Joseph watched as Tori led Jason and Amber from the room. The finality of his life finally sank in. He was Michael's slave. His only hope was that Michael would treat him as kindly as he treated the others.
"So, Cain, or do you prefer your mortal name?" Michael turned his attention to the Fledgling. "Oh, please, don't be like that. I have no intentions of hurting you any more than you have been already."
"Cain is fine, Master, or Joseph or Joey. Anything you want." He, trembled, so hard his teeth rattled. "Forgive me."
"For what, pet?" Michael chuckled. "For being afraid? Childe if, I were in your shoes right now, I would be a groveling mess. No, there is no need for apologies. We are going to be fine. You just wait. I am not quite the heartless beast you must see me as now. You may still love Vincent, be with him if you are not with me. Your surrender was sufficient. I believe you will abide by it." He reached for his hand. "Come here."
"You don't mind?" He had been sure that Michael would never let him close to David again. "Master, truly?"
Michael's gaze sought out David's. "Vincent, why don't you let your Chosen come here? I think Cain and you need to put this to rest."
David held Aaron protectively. "We are even, Megel? You and I?"
"I won't harm the boy, Vincent. Enough has been said. Enough pain. My word, I will be as gentle with your pet as I am my own." He pushed Joseph forward.
David pulled away from Aaron. "Go on, baby, go be with Michael. I need to talk with Joe."
Aaron glanced over at Michael, then back to David. "Will he--?" then in a softer voice. "Are you?"
"No," David touched his cheek. "You are mine, Aaron, and you will stay with me. Cain made sure of that. But there is a hurt between us now. One, that must be dealt with. If we don't begin to heal this, it will kill Cain as surely as the sun. I am his Sire."
Aaron nodded. He owed it to Joseph, was still alive, because of him.
"Don't be afraid." Michael reached for him as the boy came close. "No one is going to hurt you, or your master." He led him to the couch. "I won't touch you, if you do not wish me to. You can sit with me while they talk." Michael's eyes rose, seeking out the other of David's pets. Billy sat watching all of this, eyes bright. Anna was soothing him. "Lilith, bring the boy and come here. Let Vincent and Cain have a moment of privacy."
She did as he bid. "Come on, honey." Billy was frightened. He had just watched his master and Joseph almost die. He let her lead him, but held close to her, seeking protection. "It's okay, sweetie, he won't hurt you. I won't let him." She smiled up at Michael, a little ruefully, to take any threat of challenge out of her words. She understood what had happened. Her Sire had started drilling Kin ethics and manners into her the very night he made her. She knew how lucky they all were.
"I'm sorry." David held Joseph in arms that trembled with the desire to claim him again. "I ruined everything. How you must hate me."
"No." It felt good to be here. David held him so rarely, always reserving the greater part of his affection for Anna, his First-Born and most loved. "I'll never hate you. I owe you too much."
"Owe me?" David laughed bitterly. "Oh yes, Cain, you have so much to, owe, me. I took your freedom, your life, I begrudged you my love, and now, when you are so close to beginning to be able to enjoy what you are, I snatched it all away with my lack of control. Yes, lover, you owe me quite a lot. I should think you will be paying me back for all my gifts--" the words were bitter "--for quite some time."
"Vincent." Joseph's fingers reached for, the, back of David's neck, rubbing the base with a firm relaxing, pressure. "You saved my life. Cleaned me up. I wanted, this, remember? Had to beg for months before you would even consider it. You warned me that Anna is your first, she's still under your protection. I knew I would always play second, but I had that chance because of you." The truth behind his words was almost painful. "Megel won't hurt me. I still have eternity to look forward to. I just changed masters, that's all." His arms tightened. "But you're the one that made me. He might own my body, but my soul is yours."
"No," David lifted his face to smile at his Childe. "You're wrong on that, Cain. I gave you back your soul the night I made you one of us. For the first time since you took your first breath, you belonged solely to yourself. Your body and life are the only things I ever owned. You were your own driver. Before tonight." Fingers moved to dry tears. "That's what I am the most sorry for."
