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Review This Story || Author: Veronica Leigh Marquette

Beginnings - Dark Love 1

Chapter 16


Torin almost flew from David's arms as Azrael, naked and still glowing appeared before him. "Ssshh, Tori, it will be all right." He gathered the boy to him, hushing his cries of pain. "I will end this, I will see you through."

"Here." He pulled his dark blond hair from his throat. "Now-please, Master--Gods, do it."

Azrael led him to the bed in the corner, turning away from everyone. "No, little one, one day, when you are ready, I will make you my Fledgling. But not now, not like this." The boy's pain was heart breaking, poor child. "Relax, precious. I will see your pain put to an end. Never again will you feel this,

I promise."

He screamed as the pain broke from him, Azrael holding him down, hands gentle as they gave him the end that he had begun to believe would never be his. The waves of it shook his body, as they rolled through him in a long, powerfully intense tide.

"Ssshh, I know." There was nothing Azrael could do to lessen this. It was more than just a physical need. Power flowed from his pet as well. The child had indeed been in dire straits, but slowly, and with a gentleness that he was not aware he had, he helped to ground the mage, and set his loyalties for life.

Every nerve in Torin's body ached as he lay with Azrael. It felt like he had been working in circle for days. Now as he lay, quiet and grounded again, he realized where the problem had stemmed. When he had merged his power with his master's, he had taken a charge. The greatest charge he had ever been faced with. He was surprised he wasn't shocky or his channels burned because of it. "I don't understand." He looked up at Azrael, absolute trust in his eyes. "If I had that kind of charge, sex is a grounding, why couldn't--"

"Because neither Vincent nor Cain are magi, Tori. How could they tap and direct the power? They have no concept of what it is. Had you been farther along in your training, you would have been able to direct it yourself, but there was too much." The boy felt good beside him. Soon he would make love to his little mageling. Hear him cry with pleasure, not pain. "I will make certain from here on that you never walk away from me with more than you can handle again."

Torin reached up, capturing Azrael's face between his hands, mouth open as it covered his. The desire was still there, power too, but this time it would be a blending and grounding, one of pleasure and of joy. He chuckled as Torin's tongue played with his fangs, and his hand found his hair. For now, to the boy, he was not just a man, but his master, his teacher, the one who held his life, and he was paying homage to that power.

Torin felt the hardness against his hip as he moved closer, pressing against Azrael. His master had told the truth. He would learn great things from him, and in return he would give him anything that he desired. And for the moment, he knew his master desired this. The hunger in his kisses told him this, the hands on his body and the hardness that pressed urgently against, him spoke of its truth. His life was safe, his mind his own, and the promise of power was being realized. So he returned each kiss, moaned under the fingers that heated his skin, and gave, himself, over freely. Never would his master doubt his devotion.

The feel of Torin's teeth on his throat was erotically stimulating. It was as if the boy realized that strength was welcomed here. The pressure that Azrael found so pleasing would have drawn blood and pain from a mortal. There would be no shyness from him, no timid advances. He had given himself to this and would see it through. But for all the strength and abandon of Torin's play, Azrael's touch was gentle. Later would be time for testing limits. For now, the boy had suffered enough for one night. Let him feel only pleasure.

"Oh, damn." Torin's body shuddered as Azrael pinned him to the bed, taking his time to return the advances. "Christ, that feels good."

Azrael's soft chuckle blew air against the side of his face, as his mouth left a trail of small passion marks along the line of his throat. "I will take that comment as assurance that I am not going too fast for you."

"Fast?" He focused on Azrael's words, which was by no means easy. "No, not at all." His breath caught in his throat as the mouth that had felt so good on his neck began to move downward, over his chest. "Please." His voice desperate as a cool, wet tongue stabbed at a nipple, sending tiny pulses of electrical pleasure through his body, before the mouth that teased closed over the nipple and bit and sucked with careless passion.

The boy was so physical, so unbelievably responsive. Azrael promised himself, as he continued down his young lover's body, that he would see this natural responsiveness nourished and trained. This boy was to be his next Childe, both him and Morgan, and as such would need to be thoroughly versed in all the delights he reveled in.

