Playing Dead part 13
I'm famished. Always after sex. It's one habit I've yet to break, having given up smoking and drinking for her… my childmother. Again memories burn in my mind, ones I wish would fade…
"I hate cigarettes and scotch on you, Ripper. Makes you smell like an ashtray and taste like a drunk." Her fingers curl my chest hair. "I prefer you sweeter, all pure and faithful like." Her tongue licks the droplets from my skin as her hand molds my cock into that form she demands. Not long after, I begin to want it, to need it even. I perverted to her service, fanning lonely passions and flaming my own twisted need for escape. There was not a crumb of the girl I remembered from before but a whole new monster shaping me to her likeness and I loved her for it.
Bloody hell, I need a drink.
Situations change with the times and now, I feel like retracting my swearing off of past addictions. Besides, it's different now. I'm with him, succumbing to one bad habit. Why not give in to the others? That's what Ethan is, after all, a habit. Not in the sexual sense, that much is new. The companionship, now that is as much a crutch as any drug. He's intoxicating. The very thought of him makes my cock twitch. I want to know what it is to fuck him, make him beg as she did me. I wonder if I should feel shame in that or in the stroke of my hand along my firming flesh in recognition of it.
One appetite satisfied only leads to another and I'm in search of food. My pace is a leisurely one. There's no need for a hunt tonight. I know I haven't far to go to find what I crave for. The halls are deathly quiet. My men lie sprawled out where they fell, sleeping away their drunken festivities and leaving me a calm gangway to wander. I hear the static of the radio clipped to my belt loop and it makes my mind stray from my hunger.
She sounded strong, Buffy did, determined as ever and not easily swayed otherwise. Such heart and soul, I am strangely proud. I don't want them here. I don't want her here, though I thought I did. I know I did. When exactly did that change? I was prepared for her, eager to face her, to taste her before but now it's changed somehow though I know not why. It adds to my restlessness. Something's crawling beneath my skin, familiar but beyond understanding. It makes my gut churn so I'll drown it with the rich wine of death.
There they are, naked and trembling like newborn rats in a laboratory pen. Only ten left, some table scraps barely grasping to life. My boys and their guests dined well last night. I smell the fear and it sets me hard, eager for blood and the screams that are given so easily with it. I tease the padlock with a finger to make it jingle. It's a warning for the cattle to stir and panic in honor of my presence. They reward me with fretful mutterings as I unlock the cage and swing open the gate. The beaten soldiers scurry to all corners, cowering in shadows in dread of the ugly fate they know has come for them. They've been broken well. Cuts, burns, fractures, disconnections, limbs bent to new angles and skin marked to rainbows of colors. I lick my lips, taking my time in choosing.
"Tell me you love me."
I select one with warm chocolate skin and bare shaven head, plump lips pleading for his freedom. The hunger grows feverish as the beast rises.
"You know I do."
He's already pleading, persuading me to take his comrades in his place. It's not cowardice, its survival. I know it well.
"Not like that, Ripper, so disconnected and thoughtless. Declare it to me, to the world like you would a pledge."
I reach down and grip the pretty youth by the neck. He writhes to escape and my hands clamp firmer, fingers curling deeper to separate the straining muscles as he gasps and cries. I lift him easily to his feet and beyond, leaving him dangling uselessly. He claws furiously at my forearm as he begins to choke.
"I love you… my light, my dusk, my only Dawn."
I thrust him against the metal frame, pinning him as the others gasp their unspoken ‘better him than me'. I lean in to examine my prey with the curiosity of a surgeon, wondering which parts to feast on, which parts to play with and which to serve up as a hearty meal for my lovely sorcerer sleeping contentedly across the mall.
"You'll have her soon, you know. We're all meant to be together, Rupert. One happy family." She descends, sheathing me and I groan with the misery of the pleasure. The shackles go taut on my wrists, slicing me to bleed. "And I know Buffy will come to love the way you squirm, the way you taste, the way you feel inside her."
The beast surfaces and I snarl at the soldier who's whimpering delightfully between his sobs. I claw along his already brutalized chest and down to the mote of hairs surrounding his erect cock. They always die as I did. I demand it of them.