"It's okay." Joseph whispered. "We'll be all right. I still love you. He won't take that from me. His word."
"And I will strive to prove that I love you more than you believe." It would be all right. He believed that now as they held each other. It was going to be all right.
Michael raised his eyes from where he had been looking down at Aaron, and caught Billy's gaze. "You stare at me so child. What is it?"
"David said all the bad things were over," a whispered accusation.
"Yes, well, he also attacked someone I love. If anyone hurt you, he would be honor-bound to seek justice. I have the same responsibility to Jason. I know it is hard for you to believe, but I let him off very lightly. I could have demanded all of you, and made him watch as I killed you. But what good would that have done?"
"Michael." Anna hushed the boy in her arms. "Forgive him. He doesn't understand. I do, Joey does, but he's not one of us."
"I'm not mad at him, Anna. I don't begrudge the boy his questions." It had taken Michael years to learn to smile without showing his fangs. "It has not been an easy life for any of them. We should expect, when we have a little dilemma like this, that they are going to be greatly affected by it."
Anna nodded, relaxing a little more. "I have a question myself. Once you learned that Aaron was his, Chosen, why did you still insist on keeping Cain?"
"I honestly can't say for sure. Perhaps it was because angry or no, I really had no desire to kill, or it could have been that Joseph's sacrifice touched me. Or maybe it was that Jason had begged me. I don't know Anna, I have no clear answers."
"What happens, now?"
"Well, the hurt between us will begin to heal. Once David and Joseph put this behind them, we will all be able to breathe a little easier. I will take him aside to collar him. He's been through quite enough tonight, without public humiliation. I only hope Azrael still has some of my old collars. He may have had them melted down after I left. I'd hate to use a plain leather one, it's an insult."
"Joseph is my slave. I own him completely. Azrael has accepted David's one hundred years service, but that is different. He is young. It is common practice for the young ones to serve the old, in exchange for protection and learning. Joseph will be my slave for a long time, even for us. He has no rights. Even Mark has more freedom than he does. I won't hurt him. Abuse is not in my nature. But I will hold him, and he will obey the law." The tone in his voice warned Anna that no amount of begging was going to change his mind. Joey would be treated as nothing for a long time. He would have no life.
"It will kill him," was the only thing she dared say.
Michael reached out and laid a hand on her arm. "No, I won't let that happen. Wait. Tomorrow night will be different, you'll see." Poor girl had no idea what a mature vampire was capable of doing. "He will be happy with me, and I will be kind to him. You are worrying about nothing. He will be as well cared for and protected as any of you. I promise."
Joseph pulled away from David. "I gotta go." The very act of separation was painful.
"So soon, love?" He tried to pull him back.
"Yes. He hasn't called me yet, but he's about to." He turned, looking at Michael, who had been testing his awareness with the lightest of touches. Michael nodded, smiling with approval.
"Are you going to be all right?" David knew what Joseph was looking forward to, even if the Fledgling didn't. "Don't argue with him, Joey. I know it will seem cruel, and it will seem unfair. But don't fight him. It would tear me up to see you punished."
"I'll be good. I promise."
"Be better than good, be fabulous. Give yourself to this. It's the only way."
"I will." He hugged him once more. "I gotta go."
David watched him return to Michael. 'What have I done' ? The words were torment. 'I've damned my own to hell' .
Joseph knelt beside Michael. "Thank you."
Michael slowly raised his head from Aaron's shoulder. "The two of you at peace, now?"
"Somewhat," he stared at his hands, "Master."
Michael reached out, brushing his new charge with a light mental touch. Yes, the boy would heal, and with what he planned on doing later, would be all right. "Aaron, go return to your master. Lilith, your Sire needs you."
"May I tell Joey good-night?" She rose.