Pleasure, mind-numbing pleasure, shot through Torin's loins as his master's skillful mouth and tongue began to tease him. And like earlier, it was heaven, but unlike the first, there was no fear this time, no withholding of release. His voice announced to all the room his ecstasy as his orgasm blazed through his balls and out the head of his member in a painful explosion.

He could taste himself, his semen, on Azrael's lips and tongue as his master moved up to kiss him. "Are you ready for me, pet?"

There was no shyness, no hint of reservation in his response as he lay there, his fingers tracing the outline of Azrael's mouth. "Yes."

Azrael turned his head slightly, catching one of Torin's fingers between his lips, drawing it completely into his mouth as his hips pressed down, grinding against Torin's pelvis. "Close your eyes and rest for a moment. I must go. There is something I need for you. Relax," he laughed, as Torin threw his arms around him, holding tightly. "It will only take a moment." He bent and kissed him deeply, before pulling away.

"Okay, boss, I'll be here." He lay watching him move away. 'I'm going all the way with this. He'll come back, and there will be no stopping it' , he thought to himself, pleased to find that the thought of his new master taking him like this did not frighten him. If anything, he was happy to do something that would please him. And yes, it probably would hurt a little, but he would live with it. After all, guys do this all the time, so he knew it wouldn't hurt too many times. Hell, if the last hour, was any indication, he'd probably learn to love it.

He watched as Azrael stopped to speak softly with David, smiling down at Joseph who lay curled up in his lap. There was a weird form of peace here, and it all centered on this man. Azrael ruled his house well, and all within in it were at peace.

Joseph rose and came towards him as Azrael left the room. "Feel better now?" He threw himself on the bed beside Torin. "Azrael asked if I'd like to join the two of you. I still owe you the finish of what we started earlier."

Kat was right, Torin thought to himself as he welcomed Joseph into his arms and returned his kisses. 'All humans are inherently bisexual' . Had someone told him this morning how his day would end, he would have thought them nuts. Him, even a 'little' gay, but maybe he should have listened to his old teacher more when she tried to explain that sexuality and magic were not only compatible, but that the gender of your working partner meant little to nothing.

"I see you wasted no time." Azrael returned, sitting on the edge of the bed, watching the two, play.

"Did you get what you went after?" Torin moved, pulling Joseph with him, making room for his master.

"Yes." He laid a small brown jar and a wet cloth on the table beside the bed. "Do you need more time, pet? I would greatly love to have you under me, but if you need more time, I will be patient."

Torin shook his head, pulling away from Joseph to reach for Azrael. "I'm ready."

"Then look at me. Let me command your mind on this alone. I'd rather you feel pleasure than pain."

Torin almost refused him. He'd like to think he was man enough to face it. But he didn't. That kind of thinking was stupid. If Azrael could keep it from hurting, then why suffer? He was quite certain that there would be pain enough in his lessons to suffice. He lifted his eyes to Azrael's, letting his master see the trust there.

*There will be no pain. As long as it is for pleasure, that is all you will feel. I promise you. The slight discomfort you may still experience will be easily washed away by the joy. *

"I believe you," his voice soft as he felt himself being pulled back into the security of his master's arms. The force that weighed on his mind was gentle, but he knew that his master could never force his mind or him without him knowing it. "I trust you."

Joseph joined Azrael in making love to Torin, pressing against the younger man's body as Azrael turned him. "Kid," Joseph bit at his neck playfully before capturing his lips, "you are going to love this."

Torin allowed Azrael to manipulate his body into the position that his master desired. Feeling the press of Azrael's chest as he leaned back on his knees, Joseph being ever so helpful in holding him there, his mouth beginning to blaze a shockingly cool, immensely pleasurable trail down his body.