"As you wish." My will bleeds away as her wicked flesh chokes my insubordinate cock. I would promise her the stars for another mindless nightmare fuck, defiling and deforming me to her perfect beast.
My lips press to his neck as my fangs scrape along the drumming pulse.
"Take all that I am and more. Take it all…"
"Please," he prays softly and I am moved to pause.
"Say it again," I snarl to his ear.
"Please, I'll do anything, just let me live."
I take in his scent with a deep whiff. Piss, sweat, blood and other exciting, humanly juices incite my hunger. It's all right there, waiting for me, inviting me with the rhythm of terror. Yet I can't act.
"Please… please… please…" he starts to repeat, chanting as if worshipping his hope to survive.
Suddenly, I am possessed. My hand loosens and falls to my side as the soldier slumps to his knees, sobbing gratefully for his seconds of reprieve. I hear the beast chastising me, ‘He's ripe. Take him. Have them all. Make them suffer as you suffered as she suffered as you will make them all…'
"Go," I whisper and he looks up with tearful confusion, hesitating. "I won't offer again."
The soldier forces himself to his feet and gestures to the other men, watching me with disbelief. I back away a few steps, giving them space to pass as I restrain the beast. I watch the wounded help the severely injured escape their death row prison, all the while wearing my human mask.
My intended meal, the beautiful dark soldier, looks back as the last of his men makes their way clear of the mall. He mouths a silent, "Thank you." Shame surfaces as he disappears, taking with him all the rations my army had stockpiled.
My fists are clenched so tightly I feel my nails piercing my palm. "What's happening to me?"
I'm more relieved then I care to admit when Rupert strolls in at day break. Then again, there really is no day here anymore, only extended night. Even so, I still find myself holding onto the concept, needing a reference for the passing time alone. Too many minutes have slipped by without reason for Rupert's absence and now I feel the need for answers. I quickly steal a peek at him as he makes his way through the aisles toward the bed.
"Where've you been?" I ask, sounding much more like a nagging wife than a bloodthirsty creature of the night.
"Thinking," he mumbles, dragging his feet along as he moves.
"That's more of a what then a where." I sit up to get a better look at him. He looks dreadful, face long and damp but there's no evidence of rain and his clothes look dry. If I didn't know better, I would say it was tears. Is that even possible? "Are you okay?"
"Far from it." Confusion breaks his voice, but the sadness gives me a sinking feeling besides that of his weight bearing down on the edge of the mattress.
"Is this regret I'm seeing?" More than just a small part of me dreads the answer but he only offers a lost look, eyes heavy and drawn. I've seen these eyes before; followed by a turned back and an exit that I tried so hard to hate him for.
"Why the sadness, Ripper?"
"It's grief, Ethan… for a loss."
"Who did you lose?"
"Then your luck is improving. I think I've just found you." The humor dies with his insistently somber expression. "What's happened, then? Out with it."
"When we cast together, was it you alone who conducted the magicks?"
"Poor Rupert, feeling a little useless in the face of…"
He sobers me silent with a grave look. "Spare me your jokes, Ethan. I need the truth. Did I ever hold any power or did you simply tap into my natural energies."
"What do you think drew me to you in the first place? By no means as abundant as my own but you had promise, a raw and vibrant power. But there was the little matter of your pesky principles and unshakable duty and I realized I'd found what I was looking for in the unwilling vessel of a Watcher-in-training. Still, I tried to encourage you towards chaos but rather than nurture your natural talents, you denied them for your bloody calling. Had you stayed with me, we could have ruled the world, Ripper."
"But I don't want to rule the world, Ethan. I only want to share a measly speck of it."
"And you've taken it." My hand massages along his broad back, hoping to persuade him into joining me. I know I can get his mind off whatever's troubling him. "The city is yours."
"I don't want it."
"What do you mean you don't want it?"
He stares at the floor and wallows within his thoughts. "I'm sorry."
That takes me by surprise. "For what?"
"For killing you. For killing that girl the night you fed for the first time. For ripping the flesh of virtuously blinded soldiers who never have a chance. For murdering an inexperienced Slayer and wounding an old friend in doing it. For being what I've become and what I've made of you. Ethan, I couldn't be more sorry."
I push off the bed, stumbling clumsily as it finally comes to me. "Chaos! It's gotten into you."