"No. He's, had enough emotional trauma for one night. Tomorrow, you can spend some time with him. For now, it's best I take him away for a while."
"Just a hug. Please Michael, I always tell him good-night."
Michael sighed. Maybe he was going soft. "Oh, very well, but try to refrain from any hysterics. I am serious, the boy has been through enough, tonight."
"Thank you." She fought the urge to burst into tears. "Sleep well, baby." She kissed his cheek, wiping away the tears. "It gets easier, you wait."
"Joey?" Billy looked from him to Michael. "May I?"
Michael gave up. He might as well surrender to the humor in the situation. "Yes, go on, both of you." 'Why is it that all human males at this age are so damned adorable' ? "But only if I get a sample of your sweetness, too."
Billy looked away, reaching for Joseph. "Good-night." He let the younger vampire hold him for a moment. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Billy. I'll see you tomorrow. Who knows, maybe, if my master is in a good mood, he'll let me join in the play." He kissed him briefly before pulling, Aaron close.
"I'm sorry." Aaron felt guilty. He had been supposed to die. Joseph had traded himself for his life. "You didn't have to."
"Yeah, I did." The smile that had finally won David over touched his lips. "Believe me, this is for the best. Don't worry, I'll be fine."
"Please." Billy reached for Michael. "Don't let it go back to the way it was."
"Ssshh." Michael was pleased to see that the wounded one didn't flinch from his touch. "Don't cry, pretty, I won't let it. No one will hurt you. Your master has sworn this. His master has seconded it. You alone are safe from harm."
Billy looked up at him, eyes focusing as he had one of those rare, brief moments of mental brilliance that one such as he sometimes had. "Would I do?"
The boy's sudden change caught Michael off guard. "Would you do as what, Billy?"
"As your slave?" He bit his lip. "I'll be good, won't cry. You won't hurt me. Davy will believe that. Joey won't be sad." Already the lucidity was fading.
"Billy, no!" Joseph reached for him. "Michael, Master, please, don't listen to him." Damn one already so damaged by them to what Michael had in store for him? They all thought him blissfully unaware of what was to happen, but he knew. And deep down, David knew he knew. He had been warned earlier about staying close to home once his year was up. Until he was a little older, he would be a prime target for Renegade groups.
Michael heard and felt the knowledge, even as Joseph recognized it. "No, Billy. I'm sorry, pet. But Joseph has already offered, I have accepted it, it's over." Then he reached out and stroked the boy's cheek lightly. "But you 'are' right, I would never hurt you."
"Please." He was in tears. "Please."
"Vincent. Come and get your pet. He needs you." Michael gathered the sobbing youngster close. "Don't cry, Billy, I won't hurt him. I'm not a cruel man."
"Billy?" David knelt beside where Michael sat the boy in his arms. "What happened?" He touched Billy's mind softly. He had to be very careful with this one. "Oh, you poor dear." He took him from Michael. "It was kind of you to offer, but you're human, sweet. Michael will hold Joseph at least twice your life span, if not more. You won't live long enough for it to be a fair trade."
"Billy." Michael rose, pulling Joseph close. "You must not do this. Any more crying will do nothing but upset Cain even more. Let me take him away, and calm him. We'll talk tomorrow. I'll listen to what you have to say, and explain my reasons to you. Your dedication and sacrifice deserve an open ear. We will talk." Yes, he would let the boy voice his beliefs, make his offer, and listen to his reasoning. And then he would gently, with as light a touch as possible, make him understand why it could not work, without once belittling anything the boy felt, *with your permission, Vincent, of course. *
*Of course, * David felt all, the, tension leave his body for the first time in hours. There was no way that a vampire that would, go, to such lengths to ease the emotional distress of a mortal, would do his own kind grievous harm.
Michael felt David's emotions changing. *I am glad you understand now. I was concerned what the worry would do to you until you accepted it. * A brief mental brush, almost like a kiss, and then he pulled away.