Azrael reached for the little brown jar. "I'm going to touch you now, Tori. Relax, lover, I will be gentle." His hands parted the trembling virgin cheeks. "Deep breath--"a single cream-slick finger rub slowly against Torin's virgin bud. Slowly soothing away the tension. Before the finger began the easy and slow entry, past the tightness of his muscle. "Relax Tori, it's only my finger. I have done this many times, you are safe," he whispered softly, as his hand began to move slowly. "You have impressed Vincent. He asked about you." He felt Torin shudder as he teased him, allowing him to get used to something inside him.

"Yeah, he's a nice guy." He was so tense. Between the feelings that Joseph was giving him as he blew him and the new, strangely pleasant feeling of Azrael's finger as it thrust inward, he had, trouble remembering to breathe.

"Yes," a second finger joined the first. "Relax, Tori," his voice soft in his pet's ear, breath heating his skin as Tori moaned. "I had to explain to Cain why he failed with you." The slow gently thrusts of Azrael's fingers began to take an ever darker sweet pleasure as his fingers began to stroke the sensitive gland within Torin's body. "Poor boy thought he had done something to cause you pain. Is it painful, Tori, are you ready for me now?"

"He--it--" thinking, was becoming hard. This felt so good, and as Joseph moved to take all of him deep into the tight, wet, cave of his mouth he cried out, hips thrusting up. "Damn--yeah, now-- I need . . ."

Azrael quickly pulled away to coat his own hard maleness with cream. "Relax, love, let me make love to you, now. It is time that I make you completely mine. Surrender to me my beautiful angel, join me in this." He could feel Torin tense just a little as he parted his cheeks, pressing forward slowly. "Deep breath, Tori, relax, you must relax." He thrust deep, breaching the virginal barrier with one quick motion.

Torin cried out, caught between the glorious feelings Joseph was giving him and the strange, darker pleasures that filled him as he felt his master enter him. "Jesus!" He sobbed, amazed at the combined feelings.

Azrael laughed. "Is a god of celibacy. Why on earth are you calling Him, now?" He pulled back slowly, before thrusting again, filling Torin. "You are so tight. I am going to lose myself in you."

Torin cried with each thrust. It was the closest thing to a religious experience that he had ever had, as each slow thrust stoked his prostate and he loved it. The slight burning that had been present at first quickly faded under the pressure of the erotic sensations that brought him crashing down into one orgasm after the other, hips rocking back and forth between Joseph's greedy mouth and Azrael's hardness. His life was complete now. He was sealed to his master, wed to him in a strange rite of passage. His voice rose once more, blending with Azrael's as again he reached the final pinnacle.

Azrael listened to Torin's cries become a little incoherent as he began to feed the passion between them, adding power to the long thrusts that rocked Torin's body with their force. "Lean forward." Breath ragged, he needed to release himself into this boy. "Take Cain into you, share the pleasure he has


'Yes' . He blindly, instinctively, leaned forward, feeling the body under his, touching Joseph's stiff rod before lowering his mouth. Nothing other than the man behind and the man beneath mattered now. This for the moment was his world. And as Azrael's thrusts forced his hips down, and his organ deeper into the willing mouth that suckled it, he gladly imitated it.

Afterwards he lay between the two vampires, sated but confused. "Ah, my fine Mageling, that was sweet." Azrael slowly withdrew, pulling Torin up so that Joseph could rise to join them. "Was it as I promised?" He couldn't stop touching the boy. Even after such a glorious fulfillment, he still hungered. "I fear I have become enamored with you."

Words were impossible as Azrael lay him back, his mouth and hand roaming his body, drawing out whimpered moans, proving to Torin with actions that the night was far from over. The things he would do to this boy, the pleasures he would grace him with. "Rest for a moment." His mouth; brutally, demanding, for the first time. "Cain, go return to your master, there will be time for the two of you to play later." He moved to pull away, but the hand on his arm refused to release him. "Pet?"

"Don't go yet, just a minute more." His dark gray eyes so full of confusion, his emotions jumbled.

"Ssshh," Azrael whispered, fingers curling around his chin. "Child, I'm not going anywhere, and neither are you. You are mine, and you will be mine until the day you die."

