By Cithara Jones, PERFORMED BY Michael Knight

It was not automatic, their partnership.

It most likely seemed that way, to the erstwhile mortals unfortunate to cross their path, but the two fit ill together. Luther’s need was visceral, animalistic—he lusted, hungered, pined for the lack of blood, of pain, of tearing some fragile creature and ripping until the sound of its heart could both him no more. Luther was, to Jasper’s trained eye, not to blame for his cruelties. He was only as he was made.

Jasper, by contrast, needed such things for no reason other than that without them, he felt weak. Purposeless. Human.

He laughed under his breath at his own thoughts, spearing a potato with his fork and raising it to eye level for examination, pretending not to notice Lewis watching him desperately in vain hope of a rescue.

Luther eyed them both thoughtfully as he tore strips off his lamb shank, careful flicking motions of the knife along the bone. The quiet shinking noise in the silence was beginning to irritate Jasper.

Lewis ducked his head when Jasper asked him how he liked the food. “The lamb is delicious,” he said politely. “Your cook has outdone herself.”

“I’m quite particular about my meals,” Luther agreed. “Only the best meat.”

Jasper almost cringed at the obviousness of the threat, but Lewis flinched quite gratifyingly and shrank even further in on himself. This was the unfortunate element—the pain that came before the boy’s needs could be considered, his demands met. Most of the toys he brought Luther bored him, frankly, weepy broken things that bent to his will easy as a child playing with sand on the beach.

He had never claimed, in all honesty, not to be a monster. It was enough, to his conscience, to vent his monstrosities on those who came willingly.

Jasper stretched, shoulders rolling, and set down his cutlery at a neat angle with a clink. Lewis flinched, recognizing the signal.

“I think I’ll pass on the dessert course,” he said. Stood. “You’ll keep our guest entertained, won’t you Luther?”

“Of course. Good evening.” Luther motioned for a servant to clear some space on the table, resting his elbows on it to loom forwards towards Lewis.

Jasper rolled his eyes at the theatrics and left without ceremony. They were at Luther’s home, as usual, which meant he was familiar with finding a few hours’ distraction where it was available. There was an excellent library. Even more convenient, the room was beneath the spare bedroom where Luther would be taking Lewis once he was done playing with his food.

Jasper leafed absently through a book. Even hardly paying attention, he heard them pass by, and after that could hear the screams. It might, in other circumstances, have been concerning that he had grown used to them. One loud, crashing thump jolted him from his reading, followed by Luther’s muffled yell. Jasper sighed.

It lasted hours. Perhaps Jasper had let him go too long without an appointment. Luther stepped in the library door, bloodstained cloth still hanging from his grasp. “He’s all yours.”

“Do take a wash,” Jasper said disinterestedly. “You have something on your neck.”

He brushed past Luther on the way out, up to the bedroom.

“Oh, dear,” he murmured. There weren’t proper sheets, because he had learnt better after the first few times. “I’ve warned him, you know. We really do not want you to require medical intervention.”

Lewis twisted his neck to be able to see Jasper as he inspected the wounds. The amount of blood on the sheets turned out to be misleading, scores of shallow cuts over Lewis’s back and chest. A sticky trail of semen dripping into the red lines down his thighs.

Jasper ran the washcloth over him absently, watching the little jerks and twitches as he caught each slice of ragged skin. “Keep still,” he warned.

Lewis went obediently limp and submitted to the cleanup.

“Better.” Jasper reached down and tipped his chin up to face him. “You’re going to fetch us a fresh one. Then perhaps we’ll see about setting you some power.”

Lewis dipped his head. Jasper smiled.

“But, first.” He set the cloth aside and sat down on the bed, caressing Lewis’s cheek. “You’re going to do me a personal favour.” He felt the shudder through Lewis’s skin, and smoothed a gentle thumb over his cheekbone. “Do you think you can stand?”

He shook his head.

Jasper sighed in disappointment. “Stand.”

Lewis knew better than to argue with him, or hadn’t the energy to. He climbed around Jasper to stand, naked and trembling like a newborn colt.

“Heel.” Jasper led him back to his office, or at least the smaller drawing room which he tended to occupy as an office in Luther’s house. He took his place at the desk. Lewis slipped in at the corner of his eyeline, head bowed.

Jasper watched him. He had waited long enough for Lewis to have set aside his last personal favorite. The memory had been enough to keep him warm in the cold nights, the shine of his shoes catching the light, the skitter in Lewis’s walk when he glanced down at them in passing. The shoes had quite been worn out with how much Jasper had worn them, lately. Lewis’s pink tongue slipping out to lave at them, careful, meticulous, trembling hands tucked neatly behind his back sending little shocks up his frame. Quite the pretty picture.

“On your knees.”