"Promise?" Billy sniffed, rubbing his eyes. He, looked, for all the world like a little boy. Michael was suddenly tempted, almost willing, to make the trade. The child was just too darling.
"No, Megel." David tightened his grip around Billy. "He is under my protection. What I did was wrong. I have no excuse. But do not make me forsake my word."
Michael closed his eyes briefly. "You are right. I don't know what made me think that. No, I would have killed your Chosen for what you did. But make you forsworn? Never." He shook his head. "I will explain it all to you tomorrow, Billy. That is, if you still have any questions after your master here finishes talking to you. But for now, I am taking my new one here." He purposely refrained from using the word 'slave' . "And we are going to go somewhere quiet so that I might explain how his life is to be."
Joseph felt a pang, and remembered that he hadn't fed yet. "Master."
Both Michael and David turned their heads, but Michael was the one to respond. "Yes."
"I," he ran a hand through his hair, "I'm sorry but--I" He wondered if Michael would make him go hungry tonight. "I haven't fed. I was waiting for later, alone, but." He was visibly trembling. "Please, Master, I'm hungry."
David looked at Michael. "May I?"
"Yes," Michael 's tone was sharp. "Of course, you may. Jupiter's Balls, Joseph--Cain--you haven't, didn't, do anything wrong. I will not torture you for revenge. Vincent has paid for his mistake. It is over. Feed. I'll never force you to go hungry. No matter what you do, I'll never starve you."
"Go on, Cain." David pulled Joseph's mouth to his throat. "Drink your fill. I fed well tonight."
Michael reached for Joseph the moment he lifted his head. "Enough. Come, no more delays."
"Good night, Michael." David rose, acknowledging Michael's command.
"Rest well, David." He turned towards the bed there and Azrael. "We will talk tomorrow night, Master."
"The items you seek are in a chest in the dungeon. Never fear, I do not have any made of leather." Azrael's soft baritone voice held a note of amusement.
"Sleep well." Michael read into his master's words the needed information. "You may walk, Cain, follow me." He turned to leave. "I want to stop in and check on Jason. I know he is fine, but I would still like to see it with my own eyes."
Joseph, who was honestly, scared almost out of his mind, drew a glimmer of hope from Michael's words. Michael was for all intents and purposes a, gentle, man when it came to the needs of those he was responsible for. It spoke greatly for a gentle breaking.
Michael stopped and turned to look at him. "You know what will happen?"
"Yes, Master." He didn't need to ask for an explanation of the question.
"It won't hurt as long as you don't fight me. I will use a light hand if you give yourself to it freely."
"Will there be any of 'me' left?"
"As much as I can protect. I'll leave your personality as whole as possible, your feelings and identity the same. There will be some loss, but you will not end up like Billy. I swear it. If it came down to that, I'd take your life myself."
Joseph's body shook for several moments as he fought emotions that threatened to overcome him. "Thank you."
"Wait here for me. I'll be back. As soon as I check on Jason." He tilted Joseph's chin upward. "You will not move from here."
"Yes." Joseph could see nothing but Michael's eyes, feel nothing but the desire to stand where he was. "I would have obeyed."
Michael stepped closer, brushing his lips across Joseph's brow. "I am sure you would have, Cain, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I have no desire to punish you."
Joseph stood alone in the hall. The pressure to remain still was almost painful. Already the change was taking place. Joseph couldn't see Michael using this much force on anyone but a slave. And the sadder part, to his mind, was that Michael had used it as a kindness, to guarantee there would be less pain later. His heart broke. Nothing much mattered any more. Whatever Michael would do to him, he would accept. There was no other way.
* * *
As Michael closed and bolted the door he asked, "is Jason--?"
"Fine, curled up asleep between Tori and, Amber. I told you he was recovering. All three of them are well on their way to putting this behind them." Michael released the pressure that had held him.