"Take me." Torin tried to turn his head. "Now, please."

Azrael looked at him, holding his head in place. He could, he could take the boy right now, and gladly. What a fine Fledgling he would be. But no, it was too soon. The boy was merely stunned by the power. He would grow to regret any hasty action. "No, Torin, not now. One day I promise. You will be mine, I will grant you that final step, the gift. But you must wait for that day."

"Why?" What was wrong? He knew Azrael wanted to. Why wouldn't he do it? What was holding him back?

"It is too soon."

"But, why?" Again he tried to turn his head, but Azrael's fingers held him still. "Haven't I proven I'll keep faith? What's wrong, what am I doing that I shouldn't? Or am I not doing something I should?" He looked at Azrael, eyes pleading. "Why not now?"

Azrael pulled away, standing over him. "You have done nothing wrong. Your offer is sweet. But I say no. And I will not be questioned." Then his voice softened. "You have only just come to me, Tori. Give it time. The Vampyr are careful in our breeding. It is how we have lived so long. Too many times have Fledglings been made in the heat of the moment, and all too often they regret it, becoming bitter, pained souls, looking for peace and finding it not." He reached for the cloth on the table, cleaning the traces of their lovemaking from himself. "Live your life, enjoy what is left of mortality for you. It would not matter if I gave it to you now, or in a hundred years. If you truly wish it, it will be yours." He lifted a finger to touch Torin's lips, silencing protest. "Think about what I have said little one, and mention it to me no more this night."

Torin bowed his head. "Yes, Master." He would have his wish. One day, Azrael would make him like he was. He would have to be content to wait for that day. Well, waiting was half a mage's life. He should be used to it by now.

Azrael tossed the cloth on the table and reached for him. "Come, let us join the rest. The night is still very young, and I would enjoy watching the others as they play."0

* * *

"There he is, Billy, ask him yourself." David pointed to Azrael as he and Torin approached them. "Master, my pet wishes a word with you if you will hear him."

"Do not be silly, of course he can speak to me. They all can." He turned to Torin. "Sit down, pet, I will be with you in a moment."

Billy watched as the Elder vampire took his seat. "Master?" His dark eyes were shy.

"Come here, pet. Do not be afraid, I world never hurt you." He held out a hand, gently pulling the boy into his lap. "What is it, sweetheart?"

"Davy say's you're why everything is so nice now. That you took us in and made all the bad stuff go away." The look in the boy's eyes was pure worship. "You even made Mark be nice."

"Yes, I took your master under my wing. And yes, Mark is one of you now."

"Thank you." He bit his lower lip. "I--nobody is sad anymore, nobody cries. He says no one will ever hurt us, that I'll never have to be afraid again."

Azrael pulled the boy against him, arms wrapping protectively around him. "That is correct. If anyone ever hurts you, and Vincent is unable to make them pay for their crime, I will. You are under my protection, because your master belongs to me."

"And I can love and be loved by anyone here. That I can curl up with anyone." He looked down blushing. "Even you."

Azrael laughed. It was just too charming. "Billy, are you asking me to make love to you? Is that why you are in my lap?" The boy nodded, blushing even more. "I am touched, precious, I would like nothing more than to hold you." Azrael looked at David. "Do you mind, Vincent? Your pet here has asked so sweetly I find I am unable to refuse such a darling request."

David nodded smiling. "Tori can come and sit with me. He knows I won't bite him."

Michael looked up from Jason. "Vincent, if it is all the same to you, would you hold Jason? I would like some time with the boy."

"One warm body is as good as the next when they're not mine. Sure, Joey tells me he's a darling."

Azrael looked at Torin. "Go on, pet, go be with Megel. He is not only my First-Born, but a mage as well. I am sure you will find your time with him to be wonderful. Show the same willingness as you showed me, and I promise, you will be well rewarded." He smiled as the mageling nodded.

"Go on, Jay, go beg David to have you. Submit to him and let him take what he will." Michael winked down at him. "Have fun, baby."

