his legs trembling merely from the effort to stand. His eyelids felt leaden with a far greater burden than he could lift, and his grip felt meek and useless. In a matter of seconds, his legs gave out from under him, and he fell in a bundle of satin and lace into his prison warden's waiting arms.
Cyprien lifted his pliant body effortlessly, the fine fabric almost more of a burden than his own body weight, and he moved smoothly from the moonlit window into the darkened shadows, stepping up with inhuman grace to the side of the only bed in the room. In the immortal's arms, Teige vaguely registered the brush of a tongue, smooth and heated as it rid the previously stained area of his neck of the last beaded droplets present.
Everything felt foggy and dim, like a dream, and he barely noticed as the larger man laid him gently out on the bed, didn't feel the mattress sink under the vampire's weight as he came atop him, and didn't even feel an ounce of the usual panic that often took him over at this point.
"Cyprien…" His voice came out dreamy, almost inaudible, and so faint that he barely heard it himself. Above him, the vampire's kiss brushed impossibly tender across his forehead, and gentle words pressed soothingly in his ear.
"You will not fight tonight, my nightingale…do you understand?"
Teige felt the laces at the front of his dress begin to loosen, but the effort of nodding alone seemed to drain more energy than he had to spare, so he made no attempt to delay the movement.
"I plan for a powerful kill this night…do you know your fair voice has lured yet another white knight to your rescue?" Even in his dim state, Teige recognized the cruel glint of humor and malice in the vampire's tone, possibly even possessiveness, the kind that only came about when he spoke of another man come to steal his fair 'damsel'. "Strange, the things mortal men do for the sake of a 'maiden' in plight…"
"Davinoff…" Teige whispered the name, speaking it loosely, like reminiscing on a memory.
Teige's heart sank. Davinoff had lasted so long. Some days he had almost hoped…
But no. He couldn't hope things like that, shouldn't hope things like that. What right did he have to lead so many men to their deaths, weave tales into the passerby's mind of a helpless princess in a tower and only to eventually feed Cyprien's endless hunger? In truth, he knew he was the bait, the cruel immortal's way of tempting in fresh blood, but he couldn't help but pray, pray that someday, one of the men would be able to slay his captor, have the strength to finally defeat his ageless tormentor.
"He was no different than the others, my sweet, you should not waste your sorrow on him…" A rush of breath flew into his lungs as the tightly constraining corset on his chest came open, but Teige only used the air to sob, the sound meek and destitute as he tried to muffle it with his fist.
"I…hate you…" Crystalline droplets gathered on the feathery fringe of his black lashes despite his will to hold them back, and a shudder ran through him as the immortal's lips brushed over the area, taking the salty dampness into his possession. Even his tears, Cyprien didn't permit him to keep for his own; like his body and his will and his freedom, everything that he might consider his belonged to Cyprien.
"You will come to love me, Teige…" A sharply drawn breath answered him as he spoke against the shell of the smaller man's ear, his words deep and resonating, imposing his will on his captive. "You need only to accept me…"
"Never." Teige tried to hiss it, meant to hiss it, but only managed to sound desperate and lost as he lay helplessly beneath the vampire, too weakened to withdraw from Cyprien's unrelenting hands as they revealed progressively more of his milky pale skin against his will.
"Why do you fear me so? Have I ever given cause for this misplaced terror?" Delicate lace brushed against his skin as Cyprien's hand lowered, slowly raising the thick mass of skirts and leaving his body to tremble in their wake.
"I'm not afraid of you," he lied, forcing the words through grit teeth, trying not to think of either Cyprien or Davinoff – of how much he hated both of them for not releasing him from his prison, how much he hated himself for letting the latter die as he did.
"Then why does your body shake as it does?" The vampire's hand paused at his thigh, holding the dark fabrics high enough to reveal a single long ivory leg, smooth and petite as a woman's, but just low enough so as not to show anything else. At the exact moment that his hand slid under with the intent to expose the other completely, a loud thudding from far down at the tower's base interrupted him, and he froze mid-move.
For three tantalizing seconds, Teige's heart slammed in his chest, his breath held, lips between his teeth, and eyes tight shut. When the crashing thud came again, this time louder and followed by some indistinguishable shout, muffled by the night's winds, Cyprien's head spun to hiss at the door, his gleaming white fangs bared, and clearly visible in the moonlight before he angrily swept off the bed and onto the floor.
Opening his eyes, Teige stared in disbelief, hardly able to believe his fortune as he watched the enraged vampire from his position on the bed. After a moment, Cyprien turned to him, his usually ebony eyes glowing with a feral, reddish gleam in the night, and his voice coming out in a dark, resonating hiss, like one might expect a snake to sound like if such creatures could speak.
"You will not move…or I promise, you will never again glimpse the light of day." And with that, he disappeared in a flurry of movement that even Teige's eyes, accustomed to seeing him move, failed to pick out.
For two full minutes, Teige lay in the darkness, alone, his chest still heaving from the past encounter as he counted seconds in his head. Then, pulling together the top of his dress and halfway-unlaced corset, he slid from the bed to floor in a rustle of satin and lace, his long skirt train dragging on the floor as he made it to the window. Leaning against the wall for support mid-way, his body still feeble from recent blood loss, he began working together the intricate laces by habit, hardly having to look after having completed the procedure so many times.
Finally, once satisfied with his state of dress, he moved to the windowsill, leaning out and squinting slightly in the darkness in an effort to make out the events taking place below. Then, he saw him, and his heart somersaulted; Cyprien had lied.
With long, shoulder-length fiery red hair visible even from this distance, whipping about his face in the night, a gladiator's body, at least twice the size of the vampire's, and the magnificent black steed of whose caliber was only sung of in the great songs of old, Davinoff was every bit as alive as ever.
A/N: The bad news is, the writing style is out of date for me; the GOOD news is...this is finished, and if you enjoy it, you don't have to worry at all about it being left unfinished because I lost interest or having to wait three months for an update or some other such nonesense. In order to avoid spamming my readers, though, I will probably update this around once a week or maybe once every other week, depending on how I feel (and what kind of readership this gathers).
P.S. Teige won't always be this much of a crybaby, I promise. If he was an absolute wuss I would have given up on the story and never touched it again. =)