"I'm glad." He followed Michael, each step bringing his doom closer. Could he really do it? Could he let Michael take him completely, give up all right to free thought? Be nothing more than, a, mindless slave? Fear-filled questions made his mind a blur. The resolve he had only moments before was gone.
"Don't be afraid." Michael opened the door to the dungeon. "We won't be here long, and I won't take you here. I'm only here to retrieve a few items." He looked around the room for the chest.
The metal collar was a heavy band of silver. It opened with a key, and the ring mounting in the center concealed the hinge. "Good." Michael released the lock. "Lift your hair, Cain." The collar fit comfortably around Joseph's throat, resting at the base, over his jugular.
Joseph panicked. Collared, he could not blood-bond with David. It was the final straw. "No, please." He pulled at the collar, trying to rip it from his neck.
"No, Cain, the collar stays." He pulled Joseph's hands away. "Put your hands behind your back." Iron manacles with two feet of chain between them were locked on Joseph's wrists, chaining his arms down and slightly behind him, reducing him to a defenseless prisoner. "I won't keep these on for long, just until I have broken you."
"Please." Joseph backed away from him. "I--I can't."
Michael yanked the younger vampire close. "You have no choice, Cain. You are my slave." He kept his voice soft. Michael just didn't have it in him to hurt the boy. "Be still." He tightened his grip as Joseph struggled. "Cain, stop this."
"I can't. Please, I'll do anything you ask." All his bravado was gone.
"Don't make me hurt you, Cain." Michael's fangs extended as he turned the full power of his will on the Fledgling. Joseph's face blanked as the force came down.
A whimper was all the sound Joseph could make. Every ounce of his being was focused on the man before him. The world was gone. His life had no meaning outside this moment. Every hope and dream he had ever had suddenly became wrapped up in the essence of his master.
"I am going to release you, now." The words were soft in his ear. "You will follow me quietly. We will have no more of these little outbursts. If you fail me this time, I will have no choice but to punish you." He withdrew his power. "It's up to you, boy. Do I hurt you? Will you obey?"
Joseph almost fell as he was released. Michael caught him, holding him up as his body was wracked with sobs. "I'm sorry." He was too close to the danger point. Too near to having every last glimmer of who and what he was ripped from him. "Master?"
"Are we going to be wise, now?" Michael found no pleasure in this part of the process. He would have just as soon not do it.
It took Joseph a moment to answer. Michael was beginning to believe that there might still be a problem. "Yes." Joseph looked up. "I--I'm sorry, Master. I don't know what came over me. You can let me go now, I--I'll follow."
Michael brushed his fingers against Joseph's cheek, a gesture that he had drawn such comfort from when he had been Azrael's slave. "Would it help, is it a kindness, if I promise not to take your name? I can you know, but I won't. I will not take anything from you that I don't have to." He noticed the tremble again. "Ssshh, relax, Joey."
"I'm sorry, Master." He was in tears again, but he didn't fight. "I'm trying, I swear I am."
Michael felt sorry for the youngster. Not, even, Kin a full year. 'Poor Childe, I will have to be very careful with him. He knows just enough to make this a horror for him' . "Cain." He let the boy draw comfort from his embrace.
"Master." He felt Michael's arms around him, the power of his grasp.
"We will go to my resting place, now. Will you walk freely, or do I need to lead you?"
Joseph looked at him, fear, pain and sorrow radiating from him in waves. "I will walk." His pride was the only thing he had left. He fought to hold onto it. He would, in the end, be nothing more than a groveling shadow, but he'd hold on to what was left of his dignity until Michael stripped it from him.
Michael was amazed as they walked. The boy, who by all rights, should, have been a wild thing. Fighting with all he had against the imminent doom of his fate, walked beside him, collared manacled, but head held high. The more Michael saw of his new slave's inner self, the more he swore he'd not see it shattered.
He didn't have to break him completely. There would be no need. Just enough to control his natural vampiric nature, make him dependent on him, drive home the need to please, and nothing more.