"You said it yourself, always had it. Just took you to awaken it within me."
"No!" I shake my head, cursing myself for ever having touched him. "Maybe it'll pass. Maybe it's like a cold and you'll get over it?"
"It's returning, Ethan. I can feel the remorse creeping inside like… like some vile infection. I don't know whether to welcome it or refuse it." For the first time since our youths, I see fear in his eyes. "They won't rest. Ethan… the faces of the many I've… Their blood stains… they won't… my lord, what have I done?" his mumblings trail off as my mind races.
"For fucks sake, Rupert, what do we do now? I'm a eunuch of a vampire, barely manage a nibble on your ear let alone feed a proper portion."
"Don't be sorry, you git!" I yell, furious with him, with me, with chaos, with karma. Serves me right, I suppose. I should have known that it could come to this. I struggle to collect my tempter and shrug helplessly. "So what now?"
He runs his fingers through his hair and shakes his head as I await an answer I see he doesn't have for me. Without warning, he leaps to his feet and looks determinedly out the nearest window to the darkened sky.
"We have to end this."
I don't like the sound of that. "End what?"
"They must be stopped."
"Come now, let's not be too hasty."
"We haven't much time." He rubs his chin, contemplating a plan.
"Maybe they won't notice anything different, Ripper."
"Their numbers are growing. More will come."
"We can lay back a bit, take the less proactive role in the goings-on. Let your undead loyalists handle the dirty deeds while we reap the benefits."
"They have weapons stockpiles and a network of informants spreading north."
"Or perhaps we should just go? Leave them to their…"
He whips around, startling me quiet.
"Ethan, I can't." He's still apologizing but now I see that stubborn duty… that miserable wretch of a Watcher and I suddenly feel both betrayed and oddly relieved. I am not so alone in my pitiful compassion now but it seems more a curse than a blessing. "I did this. I must undo it."
"Why?" I plead, gripping his shoulder and trying to shake some sense into him. "Look around you, Rupert. You're a bloody king here. You'll be sacrificing all this, and for what? You're still a vampire, a monster."
"Yes, I am. But I don't have to act like one." His hand cups my cheek as his thumb drifts tenderly along my lips. "And neither do you."
It takes only a second for me to fall prey to his charm and I nestle invitingly into his hand, blanketing it with my own. "Sod it, Ripper. Where do we begin?"
I take up my pants and slip them on.
"We bring back the…"
"Fucking traitor! I trusted you!" A familiar voice growls before the faces shape from the shadows. Jacobs steps forward with ten plus heavily armed men. "I would have followed you to the ends of the earth and beyond but it wasn't enough, was it?"
In a blink of an eye, Rupert goes from man to beast, rushing to attack. Rifle fire shatters the air and Rupert's riddled with bullets discharging from three of his loyal soldier's weapons. I begin an enchantment with frenzied words only to find myself flanked by five men. All have eager trigger fingers, their rifles aimed at point blank range warning me to remain still and silent. The eruption of gunfire ceases and Rupert collapses to his knees. His blood slops to the floor. I lunge towards him only to have rifles impede my advance. Jacobs shakes his head disapprovingly and struts toward his wounded commander. Rupert growls and glances over at me, eyes blazing yellow.
"You don't deserve to wear that face. I think I'll peel it off." The young man threatens. "You're barely a vampire now, contaminated by magicks and your… your pathetic feelings for that… that freak!" If Jacobs' pointed hand were a pistol, I'd feel the bullet ripping through my heart with the accusation.
Jacobs orders two of the men with a gesture and they heave Rupert upright by his arms, holding him trapped between them, bleeding and hurting. The young soldier grasps a fistful of Rupert's hair and forces back his head, daring him to look him in the eye.
"This nation you founded, it will survive with or without you." He slips a stake from his belt and tears Rupert's sodden shirt open, reveling a smattering of pulpy wounds. "I'd say you've made the choice a rather easy one. Without you, it is."
"Ethan, go!" Rupert coughs, silenced by the butt of a rifle to his gut. I stare wide-eyed as the stake slowly sinks in to pierce his skin. "Now!" He roars and the magicks snap and congeal around me. I hear the thunder of gunfire and feel the searing metal burst through my chest. Then I'm gone in fates brilliant light.