Lewis dropped. He thought he knew what came next, the little lamb. Laced his fingers behind his back.

“Here, boy.”

He crawled forwards without releasing his hands, had learnt from last time. Lewis came to a stop just within reach, not even shaking this time, and bowed to lap at his shoes again. Jasper watched him, curiously. His head bobbed gently as he worked.

Eventually, Jasper tired of it and jerked back his foot. “Did I ask you to do that?” he demanded.

Lewis knelt upright in a skittish bolt, face upturned. Gaze fluttered anxiously over Jasper’s face for the right answer. “No, sir?”

“Then is there a reason you’re doing so?” Jasper’s wetted shoe nudged Lewis’s thigh lightly. “Have you missed being put to work there, boy? You need only ask.”

“No, sir, I.” He stopped, flushing. “What did you want from me?”

Jasper kicked him harder, just over the bruised shape of Luther’s hand. “Kneel up.”

Lewis obeyed.

“Open your mouth, nice and wide for me.”

He could hear Lewis’s breath, now, a little, rushed and a shy panicked.

“That’s better. Now, you may come close enough to be of use.”

Lewis’s face was already level with his knees, and when he shuffled closer it meant his bare shoulders rustling against the cloth of Jasper’s breeches. Satisfied, when Lewis was close enough that his cheek rested in Jasper’s groin, he reached down to release himself.

There was fear, now, clouding over the resignation in Lewis’s dark eyes. Jasper smiled. “Do you think I’m going to fuck you?”

He wasn’t stupid enough to speak, certainly not enough to ignore Jasper. Lewis nodded.

“No,” Jasper soothed. He reached down to adjust the angle of Lewis’s jaw. “No, I have other plans. You won’t make a mess, will you?”

He couldn’t have moved his head to shake, now that Jasper had set it in place. It was easy enough to slide his cock in to rest on the very base of Lewis’s tongue. And it had been a long wait, in the library.

Unprepared, Lewis choked on the first gush of piss. Jasper sighed, disappointed, and watched as he struggled to regain control, shoulders jerking and spasming and his elbows never jerking free of his grip. Good boy.

Of course, Jasper couldn’t keep the flow up for long, but there was certainly another, different pleasure in leaving his cock resting there, watching Lewis blink too quickly and work his lips in a twitching attempt not to make any move that might draw Jasper to arousal. He let the moment stretch, staring down. Eventually, he sighed impatiently.

“Are you going to clean up?” he asked in a tone of chiding disappointment.

Lewis blinked owlishly up at him. Then, slowly, he closed his mouth around Jasper’s cock, stroking his tongue around it, swallowing and pumping his cheeks to run saliva over it from tip to shaft, cleaning slowly. Jasper let him continue until he began to harden, seeing the tremble in Lewis’s lip as he felt it too. He slipped back out of his mouth and pushed Lewis’s jaw closed with a finger. He kept it in place, holding Lewis still as he dried himself roughly on his face.

Then he tucked himself back away and stood. “Come along then. I’ll fetch you something to wear home.”

“Thank you.” Lewis stood slowly, but kept at his elbow as he walked.

Jasper patted his shoulder as he stepped back into the spare bedroom, shying nervously around the bed with its bloodied sheets. “If you’re not in any rush to leave, you are welcome to stay the night. I’ll have Luther fetch a maid to make you up a bed.”

Lewis pulled on his new clothes and hurried out without so much as a word to bid him good-night.

***

“Lewis, will you join me?”

Lewis moved to stand in automatic obedience and then hesitated, glancing back at James. The newcomer. The one that he had brought them, obediently. The meal was all but finished, James’s negotiations had run their course, leaving him trapped in confusion when Jasper stood to leave. The invitation had caught Lewis by surprise, too, jolting in his seat and tearing his gaze up from Luther’s hands.

Jasper ran his fingertips over the back of his dinner chair. “You’re welcome to remain here with Luther.”

“James,” he began, already stepping past Luther to join Jasper at the door.

“James and Luther will get along quite well without us. Those were the terms of his deal, and he will need to keep to them if he’s to gain what he came here for.” Shadows crawled, hungry, over the countertop, eagerness piqued by his words. Jasper reached an arm down to usher Lewis out into the corridor, leaving Luther to corral James. He had worked hard to bring them both fresh feeding, after all. He had earned a treat.

Jasper made his way to the library, Lewis faltering a little behind him when he didn’t turn towards the study they usually occupied together. Hovered nervously by the door while Jasper picked out a book from Luther’s collection and took his usual armchair.

He sighed, petted his thigh. “Here, Lewis.”

Lewis skittered forwards gracelessly, dropping down to his knees as soon as he was within arm’s reach, where Jasper could have stretched out and yanked him down.