* * *
Joseph almost panicked again as Michael led him into the darkened room where a single large bed and a nightstand the only furniture. "Relax, boy. Fighting is the worst thing you can do, now."
"I won't, I swear." He closed his eyes, forcing every ounce of will into the self-control exercises David had taught him.
"Will you go freely to this? The less resistance you put up, the easier it is. I would just as soon not hurt you." He smiled as Joseph nodded. "Good, very good. Now listen to me, Cain. Take what comfort you can from these words. I will not break you completely. I do not want a mindless slave. I will leave you as much yourself as I can. This I swear. I only want your devotion. The only command I will force on you is your need to please me, nothing more. Your will outside of that will be your own, your responses your own. I will leave your love for your Sire and family whole and intact. I will allow you your dreams and your hopes. You will be my slave of your own free will, save your need to please me."
"Thank you." He almost fainted from relief. His master was the most wonderful, the kindest and most, understanding.
"You will, of course, be forced to obey any and all who live within this house. Now and ever, when I return to my domain, the same will apply there. When we are out, you need only obey those you know are either Kin or the mortals connected to them. Even the pets I allow you to take for your food, you will call 'Master' ." He gathered him close. "With one exception, you will call all 'Master' or 'Mistress' ."
"And that is?" His mouth reached for Michael's, for some comfort.
"Call me Megel, always. Even when you must beg, I grant you this out of respect and as a reward for the selfless gesture you have made this night. You will make a fine brother. You have what it takes to command the greatest honor and respect one day. I will see that your training continues, even as my slave. And I promise you, when I free you at last, you will be able to stand as equal to any around you. I would not have you a cripple."
"Megel?" He couldn't believe it. He had prepared for the worst but--.
"May I ask a favor from you?" He lifted his eyes. "Please, one small thing before you take my right to voice it."
"Yes, ask anything of me at this moment. If it is within reason, and my power, I will grant it to you."
"Make love to me once before you do. Please, I want to feel you once as myself completely." Emotions powerful beyond his belief threatened to overwhelm him. "Please, Megel, Master. Don't make me beg. Please, just this once."
"Turn around, Cain." He released the manacles. "I won't break you until we go to rest. For this night, we will be equals and lovers. You may be as free as you wish, save for one thing." He turned him back around. "Though I love the feel of hands and mouth on my body, you must be careful not to bring me to orgasm with your mouth. I am much older than your Sire. Enough of my blood would be present to sicken you. So if I tell you to pull away, you must."
"Yes, sir." He had his wish. He had time. "Hold me."
Michael was thrilled. He would have never put Jason at risk, his love for him too all encompassing. He was glad things had worked out the way they did. The Childe was going to prove to be worth as much love and protection as any could ever hope for. "Would it frighten you if I asked my Sire to join us? I would have him see how perfect you are. But I will not insist if it would cause you pain." He led him to the bed. "Besides, I must blood-brand you, and would prefer to have him here, so that there will be no pain." He lifted Joseph's chin. "I will not have you hurt, if I can prevent it, ever."
Joseph shuddered in his arms. "I believe you, Megel. I won't fuss. If you want the Elder here, I will be more than happy to have him here." He lifted Michael's hand, kissing the palm, before pressing it to his cheek. "One more question?"
Michael pushed him back on the bed, sitting beside him. "Cain, you can ask all the questions you want."
"Even though I am your slave, and I will be programmed to want to please you, you're not going to deny me your love are you? I'll be 'able' to love you, right?"
Emotions in the Vampyr were strong. Anger, hate, joy, and love; they were all quick to flame and burned brightly.