Azrael smiled at Billy, a warm and loving smile. "Make love to me." Billy's world was simple, now. love and being loved. It was one of the few things he understood. He was loved, and he was safe, and never again would anyone treat him like his stepfather had treated him. "I--I don't even mind that it hurts a little, at the beginning. It feels good in a funny way."

Azrael lifted him and carried him to the bed in the corner. "I will make love to you completely, precious. Relax." And he began to help the boy disrobe.

* * *

David was surprised at the wantonness of Michael's pet. Even Mark's kisses had been submissive. Jason's was one of hunger and demand. "Master," he licked at his throat, hands reaching to stroke his chest, "may I blow you?"

"Not yet." He kissed him once more. "Your master ordered you to submit to me, pet. Now, on your knees, beg me to relieve my passions on your body, to punish you for failing to obey your master."

Jason wasn't afraid, how could he be, he loved this. "Forgive me, Master." He dropped to the floor. His hands clasped behind his back. "Will you accept my submission, Master? Will you have me? I was wrong for failing to obey, will you punish me for it?"

David removed his belt from his pants, which lay with his shirt on the floor. "You have a choice, pet." His voice was soft. "Twenty lashes on your back and ass, ten on your balls. Which one will it be? If you choose the first, not only will I punish you with the belt, but I will rape you as well. If you are brave, and truly remorseful for your crimes, you will accept the ten and I will make love to you."

Jason moaned softly. "I--I will do it Master, if you want, I'll accept both, I was wrong." His manhood throbbed with painful want. "But please, make love to me first. I'll suffer anything you want, please." He looked up at David. "I need to so bad, Master, it hurts."

David dropped to his knees, reaching for him. "Turn around, Jason. I will help you."

* * *

Anna returned, amused by the goings-on in the Elder's home. "Hi," she smiled down at Michael. "And who is this?" She nodded at Torin, in his arms.

"You missed quite a bit tonight, dear. This is Torin or Tori as my Sire has decreed. He's Azrael's new Chosen. My master found a mage while out shopping, and brought him home." He patted the cushion beside him. "Join us."

"A mage? But--you mean to tell me there is such a thing?" She pulled her blouse free, undressing.

"Oh, yes, and this one has become my Sire's latest passion. It will be good to see him with someone to devote all his energies to." He pushed Torin into a sitting position. "Tori, this is Anna, she is David's First-Born. Would it trouble you if she joined us? She might not be a mage, but I am sure you would find any time spent in her arms to be well worth the effort."

Torin decided, as he nodded, that beauty must be a requirement for vampires. Of the four he had seen, none of them were anything but gorgeous. "Hi."

* * *

Billy cried softly as he made love to Azrael. He still couldn't believe that the master wanted him to do this. "Am I--" he shuddered, mouth hot on Azrael's neck. "I'm not hurting you, am I?"

"No, child." Azrael turned his head so that he could grace this one with a smile. "You are not hurting me. Quite the contrary, I am enjoying myself greatly. Go on precious, make love to me."

* * *

Jason cried out in pain, even as his body gave into the sweet pulses of orgasm. His rape was brutal. David had to hold him up, for without his aid he would have been knocked to the floor with the first thrust. "Please." He sobbed. "More, Master, please." He cried out, almost screaming, as a hand brutalized his throbbing member.

David's teeth sank into Jason's throat as he came. Control was gone as the sweet, hot nectar filled his mouth.

An enraged roar as he suddenly found himself knocked across the room. "How dare you?" Michael pulled Jason into the protective circle of his arms.

Lost in blood lust, David rose snarling, to be brought to his knees by Michael's will alone. "Insolent pup." Hands reached, fingers closed around his throat as Michael lifted him, holding him dangling above the floor. "I could kill you now, and be well within my right." His fangs extended fully, all look of humanity left his face.

"No!" Aaron threw himself against Michael. "Please, don't hurt him, please." He pulled on the arm that held David. "Kill me, instead, don't hurt him."