“I think you’ve forgotten something,” Jasper said fondly, rubbing a palm over his head and tugging at his collar.

“I’m sorry.” He wasn’t allowed back up once he was on his knees, so Jasper sat back and watched as Lewis struggled to strip down, gaze flicking back up to him for approval. Once he was naked, Lewis fell back into his neat, pretty posture.

“That’s better. To heel.”

Lewis shuffled forwards. Jasper leaned down, bracing a hand over the back of his neck and bending him over into position, arms still braced behind him. When Lewis trembled harder, Jasper soothed over his shoulders and up to cup his cheek. “Don’t you worry, you’ll not have anything too difficult to do tonight. I can see your empty head spinning, poor lamb.”

Lewis flinched, eyes screwing shut.

“You just hold still for me, yes, boy?”

“Yes, sir.” Lewis twitched when Jasper’s boots landed heavily on his spine, but held himself up, the muscles over his stomach already taut with the effort.

“Good boy.” Jasper sat back, grinding his heels down as he settled, and propped open his book. Perhaps in future, he might have the both of them here, one on their knees and the other serving as a stand.

Footsteps rustled as Luther passed the door, a skittering weight dragging after him. Lewis twitched in fright. Jasper tutted.

They subsumed back into silence. The pages of Jasper’s book rustled softly as he read.

The first screams were angry, buried in a cacophony of crashing thumps and shouts. Jasper watched shudders and cringes crawl over Lewis’s slender frame, digging lightly in with his heels when the movement grew too much. “I said still, Lewis.”

“I’m sorry,” Lewis whispered, voice too breathy to disturb his stillness. The room upstairs fell quiet for a moment, dragging on as the rustle of pages and quiet sounds of breath.

Then James started screaming.

Lewis flinched, full-body, jerking Jasper’s legs where they rested on him and tipping him off his precarious balance.

Jasper tutted, watching as he struggled to bring himself back into equilibrium, and kicked down hard on his spine. Lewis whimpered, barely audible under the muffled screams, but pulled himself into place.

“Good boy,” Jasper murmured. He watching Lewis screw his eyes tighter shut. “It is tiring, is it not? Listening?”

“Yes, sir,” Lewis whispered.

Jasper hummed his approval. “Do you prefer sitting here with me? The screaming grows terribly dull, you know. At least you have company.”

Lewis’s head stooped.

“Aren’t you grateful? Not to be alone?”

“Thank you,” Lewis said. He seemed to settle, discomfort in every inch of his frame and muscles tense in a desperate struggle to hold position, twitching at every sound and not daring to peep out of his closed eyes. Jasper returned to his book, keeping Lewis in his sightline as the screaming grew hoarse and desperate above them. And then above them there was a heavy thump, a moment’s shocked silence, and then a louder scream ripped through the air, and Jasper felt himself dislodged again.

This time he kicked Lewis onto his side before he could stand, impatient. “Can you not keep still?”

“No, I’m sorry, no,” Lewis whispered, curling in on himself.

Jasper tutted, and then clicked his tongue as he might to call over his horse. “To heel.”

Lewis scrambled to Jasper’s feet, resting his cheek gently against the fabric of Jasper’s breeches.

Jasper set the book to one side, a hand hovering over it, leaving the other free to pet soothingly at Lewis’s cheek. “Are you frightened, little thing?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Too much of this is new to you, hm? Can’t quite keep up?” His hand was cupped over Lewis’s jaw, keeping him silent. He released him. “Tell me why you can’t handle a simple task, Lewis?”

“I’m too dim-witted to understand,” Lewis whispered, obedient. “A dumb animal.”

Jasper smiled, pleased. “Why don’t I give you something you can understand?” He cupped the back of Lewis’s head, guiding his head down to his shoes. “Get to work, little thing.”

Lewis’s tongue slipped out from between his lips to run over the toe of Jasper’s boot. He had had practise, since the first time, knew well enough to fold his tongue daintily into the folds of leather, chipped at mud on the sole with his teeth, fitted his lips down around it to suck up a rich shine.

Jasper watched, satisfied, as the muffled screams echoed around them. When Lewis finished the first shoe, he kissed Jasper’s ankle in gratitude, and waited for him to lift the other before going back to work. Lewis’s hands were gripping his elbows with a blanched-knuckled grip.

James’s screams drew to a close before Lewis was finished with his task, and Luther appeared in the doorway where he stopped to watch.

Jasper kicked Lewis back once his work was done, watched him gasp and sit upright when he caught sight of Luther. Jasper sighed.

“Tell me you haven’t done any damage people will see?”

Luther smirked. “Not unless he wants to be suspected of consorting with us. Well done, little human. You found us something quite special there. Couldn’t get enough once he’d had a taste.”