"Wait." Michael bent to kiss him. "When my Sire is here, I will answer that question. I want you to have a witness and promise to my answer." He pulled away smiling. "One moment, Cain." He turned his mind to his friend and Sire. *Azrael? *
*Yes Megel. How is your new Slave? *
*Fine, reassure Vincent that he is fine. Would you come and join us? I have promised him I will wait to break him until time for sleep. And when I do, I would rather the brand not cause him, pain. So will you come and share his last night of freedom with me? *
*Why thank you, Megel. I would greatly enjoy that. And yes, of course, his branding will be painless. Anything else would be the last word in unspeakable cruelty. I am proud of you, my son. You have shown me that I raised a fine man. There is no way I could be more proud of you than I am right now. Your control and understanding have been exemplary. Vincent is going to be well because of your careful handling. May I bring him with me? If you are allowing the Childe one last night of freedom, let him hold his Sire too. *
*Wait, I will ask. He's a little shaky right now. * He broke contact. "Cain, Azrael has asked if it would be all right if Vincent joined us for this last night of freedom. I will remove your collar if you wish, allow you to blood-bond with him one last time." He made a shushing noise as Joseph tried to speak. "If it would be painful, I won't allow it. I only want to see you happy for now."
"Please." He broke into tears, reaching for Michael, needing to be held. "Oh, please, yes. I'll do anything you say, always, you've been so good about this. Please, Megel, please."
"Ssshh, hold me, draw strength. I will never deny you this." He rocked him slowly. *Yes, tell Vincent that if he wants to join us, Cain will be overjoyed. *
*I will be there, soon. * Azrael smiled down at the two who lay curled up against him. "I must go help Megel with Cain. The two of you stay here with the rest. I'll leave you in Lilith's care." He smiled, hugging Morgan closer. "You know her, precious, you know she will not harm you."
Morgan grinned, reaching to kiss him. "Is he all right?"
"Yes, Megel is very gentle, you know that. You've seen how he treats your brother. He will not harm the Fledgling. He has no war with him." He looked to Mark. "Will you be all right, pet?" The boy had proven to be as lovable as his girls are. "Oh, and before I forget, where is your kitten? Was he to your liking?"
Mark grinned, blushing slightly under the direct gaze of his master. "Yeah, I like cats. How did you know?"
"I did not. I simply found him to be adorable, and knew that you would like him. Where is he, what have you decided to call him?"
"Locked up in the bathroom. I was afraid with all the activity going on, that someone would roll on top of him." He blushed even more.
"And, come on Mark, what did you call him?"
"Renfield." His eyes lit up as Azrael laughed. "Well, I didn't think Dracula was a name that you'd like, and well, I do live with vampires, so I figured what the hell, it's funny anyway."
Azrael shook his head in utter amusement. "Well, he is 'your' kitten, call him what you will. I must go. Behave, both of you." He disengaged himself from his two, and took up his robe. "Vincent."
David looked up from his three. "Yes, Master?"
"Megel has asked me to come and be with him and his new slave. He is allowing Cain one last night of freedom before taking him. I have asked and been reassured that if you wish to join us you are welcome. It would be a good thing, Vincent. A healing that would settle the pain between the four of us, will you come?"
David's face played through several emotions. Azrael watched his face closely as the emotions from shock to love, danced through his eyes. "And Megel, he doesn't mind?"
"Not at all. Come; allow your Childe to see you recovering from this, before he can no longer appreciate it. Enough pain."
"Go on, Master." Anna smiled. "I'll take care of Aaron and Billy."
"Are you sure honey? You've been through quite a shock too."
"I'll live. If Joey's new master is kind enough to allow you one last night with him before he takes his soul, you need to do this."
David held her close. "I love you." There was pain in his voice, but joy as well. "I will return. Bring the boys. We shall all sleep in my chamber, tonight, and from here on. At least until the fear they feel has faded a little."
"Lilith," Azrael asked, "would you mind if I left Morgan and Mark in your care as well?"
"I will take care of them, Master." She went into his arms. "They know me, there should be no fear."
"There is not. Thank you dear." He kissed the tip of her nose before lowering his mouth to her lips. "Come, Vincent, Megel is waiting."