"Megel," Azrael's hand closed over his arm, forcing him to lower David. "Release Vincent. I will see that punishment is delivered for his harming your Chosen." The fingers relaxed reluctantly. "Go tend to your wounded one. I will see to our careless Kin."

David fell to the floor, Aaron pulling him close, crying. "Davy?"

"Ssshh, it's all right. Go to Anna." He held the boy for a moment. "Go on, I will be fine."

"So Vincent, what have you to say for yourself?" Azrael stood before him naked, eyes blazing with anger.

"Forgive me, Master. I--I lost control. I have no excuse, no plea for mercy. What must I do in payment for the crime I have committed?" His head hung low. He had committed one of the few great sins, had harmed, another's, Chosen.

Azrael turned to where Michael held the frightened mortal, Torin adding his power to the healing. "What say you, Megel? Do you seek the traditional punishment for his crimes, or will you allow leniency?"

Michael had never heard of Kin attacking another's Chosen. Renegades yes, but never Line-Kin. "What is the traditional punishment, Master?" The wounds on Jason's throat had been nasty. His pet, his Chosen, was weak from loss of blood. "Drink, precious." He ripped his wrist open with his fangs, to offer strength and life to his love.

"Branded outlaw, banished to be hunted by all. His Brood would be yours, his pets as well, to live or die as decreed by old law."

"No!" Both Anna and Joseph practically flew to put themselves between David and Azrael, "Master, please." Anna was nearly hysterical. "Megel, I--I'll offer myself, be your slave for eternity. Don't kill my master, don't banish him."

"No, Lilith, let me." Joseph used her vampiric name. "If anyone must suffer, let it be me. If Vincent is outcast, I'll die anyway, so please, let me." He looked first to Azrael then to Michael. "Masters, he needs you, needs this place. Let me go for him."

Jason reached up, touching Michael's face. "Michael, don't do this. He-you, lost, control too, remember? I seem to bring out the beast in your kind. Please, for me, if you care for me at all, don't send him away. Don't kill anyone else."

"Well, Megel, it is up to you. Shall I kill him or banish him?"

Michael slowly stood up, lifting Jason carefully. "Tori, would you hold him for me? I fear for his health right now. Will you use your powers to strengthen it?" He smiled down at the young man as he nodded, positioning himself on the couch so Michael could lay Jason in his arms.

Michael looked at David. "I won't demand his life. Jason is right, he does submit so completely. Nor will I require that he be banished. He is young, barely old enough to be walking free. He is a Childe."

"So what do you demand?" He walked to where Torin held Jason. His power aiding in strengthening the boy's weakened system. "Here, Tori." He rested his hand on his shoulder. As he allowed his own power to flow into his Chosen, helping to aid in the healing. "There is no need for fear, either of you. Jason, you will be fine. Tori is a healer."

"Vincent, choose. You have four, two Brood and two pets. Someone must pay for the pain and wrong forced on my Chosen. Which one will it be? Let you feel the horror, the anger as someone in your care is threatened."

David looked around, which one? How could he just order one to die? His eyes went to Anna. 'No, I can't, not her, any but his First-Born' . Then his eyes turned to Joseph. It wasn't fair. He had only begun the path. It was not right that he be denied it now. Slowly he turned to Aaron, who lay against him, holding him protectively. His love for the boy made the thought of watching him die painful. And slowly, almost against his will, his eyes sought out Billy, his wounded one. The one he swore no one would ever harm. He closed his eyes as tears. The color of blood streaked his face. "Aaron." The voice, a whisper, one that was, of soul rending pain.

To give the boy credit, he didn't scream or cry. He lifted his head to look David in the face, a hand reaching to gently brush the tears from his cheeks. "Yeah, Davy?"

"Go." He fought down a sob. "Go precious, I--you are Megel's now. Go to him. Forgive me, my love, but I cannot let Lilith or Cain go. Billy, I swore."

Aaron looked lost for a moment, as if he didn't understand what had happened. Then a look of understanding and resignation fell over his features. He had always figured that one day he would die. That one of them would kill him, but not this soon. "Master." He swallowed back a lump. "Hold me, please."