“Yes, you’ve been so very good for us.” Jasper stooped to pet Lewis in acknowledgement. “I think you deserve a reward, hm? Heel.”

Jasper fell in step with Luther as they walked back up to the spare bedroom, Lewis following behind them. James lay on his front, claw marks stark red against his tan skin. Jasper ran his fingertips over them, relishing James’s bucking squirm and vicious little snarl, unable to free himself. Despite the gore, it was clear that Luther had been fair in his trades. James yet lived, after all, his eyes lit with an immaterial flame. His gasps, when Jasper dug in his fingers, were more hungry than fearful.

Jasper joined Luther in watching from the chaise as Lewis hovered, torn between James’s side and his place at their feet. He sighed, indulgent. “Go on. I did tell you you would be rewarded.”

“Go on, darling.” Luther’s smile was sharkish and hungry. “Enjoy yourself.”

“I don’t understand,” Lewis said, shaky. Not quite willing to believe that he would be allowed to sate the hungers of the shadows nesting about them.

Jasper sighed. “You get to play, too. If you don’t want to, you could always stay here with Luther while I take your turn with James, here.”

“No, sir,” Lewis said quickly.

Luther laughed. “Just get on with it and fuck him.”

James growled, insulted.

Lewis flinched back, and then reached down to touch James’s shoulder. He hissed up at him, thrashing as far as he could in the constraints of Luther’s ropes. Lewis trailed his fingertips up to the line of cloth tied through James’s mouth, skittish, and pulled himself forwards to kneel up on the bed beside him.

“I’m almost tempted to keep that one,” Luther commented, tilted back into the crook of Jasper’s arm. “He could be quite charming as one of your little shadow-things.”

***

Lewis bent down to kiss James’s temple, trying not to hear the creature’s musings. Reached for the knot to ungag the other man and kept his head low so he could whisper in his ear. “I take it you had fun.”

The gag gave way, James’s garbled yelling giving way to a litany of threats hurled up at him, at the ghosts watching, infuriated at the perceived insult.

“Stop,” he hissed into the shell of his ear. “We’re not done. And frankly, I don’t care if you preferred the pain.”

“You disgust me,” James spat, bucking. Choked on his next words as blood spattered from his lips. “How often do you do this? Feed these monsters for your own gain?”

“And your goals, of course, are entirely pure.” Lewis found his fear fading, almost fond as he reached over to release James’s wrist, when he caught Jasper’s eye on him. Disapproval. Slowly, he adjusted so he was laying beside James, half-draped over him, arching his back and nudging a leg between James’s thighs. He was beyond bothering with humiliation at this point.

Not so James, who redoubled his struggles and screamed, wild and hoarse, in Lewis’s ear.

Lewis felt a whimper slip past his lips, and then spoke in a desperate hushed snarl. “You knew what you came here for, same as I did!”

A roar in response, but nothing like denial.

Lewis reached under James, found him erect and tacky with Luther’s sweat. The roar broke and turned to panic, frantic threats and pleas as Lewis’s hands worked, until Luther interjected from the sidelines and Lewis had to dip again, catching James’s lips with his own to silence him. Pressed on when sharp teeth sank into his lip, sharing breath more than kissing, starting to rut slowly against James’s hip. Stroked, gentle, murmured apologies each time he pulled back out of their kiss, twisted his hand again and again when he found James gasping at it, until the orgasm whipped through James’s body like a lightning shock, stiffening under Lewis and yowling into his lip.

Lewis almost wept with relief when his own orgasm came a moment afterwards, pathetic and unearned.

“Finished already?” Luther mocked. He came up beside the bed, uncaring when Lewis cringed away from him, and caught him by the back of the neck. Guided him down to James’s shoulder, voice pearled with glee. “Go on. You’re not quite done. Claim him.”

With one last whimper, Lewis sank his teeth down into the taut muscle as James struggled. Satisfied, Luther yanked him back and tossed him off the bed to the floor in an unceremonious heap, toying delightedly with the mark.

Jasper was already fetching him the washcloth. “Clean up, boy, I’m not getting you fresh clothes with that all over you.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And clean him too when you’re done.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good boy.” Jasper fetched down the fresh set of clothes from the closet and set them out on a chair. “Luther? Are you finished?”

Luther stood, examining the blood on his fingertips where he had torn the bitemark open. “Yes, yes,” he murmured, clearly distracted, but fell in step with Jasper as they left the room.

Silence fell over the small room as Lewis hurried to untie the ropes on James’s wrists and ankles, handing him the washcloth as soon as he could sit up and stretch his shaking limbs. James would not meet his eyes. The shadows grew darker about the doorframe, pooling together and merging in the blood on the floor, twisting into arcane patterns on the floor.

Neither spoke.

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