"David, don't." Joseph touched the boy's hair. "Vincent---Master. We both know that he is your next Chosen. Don't do this. I'll go. It doesn't matter. You warned me that the first year was dangerous. That a lot died during it. I'll go. Let him stay. You love him like you never loved me." He reached out and kissed his master. "My final gift to you, because I love you like I've never loved anyone before in my life." He stood, reaching for Anna, giving her a brief but fierce hug. "Take care of him for me. Don't let him watch--please."

Anna dropped to the floor, to block David's view. Aaron wrapped his arms around his master, fighting with Anna to keep David down. "Let him do this. Let him finally have some dignity. Vincent, let him give you this."

Michael felt grudging respect for David, grow, again as Joseph stood before him. He did not kneel, but nodded his head marginally. "So, how do you plan to do it?"

"How does any of our kind claim another, little one?" The smile was soft. "Vincent, do you accept that he is mine, totally, without reservations? You have lost this one. His life, his blood, is mine?"

"Yes." The sound was of pain unconfined.

"After this night, we will speak of it no more. You will accept this as just atonement for the wrong you committed? There will be no dissension in my master's domain? Your Brood and pets the same?"

"Yes." The pain grew.

"And you will remember always what happened here. Never forget, lest this happens again?"

"Yes. Damn you, Megel, do it." His head rose. "Torment me all you like with it afterwards. But don't do this to Cain. I was at fault, not him. Get it over with!"

Michael nodded. "Very well."

Joseph didn't even have time to cry out as Michael snatched him up, his body slamming against the rock-hard wall of the Elder's chest. But it wasn't his throat that drew Michael's mouth. Confusion clouded his thoughts as he answered the kiss. "One more question, Vincent, and I will let it rest." He smiled down at the confused Fledgling. "Will you remember what you have sworn to this night, in a few months when he is no longer dependent on you, no longer locked to your throat? When I can finally make him my slave completely, will you honor your word, or will there be war?"

A look of pain and hope warred on David's face. "You--Megel, you won't kill him?"

"No, I don't kill Kin. Had I known the boy was your Chosen, I would have insisted on him, and then made you watch as I took him. But this Childe is Kin. I follow the old ways. He has committed no wrong. He has impressed me with his dignity. But he cannot be totally mine, yet. He's still on the, breast, so to speak. He is still your Childe. He is tied to you, and will have to drink from you to live."

"Will he always be your slave, Megel?"

"No. Eventually I will grow weary of it, and he will be free. But he'll be an adult long before then. Now, do I have your word? Can I trust you, or must I forbid all contact between the two of you, save feedings?" He kept Joseph locked in his arms.

"My word."

"He's not going to be happy for a while." Michael looked down at Joseph. "I know it seems cruel. But Vincent had to be made to pay. And by rights, I could still demand his Chosen. But I won't. I would much rather have you."

Joseph looked at him, confusion and fear still bright in his eyes. He wasn't to die. He was to belong to Michael, be property. He looked around at David. David had never wanted to change him. He had begged, pleaded with him for months, even, enlisted Anna's help. Now he'd lose the only man he had ever really loved. "Davy?"

"I'm sorry, Cain." David rose slowly. "God as my witness, I'm sorry. Hate me all you want, I deserve it. I've made a royal mess of things." He resisted the urge to reach out and touch him. "Megel, you have my word. I claim him as mine no more. I'll see to his feedings for the next few months, until he no longer needs me. Then, if you want, I will leave. But promise me one thing. Promise me you won't be cruel to him. I know you can be, all the Elders can if they want. But he didn't do anything wrong, I did. Please remember that."

Michael released Joseph. "Cain, will you bend to me? I own you now. Your life and its continuance are mine. Will you make me regret allowing you to live?"

Joseph turned, reaching out to David. "Do you want me to do this?" Tears welled as David nodded. "Then I'll do it." He turned back to Michael, head bowed, trembling for a moment, before he slowly dropped to his knees. "My life is yours, Master." And the tears were freed.

"Vincent." Azrael's voice was soft. "You and I need to talk."

"Yes, Master."

"You have violated the sanctity of my lair. Destroyed the peace."

"Yes, Master."

"You have lost a Childe to prevent a war, a war that you would lose." The soft voice was death itself. "I am very displeased with you."

"I have no excuse, Master. I was wrong." What more would he be forced to lose. What price would Azrael demand?

"Megel, are you satisfied? Is the Fledgling payment, or do you wish that I beat my 'erring slave' ?" The words were spat out in cold fury. David's eyes widened. He had sworn service to Azrael, but he had believed it was the service he had paid Sharra. Now he knew different.

"Let the boy be, Azrael. He's sorry. He won't do it again. We are doing nothing more now than frightening the little ones, and that is cruel. Forgive him; take him back into the fold. It is over." Then to David, "you don't have to leave, youngster. Cain would never forgive either of us if you did. We are even, you and I. It's over. We shall speak of it no more."

Azrael nodded satisfied. "So be it." They had weathered their first problem and it was over. He knew that he should be prepared for more disturbances like this. The young always acted first, and then thought about it.

Michael leaned down and took Jason from Torin. "How do you feel, precious?"

"Tired." He smiled up at him. "I'll try not to be so attractive next time." He snuggled closer. "But it's not my fault you folks keep deciding I'm good enough to eat."

Michael chuckled, hugging him tighter. "I'm going to put you to bed now. And you must drink a lot of water. You need to replace the fluids in your body."

"Jason?" Morgan stood near, fear for her brother plain on her face.

"I'm all right, squirt. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine."

"Did he hurt you bad?" She glared at David, anger bright in her eyes.

"Nah, I'm okay. I just gotta quit looking so edible to them, that's all." He touched her cheek. "Michael won't let anyone hurt me, baby. I believe that, trust me on this."

"Morgan, precious, come here." Azrael gathered her close. "Your brother was never in danger. Vincent could never have killed him. We would not allow it. Forget about it for now. Let Megel care for him. You come be with us."

Joseph stood quietly as Michael fussed with his Chosen. He was a slave now. The word kept ringing through his mind, over and over. 'A slave' , for how long? What would the Elder expect of him? He had not agreed when Vincent had begged him not to be cruel. Did that bode ill?

Torin got Michael's attention. "Master, if you wish, and my master allows, I will stay with Jason tonight. Make sure he drinks plenty of water." He looked shyly to Azrael. "Would that be all right, Azrael?"

Michael smiled at his Sire. "If the boy is willing, I'll let him go with Jason and Amber. Later, once my boy is asleep and well on the road to recovery, we can fetch him."

"Oh, very well. A healer, I should have known. Four hundred years since my last mage, and I get a healer." He shook his head, the amusement on his face taking the bite out of his words. "Go on with you. I'll come for you myself in a few hours."

"But I'm not that tired." Jason didn't want to be separated from Michael. Despite his brave words, he was very frightened. "Please, Megel."

"Ssshh, hush. You must rest, now. Allow your body time to recover. You aren't going to be alone. Amber and Tori will be with you. If you need me, you have but to call." He kissed the top of Jason's head as it rested against him. "Cain needs me right now, Jay. He's very confused. It cannot be easy for him. He has lost his Sire. Let me comfort him. You know you're safe. You know I love you. He is still unsure."

Jason nodded. It was just like Michael, he was going to pamper Joseph. "Okay, I'll go to bed, but promise you'll stop by before you sleep?"

"We will. Amber, would you go with Tori and make sure Jay drinks several glasses of water? Hold him for me?"

"I'll take care of him." She felt much better now. Michael was kind.

"Good girl." He helped Jason to stand as Torin helped hold him up. "Are you going to be all right, pretty face?"

"Yeah, I'm not as bad off as I look. I'll be fine."

"See you later, then. Go rest. We have all of eternity."

Review This Story || Author: Veronica Leigh Marquette
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